Although the Accidental Locavore didn’t eat a single meal in Croatia that wasn’t wonderful, our lunch at Toklarija was easily my favorite. The restaurant is in a very old stone building that once was an olive oil mill. To the left, as you walk in, is a tiny room with a fireplace and a table for two. If you ever want the perfect setting for a romantic meal, this is it!
There’s also a terrace with a spectacular view, but it was a little chilly so we went down to another room a few steps away from the kitchen.
The whole operation is run by a father and son. The son rules the front of house, leaving his father to run the kitchen. Everything, including the wine, is locally sourced or grown in their garden and the menu is dependent on the whims of Mother Nature and Dad.
Our lunch started with two small slabs of fresh cow cheese and local sausage speared with a rosemary branch. Topping it were what looked like capers but turned out to be dandelion buds. They pick them before the plants flower, salt them for two days and then pickle them. Delicious, and a tasty way of keeping your lawn in shape! If it’s not too late, I’m going to try to make some of my own.
If you’re in Croatia and it’s April, it won’t be long before wild asparagus makes an appearance. Ours was served as a salad over baby lettuce with shaved Parmesan, garnished with bacon sticking out of what turned out to be a hardboiled egg. A great combination!
The main course was a roast suckling pig that had been slowly cooking all morning. Keeping up with the pig theme were two homemade raviolis stuffed with prosciutto and cheese, resting on a bed of braised herbs. Heaven! The pig was moist and tender and perfectly seasoned. We each got a piece of meat and a couple of ribs so you could enjoy two slightly different versions of this great dish. The ravioli gave a nicely salty note to it and the herbs offered a nice contrast to the richness of the pork.
Finally, we had a chocolate soufflé resting on a sauce that resembled crème Anglais, but tasted so much more sophisticated. It was made by beating local egg yolks with red wine, adding some sugar and cooking it over a double boiler. It was the perfect accompaniment to the chocolate soufflé cake and I ate every bite.
Toklarija is way off the beaten path, but it’s a beautiful drive and well worth it. Since it’s quite small, reservations are a must and probably need to be made well in advance. A meal there will run you between $50-70 depending on courses. Wines are additional and from a local vineyard, Roxanich. We started out with a sparkling rosé, moved to a Malvazija for the first two courses and ended up with a red, appropriately named Porco Rosso, all very good and well matched to the food.
This has my mouth watering. My mother was Croatian, but she never served anything like this!