Friday, 1 October 2021

Michelin-Star Boškinac Visits Split for JRE Masterclass on Pag Lamb

October 1, 2021 - Chef Matija Kruhonja of Michelin-star restaurant Boškinac visited Split for a JRE masterclass on Pag lamb, accompanied by Korta Katarina wines. 

On Wednesday, September 29, 2021, the culinary team from the famous Boškinac restaurant, which confirmed its Michelin star earlier this month, visited the Miele experience center in Split for a masterclass with restaurant chefs who are part of the prestigious JRE association.


The exclusive group of visitors had the chance to learn the secrets of preparing Pag lamb firsthand from experts for whom lamb is one of the most important foods in the award-winning restaurant. The chef of the restaurant, Matija Kruhonja, and his team revealed secrets and prepared one of Boškinac's most famous dishes.


"Our topic was Pag lamb, the legendary terroir ingredient from the island of Pag. The masterclass went deep into the topic by showing various restaurant cuts. Why did we pick this subject? First of all, we wanted to educate the guests about the proper way of cutting the meat, then show them positions and explain which parts are good for certain dishes and last but not the least, prepare a dish - a current signature dish created by Boškinac chef Matija Kruhonja," Irina Ban of JRE. 

Chef Matija Kruhonja also showed the knives he used and explained the animal's anatomy, which has to be respected if one wants to make precise and correct cuts.


"We also discussed that Pag lamb is much smaller than other European varieties due to the lack of food and hostile terrain, but its meat has a stronger flavor due to that same reason - animals are on pasture which is mostly consisted of aromatic herbs, covered with sea salt. Such conditions make an animal more muscular, less fat, and smaller," added Ban. 


The lamb was paired with wines from Pelješac winery Korta Katarina: sparkling Sabion, Plavac Mali - Winemakers Selection 2011, before ending the evening with Boškinac red Cuvee as a gift of the house. All wines were presented by Boškinac sommelier Mladen Livaja, one of the best sommeliers in Croatia. 


Jeunes Restaurateurs (JRE) Croatia is a prestigious association of the most creative gastronomes, and the Croatian branch has 16 restaurants. Founded in 1974, it has about 350 of the best young top chefs and restaurant owners in Europe. JRE chefs combine outstanding talent, a deep passion for cuisine, a love of local produce, and a strong sense of tradition. Their cooking expertise, paired with the outstanding atmosphere of their restaurants, offers a truly fantastic experience. JRE organizes masterclasses with chefs from the best Croatian restaurants who are also members of this prestigious association several times a year. Until now, they were completely closed to the public.

For more on lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Thursday, 29 July 2021

Pag Island Transformation: From Party Destination to Adventurous Vacation

July 29, 2021 -  For a very long time, the island of Pag's chief tourist attraction has been loud, late-night parties at Zrće beach. Now, as the events of the past year and a half forced the tourist sector to give up their rinse-and-repeat method of operating, Pag has finally seized upon the many opportunities of its unique landscape. Enter Pag Outdoor Summer, aimed at transforming Pag into a destination ideal for an adventurous vacation. A look at the Pag Island transformation. 

Pag is slowly but surely reinventing itself as a multifaceted destination. In the past few years, Moon Island, as it's been nicknamed due to its vast barren landscape, has been going through a touristic renaissance.

Perhaps taking note of the example set by the island of Hvar, Pag is taking its place in the world as a luxury tourism destination with its UNESCO-protected intangible heritage (Pag lace), award-winning Camping Village Šimuni,  champion cheeses, and the star-studded cast of regular visitors, such as Zlatko Dalić, Luka Modrić, and Dejan Lovren, who owns a four-star hotel in the town of Novalja.

Or maybe the tourist directors have simply learnt the importance of clear and optimistic communication from Boškinac, Croatia's latestMichelin star restaurant and boutique hotel, which has been fully booked all throughout the season of 2020 when even the most popular destinations suffered losses.

When I was a child, all of Pag's riches - the cheese, the lace, the salt - even the 1600 years old olive gardens of Lun were poorly advertized to potential markets. Just like a treasure, they have been kept from the world, but not because they were considered too precious to share. It was because there was no one with the skills and knowledge of how to utilize them. Thus, the island was left to the winds of chance (and since Pag gets the front row seat when it comes to the effects of the Bura wind, this was an intended pun).

Though it left a large portion of the island bare of much vegetation, the Bura wind provided unique conditions for a number of activities: from the production of the famous Pag cheese to posing as a set for film crews in search of unusual locations - the opportunities which were luckily recognized and seized.

Last year, when maintaining good health became more important than ever, the people in charge finally came up with a plan for turning Pag's understated natural beauties into a tourist product.

Finally, the times were changing. Pag Outdoor Weekend was born.

What is particularly encouraging about this project, as I have found out through my research, is the fact that the plan of making Pag  an active tourism destination actually started years ago with the collaboration of Pag's six tourist boards. Thus, five years ago, the predecessor of Pag Outdoor - Pag Island Trail & Trekk race - colloquially known as Life on Mars, as a tribute to Pag's distinctive terrain - was presented to the world. 

In 2021, the tourist boards decided to take a step further with the creation of Pag Outdoor Summer, a project which will try to extend the season and diversify the tourist offer. 

The project is based on four main activities: biking, hiking, cycling, and kayaking. Nothing was left to chance. Long before the first tourists arrived, the first phase of building, marking, and tidying a comprehensive infrastructure of trails infrastructure had been finished, ably supported by a financial injection by the Ministry of Tourism.

Accompanied by professional guides and mountaineers, tourists are invited to take part in free hiking, cycling, and walking tours all across the island. The routes carry attractive names sure to pique your interest: The Embrace of Stone and Wind (a cycling tour to Pag's windmills), The Sunny Hour Tour above the Vlašići settlement, known for its sand beaches and for the dreamers who fancy walking under the starry skies - The Night of the Full Moon tour, which ends on a beach overlooking the town of Pag just in time to catch the first glimmering rays of the Sun at dawn. (Be sure to check the photo gallery below.)

So far, the public reaction has been more than positive. Although Pag has long been known as a great hiking destination among nature lovers, never before has there been an organized attempt to market it to the wider public. Though only the area around Novalja can boast green Mediterranean forests, all across the island, Pag's mountain trails are bathed in the scent of lavender, sage, and precious immortelle - and if you start your trek in Pag, you'll be greeted by a nature reserve Dubrava -Hanzine, which translated to English means 'a forest of oaks'. Yes, on an island where few evergreens survive, there are endemic species of deciduous trees!

If you continue hiking further up, the stony greys of the mountains will contrast with the deep blues of the sea surrounding Pag Bay, and the relief carvings the persistent Bura wind has created in the rocks are sure to awaken your imagination.

Pag is the northern Adriatic's best-kept secret - don't miss a chance to discover it.

An overview of trails covered by Pag Outdoor:

 camera: Elvis Šmit

video editing: Alan Crljenko

 And this is how it looks in practice:


credit: Fran Bukša


credit: Alan Crljenkio


credit: Elvis Šmit


credit: Alan Crljenko


credit: Fran Bukša


credit: Alan Crljenko


credit: Alan Crljenko



For more on travel in Croatia, click here.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Can Good Communication Save The Season? Boškinac on Pag Busier Than In 2019

July 13, 2020 - Marc Rowlands interviews Boris Šuljić, owner of Boškinac on Pag, a Michelin-starred restaurant, to try and discover the secret to success in the challenging summer of 2020

Among the neverending doom and gloom of this year, a ray of sunshine through the clouds. At Boškinac on Pag, the restaurant, hotel and winery, business is booming. With better numbers than at this point in 2019, is it possible the luxury sector is suffering less this season from COVID-19? And what is the secret to Boškinac's success so far in 2020?

“I am very satisfied with this year's business,” Boškinac owner Boris Šuljić told TCN with a smile and a carefree tone to his voice. “It's definitely busier than last year. Some days are better than others but, generally, more people are coming.”

An island within an island. Pag's Boškinac is located within a lush green and neighbourless section of the island's interior © Boškinac

In a year where, depending on who you believe and how you extrapolate the info, tourism in Croatia is down by at least 50%, people sit comfortably isolated on Boškinac's large terrace. There, they take in the view of the olive trees and Boškinac's vineyards, with not a neighbour in sight. With special measures in place, seats in their Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant are similarly full. But just where are these guests coming from?

“Most of them this year have been from Croatia and Slovenia,” says Šuljić, not unsurprised. “I'd say the next largest group is foreign nationals, ex-pats, who now live in Croatia. But, also we've had quite a few from Germany, Austria, and Belgium. It's not so difficult for us to get busy. We are a relatively small hotel - 11 rooms, 55 seats in the fine dining restaurant, and 40 seats in our more informal tavern.”

Boris Šuljić welcoming guests to Boškinac with a glass of their own-made wine in summer 2019 © Fabio Šimićev

Šuljić estimates that in total around 60% of 2020's guests have come from Croatia, 40% from other countries, a distinct change in the usual demographic they receive. Awarded a Michelin star in February of 2020, the hotel and restaurant have earned a reputation internationally for high-quality food, wines, service, and an experience much more unhurried and relaxing than that found in many places on the popular island. So, has he dropped his prices to encourage this year's draw?

“No, not at all” Šuljić tells us, “our prices remained normal. We are not so expensive like some other 4 or 5-star hotels in Dubrovnik, Rovinj, or Split. The average room price is around €200. Until 15 July, we arranged some special packages with the room and fine dining. We kept the food at the same price but offered the rooms a little cheaper in combination. It was successful. It seemed to attract people who'd heard of the hotel and restaurant, who maybe decided that right now was the best time to come and look. It's not so far to come here to check us out when you only have to travel from Split or Istria, even Zagreb, which is where many of these guests have been coming from. They stayed for one or two nights and enjoyed our Michelin-starred restaurant.”

The flair with which Boškinac on Pag use their fresh, locally-sourced and premium ingredients earned them a Michelin star earlier in 2020 © Boškinac

Always keeping on top of developments in Croatia's gastro scene (you can stay updated on our Gourmet pages), one of TCN's most recent reports from Boškinac noted the venue's fluctuating success of the 2019 season. The summer's unusually variable weather was considered as perhaps one factor in the lack of footfall. With the sun shining reliably on Pag this summer, could it be that visitors care more about the weather than they do about Coronavirus? Is sun-seeking really a greater deciding factor for those looking at Croatia holidays than the ever-updating COVID-19 situation? Šuljić thinks not.

“I definitely think we're busier this year because of the Michelin star,” he says. “People seem to really recognise this international sign of quality. We got a lot of attention because of this. I think it is also because of our communication. We capitalised on the attention and we have been sending out very positive messages. We have every reason to be optimistic and it is this optimistic message we have been sending out; we are here, we are a small place, isolated, we have no neighbours, with allocations for relatively few people, but with lots of room and air and enough terrace for everyone. This is not the usual kind of busy hotel that's packed with people. We are very passionate about our food and our hotel experience. Ours is a business that concentrates on quality, not quantity.”

A platter of distinctly Dalmatian delights, an example of the food on offer at Boškinac on Pag's less-formal tavern restaurant © Boškinac on Pag

Though Šuljić's international recognition, unique premises and isolated location undoubtedly offer an advantage in attracting high-end clientele, could other Croatian businesses learn something from the clear and optimistic communication Boškinac has been sending out since the season's start? Well, it's an option to all but, since opening in 200, Boškinac's message and communications have been of premium importance to the business.

“We were very ambitious as soon as we opened, especially with our food,” remembers Šuljić. “But, at that time, this kind of fine dining experience was not so much recognised in Croatia. It was a very high cuisine for the time. People didn't understand what we were trying to do. Slowly we grew with our guests. It was a journey we made together. It was a gradual process. On our part, a mixture of good social media communication, some PR and word-of-mouth recommendations from previous guests was what worked best.”

Spectacular presentation, one of the many wow factors attracting curious visitors to Boškinac on Pag © Boškinac on Pag

Of course, it's too early to tell if Boškinac will maintain its story of success through summer 2020. Šuljić is aware of this. And, even though it is even more difficult to predict the rest of the season than in any other year, he remains decidedly unworried because of their experiences so far.

“It is really interesting,” he says, when asked about future bookings for this summer, “I've never known anything like it. We have so far not had any bookings further than three or four weeks in advance. It's much more week to week. For instance, right now we have zero bookings for August. Usually, I would be concerned. But, it was the same one month ago and now we are almost full. All of the bookings are last minute. People are making their decisions based on the status and the quality of the information available. They check the news and the websites for advice, make a decision and then off they go.”

© Boškinac on Pag

For the best and most up-to-date information on Coronavirus and travel to Croatia, bookmark the Total Croatia News news page.

Total Croatia News is the best-read English language news site covering Croatia for people across south-east Europe. If you want to get your message across to those booking last-minute visits to the Croatia in summer 2020, contact us at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to see what we can do for you.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Rešetka's Superior Summer Street Food Brings Fine-Dining Quality at Coastal Pop-ups

July 13, 2020 - In their first venture to the Croatian coast, Rešetka's summer menu brings fine-dining quality to seaside streets in 2020

Sometimes you just want a burger, a sandwich, or something you can just eat from your hands. But, just because you haven't got the time or can't be bothered with the faff of fine dining, that doesn't mean you're volunteering for a drastic drop in quality.

That's where Rešetka comes in. Street food providers renowned for sourcing and selling only quality meats, the grill specialists have been a highlight of Zagreb Burger Fest and several pop-ups in recent times. This summer, the experience that has won over the Croatian capital's burger connoisseurs can be found instead along the coast.

Rešetka owner Nikola Božić has embarked on the summer venture with chef Katarina Vrenc. You'll be able to find their new concept 'Fine Street Food by Reshetka & Katarina Vrenc' at several pop-up locations along the Adriatic this summer. They'll be visiting Istria, Kvarner and Dalmatia, including the islands of Cres and Pag.

Rešetka and Đurina Hiža are renowned for using only high quality, locally sourced produce within their dishes including, this year, beef from a hybrid of Japan's famed wagyu and Holstein, sourced from the first range herd of its kind in Croatia © Rešetka

With a commitment to cooking only with high quality, locally sourced produce and ingredients, the team is known to use premium meats and seafood for their dishes. This year they will offer beef from a hybrid of Japan's famed wagyu and Holstein, sourced from the first range herd of its kind in Croatia. Within a summer menu that combines the best of continental and coastal Croatian ingredients, you'll also find superior snacks such as rich pork belly paired with octopus.

Nikola Božić is also the proprietor of Đurina Hiža near Varaždinske Toplice. As recently covered in TCN, thanks to some quick and positive thinking, though the restaurant closed for a while in the Coronavirus lockdown, Nikola was able to adapt his business in order to remain successful during the period; relying on high quality, locally sourced ingredients, he became a bridge between the small producers he'd spent time finding, and those shopping online from their homes. Their 'Deda Goes Around the World' service delivered meats and other produce throughout Croatia during the restaurant's temporary closure.

If you're planning to visit Dubrovnik, Biograd, Pula, Premantura or Split this summer and can't face another pizza slice, kebab or burger of questionable origin, be sure to look out for the Rešetka logo. Fine Street Food by Reshetka & Katarina Vrenc will visit Plavica Bar on island Cres on 7 & 8 August and the Michelin-starred Boškinac on Pag in the middle of September. Further inland, they'll also be available at the High Grounds Festival in Varaždinske Toplice on 31 July, 1 & 2 August. Grab yourself a handful of delicious food and pick a spot to watch the stunning Croatian sunset, the Adriatic coast and its breathtaking backdrop has long been lacking exactly this standard of street food to accompany.

© Rešetka

Friday, 28 February 2020

Michelin Stars for Croatian Islands: Congratulations Lesic Dimitri (Korcula), Boskinac (Pag)!

February 28, 2020 - Two more Michelin Stars for Croatia - the first on Croatian islands. Congratulations to Lesic Dimitri Palace on Korcula and Boskinac on Pag!

Great news for the gourmet scene on Croatia's gorgeous islands, as for the first time, the Michelin Star has been awarded to a restaurant on a Croatian island. And not one, but two.

LD Terrace, the exquisite restaurant of leading boutique 5-star restaurant on Korcula, Lesic Dimitri Palace, and Boskinac on the island of Pag, are the two new additions to the illustrious list of restaurants with Michelin stars, bringing to seven the number of such restaurants in Croatia. 

The first five restaurants to receive their Michelin stars all retained them in 2020. They are - Draga di Lovrana in Lovran, Monte in Rovinj, Pelegrini in Sibenik, Noel in Zagreb, and 360 in Dubrovnik.

Congratulations to both LD Terrace and Boskinac, both of which have pushed the boundaries of culinary excellence on their respective islands. I am particularly pleased for the Lesic Dimitri team, whom I know well due to my close friendship with owner Michael Unsworth. It is the perfect start to the year for them after the tragic loss of key team member Drazen Matkovic in a car accident recently. I asked Michael to say a few words:

"We are delighted that our team led by Chef Marko Gajski has received this recognition for the outstanding effort they have put into achieving this. We are sad that our colleague Drazen Matkovic is not here to enjoy it with us."

Learn more about both restaurants and their luxury boutique hotels from their official websites. 

LD Palace


Monday, 1 July 2019

First Bourdain Day Held at "Boškinac" on the Island of Pag

July 1,  2019 - We are, after all, citizens of the world—a world filled with bacteria, some friendly, some not so friendly. Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico, and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafés and McDonald’s? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once, said Anthony Bourdain in his book Kitchen Confidential.


And it pretty much sums up his motto in life. He was a famous chef, writer and TV personality, and a man who traveled the world but unfortunately left it much too early, at 61 years of age. And one year after his unfortunate passing away, the world is still mourning, but also celebrating his unusual and fabulous persona.


On the 25th of June, the First International Bourdain Day was held all over the world with events and tributes. From the USA and Canada to Europe and Africa; from South America to Asia – people who admired and still admire Bourdain and his work wanted to celebrate his legacy on the Day he was born. Bourdain Day was also celebrated in Croatia, a place he has visited a few years ago and was so taken by the beauty of the country, the tastes of the local wines and exceptional food that he openly, in his specific style, said that anybody who hasn't visited Croatia yet is - an idiot. 


Hotel Boškinac on the Island of Pag organized First Croatian Bourdain Day, the event co-hosted by Chef Mate Janković, who was Tony’s Croatian guide at the time of his famous visit. Nearly 200 guests gathered in Boškinac to honour the life of Anthony Bourdain.


"It’s a beautiful thing, when the reality lives up to your hopes and expectations; when everything—everything—is as good as anything could be," said Bourdain on his programme No Reservations in Spain and, indeed, the dinner in his honour on Pag - lived up to everybody's expectations.


The host, Boris Šuljić, warmly welcomed everybody with „longa bevanda“ (wine diluted with water) and proudly presented Hana Čičić, a journalist and a foodie who ideated and initiated the Bourdain Day event in Croatia. While DJ Kanca, Ozren Kanceljak, was playing the sounds which would undoubtedly have been approved by Bourdain himself – who had excellent taste in music and firmly banned Grateful Dad from his kitchen – guests started to get „into the groove“. Producers Tomec & Grabber, (Marc Grabber and Krešimir Tomec) were also presented with their "Dalmatian Dub", "Dalmatian Lounge" and "Deep Into Croatia" music projects.


The dinner that was served was identical to the one Bourdain enjoyed back in 2011 when he was in Croatia filming ''No Reservations: Croatian Coast'', or were directly inspired by them and mainly consisted of different variations of the famous lamb from the island, including the lamb tripe. Chef Mate Janković told the story of his trip through Croatia with Bourdain and claimed that he would remember it all his life, and posthumously thanked Bourdain for the enormous impact his visit had on Croatian tourism and gastronomy. Mate introduced to the guests and presented Croatian wine producer Alen Bibić who also welcomed Bourdain at the time - in his winery and offered him exquisite 12-course dinner prepared by his talented wife Vesna. Alen also expressed his gratitude for Bourdain’s visit since the episode from Croatia was watched by 120 million people around the world.


Truly a unique personality, Bourdain once said: "What does freedom mean? I don’t know that either, I guess. For sure, it does mean the freedom to enjoy an afternoon no one thought possible only a little while ago. The freedom at least to joke, to laugh, to be for a while, relatively carefree."


That is exactly what was the aim of this fantastic evening under the stars on the island of Pag. As Hana Čičić has put it: "Tonight was meant to be, and indeed it was - an honest celebration of a man who gathered us all around the table and united us with so many dear and familiar faces, good friends and connoisseurs of the food and the wine. But it wasn’t so much about sophisticated food – it was about the joy of life and all those nice moments that life brings about – that become memories. The food courses were paired with excellent Boškinac wines but the cocktails made by the talented Zvonimir Lovrenčić were also worth remembering.


The food had a signature of both Boris Šuljić and his talented chef with Michelin recommendation, JRE Matija Bregeš. Matija and his team have once again proven that it is equally important to be able to prepare sophisticated fine dining food and cook the traditional food.  Chef Bregeš presented his team while the third course was served and it was quite spectacular when 12 different varieties of the cheese from Pag have been cut. The dinner lasted until the early morning hours of the next day – celebrating life, food, wine and, above all - friendship. Everybody is looking forward to repeating the celebration next year in Bibić winery on the 25th of June 2020. 

All photos by Fabio Šimićev

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Boškinac Hotel, Restaurant and Winery on Pag Present their 2019 Novelties

When you get an invitation to visit the Michelin-recommended Boškinac hotel, restaurant and winery on the island of Pag, the only thing you can do is say "Thank you, of course I will visit" and count yourself lucky. That's precisely what I did when I was kindly invited, as a part of a group of Croatian journalists, for the presentation of the newly renovated rooms in the hotel and the introduction of the new menu created by the JRE chef Matija Bregeš (which was to be paired with the new vintages of Boškinac wines).

When we arrived at Pag, another thing we were to be thankful for was the weather. With the volatile spring weather we've been having, we were lucky to be welcomed by a fantastic sunny warm day. In Lun Boris and Mirela Šuljić, Boškinac owners met us and joined us on a ride among the olive trees to the location where one of the oldest olives in Croatia is still thriving. And the olive gardens of Lun (you can read more about them in a previous article on TCN) were where the welcome lunch was also served.


After a few bites of amazing lamb stew and octopus salad-like dish, some wine and a story of the gardens, we were taken to Boškinac to wind down a bit, take a look around the hotel and the property and get ready for the spectacle that was supposed to happen in the evening. I have not previously visited the Boškinac hotel, so I can't tell you exactly how the rooms are different from what they've been before, but what I can tell you is that now, after the renovation, they are among the most comfortable and amazingly cosy hotel rooms I've ever been to.


The architect Ana Penavić did the interior design of the Boškinac hotel, and it brings together the influences of the local surroundings, the fields of the island of Pag, with the modern materials and design trends to create an atmosphere in each room that make you feel like you belong there. All of the furniture is custom-made, and one of the things you'll notice in each room are the beds (this is a normal-sized backpack on the bed; I believe it's somewhere around 3 meters wide and well over 2 meters long).


The hotel is located around 700 meters from the closest beach, so of course it has a swimming pool for their guests to enjoy. And while it was nice and warm during our visit, none of us were brave enough to jump in, although I have to say that just imagining a sweltering summer's day and spending it in this shade, on the lounge chairs and just going to take a dip between some cocktails served here made me smile.


The rest of the surroundings of the hotel has also been designed with care and attention to detail, so there's a kids' playground (featuring small wine barrels inside the "tree-house" and on the seesaw), beautiful outside seating area and an open grill. We mentioned the combination of the traditional and the modern, so let's also not forget the three Tesla chargers located by the hotel, so if you arrive with the electric car, not only will you be able to charge it, but you'll also get the best parking spots!


Our evening started (and ended, but let's not spill all of our secrets!) in the "konoba" (wine cellar), where the amazing wines of the Boškinac winery are created and kept, which has also been renovated - Boris told us that the finishing touches on the shelves were done a few days before our visit. After a welcome drink, several words by our host and some fantastic music by a female klapa "Muštre", it was time for our dinner to start.

And what an experience that was! Seven-course meal, with three creatively served welcomes from the kitchen, each course served with carefully paired Boškinac wine, it indeed was a night to remember. The new chef created the menu at Boškinac, this year’s winner of the prestigious Gault&Millau “Great Chef of Tomorrow” award, Matija Bregeš, who has been allowed to show all of his talents in creating this tasting menu.

IMG 20190508 192334IMG 20190508 192514

The courses were creative, unusual unexpected combinations reflecting the heritage and the wealth of the island of Pag, combining the traditional ingredients you'd expect with surprising spices and unbelievable twists. One of the things Pag is mostly known for is the sheep farming, and one of the reasons for that are the native herbs that grow on Pag, which free-roaming sheep eat and which make their meat taste so delicate, flavourful and amazing. So, lamb, mutton, and the herbs from the fields of Pag were the greatest stars of the menu, but the amazingly fresh seafood (shrimp tasted as if it was taken from the Velebit channel 10 minutes before we got it on our plates!) added a whole other layer of complexity to the menu.

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(from left to right: celery ragu with black garlic cream; shrimp with basil emulsion, Gegić gel and shrimp cracker; cuttlefish and mutton "pasta carbonara")

Like I said before, each of the courses was served with a different wine from the Boškinac cellars, and those wines were given the fantastic opportunity to shine along with those excellent dishes. Each of them helped tell the story of the wealth of Pag, be it the local indigenous Gegić white wine served with the shrimp, which you can only have as a varietal wine in Boškinac, or the spectacular reds served toward the end of the meal. Special mention goes out to Ocu 2015, which was served with the cuttlefish and mutton version of pasta carbonara, a blend of Gegić, Debit (another local wine), Chardonnay and Sauvignon, created by spontaneous fermentation (without added yeasts) and macerated for 21 days, producing a stunning wine which is difficult to compare to any other Croatian wine.

Of course, we'd be amiss if we didn't mention the reds, Boškinčić (which is, admittedly, a nightmare for any foreigner to pronounce, and it means "little Boškinac") and Boškinac, two variations of the Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but given their character by the extreme Pag terroir. Boškinčić is a younger, more elegant wine, and should go along lighter meals. Boškinac is an extremely serious red wine, aged in oak barrels for two years and has a full body, so it should be served with darker meats - and it's a work of art that they managed to create a combination of spices and a demi-glace which made Boškinac a perfect partner to very, very young Pag lamb.

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(Pouring wine from a 1.5 litre Magnum bottle using one hand was not a problem for our waiter, but 4.5 litre Jeroboam bottle proved to be a bit too much even for him!) 

The dessert gave a chance to the Boškinac Prošek 2012 to shine, and it was a rare opportunity for me to enjoy a dessert after such a fantastic meal. I don't enjoy chocolate, and usually desserts include at least some of it, so having an apple and caramel sphere of joy at the end of this evening was an unexpected blessing.

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Boškinac kitchen crew (chef Matija Bregeš first on the left of the photo) after the dinner, taking a well-deserved break:

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The morning brought some hangover, but it also brought one of the most sumptuous breakfast spreads ever. I can't even begin to tell you all the things that were offered for breakfast, but let me just give you an idea: cured shark meat, and tuna prosciutto. And almost a dozen various pies, amazing fresh fruit and fruit juices, too bad I don't really do breakfast.


To conclude: if you ever get the chance to visit Boškinac hotel, enjoy the beautiful hotel with the view of Pag fields, huge beds, unbelievable creative cuisine by chef Matija Bregeš, their wines and the hospitality by the owners Boris and Mirela Šuljić, there's no excuse not to go.


(All photos by Iva T.)

Friday, 6 April 2018

Boškinac Winery & Restaurant, A Quintessential Pag Island Experience

Continuing our coverage of the recent Gastronaut tour of Pag island, a look to a glorious gastronomic destination on April 6, 2018

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

JRE Croatia Holds Masterclass with Matija Bregeš

Chef Matija Bregešcomes from the Pag JRE restaurant Boškinac where he works with local ingredients and where each meal pays homage to the gastronomical heritage and bountiful offer of fish, lamb, cheese, prosciutto and other fresh seasonal and local ingredients