Dubrovnik FOOD Story

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19

March

2017

St. Joseph's Day and oysters from Ston

I really like food, I like cooking, I like reading recipes and cook books. That is the reason I am running an agency together with my sister that is all about presenting authentic local gastronomy to our guests. Before our entrepreneurial venture lots of people told us that we had to be crazy since our market was not big, but you know the saying: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a .... we are doing this because WE LOVE FOOD. But here comes the first challenge. I've never written a food blog and nowadays it seems that if you don't write it, you just don't exist. What will be my first blog theme, how will I write it, will it be interesting to read, will I be able to stick to it....many questions searching for answers used to arise before I went to sleep. Finally, I decided to tell a story about oysters from Ston. Timing was perfect since oyster season began in March and one of the biggest food festivals in our region, Oyster Festival, takes place in Ston around St. Joseph's Day (18th of March). I must be honest and admit that, even though I follow all major food events that are happening nearby, I've never been to Ston Festival. Sometimes I worked, sometimes I didn't have enough time, but this year nothing could have stopped me from seeing what was so special about it. Our foodie team gathered and we were ready for the oysters adventure, already counting in the car how many oysters each of us could swallow (you never bite oysters). Those stories were like tall tales: 50, 100 oysters was an optimum number for some of us. Personally, I can eat maybe 5 of them and I love to taste their freshness with a drop of lemon and a glass of wine. What is so special in oysters from Ston that attracts thousands of people to come to the festival and eat so many oysters? First of all, these oysters have been grown in the Bay of Mali Ston and Pelješac peninsula since the Roman times. We can find written records about trading oysters in Dubrovnik State documents from the 16th century. Oysters were served on renaissance feasts of noble families and lots of it ended at the court of Emperor Franz Joseph I in the 19th century. They were shipped by carriages and covered with algae to preserve freshness. Oysters must be kept on the temperature of up to 8 degrees Celsius, consumed within 48 hrs and, most importantly, completely closed . They are known as an aphrodisiac (sadly, just for men). A legend says that the most famous lover of all times – Casanova, started every day by eating 40 oysters for breakfast. They have lots of protein, omega-3-acids, almost no saturated fat, vitamin B, magnesium and potassium. I had to refrain from eating oysters during pregnancy as they can be potentially dangerous because of sea bacteria and viruses, especially if you eat them raw, as we mostly do. It was a tough challenge since forbidden fruit is most difficult to resist  Another fact that proves the high quality of our oysters are the conditions of sea water where they are being grown. It is a fine mixture of salt and fresh water and they are fed only by plankton filtrating the water which needs to be perfectly clean. Farming time is 2,5 -3 years.. Oysters are often paired with white wines, sparkling wines or beer, but the local people eat it with red wine Plavac Mali or Dingač, a special red wine sort of Plavac. Those are famous local wines that are made by wine producers from Pelješac. Oysters are best if they are opened fresh right from the sea with a few drops of lemon or bitter orange juice, which was the tradition of the cuisine of Dubrovnik Republic. This is one of my favourite recipes: Grilled oysters Open the oysters and leave the sea in the shell. Clean 3-4 salted anchovies, capers, garlic, chopped parsley, crumbled bread and grind everything in a mortar. Fill the oysters with the mixture and grill it for 10 minutes. If you want, you can add one teaspoon of cream cheese, they are even more tasty. Regardless of whether you want to taste oysters because you love them or you want to improve your libido, they should be on your food map while staying in Dubrovnik. Just join the contest among the locals: I can eat 50, I can eat 100......