Lavender Cheesecake the New Hit at Innovative, Traditional Zbondini

Total Croatia News

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Konoba Zbondini Facebook page

August 8, 2019 – One of the best traditional gourmet stories in Dalmatia goes from strength to strength, as Restaurant Zbondini’s lavender cheesecake proves a hit in Velo Grablje on Hvar.  

It is a story I have followed for many years, and in era where many are looking for the quick buck serving average food, the story looks all the more impressive. 

He, a former employee of one of Dalmatia’s most high-profile and enigmatic winemakers, Andro Tomic. 

She, the daughter of one of the most hard-working and respected restaurateurs in Hvar Town, Djordje and Danica Tudor at Djordjota Vartal next to the Franciscan monastery. 

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And so when the Tudor family decided to open a restaurant in the ancestral village of Velo Grablje – the lavender village – it was only natural that Cvjetko Tresic and Marija Tudor would join forces not only through matrimony, but also running this new traditional restaurant in an authentic village away from crowds. At the time, back in 2015, I called it the most important new restaurant opening on Hvar in 10 years. You can watch the Hvar TV report on the opening night in the video below.

I need to tell you a little background about the remarkable story of Velo Grablje, a stunning stone village just a few kilometres from Hvar Town and yet a world away. Just a few years ago, it had been reduced to a population of just 5 (including a man called Sinai, after the place of his birth – the El Shatt refugee camp in the Sinai Desert during the Second World War. 

The village had been the centre of lavender production in all Dalmatia at one point, but economic emigration and devastating fires (the latest of which was in 2003) hit both the island population and the lavender production. Velo Grablje had reached its lowest point.  


And then, slowly, its fortunes began to change. A local NGO called Pjover, comprising mostly of locals with a connection to the village, concentrated their efforts on reviving the history and traditions of the village, and breathing a little life into the tranquil spot. 

There was success of many fronts, not least on the football field, and NK Levonda from Velo Grablje won the Forska Liga, the Hvar Football League, in 2011, a triumph which was documented in a documentary by Maja Zrnic – you can see the trailer below. 

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The key event on the social calendar, however, was the lavender festival, which has now taken place at the end of June for 11 years. The festival celebrates the traditions of Velo Grablje with a decidedly lavender flavour – the lavender ice cream was interesting. There is also an opportunity to experience the lavender oil production process.


And then, in 2015, Konoba Zbondini opened – and remained open for much of the year. Suddenly there was a focal point to visiting the village for hikers and those on Jeep safari tours. 

And the concept of Zbondini was authentic Dalmatia as It Once Was. Traditional recipes, local produce, cooked in the same way as it had been for generations. The restaurant itself was full of authentic momentoes of an era gone by. And with Marija and Cvjetko running the show and passionate about Dalmatian traditions, it was hard to find a more authentic culinary experience in the region.  

Not content with just running a restaurant, they started offering cooking courses to tourist via Hvar Tours, so that tourists could not only taste the food, but go with them into the fields to pick the ingredients and then learn about Dalmatian cooking first-hand. It is one of the most popular tours that the agency offers. 

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I haven’t been to Velo Grablje for a couple of years, and it is a little longer since I have seen the successful young Zbondini couple, but what a joy to see them hit the media with their story this week. And with a new product which is proving quite a hit and has Cvjetko’s signature on it and represents the essence of this very special village – lavender cheesecake!

The future of Velo Grablje is in very safe hands, and Zbondini is just one more story of excellence to add to my recent concept to start promoting Hvar as a serious gourmet destination

You can follow the latest from Konoba Zbondini on Facebook.

And to finish, take a journey back to the Hvar lavender harvest of 1970 – idyllic.



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