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12 Nov

Vis delicacies

The same idea goes to the taste of delicacies we present you here. While sitting at the table hidden under the shade of palm branches and leaning with my back against the wall of a stone house...

I had nothing else to do but observe the open sea tracing in distance outlines of adjacent islands: Korčula, Mljet, Lastovo and Sušac. When the weather is sunny, especially after Bura, even the remote Palagruža can be spotted resting in the open sea, far away from curious eyes. Silence competes with sounds coming from the kitchen, from time to time releasing scents my empty stomach can hardly resist. A few seconds afterwards comes Senko Karuza with a bowl-combo-soup of true limpets, collected in the cove, and dried fish, enriching soup colour with golden-yellow hues and irresistible sea flavour. The soup tasted extraordinary and I had to control myself not to relish in one more plate – since I knew a lot more delicacies were coming out of that kitchen, I had to save some space. So began my long comradeship with food. At Senko’s one talks for a long time and learns a lot about food. I was actually in a place of contemporary Vis cuisine, designed and created by Vis writer and chef Senko Karuza. This place is located on the south side of Vis, in Mola Trovna bay and one goes there just to savour culinary art of the chef – who actually does not offer a restaurant with waiters and white table cloths. He does not offer a menu, either; one gets on the plate what Senko serves that day. The usual food is seasnail turbinate monodont and true limpets soup, Pasta Fagioli a la brodetto, Conger eel or any other fish brodetto caught the same day. One can have a bite of salted catfish prepared ‘a la cod-fish’, fish smoked on rosemary branches, rosted European pilchards on spit, different barbecued fish varieties… frog-fish or tuna Carpaccio, marinated sea food – collected close by in the bay – side dish wild cabbage grown in his vineyard, all topped up with his high quality wine of vugava sort. One visits Senko in order to explore his food, inhale the nature, spend time with people… in atmosphere as authentic as Senko himself. In case you appear there unannounced, you will end up waiting for the table for ages, people let themselves go there and time stands still. Between meal courses one jumps into the sea just in front of the house, or simply stretches out on a cliff and restfully waits for the next meal and a glass of refreshing vugava. Leave your mobile phone in the civilization, no signal at Senko’s, forget about newspapers, politics, your and world problems. You are here to indulge your senses – and believe me all of them shall be pleased to the fullest.

Pasta fagioli a la brodetto
Pasta Fagioli a la brodetto is one of the most popular dishes among Vis fishermen and farmers. Originally, this meal used to be prepared only in winter time by using left over broth of brodetto. Mostly they used picarel or small rockfish: combers, scorpion fish, painted combers, annular sea breams…Two recipe variations were used: in first version broth was poured into a pot where beans were already cooked and then pasta, usually penne, were added, and in the second version garlic was stewed, tomato sauce (tomato concentrate) added, then beans and pasta with brodetto basic ingredient. Contemporary versions are enriched with tastes of white fish and  lobster.

Dried catfish   
This meal belongs to fishing tradition of almost all Adriatic islands, and with dried forkbeard, ray or shark, conquers again dinner tables of Dalmatian cuisine fans. Many consider it a replacement of codfish, though  preparation method at Senko’s tavern most often beats it. Rosemary smoke gives special flavour to food. First onion is stewed with wine, then potatoes are added. When half cooked, onion and potatoes are taken out of the pot, and dried fish put in – resting at the bottom of the pot – and then vegetables are returned back on top of the fish covering it up. However, due to long preparation dried catfish is not a meal fit for restaurants, only small places of twenty people. It takes ten days for the catfish to dry.

Cast iron lid   
Although traditionally it does not belong to this island, soon it became a part of Vis cuisine, especially with the latest fish versions – flying gurnards, moray eel, conger eel and octopus baked under the lid. Special delicacies are vegetarian lids containing seasonal island vegetables. Winter version lid is another option, with apples and quinces, improving the meal taste – a tip; moray eels play a perfect match with quinces.

What Italians call Carpaccio, on Vis means much more: amazing combination of colours, flavours and scents served before a guest. At Senko’s you can taste island capers in vinegar, home grown olives prepared according to the traditional recipe, dried tomatoes, onion in vinegar, Rock samphire, anchovy fillet and salted sardines, bonito in oil, raw limpets, peppers in vinegar, and often some of the attractive rockfish pâté.

Conger eel brodetto
This dish takes up special place in Senko’s kitchen, at first glance the simplest version of this delicious meal. He carefully uses selected fish pieces and cooks them in finest Vis white wines, most often vugava, enhanced with Mediterranean herbs, so Conger eel – detested by many or just tossed in brodetto to give creamy flavour to the meal – gives its maximum of pure and transparent taste.

extracted from Yachts Croatia Magazine