A taste of Brac
This guest blog is written by our friend David Marshall – pictured below with Kety. David and Kety have been our good friends for many years, they’re experts in all things Croatian and lovers of good food, wine and company!
If you too have a love for a country, region, specific dish or type of cooking and would like to share it with us on our blog, please do get in touch!
It’s July 1974 and we are driving in the dark on unmade roads across a Yugoslavian island. I am with my future wife, her sister and brother-in-law, who was born on the island. I actually have no idea where we are. The car has no aircon, the temperature outside is in the low 30s, but we have to keep the windows closed because of the fine white dust thrown up from the roads
This was my first experience of visiting the Croatian Island of Brač, and the first day of a life long love affair.
Since that day I have visited all most every year, only missing 2 years during the War of Independence 1991 to 1994. And over those years I developed a passion for the unique culinary experiences the island has to offer.
Those Taste Adventures have a very few key local ingredients in common.
Wood fire fuelled by the local holm oak (česmina), probably one of the best woods for cooking on ever.
Lamb from local sheep (janetina) which are free to roam and graze on on a diet of sea salt encrusted wild herbs such as thyme, rosemary & oregano.
Organic Olive Oil (maslina ulje), some of the finest in the world, hand picked & cold pressed on the island.
Home grown tomatoes (domači paradis) that smell so strongly of tomatoes and only just fit in your hand
Fresh sea food including octopus (hobonica), mussels (dagnije), sea bream (orada) & sea bass (brancin)
Combining these wonderfully fresh ingredients create some of the best meals I have ever eaten.
Janetina Ispod Peka (Lamb under a cooking dome)
The Peka is a dome of metal, or cast iron, which has been used as a small oven since the time of the Illyrians. Meat & vegetables are placed in a pan and then covered with the dome. Hot embers are then placed over the dome. Under the lid the ingredients bake together and all the flavours combine into the tastiest of combinations.
In the picture below I have combined 3kg of lamb with carrots, onions, tomatoes, peppers & potatoes. The dish is finished with a dribble of our own olive oil and a handful of fresh herbs.
Cooking times are determined by the temperature of the embers used, but typically takes between 90 and 120 minutes.
Peka has a strong social element as one of its key ingredients.
Waiting for the dish to cook normally includes wine, olive oil, prosciutto, sheep’s cheese, bread – and lots of small talk.
The finished dish – delicious!
More exciting dishes to be featured in the next episode.