Looking for Lunch in Croatia…

Antonio’s Pig and Lamb Roast – Not for Vegetarians!

As we drove down route 1 from Zadar to Sibenik, the vistas of the coast, wildflowers, vineyards, and isolated chapels on the highest part of the mountain, led us astray.  We followed dirt paths, climbed over rock walls, and just explored this new country.

At one point, we pulled over into a restaurant parking lot where a man was beginning to cook two pigs and a lamb on a metal spit over a wood fire.  Even though our mouths were watering, he said they needed a couple of hours before lunch would be done, so we continued exploring and started to look for a similar restaurant so that we could try the Croatian barbecue.

Looking for Lunch in Croatia

We skidded past one restaurant, called Vikend, and it was getting late.  Our tummies were growling, so we quickly found a turnaround when we saw the.  Off to the side was a small shed that clearly had cooking meat in it as billows of smoke rose up into the cloudless sky.  We jumped out and went right away to meet the chef, Antonio.

Looking for Lunch in Croatia

With a charcoal and fat smeared t-shirt, he welcomed us with huge smiles.  In broken English, he proudly told us yes both the pork and lamb were ready and how to order it, so we jumped up on the balcony and got ready to order.  Antonio’s wife, Maria, came to take our order and his daughter came out to answer some of the questions we had, since her English was a little better than her mom’s.

Looking for Lunch in Croatia

A family-run business, we also met grandma whose job it was to cut up hundreds of potatoes each day.  The meat was cooked through and Antonio and Maria carried the spit, animal hanging down with fat dripping on the driveway from the shed to the kitchen where she chopped up huge portions for our table of four.

Looking for Lunch in Croatia

Succulent and tender, both meats were grilled to perfection.  Fresh salad of cabbage, lettuce and tomatoes and those freshly sliced French fries finished off the feast.  We chased it all down with the Croatian beer called Karlovačko.  As our first real dinner in the country, we weren’t just satisfied, we were happy!

Looking for Lunch in Croatia

It wasn’t just the food, though.  Invited into the kitchen to attend the cutting of the meat, meeting the family, and talking to Antonio about his ingredients, his method, and a little about his life was just the additive to make it an experience to remember.

Looking for Lunch in Croatia

Antonio told us that he bought his lambs from a man up the mountain where they fed on the best grasses and sage, taking in the salty wind off of the sea, and living a contented life that makes the meat even more tender, so he doesn’t have to season the lamb with any other spices.  It comes already tasty.

Looking for Lunch in Croatia

He cut the wood himself, lets it sit for four months, then when well-seasoned chops it down to make the perfect fire that he keeps at a certain height throughout the grilling.  Whatever his particular method was, he didn’t vary it and the results were amazing time and time again.

Looking for Lunch in Croatia

We were thrilled to have such a rewarding experience for our first meal in Croatia, and to our delight this happened again and again.  The people are so open and friendly, willing to share their lives, and their delicious food with whomever comes their way.

Looking for Lunch in Croatia

What are some of your most memorable eating experiences?  Have you had a Croatian roasted pig or lamb?

10 thoughts on “Looking for Lunch in Croatia…”

  1. I do really like pork but I have to admit I get a wee bit squeamish when I’m seeing the whole pig like that!! Though it’s all just in my head because if I just closed my eyes and ate it, I’m sure I would find it just delicious!

  2. Ha, I am a vegetarian. But despite my non-meat-eating ways, this sounds like an amazing first meal in Croatia. What a great introduction to not only the food, but the people too. There’s nothing better than being welcomed into a country by a local family, even if it’s only for a meal. Great story :)

  3. I’ve never been to Croatia but it’s definitely on my must-visit list! But I’ll be sure to leave my vegetarian daughter behind though. Antonio reminds me of the men of Guatemala who also take great pride in their meat cooking prowess. Whenever I see a hook hanging from the ceiling or a tree, I run the other way.

  4. I will have to hide this post from my vegetarian daughter, however the rest of us could seriously enjoy this meal with you. We haven’t been to Croatia yet. Someday.

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