April 6, 2010

Florinda invited me to spend the Easter holiday with her family in Croatia.  We spent the weekend in Rijeka and did a little bit of exploring in Istria on Monday.  I had a lot of really good home cooking – but I’ll get to that.

Florinda picked me up on her way from Trieste on Saturday morning.  It was a nice, almost-springlike day on Saturday (yes, I am still wearing the white coat, and no, I did not take any new pictures of me in it) so I was able to see some of the city.  We went up to the castle first for the view over the city, took a walk through the old town and along the waterfront, and later met up with some of her friends at their favorite pub.

Dragons and castles seem to go together.

The view of Rijeka from Trsat Castle.

We had to get up first thing on Sunday morning for a traditional Easter breakfast before mass.  The family is Italian dating back to when the city was part of Italy, so the mass we attended in Rijeka’s cathedral was in Italian.  (For the record, I don’t speak any more Italian than I do Slovene.  But the choir sounded lovely.)  After the mass, we had the opportunity to have a coffee with an American woman.  She started years ago in one of the Fulbright programs, came back several times, and is now living in Rijeka.  It was fun to hear about her experiences.  The weather had turned cold and rainy again, so after dinner we just hung out at the house.

Okay Leo, on Saturday we had a pork chop and potato dish for lunch, but I think you would really have gotten excited about our light dinner that evening that was something along the lines of fried calamari – homemade, hand battered and fried so that it was crispy, salty and just a little sweet.  Florinda’s mother had baked a lot of breads for Easter breakfast – a sweet bread with a hint of lemon, one baked with prosciutto, and another that had been hollowed out and filled – that we had with prosciutto, scallions, hard boiled eggs, and coffee.  Easter dinner consisted of a sort of carrot soup, a delicious local roast lamb with potatoes, salad and a sauvignon blanc, followed by a chocolate banana cream cake with a sweet sparkling wine, and finished with a cherry brandy from Kosovo.  How am I doing so far?

Some of the pinza bread for Easter breakfast.

The Klevisser family at Easter dinner.

On Monday we left Rijeka and visited the nearby town Opatija – a longstanding tourist destination.  From there we drove up the coast to a small town in the Istrian peninsula where we met one of Florinda’s clients from her consulting business.  We had a small accident along the way…

In Memoriam.

Her client wanted to show her some property, and while we were there, he and two other older Italian gentlemen prepared a spectacular lunch for us.  They insisted on sitting us down while they got everything ready.  There was fresh bread, homemade prosciutto and salami, and gnocchi with grated cheese.  The main course was a local style dish that was cooked in an open pit oven with the coals piled around and on top of the pan and consisted of lamb, chicken and some type of homemade sausage (after the description of the castrated chicken, I thought, maybe I don’t really need to ask what this is?).

The main course in our Italian/Istrian meal.

I thought the meal was finished after that, but then came the salad.  It seems the usual signs for “no thank you, I’m quite full” didn’t translate…  After the salad came desert, which was an Austrian-influenced cake from Trieste – sort of a flakey rolled pastry filled with chunks of dark chocolate, nuts, some dried fruits, and a hint of liquor.  They suggested that it would be best served with schnapps and proceeded to argue about the most appropriate type of schnapps.  After smelling several different types, one of them disappeared for a moment and returned with a 5 liter plastic jug of a type of green schnapps that looked like some sort of automobile fluid…  The cake was followed by fresh strawberries and then coffee.  I am in serious need of a diet.

From there, we continued to head north and stopped at a couple of the cute and colorful Istrian coastal towns – Rovinj and Poreč – before we made our way back to Slovenia.


Flo and Allie in Rovinj

Tomorrow I continue my tour of Slovenian universities and will be giving a lecture in the geography department at the University of Ljubljana.


One Response to “”

  1. amber said

    Wow. if you ever get bored with teaching geography you could become a food critic. or a cooking magazine writer. you are getting very good at writing about food. I think I am getting fat just reading about it.

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