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Croatia Captivates Charleston: One Bite at a Time

Croatia Captivates Charleston: One Bite at a Time

(Photo credit: Candice Herriott)

Recently, Charleston, South Carolina, one of the culinary epicenters of the United States and top tourist destination experienced an influx of all things Croatian for a special one-night-only Croatian Truffle Dinner at Circa 1886, home to one of the finest restaurants in the city, housed at The Wentworth Mansion, the #2 boutique hotel in the United States and top hotel in Charleston.

Every year for the Charleston Wine and Food Festival, Circa 1886 hosts a truffle dinner, which is one of the premier events for the festival. As this year’s festival was postponed due to Covid, it was decided to move forward with the tradition and still have a truffle dinner, this one with a Croatian flair. This caused a great stir among the Charleston residents, as the special Croatian dinner was sold out in a few hours.  

Chef Marc Collins, the Executive Chef of Circa 1886 is no stranger to Croatia or its cuisine – he has been influenced by a fellow Chef, Richard Gruica, who is of Croatian parentage, but calls USA home. The two created a menu and a wine pairing that was beyond delicious – it included truffles direct from Karlic Tartufi in Istria and Chiavalon Extra Virgin Olive Oil that also arrived directly from Istria.

The meal was mostly paired with premium quality Croatian wines and a couple of special selections from Slovenia. While the Circa 1886 fully followed the CDC pandemic guidelines, both they and their guests had an amazing night exploring the intricacies of Croatian cuisine and also opening people’s eyes to all the wonderful things Croatia has to offer.       

Croatia Captivates Charleston: One Bite at a Time

(Photo credit: Candice Herriott)

The two chefs created a menu that was to die for: starting with the Croatian charcuterie featuring Kulen and smoked garlic sausages from Slavonia and two cheese from Pag and other accompaniments. That dish was followed by a Kahala fish Crudo with truffles, truffle vinaigrette, a motar gremolata, and dried seaweed. The dish was paired with Zlatan Otok’s Cuvee. Next, was the duo of rižot — serving a black seafood rižot and the Skradinski rižot, made of veal, together on the same plate, tied with octopus, and of course…Truffles! This was paired with a Merlot wine from Bagueri. 

Croatia Captivates Charleston: One Bite at a Time

(Photo credit: Candice Herriott)

Did you think this was all? Could have been, but this creative menu followed with rosemary brined lamb loin, with garlic pea puree, truffle honey-roasted carrots, Istrian truffle polenta, ajvar, candied lemon peel, basil, served with Benmosché Family Vineyards, Zinfandel ’13, and the Australian Wagyu Denver steak with asparagus, “blitva na lešo,” fig lacquer, white truffle powder, “Istarska supa” truffle “sauce” paired with the Saints Hills Winery Plavac mali 2015 from the Dingač Appellation. 

Croatia Captivates Charleston: One Bite at a Time

(Photo credit: Candice Herriott)

The wines that were paired with this extraordinary dinner were supplied by the Vinum Slo-Cro, of NJ, Ocean South Imports of North Carolina and Croatian Premium Wine Imports, Inc.of Massachusetts.

Croatia Captivates Charleston: One Bite at a Time

(Photo credit: Candice Herriott)

Croatia Captivates Charleston: One Bite at a Time

(Photo credit: Candice Herriott)

Croatia Captivates Charleston: One Bite at a Time

(Photo credit: Candice Herriott)

While those that dined at the dinner got to experience a taste of Croatia, there is much more in store as Chef Ricard via his Captivating Croatia tour company has invited Chef Marc to visit Croatia personally. The two chefs are planning an escape to “exotic Croatia for a week-long, food-centric vacation” this August.

Croatia Captivates Charleston: One Bite at a Time

(Photo credit: Candice Herriott)

Croatia Captivates Charleston: One Bite at a Time

(Photo credit: Candice Herriott)

Croatia Captivates Charleston: One Bite at a Time

(Photo credit: Candice Herriott)

Vaccinations are here and travel is returning, so click here, Chef Marc Collins Flavors of Croatia Tour in Croatia (wetravel.com) if you are ready to explore Dubrovnik, the area and the islands, all brimming with history and lore while enjoying the very best food, drink, and sights alongside the two chefs. 

(Photo credit: Candice Herriott)

 Chef Marc Collins and Chef Richard Gruica (Photo credit: Candice Herriott)

And while daydreaming about your trip to Croatia with two Chefs, find Croatian wine on this continent at your local store, or on an online store that delivers Croatian wine to your home in most US states. 

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