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August 19, 2012

Montenegro my love: visit and recipes

Shaul Ben Aderet received an invitation to visit and cook in Montenegro - the southernpearl of the Adriatic Sea. After a week of sailing, jeep tours and visits to medieval cities, he returned tired, happy and with notes and recipes for Mediterranean fish-dis ('chraime'), cold eggplant soup and summery mini donuts.

If you love dreamy blue sea with bays, lagoons and hidden beaches, sun peeking above mountains peaks, seafood restaurants kisses the water, waiters dressed in starched shirts and bow ties, long leg girls in bikinis, golden sand and smiling people whom serenity and scenery merge in their behavior – leave everything behind and come to visit Montenegro.

I was invited to this young country by the Foreign Minister of Montenegro, who had dined in our restaurant with Consul of Montenegro in Israel, and suggested we shoot local TV Special Program on Israeli food.

I decided to take up the challenge, so we found ourselves, one summer week in one of the most beautiful places on the shores of the Mediterranean basin (or rather: Adriatic). We started our first day in the coastal town Budva, sailing the beautiful beaches of the country. We revealed along roadside stalls of berries, cherries, honey and watermelons. Each has only one case - what they harvested that day.

On the next day we started filming the program. Photographed meal opened with eggplant cream soup, a dish with an Israeli touch, one can sip as it is cool in the summer, also very popular in Montenegro. Ingredients: burnt eggplant, root vegetables, a little bit cream and powdered vegetable stock thick soup with smoky flavor.

For main course, of course, I cooked fish. We selected for the photo shoots Meagre weighing two kg to star in Mediterranean fish-dis ('chraime') with garlic, paprika, paper spread, cilantro, tomatoes and chili - red fire celebration. Locals were enthusiastic.

For dessert I made quick donuts with yogurt and vanilla and accompanied by a sweet- spicy - sour cherry tomato jam, interesting and successful combination. Like in Hanukkah (Jewish holiday), you can eat 20 of them without even noticing - caution.

For the shoots I was combined with Chef Alexander Snkoritz from the magnificent Splendid Hotel in Budva. He cooked in impressive display, complex and creative dishes, though there simplicity and freshness is the name of the game

For first course he prepared leaves salad, beetroot Carpaccio, edible flowers, strawberry sauce and quail egg yolk, oranges, figs, and olives - a combination of colors and flavors. For main course, Tuna was burned on the plancha (cast-iron surface designed for roasting) and submitted for carrot puree and vanilla and corn polenta with sardine baked with herbs sauce and red wine syrup, a type of sea candy. For dessert Francesco the hotel pastry, prepared a classic tiramisu, always wins and influenced of the neighbor across the street - Italy.

The day after the shooting we went on Jeep tour in the mountains. An hour drive from Budva and you touch the clouds, with a spectacular view of the endless sea lagoons, plants, fig trees, olive and carob trees that grow naturally.

We stopped to eat in the 20 houses village with a red roof, made of black mountain stone. A home restaurant had some Formica tables. WE sat down at one and got large vegetable salad, roast fat sausage, beef patties with mashed potatoes, whole cooked carrots and delicious spinach cream for 80 NIS for both of us.

In the evening we returned to Budva enjoying what the city has to offer: fish restaurants, huge walls on the mountains, alleys just begging you to wander in and get lose among the street musicians, mime shows, living statues, happy tourists and groups of elderly, all holding beer in their hand. With the breeze and the smell of sea in the air, we really could not ask for more.