Konoba Pelegrini: An experience of a lifetime

One of life’s greatest pleasures is enjoying good food and better wine.  I wouldn’t describe myself as a foodie per se, but one of my favourite types of date nights is exploring new and different restaurants.  My husband, his cousins and I decided to go out for dinner at Konoba Pelegrini, located steps from the Cathedral of St. James (Croatian: Katedrala sv. Jakova) in Šibenik.  Pelegrini has been rated 1 Michelin star for the past two years in a row.   Both the menu and the views are beyond exquisite, making Pelegrini more than just a restaurant.  It’s an experience of a lifetime.

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I found the service to be extremely pleasant and very well coordinated.   Our Sommelier provided an excellent interpretation of Croatian wines and I found that he mastered his craft well in the way he presented our wine.  We started our evening with a bottle of Saint Hills – Sveti Roko Plavac Mali.   Plavac Mali literally means “little blue” in Croatian.  This is in reference to the type of grapes commonly found in vineyards across Dalmatia.   I thoroughly enjoyed this wine and found it to be very smooth.

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As a restaurant that serves a tasting menu, I was a bit nervous that I would leave feeling hungry.   I was completely wrong.  You basically have three options, a 3-course menu, a 4-course menu or a 5-course menu.  I opted for the 4-course menu.  I decided to mix it up with my selections, starting with octopus as my first course, rooster pasta as my second, lamb and eggplant as my third and then ending with the apricot caramel for dessert.   I was pleasantly surprised to find that an appetizer was served at the start of the meal and a dessert was given at the end.    With non-stop bread in-between courses, you will leave feeling very full.  This restaurant aims to please and much, much more.

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We choose Milos Stagnum as our second bottle of wine for the evening.  My mother-in-law gifted us this wine a year ago so it was nice to enjoy it again.

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Another feature of the restaurant which caught my eye was it’s close attention to detail as well as the coordination of the staff.  I found that our evening flowed in a well-choreographed manner.   It just seemed as if the food kept coming….and coming!

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After a few days of rain, the weather was finally back to normal temperatures again.   The sun in Dalmatia is much different than the sun in Ontario; there is no humidity and you can tolerate the heat.   I found the overall mood in the restaurant to be that of a perfect Dalmatian night.   Coincidentally, a klapa festival was taking place at the Cathedral while we were enjoying our meal, making the experience much more wholesome.

If you are looking for a restaurant that is decadent and unique; for presentation that goes above-and-beyond; and for something that excites your sights, sounds and tastebuds, look no further than to Konoba Pelegrini in Šibenik, Croatia.

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Zagreb: a city where memories are made of

While planning our upcoming trip to Croatia this past January, my husband and I were looking at different routes from Toronto.   We had the option to either fly direct to Zagreb or fly with a connection to Split.   When my husband and I were younger, we used to start our trip in Zagreb and stayed at Hotel Dubrovnik, which is in the heart of Ban Jelačić Square.   I have fond memories of those carefree days where we would walk around the city and enjoy some coffee.   My choice was clear:   we had to start our trip in Zagreb and continue our tradition.

My husband on the other hand was not quite sure.  He considered driving straight to our family home in Vodice following the flight.   I quickly vetoed that as my rationale was we will all be hungry and tired.   But, deep down inside, I just wanted to stay in Zagreb and reminisce about a time before we were married and had kids, a time when it was just the two of us.  I wanted to simply walk around the streets of Zagreb with the kids and just take all the sights in.   In other words, my husband had no choice but to book a hotel in Zagreb.  We decided to book Hotel Dubrovnik, where we have previously stayed.   We love Hotel Dubrovnik and it is our favourite hotel in Zagreb due to its close proximity to Ban Jelačić Square and Ilica Street.   The staff there is incredible, especially with kids and their complimentary breakfast is second-to-none.  We booked two nights there knowing the first day would be a bit of a right-off with the travel.

Day 1
Following check in we got settled into the hotel and let the kids rest a bit.  We decided to venture outside for an early dinner and walk around Zagreb.   We made our way to Tkalčićeva Street and had pizza at Nokturno, which was recommended by the hotel staff.   Pizza sort of is the theme of this trip as that’s all what my kids have been eating.   You would think that Italians are only known for their pizza, but Croatians make a pretty good pizza if you ask me.  We thoroughly enjoyed our first meal and the kids were enamoured by the sights and sounds of Tkalčićeva Street.  We spent the rest of the evening walking around the city, namely towards Kaptol where we saw the Zagreb Cathedral (Cathedral of the Virgin Mary) and passed by the market, which was closed by the time we got there.
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Day 2
The kids were extremely jet-lagged so we let them sleep.   They slept probably for a total of 15 hours.   My husband and I took turns going out for breakfast so he went first and then I second.  It turns out that this day was a holiday, Croatian Statehood Day (Dan Državnosti) so most stores were closed.  The city felt quiet as most people went to the beach for the day.   By the time my husband returned to our room, the complimentary breakfast was closed, so I made my way outside towards the Ban Jelačić Square and purchased a fresh croissant from a nearby bakery and enjoyed a cappuccino at the Hotel Dubrovnik Kavana.  This moment felt like pure bliss.  Peace and quiet while I did some writing in my journal.   Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Once the kids woke up we fed them some yogurt and krafne for breakfast and made our way outside. We walked towards Zrinjevac Park where the kids thoroughly enjoyed splashing in its many fountains. We eventually made our way to Kralj Tomislav Square where the kids were in awe of such a impressive monument to Croatia’s first king.

img_1952We spent most of the day walking around the city, namely to the Gornji Grad (Upper City) where we walked by the Croatian Parliament and St. Mark’s Church. To get to this part of the city, we went underground through the Grič Tunnel, which the kids found very interesting!

 

As written previously, pizza has become a favourite meal on this trip. We asked the kids what they wanted to eat and they cried “pizza!!” So we made the trek all the way to Karijola which is located directly across from Galleria Importane. The rooftop patio was lovely and instead of gemist I opted for a glass of rose which from my understanding is making a huge comeback this year.  I find the taste of rose crisp, and subtly sweet and when served cold it is the perfect summer wine.

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Following this we returned to King Tomislav Square where the City of Zagreb threw a free concert in honour of Statehood Day.  The performer was none other than the remarkable National Folk Dance Ensemble of Croatia, LADO.  Nothing is more Croatian than LADO, who performs traditional Croatian songs and folk dances.  As my husband and I were both very active in Croatian folklore in Canada, we were delighted to attend this show and share our love of Croatian culture with our children.   The  kids enjoyed it thoroughly and we managed to last the first hour of the show, until they got tired.

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Day 3
The following day we checked out of our hotel and walked around Ilica and Ban Jelacic Square.  We took the kids to the Budi Ponosan (Be Proud) soccer museum.   It’s a little museum located on Petrinjska off of Ilica which is dedicated to the Croatian National Soccer Team.  The kids enjoyed looking at all the jerseys throughout the team’s history and some of the displays.

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After our visit to the museum, we stopped for coffee and juice at the trendy La Bodega before departing to our next destination.   The first few days of our trip were a success, the kids enjoyed themselves, and for a small moment in time, I felt as if I was living a dream.    As a family, we created magical memories to last a lifetime and I am so happy that we started the trip how I wanted to, in Zagreb.

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