Anthony Bourdain is a very blunt guy. He doesn’t really look like someone you can f*** around with when it comes to world-wide eating and wine drinking. So when he says on his globe trotting No reservations show „Holly s***! That’s good!“ you gotta take him seriously. He knows his food and his palate (he’s a chef), he’s been up and around – more than any of us can practically imagine. And when he calls on God in the times of need to describe the incredible tasting food & wine of Croatia that he has visited last October – take note. Because there’s a reason why „Holly s***! That’s good!“ have been the most used 4 little words on the No reservations show called „Croatian coast“ that had a world wide premier this week on the Travel Channel. Bourdain admitted he was an idiot since it took him eight seasons of his show to reach the shores of Croatia.
„I’m an idiot, it took me this long to come here!“, Bourdian said of his first ever visit to Croatia that was hosted by Mate Jankovic, the Masterchef Croatian judge.
No reservations „Croatian coast“ has probably been the best promotional thing for the tourisim and wine scene of Croatia, the small ex Yugoslav country that went through a war in the early 1990s while today strives to be recognized as a lifestyle destination. Wine, food and the coast with more than 1100 islands make just a piece of the picture Croatia wants to show to the world. And Anthony Bourdian has done an impecable job no paid marketing expert could have ever come up with. His witty, sharp yet often offensive language, clear cutt journalism and masterful shots of the places he has visited in Croatia all put in an easy going TV format make a show exciting enough to watch it over and over again. Needless to say it has generated a huge amount of PR and online buzz since it was aired…
Anthony’s adventures start off in Istria, the northern coast peninsula known for the wine making and olive oil production dating back to the Greeks and Romans. „I’ve had no idea what Croatian cuisine was. Zero! I’ve had no picture in my mind“ he said while indulging on mussels in olive oil, garlic and breadcrumb sauce and oysters fresh from the sea at an old boat turned into a restaurant for the occasion. Next was the white truffle hunting experience in the forest of the medieval town of Motovun. The truffle story goes arund the „Shotzy the truffle pooch“, as he call the dog that sniffed out the prized white truffle from the grounds of Motovun forest (an ounce is sold at some $55) during the shoot. It took more than just that tiny littly tuber that Shotzy found to feed Anthony and his host, the owner of the Mondo tavern in Motovun: fritaja (omelette) with shaved truffles and Istrian sausage, pljukanci with truffles and many truffle-rich delights were served…
The food & wine trail in Istria was concluded with the Skoko family owned tavern called Batelina down south in Istria – one of the most interesting cuisine concepts in Istria at the moment. The Skoko family are the 4th generation of fishermen: David, the son, is the cook who alongside with his mother Alda prepares what his father Danilo catches during the day. The idea is to have fresh fish but prepared in a traditional but with a new vision. Fish tripe was the dish that took Anthony’s breath away. „It’s the first time I’ve ever had this anyhwhere in the world!“ he said and explained that he’s had fish balls, liver and sperm but not tripe so far. Bourdain was in owe with the Skoko family cuisine wonders with the so-called trash fish – the fish left over once the good stuff is sold that was then prepared by the fisherman’s family.
Cruising down south Anthony and his host Mate went to the island of Pag to indulge in some more great wine, great cheese and olive oil. Restaurant & winery Boskinac with its stewed octopus, lamb tripe and goulash (slowly cooked lamb served with pasta) and dried octupus fritaja with the selection of Pag cheese and some „monster wines“, as Bourdain dubbed it, blew their minds off. „This is world class food, world class wine and world class cheese!“ he said.
The highlight of the show was the visit to Bibich family restaurant & winery where they were served some excellent dishes while sitting in Alen Bibich’s cellar surrounded by wooden barrels. „Epic quality“ and „epic wine“ were the words Bourdain used to describe the oysters from Skradin, smoked trout prepared by Mrs. Bibich and debit, the indigenous wine from the region. But the spotlight was on the Skradin risotto, several hours long cooked lamb stew with rice and local cheese that produced „Holly crap that’s good!“ exclamation (the footage of the risotto being cooked really got my juices going). In that shot we’ve seen a lot of Bibich syrah that is being exported to the U.S. being drank and once the plates with risotto were over, the host Alen Bibich called his chef to bring in the pot – „Daj tecu!“ as he said in the Dalmatian dialect.
„Every meal I’ve had in Croatia is incredible! Croatia doesn’t seem to recognize how good they’ve got“ said Bourdain before he and Mate passed out on the Bibich patio (whether that was for the purpose of the footage or not we were not quite sure…)
No reservations show got to an easy going and relaxing finale once the crew cruised into one of the national park Kornati islands – the serene and excluded location and vivid local hosts who served them simple grilled sardines and red mullet put back the smile on Anthony and Mate’s exhausted and pale faces. All Bourdain could conclude was „The next big thing is Croatia!“
Anyone watching couldn’t agree more…
Be sure to follow Anthony Bourdain’s steps in Croatia (check out this map provided by the Taste of Croatia blog).
You can watch the No reservations ”Croatian coast” show on Travel Channel via this link