Croatian Football Feast

I woke up this morning stuffed from last night’s feast.  I was a little dehydrated but no headache; I would call that a victory.  Yesterday evening, we drove over to the neighboring town of Novi Marof to visit friends.  You may recall my last visit to Novi Marof was for the Croatian Barbeque.  This evening had a similar spirit but with a slight twist. Instead of going to the family compound, we headed to the hills to their cabin where we had gemišt, delicious food and we watched a little football Americano.

We made our way up the winding hillside and found ourselves surrounded by darkness.  Željko flagged us down and then guided us inside to the chilly one room cabin.  In it, there was a small bed, a table with a few chairs, a sink and a wood burning  oven.  Nikola was bringing in firewood to get the fire going and Željko pulled out small bottles of homemade liquors and glasses to help warm us up a little more quickly.  It was lovely.

Nikola tending the wood burning oven

Nikola tending the wood burning oven

Nikola and Željko started preparing the food, you got to love men that can cook.  To get us started, Nikola served up sausages (dried and cured by the Croatian wind), smoked bacon, onions picked from their fields, which he sprinkled with salt and bread.

Sausage, bacon and onions

Sausage, bacon and onions

As we were noshing, Željko began to heat a pot full of food over the oven and started peeling a bowl of potatoes.  We were in for a traditional peasant meal.

 Željko man handling those spuds.

Željko man handling those spuds.

Once thoroughly heated, Nikola sat the pot before us and revealed what was inside…stuffed cabbage.  I’m not really a cabbage kind of girl but it smelled so tasty.  It was generously stuffed with pork, rice and spices and then delicately rolled and cooked in some sort of broth.  I’m guessing there was probably some  wine in it.  Last night was the night that I became a cabbage loving kind of girl. This dish was so good!

We watched the Denver vs. San Diego game from the night before while we drank gemišt and Željko finished up with the potatoes and started to prepared the mulled wine.  The potatoes were laid out on the baking sheet and he was adding in the “love”,  meaning,  a pad of butter on each potato topped off with a slice of bacon.  Paula Dean would be proud.

Potatoes with "love"

Potatoes with “love”

Denver continued to lead over San Diego and we all sat around enjoying the mulled wine  and gemišt.  Nikola tended the oven, making sure the fire was fed, while Željko prepared the special sauce for the potatoes as the baked.  Once ready, the crispy potatoes were set before us with the sauce by its side.  We learned that the sauce would make Paula Dean even more proud,  it was browned onions in butter!  And of course, they were amazing.

Until the early morning, we enjoyed the warmth of the cabin and the taste of wine.  We built toilets, witnessed the durability of a Nokia phone and got a little weird with the camera. I learned that just like a true southern kitchen, pork and butter are the Croatian ingredients used to add little “love” to a dish.

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Thank you again to the friendliest family around, it was another night well spent.

Here we are feasting

Here we are feasting

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