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.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

PCR and Antigen Tests at Esplanade: COVID-19 Testing Now Available for Guests of Zagreb Hotel

March 11, 2021 - PCR and antigen tests at Esplanade are now a reality for guests of the famous Zagreb hotel!

HRTurizam reports that from now on, the Zagreb Esplanade hotel offers a unique service: conducting COVID-19 testing at the hotel at an agreed time, with the special benefit of free medical staff and a free English translation.

The procedure is effortless. Before arriving at the hotel or during the stay, the guest can contact the Booking Department or the reception, at least 24 hours in advance, to arrange a test date. Testing is conducted Monday through Friday from 8 am to 7 pm, and Saturday from 8 am to noon. Other dates are available on request.

Today, most countries in the world ask travelers and their own citizens to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test when entering the country, said Ivica Max Krizmanić, General Manager of the Esplanade Hotel, adding that it can be complicated and often it is not just one test but several during the trip.

"Also, time is wasted exploring the locations that offer this service, and the waiting can be prolonged, which leads to additional nervousness. Guests of the Esplanade Hotel are accustomed to the highest standard of service. We are known for being able to provide them with what is not in the regular offer, so there is a need to offer what they need most on the trip, and that is the possibility of testing in the comfort of the hotel - fast, easy and personalized, at the highest level and a fair price. We considered the options and decided to carry out this service in cooperation with the LabPlus polyclinic, whose staff is extremely professional. The testing is carried out following strict epidemiological measures, discreetly and accurately at the agreed time. We’ve been testing the service for a while now, and it has proven to be a complete hit. Also, we offer our guests another great advantage: free arrival of the medical staff at the location, as well as a free test translation into English," said Max Krizmanić.

The professional medical staff of LabPlus arrives at the hotel at the agreed time and conducts testing following strict epidemiological measures. The results are delivered to the desired e-mail address, in Croatian or English, within 3 hours for the antigen and antibody test. The PCR test is ready within 24 hours after the sample arrives at the laboratory. The service is paid according to a clear price list of HRK 250 for the antigen test (nose sample), HRK 300 for the antibody test (blood sample), and HRK 750 for the PCR test (nose sample).

"We are aware that every moment of the trip is precious, so we will try to meet all guests who need the test as much as possible. I think that this service will greatly facilitate the arrival in Zagreb, reduce stress and enable our guests to enjoy their stay without worries," concluded Max Krizmanić.

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Friday, 2 August 2019

WWF and Hotel Esplanade in Zagreb Join Forces to Reduce Food Waste

WWF and Hotel Esplanade in Zagreb have joined forces through an initiative that aims at sustainability, zero food waste, and reducing environmental impact.

Esplanade Hotel is committed to implementing good practices with this strategy, with the support of WWF, to reduce the amount of organic waste it generates through its operations, reports HRTurizam on August 1, 2019.

It is estimated that around 88 million tons of food is dumped in Europe, while 1/5 of the population is at risk of poverty. The amount of food thrown away globally is more than enough to feed every hungry person on the planet. In the last 40 years, the amount of food thrown out has doubled. More than 50 million tons of fruit and vegetables grown in Europe are discarded each year just because it is distorted or the wrong size. These are just some of the worrying facts that prompted Zagreb's Esplanade to join the WWF (World Nature Organization) Global Food Waste project as the first hotel in Croatia and the region, seeking to contribute to reducing food waste and thus reducing its adverse impact on the environment and planet Earth.

"Through its responsible business and waste management program, Hotel Esplanade has for many years sought to properly and efficiently manage food by procuring, preparing, and recycling food waste, but through this initiative, the intention is to further maximize the use of food in the kitchen and restaurants. Through informative and educational messages directed at guests, we will strive to highlight this global problem. Of course, we also want to encourage other individuals and institutions to move in this direction,” said Esplanade's general director Ivica Max Krizmanić, adding that Esplanade Hotel strives for a 'zero food waste' strategy. 


"This project is challenging, certain changes in the behavior of employees and guests in food management are necessary, but with the right tools and directional guidance, through proven methods and examples of good practice, we believe we will get measurable results," said Krizmanic.

Reducing the amount of food waste is a major challenge in the quality management of the hotel and food sector. Waste, with its vast amount and pollution in the world, is not only a severe environmental problem, but also a susceptible social factor.

“For years, we have been implementing a waste reduction strategy in the entire food and beverage business, and carefully design all our menus, but there are always situations where we can further reduce food waste. We have started this project in some segments, and the plan is to continue to spread the idea of reducing food waste throughout the business. Many of our guests and clients, especially foreign ones, are aware of this issue and welcome our initiative, but there are many who simply do not think this way, so there is the need for awareness. This is not about saving, but about reducing our environmental impact together,” said Esplanade chef Ana Grgić, adding that precise measurements of food waste have revealed that most waste is generated at places like a breakfast buffet and when organizing large events with buffet meals.

"It has been observed that guests often take in far more food than they can consume, and so they throw away dozens of kilos of food every day. Buffets offer a delicious range of enticing dishes, so, understandably, guests want to try as much as possible of what is on offer. However, the hotel regularly complements the food, so some meals will not run out during breakfast or events. In this case, the hotel will throw away the excess food. Thus, they must strive for tailored communication and encourage customers to choose the right food for their events, but also encourage guests to eat smaller portions and only consume what they can handle.

In the same way, the hotel will encourage staff to adjust their food consumption to their needs, to reduce food waste in this area as well. In addition, the hotel has a special approach to the organization of food preparation, taking into account the consumption forecast given the number of guests, their profile and, for example, their nationality, which is especially useful for dishes that take a long time to cook like štrukli, desserts, breads and the like. We believe that after informing guests and educating staff, the new measurements will produce surprisingly positive results. Through this initiative, we are thinking and explicitly working for a better future for all of us,” Grgić points out.

Throwing away food is a significant economic problem for both the economy and consumers. Encouraging hotels to make a change is not only a step to keeping guests informed, but also towards raising awareness of this problem, which should ultimately be made known by every individual. 

“Fighting food waste is very important to us at WWF, and we want to encourage a behavior change in our hotels. Our long-term partner, the Esplanade Hotel, has recognized this project and started implementing it to reduce food waste. According to the first data we received, we saw where significant changes were to be made, and the hotel staff was convinced not only of the environment but also of the economic benefit. We believe that with this example, we will inspire other hotels in the region to take the leap to combat excess food,” said Fabian Peronja of WWF Adria.

Esplanade has strived for many years - both through stand-alone initiatives and collaborations - to reduce waste and their environmental impact within its responsible business program. As a result, Esplanade's lights are shut off for an hour each year to support WWF's Earth Hour project for more rational use of energy. The hotel was the first in Croatia to introduce Tesla destination chargers, and more recently, Porsche destination chargers through which guests can charge the batteries of their vehicles for free.

Furthermore, the hotel has been working on digitizing promotional material for years, offering guests a choice of 7,000 newspapers and magazines in digital form for free. The hotel encourages guests to operate their environmentally responsible business through a program of more careful use of hotel linens and towels, and also encourages guests and staff to consume filtered tap water to reduce plastic waste.

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