Either it was the heat or a dream which awoke me at 4am last week. I wandered out to my terrace, not a hint of daybreak yet. As I gazed at the sea I noticed the twinkling of the fishing boat lights and knew yes, there would be very fresh fish available in Cavtat. As I returned to my bed and began to drop off into dreamland, I knew my lunch would be a feast of a delicious Adriatic seafood.
My friend Christiana had invited me to spend an afternoon with her at a café of my choice. Late last summer I made my first visit to Rokotin and was very impressed with the setting and food. The outdoor terraces are nestled under an awning of fragrant pine trees, overlooking the tranquil and inviting Adriatic Sea with a small pebble beach adjacent to the walkway a perfect spot. Christiana had raved the best octopus salad was served there and that made it my first choice for lunch gazing out on Tiha Bay. (For those who are not fluent in our Croatian language ‘tiha’ translated means ‘quiet’.)
I had been looking forward to savoring the exquisite Dalmatian delicacy of very fresh octopus salad washed down by local Konavle red wine. We both enjoyed the ambiance of Rokotin and easily spent several hours over lunch. I have found over the last few years that Croatians do not eat to live, we live to eat! Being retired permits me to indulge in leisurely long lunches, my main meal of the day. And I do love the fact that the waiter never tries to turn the table after a limited amount of time; it just is not done here!
Christiana was right on, we both voted the octopus salad the best ever and I made a vow to return again very soon. Fresh octopus, green onions, small bits of tomato and capers, parsley and other seasonings with just the perfect amount of red wine vinegar and local olive oil. I may have missed an ingredient or some special fresh herbs, but yes indeed it was delicious and I enjoyed every mouthful. (Sorry but I do not take photos of food so you just need to use your imagination. If you are getting hung up on eating octopus and have never tried it, you are very much limiting your culinary adventures.)
It was a perfect afternoon and I am thankful that Christiana had invited me. I suspect she knew it might have been a difficult birthday, my first without Ivo. And she made it perfect for me and chuckled as I shared my memory from last year: Ivo was not very good at remembering dates like birthdays, Christmas, Easter but he did always know who was playing football. And so I began to campaign about 10 days prior to my birthday, reminding him that it was only 10 days away, then next week, until we reached the night before. I asked Ivo if he knew what tomorrow was and without missing a beat he responded with ‘sure, it’s Tuesday.’ He had a wonderful dry sense of humor and often amazed me with some comment which made me laugh uncontrollably.
Thank you Christiana, you made my birthday another memorable event. Chronologically I reached year 74, but my brain keeps telling me that I am only 54. Good, many more years to enjoy good friends, great food and wine in an amazingly breathtaking setting, Croatia, the Dalmatian coast, Dubrovnik, Neretva county and the small town of Cavtat, my home.