July 26, 2023 – Fjaka Forest, perhaps the coolest gourmet introduction to the Croatian Adriatic this summer. Learn to chill like a Dalmatian after dining like a king at Fjaka Forest on the Pakleni Islands.
Perhaps it is because I lived in Dalmatia for 13 years, but I always love chatting to Dalmatians in Zagreb who are a little homesick for their roots. And when they happen to be a celebrated chef with a true passion for authentic food, the conversation can only get more interesting.
Especially when they then reveal their new concept, as Rougemarin’s Marin Medak did to me over lunch recently. A concept I think not only is a total winner, but also the best gourmet addition I have come across this summer on the coast – Fjaka Forest, as Rougemarin Hvar opened its doors on the tiny island of Jerolim on the Pakleni Islands earlier this month.
Marin Medak has already left his culinary mark over the last decade with his Rougemarin restaurant in Zagreb, and there is every indication that he will do the same at Fjaka Forest in his new Rougemarin Hvar restaurant facing the town of Hvar from the tiny island of Jerolim, which in 2011 was named by CNN as home to the best naturist beach in the world.
Jerolim is all about nature, with just one other bar and one house on the island, a delightful woodland which God created for man to relax. And this being Dalmatia, relaxation means ‘fjaka.’
A difficult word to describe, the state of fjaka is the art of achieving a relaxed state of body and mind, where nothing else matters, just the relaxation. Often confused with laziness (which it isn’t), achieving fjaka is not as easy as it sounds, but once there, you have the ultimate Dalmatian experience. You can get more of an idea of fjaka from my recent TikTok post on the subject.
And where better to discover the key to the Dalmatian way of life than at Rougemarin Hvar, aka Fjaka Forest, surrounded by forest with its fjaka props, and a fabulous menu based on the core ingredients of the Dalmatian diet?
And with peak season upon us, what better way to spend the day than escaping the crowds setting yourself up for a day of fine food, great beaches, and total chilling – Dalmatian-style.
And talking of escaping the crowds, as there are a limited number of water taxis and sailing berths, the chances of overcrowding are very slim, and there is plenty of space to accommodate those who do arrive. But rather than me going on about it (I have yet to visit, only heard Marin’s vision over lunch in Zagreb), here is a lot more detail, courtesy of the team at Fjaka Forest:
Just 800 meters from the city waterfront in Hvar, as a counterbalance to the busy everyday life of the city, there is an oasis of peace. An uninhabited islet surrounded by azure blue, forested with Aleppo pine and home to thousands of starlings. The island of Jerolim, where you can now spend the whole day carefree with the cuisine of chef Marin Medak and his team, who moved to Hvar this summer.
Arriving at Jerolim is already an unforgettable experience in itself, because guests are transported to their destination by local boatmen who drive their traditional boats directly from the Hvar waterfront every 20 minutes. This unique ride across the Pakleni channel lasts 10 minutes, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy a spectacular view of the sights of Hvar and the crystal clear Adriatic Sea.
In addition, guests arriving by boat have the option of mooring at the pier or anchoring at permitted locations around the islet, allowing everyone to find their ideal way of arriving at Jerolim.
Rougemarin Hvar is located in the middle of several thousand square meters of forest with 120 seats comfortably arranged on two terraces with a view of the sea, pine trees and Fortica, the famous Hvar fortress.
As always, Chef Medak follows his vision, so this time he draws inspiration from his own roots and the basics of Dalmatian cuisine with the famous Japanese “omakase” model, where the guest partially leaves the choice to the chef while he himself uses the best ingredients he has procured for that day.
A powerful combination of fresh and high-quality ingredients with clean and precise cooking techniques.
Such a style of work automatically draws links with local fishermen and local producers of dairy products, fruits and vegetables and, inevitably, Hvar winemakers.
Chef Medak based the concept itself on the 12 pillars of Dalmatian cuisine:
SALT, OIL, VINEGAR, WINE, FRIED, ROAST, GRILL, POT, COALS, LEMON, CAROB, ALMOND
From them he develops those authentic, rich and yet simple flavors of Dalmatia, what Dalmatia is.
In addition to impressive tasting menus, you will have the opportunity to taste the finest and freshest ingredients, the restaurant also offers the possibility of enjoying a traditional brunch with a glass of wine at a price of 25 EUR for all those who have a blue return ticket for the Hvar barkajoli (the water taxi to and from the riva).
“I consider brunch a special experience because every day you enjoy a different dish, which represents the essence of Dalmatian cuisine. In Dalmatia, brunch is a synonym for a break from hard work, and we imagined it as a short break from swimming,” says Medak.
Inside a beautiful pine forest, the restaurant offers peace and intimacy in Fjaka Forest, where there are three pavilions and several smaller points with comfortable beds from the local manufacturer Qushin home, creating the perfect environment for relaxing after a meal. The only way to enter the well-known Dalmatian state of mind characterized by relaxation and carefreeness in which the body “recuperates” the so-called fjaka.
Peace, an authentic Mediterranean atmosphere, the atmosphere of a beautiful pine forest, the sea and an impressive view of the town of Hvar, along with a unique culinary experience, is more than enough of a mix to make Rougemarin Hvar your unmissable destination.
This sponsored article was produced in partnership with Rougemarin Hvar. You can follow them on Facebook for the latest from the Fjaka Forest here.