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.