Travel

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

By 11 May 2019

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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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