Thursday, 28 October 2021

Croatian Gajeta Photo Becomes Official European Union Postcard

October 28, 2021 – A Falkuša gajeta from Komiža on Vis island and a Betina gajeta from Murter are shown in a competition-winning Croatian photograph which will now become an official European Union postcard

If you're reading this, chances are you already know Croatia is very often 'postcard-pretty.' Well, it seems you're not the only one to think so.

One Croatian photographer's work has won over judges in a competition to find an official European Union postcard. The photograph (main picture), taken by Hina journalist Andrina Luić shows two sailing boats – a Falkuša gajeta and a Betina gajeta. Both are traditional wooden ships commonly seen in Croatian waters. In the background, the Betina gajeta is instantly recognizable as Croatian because its sail carries a red and white checkerboard pattern.

European Union postcard competition

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The 'Greetings from the Islands' photo competition was published in September by the European Commission's Clean Energy for EU Islands Secretariat (here). Andrina, who is from Lukoran on Ugljan island, took her winning photo two years ago in Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. The sailboats were snapped during the festival of ships, sea and sailors 'Days in Vala' (here). The event is organized by Cronaves of Split, of which Andrina is a member. They are a society with an aim to promote Croatian maritime heritage.

Andrina's photograph will now help promote Croatian maritime heritage all across the continent. Thousands will see the traditional wooden ships and their sails when the image is made into an official European Union postcard. The picture triumphed above other island photo entries from Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal and elsewhere in Croatia. The evaluation criteria were originality, creativity, overall artistic impression and composition, and visual appeal. Each competitor was only allowed to enter one photo into the competition. It would seem that Andrina - who has been taking photographs for many years - made exactly the right choice.

Falkuša gajeta from Komiža on Vis island and Betina gajeta from island Murter

Neven_Jović.jpgTraditional gajeta ships from Betina in a regatta around island Murter © Neven Jović

A Falkuša gajeta is a thinner and faster version of the Murter-style gajeta. Falkuša boats have been used for fishing in the area of islands Vis and Korčula since at least the 16th century. They were adapted to the needs of fishermen from Komiža on Vis island, who would regularly travel far out into the open sea - as far west as the Palagruža archipelago - to chase their catch.

The template of these boat designs was taken to Betina on Murter island by Korčula shipbuilder Paško Filippi in the first half of the 18th century. There he founded a shipyard and began building his boats, adapting them to the slightly different climate and the very different needs of the locals.

The people of Murter and its surroundings needed a boat as much for transportation of goods as they did for fishing. Therefore, the Betina gajeta was made stronger, wider, bigger and more load-bearing, with a deck at the bow and stern. They were commonly used to transport goods between Murter and estates on the Kornati islands.

You can today visit an award-winning museum (here) dedicated to the history of this wooden boat building in Betina, island Murter. Or, if you can't make it there any time soon, you can now make do with one of Andrina's postcards until you can.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Chef Vjeko Bašić Masterclass: Seasonal Ingredients featuring Wild Leeks and Culinary Tourism in Croatia

JUNE 19, 2021 - Vice-president of JRE Croatia and restaurateur Vjeko Bašić held a masterclass in Split, using wild leeks which grow abundantly in his hometown, Murter Island, to promote the diverse flora of Croatia and its importance in the country's gastronomic industry.

JRE Croatia is a part of the Jeunes Restaurateurs which is an international association of young outstanding restaurateurs and chefs across 15 countries all over the world.  JRE chefs share remarkable culinary talent, a strong passion for gastronomy and sustainability, and the commitment to keep the authenticity of their own local produce, dishes, and tradition alive. The sophisticated and relaxing ambience of JRE restaurants and the delectable selection of gourmet food and top local and international wines never fail to provide their guests a memorable dining experience!

To promote the culture and diverse flora of Croatia, Chef Vjeko Bašić together with JRE Croatia conducted a masterclass in Split, Croatia featuring seasonal, rare, and native plants in Croatia. The masterclass was done in a fully-equipped and high-technology kitchen of Miele Experience Centar Split, with the intent to highlight "paski/pilci" or young garlic sprouts that grow abundantly and is used mainly in the islands of Pag and Kvarner. However, since Chef Vjeko Bašić hails from island Murter, he opted for an ingredient much closer to home - wild leeks. His class was attended by 4 outstanding young culinary students from Aspira and one intern journalist from Total Croatia News.

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Masterclass in Miele Experience Centar Split by Chef Vjeko Bašić | Photo credit: JRE Croatia

Chef Vjeko Bašić is the owner of Konoba Boba, a fish restaurant located on the beautiful Murter Island in the Dalmatian region of Croatia. Konoba Boba is one of the 12 members and 4 honorary members of Croatian restaurateurs who have received membership in JRE Croatia. The name of the restaurant, Boba, is a family nickname that gives homage to the family's rich stories and origin. The restaurant is deeply connected to the island and therefore, highlights the usage of fresh local produce from the sea and the land of Murter itself. To respect the natural rhythm of nature and its suppliers, Konoba Boba uses seasonal ingredients and creatively incorporates locally and freshly harvested produce from their region into their menu.

The chef chose to prepare wild leek risotto for the masterclass. "On my island, my father used to pick and cook wild leeks that grow outside our house.", he fondly recalled his childhood in Murter. Prior to the class, Vjeko prepared chicken stock made with chicken, celery, leeks, onions, and carrots to be used for this special risotto. "For a good risotto, you need to have a good onion and olive oil.", he emphasized. He made a unique pesto sauce for the risotto using "paski" (young garlic sprouts), pine nuts, and olive oil and he also offered his own pickled paski for the participants to taste.

According to Vjeko, paski, wild leeks and wild asparagus grow in the same season which is from spring to early summer. It can also be prepared in a similar style as wild asparagus salad which is to blanch the vegetables, mix with some salt, pepper, and boiled eggs and add a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. In cooking wild leeks and paski, only the upper part is used and the lower part is discarded for its hard texture.

As Chef Vjeko prepares his dish, Irina of JRE Croatia, offered the participants two refined selections of wine - Pošip and Plavac Mali - both from Rizman winery. "A good wine is an important part of the food experience.", Irina says as she pours each of the participants a glass of aperitif.

  

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Photo credit: JRE Croatia

Rizman Winery, owned by the Stimač family, is situated in the youngest wine-growing area in Croatia which is called Komarna, in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County. The vineyards are located on a hilly area 250 meters above sea level and are close to the proximity of the sea and the famous valley of the Neretva river which provides good microclimatic conditions for wine cultivation. The wine-growing area features different soil compositions mostly of limestone and a tiny amount of organic matter, with 30% slope inclination and 2,600 hours of sunlight per year. Over 90% of vines in Rizman Winery belong to the indigenous varieties of Plavac Mali and Pošip and the rare grape variety of Tribidrag. The winery is a long-standing family tradition and the name Rizman is given to honour its founder - the grandfather and great grandfather of the Stimač family.

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A culinary student of Aspira College savour the crisp and sweet aroma of RIzman's Pošip served in a special Malvasia Istriana Glass | Photo credit: JRE Croatia

The drinks were served in Malvasia Istriana glasses which were created by Riedel, a major manufacturer of wine accessories, dedicated specifically for Croatia's Malvasia Istriana (malvazia istarska). Malvasia is a type of wine grape with many varieties which includes Malvasia Istriana. It was a project initiated by Winemakers and Winegrowers of Istria - Vinistra Association to promote Istrian wineries and Croatian wine to the world. Nowadays, Malvasia Istriana glasses are called Superleggero Loire, because apart from pairing perfectly with Istrian Malvasia, it also pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc. 

Chiavalon JRE olive oil was also used in the risotto. "Olive oil is very important to Mediterranean gastronomy", said Irina. Because of its importance, JRE wanted to have good olive oil to use in their restaurants so they partnered with Chiavalon to produce a perfectly balanced olive oil for culinary use because a strong olive oil can overpower a dish and a neutral-tasting olive oil will not give authentic Meditteranean touch to the dish. Therefore, after harvest every year, JRE Croatia and its restaurateurs get together to conduct a blind taste-test sampling to choose the oil to be used by JRE. It is a Chiavalon and JRE co-branded product of olive oil which is only found in JRE restaurants. Irina shared a tip to everyone: "For olive oil lovers, Rizman olive oil is also of top quality." 

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 Chiavalon JRE olive oil | Photo credit: JRE Croatia

As always, every chef has a different method of cooking to bring out the best from their ingredients. "So when I cook risotto, I saute the onion in a pan, toast the rice in another skillet, and then I mix the onion with the rice after that", says Vjeko. "Why do you that?", asked one of the participants. "Because if I put the rice in the same skillet, the onion will burn.", the chef answered and then humourously added,  "But you need to use a lot of pans - and now is the worst time because I don't have a sous chef with me." In this dish, carnaroli rice was used because it is ideal for risotto. He also added the pesto sauce he made from paski or young garlic sprouts in the dish. "It is also important at the end risotto to add a bit of fat - it can be butter or it can be olive oil. This time, I combined both butter and olive oil", he noted. To add acidity to the risotto, Chef Vjeko prefers to use a little bit of vinegar than the usual lemon.  

After the risotto was ready, Chef Vjeko plated it beautifully and topped it off with crispy pancetta, some ricotta cheese, and homemade pickled paski. The crunchiness of the wild leek and the pancetta added a beautiful texture to the dish and the light tangy flavour from the pickled paski gave the dish a perfect balance of acidity.

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Chef Vjeko's wild leek risotto | Photo credit: JRE Croatia

Hardships in gastronomic tourism in Croatia

As the participants enjoy the food, they shared about the current problems people in gastronomy face especially those living in the Dalmatian region. "There is a big problem in Croatia with the supply chain. There are small producers with good products but due to various economic problems, have difficulty supplying sufficiently, regularly, and efficiently because they can only sell as much as they can produce. This makes the life of the chefs, restaurateurs, and people in this industry difficult in Croatia," according to Irina. Apart from the problem in the availability and regularity of supply of good quality ingredients, there is also a problem with manpower in this industry. "Although Croatia has excellent chefs and cooks, we are still new in the gastronomic scene and culinary schooling system compared to other European countries who have been a long-time destination for gourmands over the years. Because of this, JRE Croatia sincerely puts all their hopes to the young chefs of this country to help this industry succeed," she added. The seasonal character of gastronomy in the Dalmatian region and the geographical location of Croatia is also one of the reasons why the prices of food are slightly higher than others. Since Dalmatia is harder to reach especially its islands, to get a regular supply of ingredients itself is costly. "This is the aim of JRE - to have our professional chefs and restaurateurs conduct events such as this to get publicity and make the consumers understand why chefs cannot prepare risotto in 5 minutes, and why the prices of the dishes are the way they are. They have to know how hard and costly it is to get a quality and regular supply of ingredients in Croatia", Irina said. 

One of the participants said that there is one restaurant in Zagreb that serves different menus every day using ingredients that are currently available. Chef Vjeko retorted, "You can do that in Zagreb because they have a full busy season throughout the year so the supplies are always coming unlike in Dalmatia, where the season lasts for only 3 to 4 months." He then added, "You will see that when you start working in restaurants here, you, too, will experience the difficulty in getting food supply which usually starts to happen from the end of May onwards". They also agreed that climate change greatly affects the production time, amount, and quality of produce. "In JRE, we also embrace sustainability. It requires knowledge to understand and respect nature and to know that we cannot have everything at great amounts whenever we wish. It is important to appreciate what we have when we have it", Irina voiced out.

The Island of Murter, Konoba Boba, and Chef Vjeko Bašić

Also called the gate to the Kornati, Murter is an island national park and one of the pearls of the Adriatic Sea. It is a popular destination for people who love sailing and explore remote islands. Paklenica National Park is also nearby where one can enjoy sightseeing, hiking, and walking. Konoba Boba makes use of the richness of the Adriatic sea and serves an interesting selection of fresh seafood including roe, sea urchins, oysters, mortar, and salicornia. While maintaining their culture, Konoba Boba never fails to innovate and continuously elevates their dishes with new exciting elements! In addition to that, the restaurant offers 50 cozy interior dining seats and another 80 outdoor ones with a garden view filled with aromas of Mediterranean plants and trees including marjoram, basil, rosemary, immortelle, mint, fig, lemon, mulberry, olive and etc. which they incorporate in their dishes as well. Konoba Boba also has a wide array of wine selection carefully handpicked by the restaurant's sommelier, Mateo Juričev Talijaš

Apart from the restaurant Vjeko is successfully running, he also has been pursuing his passion for olive oil production. "We have our olive garden with 2,000-year-old olive trees. In autumn and wintertime, we take care of the trees, harvest the olive, and produce our olive oil. This year, our olive oil received a silver medal and our family was very happy about it.", he proudly said to the participants. In his spare time, he also loves to fish. "When I was a kid, I used to fish a lot with my father. But now that I started this business, I do not have much time for it. I would love to do it once more once I decide to retire from this industry.", he added. 

According to his wife, Chef Vjeko, who also serves as the Vice-President of JRE Croatia, is living his dream. With an award from the Gault&Millau Croatia 2018 Chef of the Year, a successful business on an island he deeply cherishes, and endless support from his loving families, peers, and community - we can all agree that he truly is living the dream.

For more information on Jeunes Restaurateurs' affiliated restaurants and hotels, CLICK HERE. 

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

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Tourism in the Corona Age: 10 Virtual Ways to Discover Jezera

May 20, 2020 - Tourism is on hold, but most of us have plenty of time. So let's look at the virtual resources available to explore Croatia virtually. We continue our new Virtual Croatia series with the tools to discover Jezera on Murter.

A few weeks ago I wrote that being a tourism blogger in the corona era was about as useful as being a cocktail barman in Saudi Arabia. I feel less useless now, a few weeks later, and I am encouraged by the number of Croatian tourism businesses who are contacting us wanting to start thinking of promoting post-corona tourism. 

One of the challenges of writing about tourism at the moment is that there is nothing positive to write about. With people confined to their homes and tourism in Croatia currently not possible, many have decided to go into hibernation until it is all over. 

I think that this is a mistake, and I have greatly enjoyed the TCN series by Zoran Pejovic of Paradox Hospitality on thinking ahead to tourism in a post-corona world.  You can find Zoran's articles here.

Way back on March 14 - several lifetimes ago - I published an article called Tourism in the Corona Age: 10 Virtual Ways to Discover Zagreb. The way I saw things, now was an OUTSTANDING opportunity for tourism promotion. People have time, they yearn for their freedom and former lives, so give them the tools to thoroughly research and enjoy your destinations, and you will have then longing to be there. And when they do come, they will have a deeper understanding of the destination due to their research. 

South Africa and Portugal were the first to do their post-corona tourism promotion videos several weeks ago (Post-Corona Tourism Planning: Lessons from South Africa and Portugal), a trick which has been followed by other tourism countries, the latest being Croatia with the national tourist board campaign, #CroatiaLongDistanceLove, going live yesterday.

But while these campaigns create longing and market presence, they don't really educate. People now have time to really get into destinations. And dreams of escape to somewhere more exotic are high on the list of priorities of many. 

So TCN has decided to help with that education with a new series called Virtual Croatia, where we will be helping you discover many of Croatia's destinations with all the best virtual tools available on your self-isolating sofa at home. 

We started last week with Tourism in the Corona Age: 10 Virtual Tools to Discover Hvar.

After this, we put our a press release (which you can read here in English and Croatian) offering a free article to any local tourist board in Croatia who would like the free promotion in our Virtual Croatia series

The Sinj Tourist Board was the first to respond, and now you can see just how rich the tourism offer is in this proud Alka town - your virtual tools to Discover Sinj. This was followed by DIscover OpatijaDiscover Brela, Discover Rogoznica, Discover Klis, Discover TrogirDiscover Omis.

Today, you get to read and see for yourself the small town of Jezera on the Murter island.

Let's begin! 

Welcome to Jezera on Murter Island, an Ideal Port in Central Dalmatia

A wonderful introductory video, published last year.

Sail-Ho episode, Vodice - Jezera.

Jezera by Balázs Lajti

Carnival in Jezera & Murter; video by Pixsell.

Living & tradition in Jezera.

Story of Malaria in Jezera (weirdly appropriate for this time). 

Drone footage of Jezera by a visitor (from 2017)

Croatian Radiotelevision documentary on Jezera (from 1996; in Croatian) 

Follow Jezera Tourist Board on Instagram: visit_jezera

Find out more about Jezera on their Tourist Board website, where you can also take a virtual walk of Jezera. 

To discover more of virtual Croatia, you can follow this series in our dedicated section, Virtual Croatia

If you are a local tourist board in Croatia and would like your destination featured in this series for free, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Virtual Croatia (and destination name)

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Zagreb Veterinary Students to Learn About Marine Life on Murter

As Morski writes on the 28th of March, 2019, this weekend, the island of Murter will host the first of two sets of field work of Zagreb veterinary students within the "Blue Project - Contribution to the development of the DKU Program at VFZS" project, carried out by the Argonaut association in partnership with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Zagreb, as well as the Pula Marine Education Centre.

The implementation of the project started back in April 2018, and the purpose of the project is to give the Zagreb veterinary students a chance to engage in socially beneficial marine environment conservation projects. Through the projects within the classes, and in cooperation with various civil society organisations, students will learn to properly identify the needs of the community and through the courses they undertake, develop potential solutions - projects that will see them engaged in the local community, according to a report from SibenikIN.

Within this concrete project, the topics that are likely among the most interesting to the Zagreb veterinary students will be the methods and ways of monitoring populations and providing treatment to the Adriatic's protected marine animals, such as sea turtles and dolphins.

In addition to Murter, students will also visit Pula and the Marine Education Center at the Pula Aquarium in mid-April this year.

Students will develop their projects through selected mentoring programs which include but aren't limited to visiting habitats during the winter months and learning how to properly aid a sea turtle who has become too cold, learning about the friendly behaviour of sea turtles and dolphins, what to do when coming across a sick or injured dolphin or sea turtle, and what the procedure is should a dead dolphin or sea turtle be discovered.

At the workshop in Murter, the thematic workshop will focus on dolphins and students will be educated on the development of monitoring protocols, recording the occurrence of protected marine animals - dates, times, geographical positions, the number of animals, their ages, their conditions and the level of potential human impact (maritime traffic, tourism and fishing), as well as the basics of photographing these types of protected marine species.

The project aimed at the Zagreb veterinary students and their further education will go on for eighteen months, more specifically until October 2019, and is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) in the amount of 854,018,21 kuna, with a total value of 1,004,727.31 kuna. The project leader is the Argonaut association from Murter, and the partners of the project are the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Zagreb and the Pula Marine Centre. The project is being implemented in the area of Šibenik-Knin County, Zagrebačka, and Istria County.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by SibenikIN

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Britain, Sweden, Germany, Slovakia... European Ambassadors to Clean Murter Seabed!

Ambassadors to Croatia from Europe and Canada are set to take their diplomacy to the very bottom, of the sea, that is.

Friday, 8 September 2017

20th Days of Latinsko Idro Kicks Off Today

This year, Latinsko Idro Regatta celebrates its twentieth birthday with many events happening this month on Murter island.

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