Saturday, 11 December 2021

Esplanade Hotel's First Street Food Menu a Delicious Hit at Fuliranje 2021

December 11, 2021 – Head chef Ana Grgić is delighting crowds - the Esplanade Hotel's first street food menu is a knockout success. The popular Fuliranje section of Zagreb Advent is the capital's culinary star in 2021. Find it at its new home on the impressive Esplanade terrace.

Sandro5.jpg© Sandro Sklepić

That familiar feel of Advent in Zagreb has returned. The strong scents of spiced, cooked wine and sausages on the grill. Music that makes you want to hang around and mingle. By day and by night, city residents and visitors alike are drawn to this terrace.

Fuliranje.jpg© Esplanade Hotel

After dark, the scene is spectacular, with seasonal lights adding to the atmosphere. But, most impressive of all is the backdrop of the Esplanade Hotel. It is their terrace that is hosting the popular Fuliranje section of Zagreb Advent in 2021. And it is the Esplanade's head chef, Ana Grgić, who has delivered one of this Christmas's best culinary highlights.

AnawithfoodbySandro.jpgChef Ana Grgić presents the Esplanade Hotel's first street food menu © Sandro Sklepić

”The idea was to make it totally different to what we already have inside the hotel on our menus,” says Ana when she sits down with Total Croatia News to introduce the Esplanade Hotel's first street food menu. “The food needs to be a little more simple, adapted to this kind of event. But, at the same time, we know that many people come to Fuliranje who are not necessarily so well acquainted with the Esplanade Hotel. So, the menu also needed to represent the hotel, its standards and offer an introduction.”

Crip2.jpgPart of the Esplanade Hotel's first street food menu © Marc Rowlands

”I know that the usual kind of street food is burgers, wraps and sausage sandwiches. But, I wanted to show that this kind of food can also be street food. So far, it's been incredibly popular. In particular, the croquettes and the beef cheeks.”

Esplanade Hotel's First Street Food Menu

crip3.jpgSlow-cooked beef cheeks, a big hit of the Esplanade Hotel's first street food menu © Marc Rowlands

”The beef cheeks are first marinated for 12 hours in red wine and vegetables. Afterwards, they are removed and seared on each side, then cooked slowly inside the replenished marinade for 5 hours. In the first 5 or 6 days since we opened, we already went through 150 kilos of beef cheeks. I bought everything they have at Dolac (Zagreb central market). Now, we have to look a bit further for what we need.”

Esplanade_Štrukli.jpgThe famous strukli of the Esplanade (this is the restaurant presentation - it's served more casually out on the terrace) © Esplanade Hotel

”We sold maybe 1000 strukli up until now. After just 3 days we'd sold 450 portions of our croquettes. There are 8 croquettes in each portion. So, that's quite a lot. Inside there is Dalmatian prosciutto and Pag island cheese. They take quite a long time to prepare at this standard. Maybe next time I should just do burgers!”

crip.jpgIf you only eat one thing at Fuliranje 2021, you simply must try the croquettes (left) from the Esplanade Hotel's first street food menu © Marc Rowlands

”We have a traditional Quiche Lorraine made with very good quality Croatian bacon (slanina). The bakalar (salt cod) is always very popular. It's a seasonal favourite here at Christmastime. On the Fuliranje terrace, we have a traditional white one and also a red one made with tomatoes. We serve it with our own focaccia, made with fresh herbs and Croatian olive oil. But, we have a special offer of bakalar in Le Bistro too – a bakalar pâté, a ravioli with bakalar, sun-dried tomatoes, broad bean and a little chilli and also a risotto.”

Chef Ana Grgić at the Esplanade Hotel Zagreb

Ana.jpgAna Grgić © Esplanade Hotel

2022 marks a milestone in the career of chef Ana Grgić. In spring, she will celebrate 10 years as Executive Chef at the Esplanade Hotel Zagreb. Today, Ana is well known to food fans all over Croatia, having appeared as a celebrated authority on Croatian TV's version of Masterchef. But, her remarkable story has rarely been written in English.

Ana was born in Brčko, which is today within Bosnia and Hercegovina. But, when war broke out, both Ana and her sister were quickly evacuated. After six months in Austria, they were returned to Croatia. The girls ended up staying with a relative in Velika Gorica, where Ana still lives today.

While waiting for their mother to join them in Croatia, Ana and her sister taught themselves how to cook. By the time Ana left school at 16, she had decided that cooking was what she wanted to do. However, with no experience, she struggled to find an opportunity. Eventually, she persuaded the head chef at the Esplanade Hotel to allow her to volunteer in their kitchens.

“I decided it was better to volunteer at a top hotel than to sit at home doing nothing,” says Ana. “After six months, they offered me a job.”

GOJ_1341.jpg© Esplanade Hotel

In the time she has been at the Esplanade Hotel, Ana Grgić has worked her way up every step of the ladder. She now holds the title of Executive Chef (Head Chef) for the entire culinary operations at the Esplanade. In detail, she personally designs menus for the hotel bar, hotel banquets for events like gala dinners and weddings, their considerable outside catering operation and for room service. Additionally, she designs the menus for each of the hotel's two restaurants.

IMG_6862fdsertgyhujk.jpg© Esplanade Hotel

Le Bistro offers traditional Croatian food and ingredients, with an emphasis on French cooking techniques and a distinctly seasonal menu. Zinfandel's restaurant is one of the best fine dining experiences in Croatia, with a menu that changes four times a year reflecting the different seasons.

During her career at the Esplanade, Ana has prepared meals for politicians such as US President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Italian President Napolitano, Austrian President Fischer, celebrities like actor Tim Roth, sportsmen Pep Guardiola, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo and entertainers like Shakira, Sade, Sting, José Carreras, Bob Geldof and Robbie Williams.

Fuliranje at the Esplanade Hotel for Zagreb Advent 2021

Sandro2.jpg© Sandro Sklepić

For enthusiasts of Zagreb Advent, local media reviews of the 2021 manifestation have been painful to read. The event has received an absolute mauling in the press. With the epidemiological situation remaining difficult to predict, on paper it made sense to plan and offer a reduced Advent. But, in a city used to being celebrated as Europe's Best Christmas Market, what's been delivered has seemingly left many disappointed. While an impressive visual theatre can be found in Upper Town and Zrinjevac, critics claim few want to hang around. And they've bemoaned an absence of quality food options.

crip6.jpgFuliranje 2021, at night © Marc Rowlands

These criticisms have been answered in the last week with the opening of Fuliranje at the Esplanade. One of the best-established sections of Zagreb Advent, in previous years Fuliranje was on Strossmayer Square. It could always be counted on for a good atmosphere, decent music and delicious food. This latest incarnation at the Esplanade Hotel is no exception.

Sandro3.jpgFrom the hotel. The grandiose terrace that holds Fuliranje is traditionally known as the Oleander Terrace. It overlooks the park and fountain in Ante Starčević square, part of a U-shaped stretch of Zagreb city centre parks known as Lenuzzi’s Horseshoe © Sandro Sklepić

In addition to the Esplanade Hotel's first street food menu, you'll find many tempting choices waiting to tantalize your tastebuds. Among them, chef Mate Janković offers seasonal handheld favourites at Sausage Institut. Ivan Pažanin's Chef’s Burgers cover the other classic choice. Good Kut is a collaboration between two Zagreb institutions – Good Food and Kut and, like newcomer Beg’s Plant Based Butchery and Deli, they offer healthy options with vivid flavours. But there are many others too.

Fuliranje at the Esplanade Hotel is open every day from 11am to 11pm until 1st January 2022.

Sandro4.jpgFuliranje at the Esplanade Hotel © Sandro Sklepić

You can find out more about what's happening there day-by-day here. For more coverage of Zagreb Advent be sure to see Total Croatia News pages here.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

New Creative Menu of Le Bistro Features the Best from Local Producers

At the legendary Le Bistro of the Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb, accompanied by the scents of hyacinth and excellent DJ music, a new a la carte menu of Le Bistro was presented. It offers a range of quite seductive dishes. Chef Ana Grgić and her team of young and creative chefs keeps proving that she is a master and an artist of her craft.

 Le Bistro (4)

For this occasion, she prepared for the guests a series of tempting dishes and attractive bites at live cooking stations. Everyone gathered in the Le Bistro had an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful spring day on this lovely picturesque terrace in the heart of Zagreb. The presentation of the spring concept of the menu was attended by numerous regular guests of the restaurant, such as Ivana Marić, Karmela Vukov-Colić, Ashley Colburn, Vladimir and Marija Kraljević, who were among the first ones to have the opportunity to taste delicious dishes and grilled meats that will be part of the new menu.

In addition to the delicious snacks, the charming and well-run team of Le Bistro, led by restaurant manager Ivan Trbušić, served great wines. For starters, the Motovun winery Tomaz surprised the guests with the Rosé sparkling wine and Malvasia, while the Korak winery from Plešivica offered its Sauvignon Blanc, Rhine Riesling and Pinot Noir. The Istrian winemaker Franković from Buje offered Sauvignon, Malvasia and excellent Muscatel which was served with a selection of sweets. The exquisite dishes by Ana Grgić are even better when paired with the award-winning collection of extra virgin olive oils Oleum Viride of the Belić family from Istria, which has been the official Le Bistro olive oil for many years.

Ana devotes special attention to each particular ingredient, and only the locally grown ones, natural and healthy, found their way to her kitchen and her guest's plates. The spring menu includes homemade asparagus, aromatic Istrian truffles, smoked ham of the indigenous Slavonian pigs, and the famous potatoes from Lika. Lamb for the tasty lamb burger came from the green pastures of Gorski Kotar region and from black Romanov lambs. "This meat is of great taste, juicy and with no strong scent characteristic of lamb meat. It is easily digestible, and I was impressed by the breeding story", explained Ana Grgić, adding: "The spring offer of ingredients is impossible to resist. I wanted the menu to offer the top products from local breeders and highly-nutritional ingredients, from which I tried to create delicious and unusual combinations of dishes with the touch of French cuisine."

While creating the menu, a particular emphasis was placed on the sustainability that Ana has been promoting over the last few years as a distinguished ambassador of WWF's global Fish Forward Initiative. Among the appetisers, Ana has thus included the Adriatic shrimp from the Podvelebitski Channel which are caught in a way which protects the micro-ecosystem, encouraging fishers to follow the practice. Representatives of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) took the opportunity of the presentation of the new menu to bring attention to the alarming state of the sea and the necessity for sustainable use of resources.

Jadranski škampi, kadaif, pečeni krastavci, juha od kopra i krastavaca

"WWF Adria has the honour to work with the Esplanade Hotel on promoting the protection and sustainable use of natural resources. Trap fishing of shrimp in the Podvelebitski Channel is an example of good practices whereby fishers can live of their work long-term without endangering the species they fish and their habitat. This fishing is one of the most sustainable ones in the Mediterranean Sea, and the Esplanade Hotel, with the promotion of Podvelebitski shrimp, not only assures itself a constant supply of sea products but it remains the sustainability leader of the entire Ho-Re-Ca sector in Croatia. The consumption of sustainable fisheries products is a key element in the protection of marine resources not only in the Adriatic but in all seas of the world. Responsible practices protect not just the fish but millions of people around the world who depend on fish as a source of food and income," said Danijel Kanski, Marine Program Manager at WWF Adria.

Dimljeni rižoto sa sušenim trubama i kremom od komorača

Guests also had the opportunity to taste a variety of beautiful and creative spring-inspired delicacies that will be available on the Le Bistro menu. On offer were burratina panna cotta, salsa and avocado gel, marinated mackerel with crispy vegetables and quinoa, spider crab with fresh zucchini and crunchy tapioca, celery rosti with roasted trout caviar, smoked trout and warm celery cream, as well as Ana’s award-winning smoked risotto, which this year comes with dried chanterelles and fennel cream. The spring menu expertly combines fresh local flavours: salad with pumpkin comes with fresh goat cheese, dressing of pumpkin oil and roasted hazelnuts, chia seeds; smoked duck breast garnished with caramelised parsnip, teriyaki and bok choy; and vitello tonnato with caper leaf, sugared lemon peel and baby salad.

Panna cotta od burratine, salsa i gel od avokada, maslinovo ulje, rikola, rajčice

The spring collection of hearty soups brings together healthy ingredients. Oyster mushroom soup is served with aronia gel and roasted oyster mushrooms, while parsley soup is garnished with cottage cheese pithivier and pancetta crumble. Homemade raviolo is stuffed with smoked prawns, crab velouté, tomato cream and basil. Homemade noodles with truffles, foie gras and orange juice are a real treat on the new menu.

Glazirani teleći ossobuco, svježi bosiljak, basmati riža sa sušenim rajčicama i pinjolima

Among the main dishes, there is glazed veal ossobuco, fresh basil, basmati rice with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts. Ana has decided to serve seldom used zander in brown butter, smoked sweet potatoes, kale with chilli pepper, and she was inspired by traditional “fiš-paprikaš”. Monkfish is served in paper, turmeric root, leek, sun-dried tomatoes, lardo and sage, while striped red mullet is prepared with fennel and saffron marmalade, roasted artichoke, citrus velouté. Cuttlefish confit is rounded with roasted white polenta with herbs, romanesco broccoli cream and lemon juice.

Confit od sipe, pečena bijela palenta sa začinskim biljem, šenon krema, limunov sok

The meat selection offers beef fillet, pistachio crust, truffle potatoes, figs in Prosecco. In her spring menu, Ana also included the unavoidable USA striploin steak with shallot cream, onion confit, roasted mushrooms with thyme. Gourmets can also choose among a varied selection of delicious desserts inspired by spring colours and scents which are a perfect end to a meal. Lemon meringue combined with lemon curd and flaky lemon grass pastry or caramelised mango with ricotta and white chocolate will impress everyone, while chocolate fans will be delighted with warm chocolate cake with strawberries, mint and vanilla cream. The French chic in this springtime dessert menu is represented by mille-feuille with strawberries, mint powder and cocoa crunch, offer a rhapsody of flavours. The exotic note is provided by rum baba, caramelised pineapple and coconut cream.

In addition to the a la carte offer, the menu includes meals prepared according to the strict BOSK gluten-free standard.

The wine list offers a rich selection of exceptional Croatian and international wines and sparkling wines, which will complement the dining experience, while the staff will propose to the guests those which best suit the selected dishes.

Ana’s perfectionist approach to gastronomy, the young and charming team of chefs and waiters, and the cosy, relaxed ambience of Le Bistro, are an excellent reason to spend time enjoying Ana's delicious meals. Bravo.

More news about Ana Grgić can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The Famous "Risotto Bible" Includes Two Recipes by Croatian Chefs For the First Time

For the first time, two Croatian chef’s risotto dishes’ have won over an Italian jury and have been entered into the prestigious Gallo Guide this year.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Famous French Michelin Star Chef Comes to Zagreb Next Month

An exquisite addition to the already rich Zagreb gastro scene is the Champagne Gala Dinner, who this year is hosted by French Michelin star chef, Lionel Levy. The event will take place on November 3 at Zinfandel in the Esplanade Hotel.