Monday, 7 October 2013

Summer memories

Having found my compact camera (I have a nice SLR but it is a pain to carry at times) I uploaded it's memory onto my laptop. As I scanned through the collected photographs I got to a point where I was transported back to a very warm walk at the port in Dubrovnik back in August this year. It was my wife's birthday and we were on a nice long cruise to Venice and back. On her birthday we were going to be in Dubrovnik, a port we have been  to before. Great for a simple lunch but this had to be something special.
A little research on-line revealed that good food was easy to find but great food....

I eventually found recommendations for a little place a stones throw from the cruise port. Good reviews on TripAdvisor but best of all was a recommendation from the Turkey Twizzlers arch nemesis, Mr Jamie Oliver. A little place called Amfora. A restaurant, bar and hotel on the cruise terminal.I contacted them on Facebook and requested a lunchtime booking. A day or so later I received a reply. Having confirmed the booking and informed them it was my wife's birthday the level of service became evident when they asked if a cake might be appropriate.

The big day approached. The previous day I had ordered a romantic breakfast on out balcony as we sailed in to Venice. This would have been the perfect start to a few days of celebration if P&O had not managed to screw up and deliver champagne breakfast very late just as we were ready to go ashore rather than as we pulled in to the centre of Venice. No pressure now, romantic breakfast a farce, the big day had to go like clockwork.

I was a little worried that we might end up being the 'lucky ship' and get to enter Dubrovnik by launch. That would involve a complication of a taxi to the restaurant. Fortunately, we steamed right into port and moored just around the corner from the Amfora. We strolled ashore in a cool 40C and pottered up the road to the restaurant. Having eventually found it (never trust GPS on walking mode) we were very warm and in need of a cold beer.

We entered the restaurant and I approached the barman to explain we had a reservation praying he spoke English. Within a second our future waitress stepped in, confirmed we had a table and provided us with two ice cold beers in the bar area so we could cool down before going through to the restaurant.

Once we had returned to normal temperature, we were led through to our table. The menu arrived along with the wine list and I knew we had struck gold. The restaurant is right next to the kitchen, you can watch as your fare is prepared and presented to your table. The menu is exciting, as is the wine list. Local produce and wine served to perfection without the empty feeling in the wallet. As we discovered later, this is a bar, restaurant and hotel so I guess longer stays and deeper dives into the menu are on the cards.

As to the day, I started with a local cheese, not dissimilar to mozzarella but far creamier served in a beautiful basil and olive oil dressing. Simple but stunning. Their use of local produce really tells.

Next was caramelized octopus served with fennel in a Dalmatian Parsley and Garlic sauce. The Octopus had been cooked in a sous vide and then caramelized in honey and sesame seed. This was a stunning way to serve what can be a bland sea food.

We were offered dessert but reminded that a cake was on its way. I was expecting the usual excuse for a celebration cake I have seen at a number of establishments. Our local Indian has come out tops with a well made Victoria sponge with a candle in the top compared to the worst unmemorable splurge of cream on a pastry something with a candle and 'Happy Birthday' scrawled in chocolate sauce. That was until now. we decided to forego the dessert and went for the cake. Were we disappointed ? you decide..

This stunning chocolate mousse cake was light and absolute heaven for chocolate lovers. My wife was delighted and so was I. Fantastic service. Great food. Exciting local wine. Great cocktails. We must go back

In case you were wondering where to find this hidden gem if you happen to be passing near Dubrovnik, here is their Facebook page  .Seek them down and contact them on Facebook and I am sure they will go out of their way to look after you.

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