Igor Zlatkov, owner of Art Farm Filozici on the Croatian island of Cres, helps Josip Novosel from Flash.hr discover a real hedonist’s paradise.
It all started with a message on social media, as Josip, who had never visited Cres before, explains.
“He sent me a message on Facebook: “Why don’t you come to visit us on Cres one day? This is a place for artists, hedonists and gastro snobs like you. Prosciutto, mussels, fish, venison, cheeses, top quality wines, untouched nature. The Mediterranean as it once was.”
Josip decided to take up Igor on his offer and with his friend, academic painter and jewellery designer Jasminka Škalić, headed to Cres to check out Art Farm Filozici. A summary of how he discovered a paradise for hedonists follows.
At the entrance to the farm you are surrounded by wooden sculptures – Macmalići – mythical forest creatures from island legends – and were made with chainsaws at the first art colony in 2010 by artists from Prosecco near Trieste.
Art Farm Filozici have two houses for rent on the farm. One is for two people, located by the pool which is heated all year round. Next to the house is a sauna. The other house is for 4 people and is located 100 meters away. At the entrance to the pool house are sculptures by Jože Šubica – an academic sculptor and painter from Maribor.
If you come on a trip with your wife, girlfriend, mistress or lover, you will have a romantic view of the stars thanks to a round glass window on the ceiling in the bedroom – right above the bed. We settled into the second and larger house because our colleague Maja said she would join us a day later.
We left our things in the cottage and headed straight to Porozina beach which is only a ten minute drive from the farm.
When we returned Igor greeted us with a light home-made dinner. Black Slavonian pork prosciutto – aged for 3 years – smoked tuna on a bed of wild arugula and purslane, organic tomatoes and fried polenta with gorgonzola.
Igor has completed a course for winemakers and although he does not have his own vineyard on Cres, he rents one hectare in Nadin so he produces an excellent blend of cabernet and merlot that you must try. He is also friends with many small and large winemakers, so his guests can enjoy top quality wines all year round. I brought him a bottle of Traminer that we chugged for an appetiser.
The next day Maja joined us. We immediately took her to the beach, but swimming did not seem to be the priority. As the pool house was empty, I told my colleague Dean, a returnee from America, to rent it out and join us. He said that he was going to Opatija and that he could come by for one day because it was on his way.
Igor again greeted us with island delicacies. Raw marinated anchovies, peperoncino calabrese piccante stuffed with tuna, pickled motar, all served on a special ceramic plate, design by Bojana Križanec.
This was followed by organic cherry tomatoes with bruschetta with truffles and cod in a white sauce that Igor served on a handmade platter. His brand is called Tramontana Wood Craft – and he makes trays of wood and stone.
He also sliced some three-year-old black Slavonian pig prosciutto served on a stand, which he also made himself in his CROtitelj mint.
Igor also has his own line of knives which he mainly produces for cutting prosciutto and he has a pet name for them – the Terminators of Prosciutto.
The blades are either Japanese, or made by a local blacksmith, which he later completes with special handles and cases made of wood at the customer’s request with an engraved logo. He usually sells them, as well as prosciutto stands and serving boards, to the best restaurants, hotels and hedonists.
For this occasion, I brought Igor OH WINES Teran sparkling wine, which is a limited edition with only 100 bottles made. Be sure to try it if you get the chance. Saša Bernobić from Vižinada in Istria makes great wines.
For the main course we had wild boar and deer, freshly caught the day before. Igor prepared them in his recognisable and original way – Filoska gregada with a fallow deer. Breakfast was just as interesting as dinner. Homemade quince and wild orange jam, fresh goat’s milk with homemade honey and brandy.
On the penultimate day, Igor and Nevenka prepared a ”mare & monti” buzzara with bacon and fresh tomatoes, whilst for starters we had buzzara ‘na bijelo’. This time I surprised them with a barricaded Malvasia San Mauro that went perfectly with our meal.
In the morning Igor greeted me with a bottle of 1998 Adberg whiskey.
Just when I thought I knew everything, I realised Igor also makes super cool wooden glasses.
Igor, who previously lived in Switzerland, moved with his wife Nevenka from Rijeka to Cres in 2005 after he got tired of “civilisation”.
He also worked as a skipper so he got to know all the islands in the Adriatic well and he says he chose to settle on the island Cres because it was a wild enough and uninhabited island, and yet large and relatively well connected, close to the mainland and the city.
If you love peace, quiet, romance, art, untouched nature, beautiful clear sea, phenomenal local food, good wines and if you want an unforgettable experience, Art Farm Filozici is the place for you.
Igor and Nevenka are great hosts. If you think this kind of hedonism is expensive, it really isn’t. A house by the pool for two people costs 1000 kuna per day. Igor also knows how to organise art workshops, whiskey tastings and similar events on the farm, so it’s good to be his friend.