Paul Ivić is an Austrian chef, one of the most renowned chefs in Vienna, where his vegetarian restaurant Tian in the very center of Vienna proudly carries a Michelin star. In June, he opened a vegetarian pop-up restaurant Bistro Tian Am Meer in Falkensteiner’s Resort Punta Skala, which is to be open until September 18.
Ivić says he has long dreamed of getting closer to Croatian cuisine – the cuisine of the country where his father was born and where he spent several weeks a year as a child. When the Falkensteiner Hotel in Zadar approached him with the idea of opening a summer pop-up restaurant, he did not want to miss the opportunity.
As in many other places, the desire for vegetarian food is growing in Zadar. Bistro Tian Am Meer really wants to attract locals. It is quite logical for Ivić: the Croatia of his childhood has the taste of fresh vegetables and fruits ripened in the sun, and meat was eaten only on special occasions – often on Sundays, always on holidays.
He visited the region around Zadar several times with his colleagues in order to find producers with the best quality local ingredients. Most of the food comes from small family farms (OPGs, as they’re known in Croatia) that do not have international distribution partners and often do not even have a website. Many do not even know that they are growing old varieties, some of which are on the brink of extinction. They are not networked and do not engage in any kind of marketing. Ivić wants to teach them to appreciate what they have.
When he first discovered the common glasswort (the literal translation of the name in Croatian would be “the sea asparagus) in Nin, he started collecting it. That fresh smell of salt – that’s what he wanted to serve to his guests in the evening. “We didn’t want to come here and modernize Croatian cuisine,” says Ivić. We want to stay true to Viennese Tian’s cooking style, which means we don’t serve mushroom-based vegetarian kebabs or similar dishes that imitate meat. Instead, there are reduced vegetable dishes where every ingredient has a chance to shine.
The bistro serves vegetable soup, olive oil emulsion and ajvar. Then, stuffed zucchini flowers, grown by the chef of the hotel’s fish restaurant, as well as Sandra Babac’s jams. The bread is from the Kroštula bakery in Zadar. Employees at the hotel were “super excited” after the trial run on opening day, even though many said they eat meat every day, Ivić said.