After gorging ourselves on truffles in Istria it was time for some island hopping. We drove from Motovun to Rijeka. Rijeka is the 3rd largest city in Croatia after Zagreb (the capital) and Split. We parked the car near the ferry landing and looked for lunch. The ferry to Novalja on the island of Pag didn’t leave until 5 so we had plenty of time to look around Rijeka. The website that was instrumental in all the ferry planning was Croatia Ferries.
Near the port we found the fruit, fish, meat and dairy markets.
It would have been fun to buy some things and test them out but we were on the move! For lunch we found a little place called Na Kantunu. They brought out the daily fish selection so we could choose ours: grilled branzino with fried shrimp. When it came out there was a healthy helping of a swiss chard, potato and butter concoction which we deemed the national side dish as it appeared everywhere else we went with varying degrees of butter, smoothness and swiss chard. Every iteration was delicious.
The island of Pag is the 5th largest of the 1,200 or so islands in Croatia. There is a bridge that connects Pag to the mainland but we’ll get to that later. Although we took the ferry into Novalja, very much a beach town, our destination was the Boskinac, hotel/restaurant/winery, a short drive inland. Lonely Planet describes the landscape of Pag as a moonscape, or maybe something out of an Antonioni movie. In a way it is. There were wide swaths of land with no trees just scrubby bushes or shrubs and lots of white rocks. It had not rained in a few months so that may have contributed but there was something beautiful in the desolation.
Boskinac sits on a hill where off in the distance you can see the Adriatic. We couldn’t see the vineyards from the hotel but there were olive trees in sight and the constant chirping of cicadas. I don’t know how you say cicada but my pronunciation, see-kay-duh, is considered off by a certain bf of mine who says, chee-kah-da. Tomato, to-maaahh-toe. We arrived just before dinner so we checked in and ventured out onto the patio for our first al fresco meal of many there.
To drink we had a blend of gegich and sauvingnon blanc that we drank at every meal. It wasn’t too sweet or thin, but pretty perfect. To eat I started with mini maccheroni with baby shrimp and leeks. Bf had cold pea and mint soup. For our mains we had Adriatic tuna 3 ways: seared with some soy, cured and cold over a potato salad and sesame crusted over a red pepper puree (maybe); lamb 6 ways (small portions). Since we were on the fabled island of Pag cheese was a must. Their paški sir (Croatian for cheese from the island of Pag) is most like a pecorino, a hard, sheep’s milk cheese that has a subtle nutty flavor. We had some in Motovun but this was even more layered in its flavor. More