Early in my career, for a few years I was in charge of public affairs and communications for a major forest products company in Canada, and spent a fair bit of time in Northwestern Ontario — a vast area of lakes, rivers, and forests, north of Lake Superior. There I had my first of what locals call a “shore lunch.”
It consisted of some beautiful pickerel we had caught minutes before, cleaned, breaded and then fried in melted lard in an iron pan. With the fish came white bread (yes!) and baked beans (yes!). And in the cool air and sunshine, sitting on rocks beside the cold water, I found the whole lunch delicious. Perfect.
Now we’ve had a shore lunch of a somewhat different sort, on our recent vacation at a resort in Croatia. (I described our journeys to and from our home base in Daglan in the posting “You [almost] can’t get there from here,” on May 23.)
This lunch was at a seaside location near our resort, the TUI Sensimar Adriatic Beach Resort (south of Split, north of Dubrovnik). Called Gran Mare Grill, it certainly made the most of the scenery. Our host had promised us a table on the shore, and that’s certainly what we got.
Here is the “entrance” to our own area, with my wife Jan and our friend Elisabeth sitting at our table:
Our young host was charming, proud of his Croatian heritage, proud to be serving only local ingredients, and keen to serve us (fair enough — at the time, we were the only customers). Here he is, standing beside the table with Jan, Elisabeth and me (photo credit: Gerhard):
To begin, the appetizers we were offered proved (once again) that “simple is good,” as long as the products are excellent.
We were served a few nice plates (actually, slices of tree trunks), starting with a selection of local sausages and a dish of a peppery condiment. The round slices were a bit like chorizo (one of my personal favourites) and so this appetizer went down well, especially with Gerhard and me:
I do love sausages, but I liked the next plate of appetizers even more — a sheep’s milk cheese served with candied walnuts and various sweet jams and conserves:
For the main course, it simply had to be the fresh fish, caught that morning (we were told — we weren’t actually there for the catch) in the Adriatic. Our host brought us a tray with two fish on ice — a grouper and a John Dory (St. Pierre, in France). Here they are, before being prepared for the grill:
And then, unaccountably, we had a really, really long wait until the main course arrived. Not sure why, and we didn’t ask. But it was far longer than it should have taken to grill some fish over a flame.
When the main course did arrive, it was very good — we each had some of the two different fish, plus creamy mashed potatoes, and some grilled vegetables that were surprisingly delightful. (Our host explained that the chef, his wife, “shocks” the vegetables first in icy water, before placing them on the grill.) Here is one of the plates:
Finally, here is a look back at the actual restaurant building. This early in the tourist season, it was not exactly jumping:
We left our seaside table feeling quite well fed, but all four of us thought that the final bill seemed a tad high for what we received (which did include three bottles of Croatian white wine). So after some deliberation, we cancelled our plans to have our final evening meal at the restaurant, and instead stayed for the buffet at our resort.