July 23, 2020 – The Reshetka pop-up fine dining street food season has begun, as Nikola Bozic and Katarina Vrenc combine to produce something new and authentic for the Croatian coast this summer.
When I first moved to Croatia back in 2003, there was a joke among the local expats about restaurant food in Dalmatian restaurants, whose offer was essentially the same. There is one factory somewhere in Croatia which prints the menus for all the restaurants. All the restaurant then has to do is add its name and prices.
And it was true. The food one offer was very one-dimensional. Once you had tried one menu, you had tried them all. Thankfully, there has been a lot of progress since then, and the gourmet scene in Croatia has really moved forward in the last decade, both in the acceptance of more international cuisine, but also in a growing diversity and experimentation of the younger generation of Croatian chefs.
And sometimes those young visionaries combine to create something a little different, as was the case last Friday night at famed meat restaurant Djurina Hiza in Varazdinske Toplice.
Already regarded as one of the premier meat restaurants in the country, Hiza owner Nikola Bozic has been easily the most active restaurateur during the corona crisis. As others kept their restaurants closed and laid off staff, he not only kept his entire team but hired more people, as he reinvented his business model. A nationwide delivery service of his quality dry-aged steaks and other fine Croatian products proved to be a big hit, one which is now in the process of going Europe-wide.
Looking to the future, I accompanied Nikola as he took delivery of Croatia’s first free-range wagyu cows, now enjoying 200,000 m2 of paradise in Zumberak Nature Park.
Among his many other skills (including winning best burger at the 2019 Zagreb Burger Festival, Bozic also organised street food festivals through his Reshetka brand, bringing his grilling expertise to different parts of the country. Along the way, he has met many inspirational people in the gourmet industry, including a young Istrian chef with previous experience in Zinfandel and Plavi Podrum in Volosko. One only has to listen to Katarina Vrenc talk about her passion for food for a second to realise that she is going to be a big name in the Croatian gourmet world very soon.
And so a partnership was formed to offer something a little different, and a little authentic, for tourists in Croatia this summer. – pop-up fine dining street food at various locations on the coast, as previously reported on TCN.
The opening night was at Djurina Hiza in Varazdinske Toplice (and it will be repeated tomorrow before heading to the coast), and TCN was delighted to be in attendance to watch Katarina weave her culinary magic. IT was rather a different menu, as you can see below, but one which worked very well.
To start, smoked tuna tartare, lardo on chickpeas taco, yellow Jolokia mayo, fermented cherries and sea fennel.
The second course was octopus and pork belly kushiyaki, octopus jus, fermented garlic, and sea fennel croquette.
Chef Ozren prepared an amazing “Wild Đuro” deer burger with wild Mushroom sauce and soft butter buns.
And to finish, chamomile tuile, white chocolate namelaka and baked peaches with orange wine and chamomile macerate.