My grandfather is Croatian, arriving to NYC from Krk - the northernmost island in Croatia. My grandmother is of Yugoslavian descent, as well, so I have double eastern european roots and I love it. A few years ago, I decided I HAD to get over to meet all of my family - cousins, aunts and most importantly my barbara Vlado, my grandfathers brother. He was ill and I knew the opportunity wouldn't be around for long. So, I set my mind to it, bought a ticket and took private Croatian lessons for about 9 months in anticipation of a major language barrier. Croatia was awesome. I absorbed as much of the food culture as I could, forced myself to go in bakeries and markets and speak to the bakers and farmers (Ne govorim hrvatska dobro) and walked away with memories of family and food that are seared in my mind. What a gift!
My cousins in Slovenia made mlinci - a toasted and sauteed pasta - for me when I was at their house during grape harvest. After a day digging my heels into the hillside and harvesting grapes for their house wine, we ate a hearty dinner of roast chicken and mlinci. It was mind-blowingly decelcious. I'd never had a dish like this before. It was pasta-like, but so much more. You roll, bake, boil and then saute (in chicken fat from the roast) wide fat noodles and serve them alongside the chicken. They are at once al dente, chewy, crispy and glistening with a bit of schmaltz. My own personal heaven.
I taught a Croatian Cooking Class this week making many other of my families dishes along with the mlinci. I also taught the students how to make strudel - a stretch of dough that ends up being 6 feet long and 4 feet wide - no joke! This pic is the beginning stages. If you would like to take a Croatian Cooking Class with me, please sign up for my newsletter. I only offer home cooking classes via my newsletter and rarely teach out at cooking schools.
It is simple and humble country-style cooking and nothing can compare. Read all about the class and check out this MAJOR EYE CANDY from one of my students who writes the blog Seattle Pastry Girl (@Seatlepastrygrl on Twitter).She did a killer job and it's most def a blog worth checking out.