Horseflesh and Meat Fest (Two Separate Things) in the Croatian Countryside

6 Oct

 A morning spent wandering around the upper town gave me a chance to see some of the oldest and most storied parts of Zagreb. The Church of St. Mark depicts on its roof the old coats of arms for Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia and Zagreb (no separation of church and state necessary in 1882, when the current remodeling was done). At the same time, I dropped by the Alighiere Ljekarna, the oldest pharmacy in town. Turns out it was once owned by Nicolo Alighieri, great-grandson of Dante. No fond Inferno-related pilgrimage, I’m afraid. I just needed remedy for the cold I picked up on the airplane (WASH YOUR HANDS, PEOPLE, PLEASE!)
“Movin’ to the Country, Gonna Eat me a Lotta….” Meat?
Zagreb has many fine buildings, but Croatia’s real beauty is on the coast and in the countryside towns. Near Djakovo (pronounced Ja-ko-vo), a state-run stud farm breeds Lipizzaner stallions. These are the famous white dressage horses that tour the world…and it turns out that this is one of the oldest breeding and training operations in the world. The farm–a gorgeous, peaceful place–is about 3 hours away from Zagreb by bus. The air smells of hay and horseflesh, which is intoxicating. The animals have little fear of human contact, though you should be prepared for them to chew insistently on your clothes. Turns out few of the horses are born white; most are black, brown, or dark gray. Their coats tend to lighten as they mature….just like humans. You can visit the training school in the town, but be prepared for the stallions to show more aggression. This is no petting zoo.DSCN0303
Just down the block, the Sokak Restaurant serves traditional Slovenian fare. Translation: Meat, Meat, and more Meat. The DZK arranged a wonderful lunch for the group, complete with local folk musicians, a five course meal with three hours’ gustation time, and little vases of the local brandy. Vegetables are mostly a garnish here.
Vood ze doctah like a bwandy before he wetires?






Like everything else I have eaten here, everything was plentiful, brilliantly prepared, and simple. Most of us had to be carted out in hand trucks.

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