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Friday, June 10, 2011


On a small island in the mid-Adriatic, a man named Darko is well-known for his slow-food. Darko is a character. He is missing a couple of teeth, has wild curly hair, giggles like a hyena, and walks with an exaggerated limp, but everyone loves him and everyone loves his food. Darko's is nestled on a cliff in a wee village called Zena Glava, midway between the main town of Vis and Komiza. Darko has four tables at which he serves whatever is simmering in the kitchen that day. He cooks the traditional way using only a wood fired oven. 

We choose to visit the island of Vis out of all the islands on the Croatian coast because it is known for its food and wine. As mentioned in a previous post, Vis culture stood still and because of that the island is one of the most preserved in the whole of the Adriatic. The WWF considers the natural habitat one of the most untouched and the Croatian tradition of cooking is also still prevalent. 

Our afternoon visiting with Darko was memorable and one of the most relaxing meals I have ever experienced. There was no menu and no choices to be made. We just sat back and waited for course upon course to be served. Darko would call them "surprise number one, number two, etc."

Darko prepping the lamb
Various pickled foods
When we sat down we were the second table to be served. The first was a table full of rowdy Croatians drinking Darko's homemade wine and fruit liqueur in ubiquitous amounts. Every few minutes one of them would run back to the kitchen and help himself to another pitcher of booze. We had great fun watching these men eat. As we were fortunate to be Darko's guests for four hours these men were eating when we arrived and still eating when we left. Slow food is alive and kicking in this dining room. In fact, it is not unusual for a Vis native to enjoy a nine hour meal.

Our first surprise homemade goat cheese with pickled capers, olives, and a dousing of the most amazing home-pressed olive oil served with crusty white bread. As an accompaniment we enjoyed Darko's white wine. The white wine around these parts is incredibly golden and almost rough although the after taste is smooth. The wine is not fruity nor is it crisp, but almost sour. The wine matches the salty fisherman to a tee.

The second course included a salad of spicy arugula, sun kissed tomatoes picked from the garden that morning, olives, olive oil and vinegar. Following our salad we enjoyed a perfectly prepared fish char broiled in the coals. The sea breem was accompanied by a lemon from the tree next to the restaurant. We also enjoyed a leg of sizzling lamb basted in olive oil.

For dessert, Darko brought us candied lemon peel, fig cake, and jam-like squishy candies. We accompanied this course with an extremely rich fruit brandy that knocked us on bums. All surprises he made himself in his humble kitchen - he emphasized "natural" as his way of cooking and serving food - no preservatives, no canned food, not even bottled beer.

There are many slow food restaurants on the island, but we are happy with out choice to dine at Darko's. If you ever visit Vis, Darko's is a must. Check-out Stoncica as well as it is located in a cozy cove with white sand beaches and is supposed to be an amazing dining experience as well. In a couple of days we plan to run to a vineyard where they serve guests meat, fish, vegetables, and octopus cooked in the traditional Peka style. 


Ron said...


L. and J. said...

We are getting so hungry just reading about this amazing food. If ever we travel to the island, Darko's will be on the list to visit.

l. and J. said...

What would Darko's say if Grandpa would insist on a coke?

Ben said...

What a delightful description of a very unique place. It reminds me of the book "A Year in Tuscany". This is the Tuscany of 30 years ago before tourism changed it's character forever. I'm so glad you could experience something like this.
And the question arises...what will this mean for you?

ken said...

Summer's here too, finally. So, what better than to follow your blog, slow down, and drool at the food pics. Darko's the man. WWDD? is gonna be my new mantra. On Saturday I head to Ghana for 10 days. Not looking forward to a diet of banku (fermented cassava blob) and palm oil soup. Post-colonial foods generally suck.

Keep it coming, and enjoy each minute.

Ken in PA (hugs from Nancy and Mila)