NB: I seem to be unable to find my notes from the cheeses we ate, hence the somewhat basic descriptions with no names!
Croatia is a country largely unknown to Americans, apart from those who followed the war that tore Yugoslavia apart 25 years ago. In fact, were it not for the fantasy series Game of Thrones it’s a safe bet that around 20 million fewer Americans would know of it.
This is not the case for Europeans, though, for whom Croatia is very well known for its long and beautiful coastline on the east side of the Adriatic, across the sea and with the same beautiful coastline and climate as the northern half of Italy. The Yugoslavian War decimated the tourist industry (among other things), which took a decade to return to its prewar level. These days, nearly 15 million people per year visit the country.
We spent the February school holidays in Dubrovnik. For its relative proximity to Paris, it’s not very convenient to get there. There are no direct flights outside the high tourist season: we had to connect through Zagreb. Moreover, the flights that were available required a late arrival in Dubrovnik or an early departure for the return. Call me a cynic, but I suspect these were designed to ensure at least an extra night of bookings for the hotels.
Otherwise though, Dubrovnik and the surrounding region were beautiful. Dubrovnik’s old city is a narrow labyrinth of stone streets pocked by restaurants and small shops. The people with whom we interacted where unfailingly pleasant and proud of their town, even if a few expressed some concern that the filming of the eighth Star Wars movie (in progress during our trip), would swell the tourist crowds even more. That said, they were pleased that it benefited their town and country.
We had two pleasant experiences with cheese in Dubrovnik. One was at the fantastic D’Vino wine bar tucked into a stone wall in the old city. The other, at Ragusa restaurant, which we happily found minutes after rain began bucketing down.
The cheeses we ate were from either cow or sheep milk and mild in smell and taste. Both plates included the well-known Pag cheese named for the island whose sheep give their milk for it. The other two cheeses at Ragusa were from cow’s milk. One was aged longer than the other, though this wasn’t massively evident in their taste. The Pag cheese (Paški sir) went well with the pleasant Pošip white from just north of Dubrovnik. The plate from D’Vino had greater variety, including a hard aged sheep’s milk cheese. This, combined with a fantastic charcuterie plate that married perfectly with a mildly tannic red from Postup, also not far. I should also mention that our starter of mushrooms in gorgonzola was fantastic!
We enjoyed ourselves in Dubrovnik and would certainly recommend it, despite the fact that the weather was fairly cool and occasionally rainy. We had no complains about the food though: we ate very well!