Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina

There are surprisingly many interesting things about this Bosnian town, starting with its name, which is one of the loveliest I’ve come across: Travnik translates to meadow in English. By the way, one of the towns we drove through on our way to Travnik was even called Vitez = Knight.

There’s lots of water there. The Lašva runs through it loud and jumpy.

Continue reading “Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina”

Holidaying and Eating in Italy 2018 (Part Two): Maremma, Tuscany

Just look at this chef’s face! He’s happy, very happy and so are we who enjoy his food. Continue reading “Holidaying and Eating in Italy 2018 (Part Two): Maremma, Tuscany”

Holidaying and Eating in Italy 2018 (Part One): Veneto to Marche and Tuscany (and back)

“Are you sitting comfortably?” my man asked as I mounted our motorbike upon departure. My day was made with this concern of his over my well being, let alone the fact we were heading to Italy for a summer vacation.

By the early evening we would arrive to a wonderful town of Urbino
First stopover: Menegaldo in Veneto

Since we left home a bit later than planned, we needed to adjust our plans for where to stop for lunch. Continue reading “Holidaying and Eating in Italy 2018 (Part One): Veneto to Marche and Tuscany (and back)”

Why Running?

Do you run? I do. And I kinda love it.

I’ve been running for, probably, a decade now. I mean, regularly running. As in exercise. I find it quite surprising to be a runner because I sure wasn’t keen on running before. On the contrary, as a young girl I believed running to be a torturous activity which gave me nothing but pain in the abdomen and was grossly uncomfortable all over (a regular reader might remember for I’ve mentioned it before). Back at school, I excelled in short runs (yep, no stamina) and suffered heavily through long ones (mandatory 600m runs in school seemed like 6000m then).

One of the perks of running outdoors: beautiful roses in the local park

But, everyone can run, right? In my opinion, there’s no reason a healthy individual wouldn’t run. Continue reading “Why Running?”

Summer Food: Oven-baked Chicken with Tomatoes

We arrived to the coast just the night before. We walked through a tranquil village to the restaurant for dinner. Not many people around, barely a car passed us. It was a short, pleasurable walk. The air was dense with smells of the sea and the sun-drenched soil. The sunset was gorgeous. It felt good to be back at last.

The dinner we had at Restaurant Badi was fantastic: marinated sardines and anchovies, a small heap of the Venetian classic sarde in saor, then two bowls of crisp fresh salad and a whole, on the bone, perfectly grilled sea bream. With it we had some very good Istrian, local, red wine and after the meal we shared a glass of pelinkovac, a delicious bitter brandy made with wormwood (Artemisia absinthium).

Then, the next morning we headed to the farmers’ market in Umag. It’s one of those not too cute but secluded places that are lively and colourful. Continue reading “Summer Food: Oven-baked Chicken with Tomatoes”

Touring Sri Lanka Top 8 (Part 2)

Sunset over tea plantations en route to even higher lying estates

As promised in my previous post, here is part two of my top 8 places I particularly enjoyed during our trip to Sri Lanka last month. From the cultural riches of Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Dambulla we drove to the heart of the Hill Country and after a few days continued to the coast. The weather was fine every day everywhere we went which was a miracle in itself. After the overwhelming beauty of Kandalama I couldn’t have dreamt of places even more alluring.

Brief Garden Gate

Continue reading “Touring Sri Lanka Top 8 (Part 2)”

Touring Sri Lanka: Top 8

There’s tea and there’s tea alright. And that’s about all I knew about Sri Lanka before. Ashamed as I may have been of my ignorance, I am now, after our return from a recent holiday on the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, at peace with myself.

The wonderful Kandalama Lake, surrounded by lush jungle, with a view of magical Sigiriya in the distance

Sri Lanka is all that: beautiful and diverse landscape, lush flora, extraordinary wildlife, pleasant people, rich historical heritage, delicious food, but also bad roads, excessive bureaucracy and mad traffic. As a result, the mix of it all makes for a very much alive, colourful, energetic spectacle for the passing tourist. Sri Lanka took us by surprise in its own right.

Buddha of Gal Vihara, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
Carved out of granite but looking as tender as silk

Continue reading “Touring Sri Lanka: Top 8”

Touring Piedmont, Italy, or Reminiscence of Summer

It’s a shame this site has not been keeping on for a while now and I’m sorry about that. Today’s post has been long in the making, the seasons changed dramatically in the meantime. Listing my reasons for not posting would just be too lame so I’m simply inviting you to step a few months back with me into the wondrous land of Piedmont, Italy.

A view ofGovone, a very pretty village in the region of Langhe in Piedmont
Govone, a very pretty village in the region of Langhe in Piedmont. Not only wine also hazelnuts are big here.

Lately (please keep in mind this post was first beginning to take shape almost two months ago) every time I looked out the window towards the park or around me outdoors I was struck by how wonderful this year’s autumn was. September was a true disappointment weather-wise, so I guess it wasn’t too hard for October to outperform it. Outperform it did: the nature’s treasures are glorifying. The generous sun provided for all possible shades of yellow, red and brown. Marvellous.

Piedmont, Italy

Continue reading “Touring Piedmont, Italy, or Reminiscence of Summer”

Sarajevo Film Festival & more

It feels kind of embarrassing to be writing about Sarajevo only from the entertainment point of view. Of course there is so much more to the city than amusement, fun and pleasure. But be it as it is, I always have good time in Sarajevo. Somehow, every time I’m there I enjoy it a lot. Call me trivial, I don’t mind at all.

Sarajlije in action (playing outdoor chess on Trg oslobođenja in city centre)
Sarajlije in action on Trg oslobođenja in city centre

You might remember Sarajevo from the news back in the 90’s when the  horrible siege of the city took place and kept its citizens trapped for far too long. The actual post-war renovations of the city may be slow and partial but it’s the people that form one city’s soul. Sarajevans or Sarajlije, as they’re called locally, are relaxed, modern and proud of their multicultural city. I love to hang out with them. It’s so much fun!

Sarajlije

The Sarajevo Film Festival is a real treat. It seems to be a city’s motor of some sort. It feels as if everybody is hardly waiting only for it to begin. The city itself gets spruced up, so do people who on any other occasion  make very sartorial outings anyway be it a stroll down Ferhadija, main pedestrianized street, a dinner or party, but during the events of the film festival they get very classy indeed.

Night view of Metalac, the most spectacular open air cinema in the world (the official artwork of 2017 edition of Sarajevo Film Festial on screen)
Metalac, the most spectacular open air cinema in the world (the official artwork of 2017 edition of Sarajevo Film Festial on screen)

The films we saw this time were:  On the Other Side of Hope, which won the Silver Bear award in Berlin this year, Aus dem Nichts (In the Fade) starring the fantastic Diane Kruger, a very particular Good TimesŽaba (The Frog), the most impatiently awaited Bosnian film, and a fraction of oldie-goldie A Fish Called Wanda, which showed as a tribute to John Cleese.

John Cleese accepting the Heart of Sarajevo award for lifetime achievement
John Cleese accepting the Heart of Sarajevo award for lifetime achievement in Metalac

Many stars and celebrities come to Sarajevo during the film festival. Oliver Stone and  John Cleese were the most widely known ones this year and they both received the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo award for lifetime achievement. There were of course many more.

Oliver Stone’s gave a sober but kind anti-war speech before receiving the heart of Sarajevo Award in Metalac
Oliver Stone’s gave a sober but kind anti-war speech before receiving the heart of Sarajevo Award in Metalac

The most wonderful venue for watching the films is certainly a huge courtyard known among Sarajevans as Metalac. It’s right in the heart of the city, in the vicinity of so called Festival Square, encircled with Austria-Hungarian townhouses. It’s righteously the most popular venue.

Metalac, an enormous open air cinema, in broad daylight. It can seat 3000 people.
Metalac, an enormous open air cinema, in broad daylight. It can seat 3000 people.

Although we certainly love a good film, it’s not (only) films that we come to Sarajevo for during its famous film festival. It’s the city itself, its personality and vibe.

Central market in Sarajevo
Central market in Sarajevo

Sarajevans are very much emotionally attached to their city. Even as a total outsider I can nod to their uneasiness about any other city. After Sarajevo many other capitals of the West, particularly the monocultural ones, seem justifiably boring.

Panorama of Sarajevo city centre with surrounding hills
Panorama of Sarajevo city centre with surrounding hills as viewed from the terrace of Marriott hotel

 

Related:

Oliver Stone Gets Putin Praise Set Honor via hollywoodreporter.com

Variety.com on Oliver Stone at SFF

I’ve written about some of my previous visits to Sarajevo: https://mrssage.com/sarajevo-or-my-weekend-with-robert-de-niro/ and https://mrssage.com/sarajevo-revisited/

Late Summer in the Kitchen: Figs & Peppers

As much as we might be sorry for summer being gone, this is a good time of year: it’s a rewarding combination of abundant produce and moderate temperatures. Truth be told, with all the raging heat waves this summer (four? five? I lost count.) I didn’t get to cook much. Too hot is simply too hot.

A plate of trimmed and cut figs ready to adorn the galette
Figs getting ready for their perfomance in fig galette

When the heat persists it’s best to resort to ice cream or slush, cold drink and dreamy shade. And spare your energy. Continue reading “Late Summer in the Kitchen: Figs & Peppers”

Boka Kotorska, Montenegro

The view of Boka Kotorska
The high steep mountains form dramatic coastline of Boka Kotorska

I count it as a personal defeat to declare Porto Montenegro the highlight of our short trip to Montenegro last week. Strolling concrete seashore of a luxurious Adriatic haven for the wealthy seafaring Russians, although only for a couple of hours, is certainly not my cup of tea. Continue reading “Boka Kotorska, Montenegro”

Touring the Wine Regions of Bordeaux, France

Endless vineyards of Bordeaux
Endless vineyards of Bordeaux

I’ve been a red wine lover through and through since almost forever (I admit to having preferred the white wine in my coming of age period) so spending a part of our summer holiday touring the Bordeaux wine regions seemed to be a straightforward, logical decision. I love champagne a lot too but I don’t think we’ll head to Champagne anytime soon. One huge French wine region, which Bordeaux area undisputedly and certainly is, with all its delights and weaknesses, was quite a handful.  Continue reading “Touring the Wine Regions of Bordeaux, France”

Touring Cote d’Azur a.k.a. French Riviera, France (obviously)

Yeah, I suppose you have every reason to dismiss me with boos and hisses for what on Earth is it in that destination in question, Cote d’Azur, or the French Riviera, as it is refered to in English (although the original name reflects the real thing so much better), right? (right???) except for some ugly beaches, lousy weather, bad food and cheap wine. But bear with me, please. It was MY holiday after all.

A late afternoon sunlight adorning Cote d'Azur
A late afternoon sunlight adorning Cote d’Azur

First things first: Cote d’Azur, probably France’s finest stretch of coast, is just as good and beautiful as I remember. Maybe even tiny weeny bit better but memory can be, oh, so deceiving. Nah, it is disgustingly fabulous. We shall be returning.

St Paul de Vence, Cote d'Azur
St Paul de Vence, Cote d’Azur

Our short holiday on Cote d’Azur this summer was so colourful I’m having hard time assembling all the impressions for this post. Where do I begin? Continue reading “Touring Cote d’Azur a.k.a. French Riviera, France (obviously)”

Summer Barbecue Food

Come summer I start rooting for barbecue. We both love any kind of barbecued food from delicious meat in Sarajevo to wild-caught fish in Istria  where we have our summer retreat.

We’re not known to be early birds so we might come to fishmongers’ too late to be offered a vast selection of daily catch. When there’s no fish (or squid or prawns or scampi) to choose from we turn to butchers’ instead. Continue reading “Summer Barbecue Food”

Citrus and Booze Slush

Homemade frozen delight for adults only

How come I never heard about it before? Slush, as bizarre as a food name can be, is my summer favourite if I ever had one. Made of freshly squeezed citrus juice, a little bit of sugar and some liquor, it has summer written all over it.

Pink grapefruit slush in a glass - a perfect summer refreshment
Nothing beats a glass of frozen delight a.k.a. citrus slush on a hot summer’s day (or night)

This slush is made of very staple ingredients so with a little luck you’re all set to give it a go. As a matter of fact, recently, with a leftover ½ litre of pink grapefruit juice in my fridge, I sat down in front of my computer to check David Lebovitz’s site for a recipe how to use it up, and guess what? Continue reading “Citrus and Booze Slush”

Matera in Basilicata, Italy

It must be one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever visited: an ancient town named Matera in Italian region of Basilicata, occupying the arch of the Italian foot, bordering the southernmost regions of Italian peninsula: Campania, Puglia and Calabria.

The coulds gathered over Matera emphasizing the dreariness of the times past
Matera in Basilicata bathing in the grey

Now, as I’m writing this, contemplating the travels past on a rainy evening, I’ve poured myself a glass of red wine to keep the meandering thoughts going, and it must be more than a coincidence that the wine is a superb Primitivo di Manduria, the one we fell in love with during our holiday to Apulia last summer. A holiday when we devoted a day to visit Matera in the neighbouring Basilicata.

Continue reading “Matera in Basilicata, Italy”

A Glimpse of Le Marche, Italy

Ever heard of Senigallia? Me neither. Until last summer that is. As it turns out, it’s one of the most popular sea-side resort towns on the Italian side of Adriatic coast in the region of Le Marche. It’s where masses of Italian families spend their beach holiday. I was shocked by the sheer size, i.e. length of it.

Sunflower field in Le Marche
A field of sunflowers in lovely countryside of Le Marche, Italy

Continue reading “A Glimpse of Le Marche, Italy”

Pelješac, Southern Dalmatia, Croatia


When we decided to visit Southern Dalmatia a couple of weekends ago we expected it to mean a prolonged summer break. As it turned out, the weather wasn’t quite as fabulous as we’d hoped for. It was a good thing we didn’t need it to be A+ for what we were after: some good fish-based meals, the lovely plavac (a.k.a. zinfandel’s child) and a leisurely rediscovering of the area. A simple break from the norm.

 

Trsteno, Croatia

(Almost) Everything was just as we remembered from our last stay some five or so years ago. The scenery is mostly unchanged which is great, the sea is very much blue and the beaches almost deserted. Low season indeed.

Peljesac, Southern Dalmatia, Croatia

Despite its misleading shape and form Peljesac is in fact a peninsula, which means it’s accessible by road. This is a helpful bit of information if one plans a short break as it means no waiting in lines for dull, somewhat expensive and long(ish) ferry rides. Its landscape is also beautifully rough, very much karst and Dalmatian and it’s dotted with cosy little villages and towns. No resorts here.

 

Peljesac, Southern Dalmatia, Croatia

A definite must-visit on the peninsula are the lovely little coastal towns of Mali Ston and Ston each located on the opposite shores of the peninsula and connected with ancient fortified walls running up and down along the slopes that divide the two towns. For the fit and ready there’s the annual wall marathon where the walls are actually a running field. The experience (not to mention incredible views) must be unforgettable.

 

Map depicting the city walls of Ston, Peljesac, Southern Dalmatia, Croatia where annual marathon is held

Turn left at the crossing were Peljesac meets the mainland and you’re headed in the direction of Bosnia (its coast is only about 20 kilometres long) and further up to the northern part of Croatian coast. Turn right and you’re less than an hour drive to Dubrovnik, the gem town of ancient age and glorious history. So, there’s plenty of day-trip options in all directions.

 

Trsteno, Croatia

The views from the road on the way to Dubrovnik reminded me a bit of Amalfi coast. This also is a land where lemons grow (and pomegranates and quinces and the lot). Along the way one can stop by the road and enjoy the views over the sea to the near-by islands like Mljet or Lopud. The traveller should by all means make a stop at Trsteno, a village perched on both sides of the main road. There are several reasons for that. The locals are proud of their 16th century plane trees that are possibly the largest in Europe. What’s not to miss is the arboretum. It’s the only Mediterranean garden of its kind along the Croatian coast, which is quite surprising considering its length.

 

Trsteno, Croatia

Its villa (regretfully in a poor shape) and the pavilion have the most fantastic location: amidst the lush greenery and with unbeatable views over the Adriatic. There are many pleasant alcoves in the garden where you can rest and enjoy the peace and quiet or the songbird or the sounds of the wind caught high up in slender palm trees. Or you can meander around its cultivated terraces. There’s also a gorgeous baroque Neptune fountain with its own private aqueduct built to supply it with water.

 

Trsteno, Croatia

When we were there there was a stall, well, it was more a folding table, outside the entrance where a grey-haired man was selling homemade delicacies: jams, liqueurs, dried fruit and herbs. During our brief encounter we learned about his strict wife forbidding him to offer the customers tastings but he nevertheless insisted we try the refreshing arancini (so good!), the tenderest dried figs I’ve ever eaten and the various kinds of liqueurs. We left with a bag full of good stuff, the most medicinal being the sage liqueur. Quite exquisite.

 

Lunch near Dubrovnik, Croatia

Which reminds me: it’s the fig season! Or rather, it is still the fig season. The fantastic smell winding magically around the fig trees and from behind stonewalls in the coastal regions of Mediterranean has compressed into sensual fruit. Grab it while you still can.

 

Peljesac, Southern Dalmatia, Croatia

I think fondly of those happy moments, lacing our summer trips, when we notice we pass a fig tree only after its head-swirling perfume fills our noses. For me, it represents hot syrupy days under scorching sun, quasi fresh early mornings of bright yellow, smells of macchia and distant sea, stains of red soil on the white rocks, and all the nuances of a clear, never-ending sky.

When you have a bunch of figs, small or not so small, violet or green, that are sadly not as sweet and tasty as you’d want them to be, despair not. Make the best of them by roasting them.

 

Preparing fragrant figs

It’s a simple and delicious dessert (or a sweetspoon if you happen to eat it directly out of the roasting dish). This is how I make it:

– Preheat the oven to 200°C

– Cut the figs in half from top to bottom

– Place on a roasting dish cut side up

– Add 1-2 dcl of red wine depending on the size of the dish

– Add some freshly grated ginger

– Add lemon zest strips

– Add ground coriander or cardamom

– Add a little bit of brown sugar or (even better) a drizzle of honey (make sure all of the spices reach the wine as well not only the fruit)

– Squeeze half a lemon over everything

– Roast for 30 minutes.

I like to eat them when they’re still warm but they are very good when cool as well. Summer in the bowl.

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Did we make it to Dubrovnik? Certainly, for the umpteenth time. How was it? If you haven’t been go. If you’d seen it before, keep the happy memories and go some place else. I believe there are other beautiful places to discover. This one’s gotten too polished and superficial. It’s cat friendly though.

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia
Tired

Related:

Dalmatia

Kinookus – very interesting film festival in Ston on food production accompanied by Cinelokus, an organic food open-air market

Trsteno Arboretum

Unesco heritage: Dubrovnik

Miličić winery, Potomje, Pelješac

Grgić winery, Trstenik, Pelješac The Napa Valley wine-maker’s estate in Croatia

Restaurant Orsan, Dubrovnik A proper Dalmatian restaurant, real food, good service, away from the crowds

Restaurant Kapetanova kuća, Mali Ston, Pelješac

Fantastic fig recipes via The Guardian