Friday, 12 July 2019

On the Road with Domovina Birthright Program: Ilok and Vukovar

July 12, 2019 - As previously reported on TCN, the first Domovina Birthright Program is taking place in Croatia at the moment, an initiative between the American Croatian Association of Professionals, and the Croatian Government.

The idea of the program is to take the young adults of Croatian descent (ages 18 – 30), who wish to learn about their heritage, explore Croatia, connect with their Croatian identity and meet other young Croatian adults on an amazing trip to Croatia.

Kristiana Banđen is one of the 34 initial participants in the program, and she has kindly agreed to document her journey as she explores the country of her heritage. Over to Kristiana:

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Wow - what a journey so far, and it is only two days into the Domovina Birthright Program! It has been absolutely amazing so far.  

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Day 1

Upon meeting all the participants, with welcome messages from the organizers, we started our journey towards Ilok where we spent the afternoon drinking lots of wine to say the least!  

Once we arrived to Ilok, we were welcomed by local students who were joining us for lunch accompanied by the mayor of Ilok. Mayor Marina Budimir who welcomed us to her city with a lovely speech before the start of lunch, which by the way, was absolutely delicious. I can speak for the group and say we are all enjoying the food so much. At first, I was a bit unsure about how much food we will be getting. I eat a lot, and wondered if I would need to pack along snacks. This has not been the case at all! After a fulfilling breakfast we enjoyed a three-course meal at Iločki Podrumi with the mayor and local students. Juha, meso, palačinke and given that we were at a winery, lots and lots of vino!    

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After our lunch, we walked through the Odescalchi Palace, the central building situated in the medieval Ilok, the church and a scenic car ride down to Principovac where we enjoyed the beautiful view with, of course, more vino!  

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Day 2 was an emotional and empowering day in Vukovar visiting the hospital, the memorial centre for Vukovar’s homeland war, Ovacara Memorial Centre and payed our respects to the victims at the Memorial Cemetery of the Victims of Homeland War.  A great way to start our trip. The battle of Vukovar is what founded the independence of Croatia and is absolutely important for all Croatian descendants to know the history. Speaking to local veterans of the war along with tours of the memorial sights gave us all a great perspective and a feeling of love for the strength of our country and what we have rebuilt and overcome.  

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Follow #domovina2019 and @kristianabanden for more photos and insights.

To follow the latest news from the Croatian diaspora, follow the dedicated TCN section

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Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Gourmet Croatia – How to Brand Croatia as a Gourmet Destination?

The closing conference of the Gourmet Croatia project was held at the Principovac estate near the easternmost Croatian town of Ilok. Neven Ivandić and Neda Telišman Košuta from the Institute of Tourism presented the project and the brochure “Croatia - the New Gastronomic Icon of Europe (Strategy for the Development of Gastronomy, Gourmet and Gastronomic Tourism of Croatia with the Action Plan 2019-2022)”. The overall objectives of the project are to link the food processing sector and the tourism sector through the establishment of local production systems, as well as the territorial branding of Croatia as a recognisable gourmet destination.

After a public tender, the project was entrusted to the WYG Consulting, the Institute of Development and International Relations (IRMO) and the Institute of Tourism (IT), in cooperation with the chef Rudi Štefan. The project brochure explains that the growth of interest in food and beverages reflects profound social changes driven by the improvements in education and prosperity, technology and growing environmental pollution, while the key trends for the development of global gastronomy are experience buying, sustainability, healthy food, multiculturalism, return to tradition, good-quality fast food and growing media influence. That is the framework that supports further development of gastronomy and gastronomic tourism in the direction of creativity, authenticity and sustainability.

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Gourmet refers to the highest-quality segment of gastronomy. Although gourmet restaurants represent less than 0.5% of the total gastronomic offer, they have a disproportionately large influence on gastronomy trends. The characteristics of gourmet cuisine are excellence in ingredients and the preparation and presentation of food, and in particular creativity and specific "trademark" of the chef as a person not only knowledgeable in food preparation but deeply dedicated to the "philosophy" of the cuisine he or she offers. The core of the gastronomic tourism is the eating experience itself that must reflect authentic cuisine, the knowledge of learning about local gastronomy and its protagonists, and ultimately the emotional experience of socialising.

The panel discussion "Value Chains for Gastronomy" was attended by Assistant Agriculture Minister Krunoslav Karalić, Jakša Puljiz from IRMO, Nives Kljajić as a representative of the distributor Portus Croatia, Dimitrije Sinović from the Sin Ravnice company as a representative of the producers, and Tomica Đukić, the chef of the Osijek Hotel restaurant. The discussion was moderated by Ivana Jurić, director of the Osijek-Baranja County Tourist Board.

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Rudolf Štefan, the chef of the Pelegrini restaurant, spoke about the development of education in the gourmet area. "There are about sixty catering schools in Croatia, huge resources are being spent, but unfortunately not all of these schools produce good staff. We need one high-quality institution that will create the foundations for high-quality gastronomic future of Croatia.”

The second panel discussion "Promotion of Croatian Gastronomy" included Darija Tödling as a representative of the Croatian National Tourist Board, Rujana Bušić Srpak, director of the Vukovar-Srijem County Tourism Board, and Lucija Bilandžić as a representative of the Academy of Gastronomy. It was moderated by Snježana Boranić Živoder from the Institute of Tourism.

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The tourism manager of Iločki Podrumi, Vesna Steiner, discussed the promotion of a destination through wine tourism, and the conference concluded with wine tasting – presentation of the Iločki Podrumi wines.

More news about Croatian gastronomy can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

2nd DunavArt Festival Concludes

It was another successful edition of the festival fcocused on the Danube region.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Russian Embassy Finances Refurbishment of Red Army Memorial

ZAGREB, May 9, 2018 - Saint John of Capistrano Park in Ilok's Old Town, which has a monument to 1,067 Red Army soldiers killed in 1944, was inaugurated on Tuesday after being refurbished thanks to a Russian Embassy donation of 200,000 kuna.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Ilok Grapes: 1.5 Million Kuna Investment in Commercialisation

A large investment for Ilok's major industry.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Vukovar-Vučedol-Ilok Cultural Destination Wins Prestigious Award

ZAGREB, March 23, 2018 - "Vukovar-Vučedol-Ilok" is one of 18 European destinations which have received the EDEN prize confirming the excellence of these destinations for cultural tourism, the Croatian National Tourism Board (HTZ) reported on Friday.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Eastern Croatia - Great Potential for Cultural Tourism

Not many particularly positive stories come out of Slavonia these days, but the potential is there, should someone tap into it...

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to Drink Croatian Wine at Wedding?

The royal couple allegedly wants the same wine which was served at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation 65 years ago.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Grape Harvest in Hands of Serbian Labourers, as Local Ones in Slavonia are Missing

A labourer can earn around 160 kunas for eight hours of harvesting. Wine growers wonder if the job is too arduous, the money too little or have all the labourers emigrated

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