What is in a name? Apparently it is everything according to the EU wine police. Croatia has been informed they cannot use the name ‘Porsek’ as it is similar to the Italian word ‘Prosecco’. The EU feels the words are far too much alike and many people will confuse the two. And this would mean that rather than a white sparkling wine they are served a dark amber dessert wine and horrors, the difference would be mind-boggling.
Prosecco is an Italian sparkling white wine, often compared closely to the Asti Spumanti. It is served chilled and the bubbles disappear immediately upon being poured into a glass. I only learned today it has now replaced the use of Champagne when making a Bellini, one of my fondest memories of Venice. It does make me feel so good that I have never been served the lesser expensive version of my beloved Bellini and I do expect I will continue to use Champagne rather than change. The Bellini is my very favorite drink, so why change perfection.
According to my research the name Prosecco has only been around for the last century. It is produced using the Charmat method in which a secondary fermentation happens in stainless steel tanks, thus making it less expensive to produce. Unlike other wines Prosecco does not age well and should be consumed within three years. Check your labels; you would not want to offend the wine police and keep a bottle over the given period.
Prosek pronounced ‘Pro-shek’ is a sweet dessert wine which is produced primarily in Southern Dalmatian. It is made from the vine dried grapes and normally an average of seven times the amount is used for one bottle of Prosek. The Emperor Diocletian made references to the Dalmatian Prosek as early as 303 AD. The tradition of prošek is embedded in Croatian culture, with an ancient tradition of producing the sweet beverage on the occasion of the birth of a child, and then putting the bottles to one side to be opened on the child’s wedding day.
Do you wonder if there is a wine police and how to apply for the position? Do they drive around in their own automobiles, tasting wine or just checking names? Would it not be much safer if they were driven so tasting would become part of the job description? I mean after all, one cannot be part of the wine police if they do not taste the product. Would the cars be unmarked or perhaps a bottle of wine bottle on the side panel, just to make sure that their intent is known from the beginning of arrival at your small family home. Should they also have the ability to speak several languages? I mean how you decide if a wine name is too similar to another without being fluent in many languages. It has been suggested that Croatian change the name to Vino Dalmatio as a replacement. Why then does Italy not consider using Vino Italiano as a replacement?
Personally I know that there are no similarities between the two products, either with the grapes or production methods. And furthermore there is no relation between the origins of the names. The fact that Croatia is the new kid on the block (EU block), we have no chance of our product being allowed to remain on the open market. However the Croatian word ‘Prosek’ is ours and we will NEVER relinquish it or the bottle hidden in the cellar for our children.
Our Adriatic sea has an abundance of fresh fish, many of them so tasty. However without a doubt my favorite is the scorpion or as it is called here skorpion. It is a handful to clean but the taste of the delicate white meat is worth the effort. If you are visiting Dubrovnik and the fish is offered, please do not hesitate.
Photo credit: Milan Kovac
Why I love living in Cavtat
Many visitors to Dubrovnik never wander far from the Stradun but there is so much more to see in the city. Let me take you off that main street and introduce you to one of my favorite people.
Parallel to the Stradun is a small street named ‘Ulica od Puca’. Translated it means ‘the Street of Wells’. This was the place for the inhabitants who resided inside of the city wall to draw water from wells. The street used to be lined with small shops where the tailor, the shoe repair, the thread lady, watch repair and many more unique and interesting services for household needs could be found. Now it is filled with many souvenir shops, sadly with only a few offering local homemade items. Most sell simply trinkets made in a country halfway around the world to unsuspecting tourists.
However there has been one constant which stands out as one of my favorite places to pop my head inside and greet the owner with Dobro Jutro. It is Muski Frizerski Salon, loosely translated as ‘a man’s barber shop’. Hrvoje Cikato is the current owner and is known to his good friends as Ciki (chick-ee). This Salon has been a family run barber/shave shop for the past one hundred years. Ciki learned his trade by watching and helping his father and grandfather since he was old enough to walk to the shop from his family home in the old town. Ciki is of my generation, born just after the end of WWII and is always one of the more interesting local characters. No longer a resident of the old part of town, he was part of the large exodus of residents who moved away after the Homeland War destroyed their home, but is still a permanent fixture on the street we call ‘Puca.’
Before I head to bed, I flip the remote to channel 813, Dubrovnik’s local television station. When there is no programming they show a live view of the Stradun from the webcam located on the logia of our clock tower. I begin each morning with a ritual of turning on the TV and, as I sip that first rejuvenating espresso, I watch the old town come alive as I sit at my computer. Often the lights of the Stradun are beginning to dim as the sun begins to rise over the red tile roofs, tables and chairs being set up at the many outdoor cafes, deliveries made and the cleaning crew working to maintain the cleanliness of our main promenade. I watch as workers enter town, residents head towards the bus to their jobs, and soon it is 0800. Within minutes I see a man wearing a bright red jacket, carrying a plastic bag slowly strolling down the middle of the Stradun – it is Ciki. Without fail he heads towards his first morning stop, a small pub just below the Prijeko near Sponza Palace. Again, about 0900 I glance up as I watch him walk across the Stradun to his second stop, the Fontana where he greets the local clientele with ‘Morning, Morning, Morning’ his total command of English.
The sign on the front door of the barber shop shows a 0900 opening hour, which means nothing as he opens when he gets there. That may be 0900 or 1000 or later. Locals accept this and tend to begin to wander into the shop about 1100, the best time to get a haircut or shave. The shop has become a gathering place for many of the older men of town; they come to sit and talk stories of today and yesteryear.
My first visit to the barber shop was amazing; it is filled from top to bottom with several varieties of birds singing in their small colorful cages. Every inch of the walls from ceiling to floor has photos, some of famous celebrities and many, many locals. There are also photos of the damage done by the 1991 Homeland War and awards, plaques and some handmade displays made by local residents adorn the walls. The shop is tribute to many relatives, friends and those who have stopped to visit with one of Dubrovnik’s most famous characters – our friend Ciki.