Mostar: It's all about the bridge

It is an ongoing challenge to try and understand the complex history of this region, and in the light of this history to reflect on all we saw and experienced in 5 short days exploring Mostar and Sarajevo in Bosnia Herzegovina.

In Mostar is all about the bridge! Tourists flock to Mostar to see the historic cobbled foot bridge that crosses the river.  Bombed during the war of the 1990’s, it has been restored and in now seen as a Bridge of Hope, joining the Muslim old town with the Roman Catholic new town. 

Mostar is small, charming with winding cobbled lanes that snake along the rivers, merchants selling tourist wares from stalls lining the walkways. Bells ring from church towers and muslims are called to prayer from the minarets. This is in a country that understands itself to be tolerant of differences. Stories of mixed marriages abound.

Mostar's catholic population live on one side of the bridge and the muslims on the other in the old town The country has a 44% unemployment rate, 20% of the people live below the poverty line.

The people hosted us in their small inns and B&B’s could not have been friendlier, generous in their hospitality and extending beyond what was necessary. They were also forthcoming and shared that the divisiveness caused by the war is not entirely over. Their was a seige that cut off the residence of the old town and caused much suffering. There are some to this day who have not and will not cross over to the other side, testimony to the ongoing damage that the politics and nationalism have instilled.

Choose your impression of Mostar. Maybe it is both.

pock marked with bullet holes.

Look no further! Slovenian Cuisine at its finest!

If you need a reason to fly to Slovenia, look no further!  The destination is Dornbek, and Saksida Winery in the northwest Slovenian part of the Istrian peninsula.

The camping accommodation, an idyllic setting in a vineyard was what drew us. The views of olive trees, grape vines and irises confirmed the choice.

Yes it had been raining!

Views beside the camper.

Hymer at home in the vineyard.

The gift was that unbeknownst to us, the vineyard has a small restaurant that happened to be serving dinner the night we were there! This blog is a tribute to a remarkable, memorable meal. As is the custom in this part of the world, the ingredients are local and fresh, ie in season.

The table is set!

The vineyard has been in the family since the 1800’s and is now managed by Ingrid and her chef husband Marko. Together they choreographed a generous 5 course dinner complete with a different wine to compliment each dish.

The wine label says it all! Quality hosts, quality wine accompanying quality food at a quality location!  SAKSIDA!!

The meal began with a small rectangular plate on which was poured from a small shot glass, olive oil with an olive. Another shot glass contained creamed horseradish and diced green apples. A plate of bread and homemade salami accompanied the antipasti.  It was then that I realized I needed to document this gastronomic experience.  The following pictures speak for themselves.

Appetizer: polenta with cream and pancetta, prosciutto, asparagus and mint. The sour cream with olive oil were poured from a long thin vial onto the polenta. After the lid had been removed from the container!

Grass green Nettle soup before and after. The soup was poured over the pear balls deep fried wonton wafer filled with ricotta cheese, pureed beet with plop of mild goats cheese.

River trout on prosciutto and covered with lemon foam, white asparagus with sweet brown beans, green asparagus puree and dots of puree of carrot.

Seminola dumpling with the tips of white hops, reduced beef drippings, topped with a breaded egg yolk and cheese sauce.

Strawberries semifredo with fresh strawberries and nuts over thick carmelized condensed milk. Hot sugar sauce was poured through freah mint via a tea strainer over the strawberries.

The perfect end; espresso adorned with a violet!