Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Konoba Kod Joze, Split

Sunday 17 May
A good sign when we abandoned the Frankfurt terminal and got on our Croatian Air plane to Split: they handed out, not your typical package of pretzels, but fresh bread rolls with big smears of sour cream cheese and greens inside.  We were going to like Croatia.
After arrival and a nap at our literally palatial B&B, the Palace Augubio, we wandered around Split's Old Town, i.e. Diocletian's palace, getting a sense of the place where our conference was going on for the next week. 
It was about 6:30 PM local time, but our biologic clocks had been thrown off by a day in flight, and our stomachs by Lufthansa's "food."  Our friend Lauren had recommended Konoba Kod Joze, a small unassuming place down a sidestreet north of the palace; she said it had "all the noms," and she was absolutely right, as she often is.
It was so early that there was no one there except for a rather surly family party that had probably been sitting since lunch, smoking and staring at their phones; the chefs and head waiter were up on the terrace enjoying the late afternoon sun.  But they greeted us kindly, and scattered to get some food for these strange outlanders.
We embarked upon our Croatian wine exploration with a bottle of Pošip, which went perfectly with the fishy specialties of the place.  
As the evening was warm, we started with a tender cold octopus (hobotnica) salad with onions and oil; our kind mustachioed waiter brought us the oil cruet, explaining that fish need to swim three times: once in the sea, once in oil, and once in wine.
Tonight's special was kozice raznjic, a risotto made with mangold greens, adorned with two skewers of plump pink shrimps.  We've never had mangolds before, to our knowledge, though apparently mangold hurling is as popular in Somerset as Aunt Sally is in Oxfordshire.
Our other choice was green noodles, i.e. fettucine, with seafood (spageti sa morskim - and forgive the occasional lack of háčeks), including mussels, vongole veraci, and a couple of delicious little prawns.

It was all very Italian, except that in Italy the waiter would have waited about 20 minutes after we'd finished our octopus to think about dawdling up with our next course, and after that would have said "Poi?..." and despised us for not ordering a primo and secondo.  
Here, the waiter brought out the risotto and pasta as soon as the little vongole were gasping from the heat, and we put aside our octopus to deal with them.  
But the two countries are similar in producing delicious foods.


Saturday 16 May

We flew off to Split, Croatia, today for the triennial meeting of ASMOSIA, otherwise known as the Marble Mafia.  The best way to get there is via Germany, so we went via Lufthansa.  
In past years their food was rather good, but not now; even Delta's pallid sky-chicken is better than the soggy, uniform blandness of the chicken, spaetzle, and boiled vegetables they confronted us with.  
They were even chintzy with the wine, not a good thing when you want your charges to nod off and leave you alone.

Fried Smelts and Napa Cabbage Salad

Friday 15 May
Tonight we defrosted a pound bag of smelts and fried up a cornmeal-coated batch of them.  The fact that we used a big platter so all the smelts could swim in the eggwash is due to the blog's guidance; so we'll keep writing it, even if we're the only ones who read it.
On the side, we adapted our favorite kale salad with ricotta salata, anchovies, and pine nuts for Napa cabbage and arugula, which is/are the greens that/what we had.  
That's the end of our two giant Napa cabbages, and damn tasty too.

Not your Typical Roast Lamb Dinner

Thursday 14 May
Back at Easter, we only had two guests for dinner, so when we butterflied our  giant lamb leg, we took off one lobe and froze it for a rainy day.

Today wasn't rainy, but our freezer is bursting at the seams, so we pried out the small but awkward lump of lamb, defrosted all day, rubbed with oil, rosemary, and salt, and roasted it in the combi oven: on broil for 10 minutes on each side, then back on broil for 5 mins. on the first side, and finally at regular 400º bake for 5 more minutes, until the internal temperature reached 120º.  We were surprised at how tender and juicy it came out, especially for a lamb leg originally bought at Kroger and frozen since Easter.
Alongside, we had a last drizzle of the salsa verde from when we made the artichokes, last week; and a salad of cold roast beets, sliced cucumbers, and the first sugar snap peas from our garden, dressed with oil and white balsamic.  Very light and springy, quite a contrast to the typical Sunday roast dinners we had groaned to love (yes, you heard that right) in England last year.
A 2013 Cline Zinfandel stood up to the lamb very well. 

Penne ai Quattro Formaggi

Wednesday 13 May
Just as here; this time our chosen cheeses were Pecorino Romano, Asiago, Gorgonzola, and Goat. 
We'd show you a picture, but why look at white penne in a white sauce on a white plate?

Grilled Swordfish and Vegetables

Tuesday 12 May
They often talk about summer being grilling time, and so it is.  But where others have propane grills the size of Volkswagens parked out on their decks, we just keep using our JennAir range grill attachment, so we can stay indoors with the air conditioning on (it's pretty hot this week).

We defrosted a couple of swordfish steaks and set them marinating in oil and salt while we grilled the vegetables - thick slices of red pepper, radicchio, and sweet onion.  They taste better when they're not piping hot, so they rested on a platter while we grilled the fish.  
We had a cup of leftover salsa verde standing by, but neither the vedge nor the fish really needed anything but their grill marks to be delicious.

Creamed Napa Cabbage with Smoked Trout

Monday 11 May
There are very few Chinese dishes that incorporate milk products, and one is creamed Napa cabbage.  Previously we had done it with bok choy, but as we mentioned in last Tuesday's post, we still had a cabbage and a half left over from the two we bought at the farmers' market, so this was a go-to recipe.
We sliced the cabbage a bit too thin, I guess influenced by the slaw we made last time, and stir-fried it with a chopped clove of garlic and a mite of salt for a minute or so.   Then we lowered the heat, covered, and steamed it with a dribble of chicken stock, until it was very tender.  Then we uncovered the wok, dolloped in some heavy cream, and boiled it enough to thicken; you don't want to boil too much because water will just keep coming out of the cabbage and thinning the sauce.
People often serve this topped with slivers of Jinhua or Smithfield ham, so we crumbled in half a smoked trout fillet to get the same effect.
Actually, it tasted even better with the smoked fish than with the ham.