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The Fanciest Meal I’ve Ever Had…

June 7, 2010

*Warning*: This post is going to be a long one!

Hello, hello! Yesterday, after a little mix-up with our rental car, we hit the streets of Croatia!  We drove from Porec to Pula, about a 45 minute drive, passing along the way beautiful vineyards and wildflower fields!

When we arrived in Pula, it took us twenty LONG minutes to find our hotel.  We found the street it was on, but for the life of us couldn’t figure out where the hotel was.  After driving up and down the same street about fifteen times, we finally realized that we had been driving right by it all along.  It was a very Clark Griswold moment.

Our hotel in Pula is so nice—the hotel is pretty small and actually non-distinct, but the restaurant in the hotel has been voted the best restaurant in Croatia for several years running by restaurant critics Gault Millau.  It has also been named the best restaurant in Istria according to Istra Gastro Top Ten, and has won a Golden Truffle award.  In other words, it’s kind of a big deal.  🙂 We knew it was going to be a splurge, but it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime type meal, so we made reservations for 8:00! 

Until then, we spent our time exploring Pula and beyond.  In Pula, there is a large amphitheater not unlike the Coliseum—it’s one of the six largest Roman amphitheaters existing today.  Ryan has been really excited to see it, so it was first on our list of things to do.

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Ryan had fun reading historical sites about the ruins from the guidebook:

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While I had fun hiding from him behind the ruins:

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To each their own.

After exploring the town of Pula a little more, we picked up some picnic items and headed back to our hotel to have lunch on our balcony.

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Then…it was time for the beach!  We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing around.  The beach in Pula is very rocky, and along the shoreline, there are these little grottos where you can fit maybe one or two people for laying out.  It was fun—almost like a little private beach!

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We spent hours swimming, reading, and dozing off.  It was perfection.  Finally, around 6:00, we headed back to get ready for our meal…we had no idea what we were in store for!

The restaurant, Valsabbion, is known for it’s innovative cuisine, and it certainly lived up to that claim. 

We started with sparkling wine:

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…and then, the feast began! The restaurant had six different tasting menus to choose from, so we chose two different ones and just shared everything that came our way.  Let it be known: I did not eat meat during this meal, but I did taste some of the fish.  I just couldn’t help myself—and I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t at least try it.

I can’t even remember what some of the items were…but I’m going to try!

Olive oil tasting with local olive oil, olive tapenade, and olive butter:

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Enjoyed with fresh olive bread.

A tasting plate with various vegetable purees, tomato and basil salad, truffle scrambled eggs, fresh farm cheese, Croatian meats (Ryan said they were quite tasty), two mini fried asparagus rolls, and fried olive twists:

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At this point, our waitress also brought out some local white wine for us to enjoy.

Oyster pate with coffee-flavored foam:

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Black-salt baked clam.  This clam came in a tough, black-salt shell, which our waiter then tapped open to reveal a single clam.  Crazy!

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Braised scallop on top of cabbage and pureed potatoes:

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Sausage:

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Soup of local wild greens:

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Polenta topped with seafood gravy:

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Tagliatelle with monkfish, olives, and tomatoes:

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Shrimp scampi.  This shrimp came in an algae shell that the waiter then cracked open, removing the shrimp, placing it over a fried potato sheet, and topping with a foam

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Asparagus risotto with fresh egg:

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Fish with fried potato sheets and baked swiss chard (they tasted just like kale chips!):

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Sea bass with pesto.  I was in the bathroom when they brought this one, but apparently it came in a bag of some sorts:

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Extra-long dessert spoons:

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A tiramisu-type donut, injected with cream with a giant syringe:

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Red wine ice cream topped with sugared nuts and meringue foam:

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And finally, a plate of chocolates.

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HOLY COW. 

This entire meal, Ryan and I just kept laughing in disbelief—the dishes just got crazier and crazier!  The meal was incredible…and border-line absurd.  I’ve had fancy meals before, but really nothing like this.  We will probably never eat another meal like this for the rest of our lives, and will remember it forever.

What’s a meal that you will always remember? 

This morning, we’re both still full from last night—the meal went on for three and a half hours, ha! We’re headed to a nature preserve today to hike off some of those foam calories. 

See you later, gators!

27 Comments leave one →
  1. ginger permalink
    June 7, 2010 11:52 am

    Oh my GOSH!!! I’ve never seen such a meal! It looked fabulous. Coatia looks so pretty – can’t wait to see more pictures of it! I guess one of my most memorable meals was in Paris and I can’t even remember the name of the restaurant, but it was this beautiful, contemporary place – all chrome and black leather and glass. It had just opened that year. It was up high, all the walls were glass, and it overlooked the Eiffel Tower, which lit up every 15 minutes and sparkled. The food was very good, but I remember more just how romantic the setting was.

  2. June 7, 2010 12:08 pm

    That clam looks like the coolest thing ever.

    Where did you hear about this restaurant?

  3. June 7, 2010 12:55 pm

    Wow that meal looks absolutely amazing! How cool is the clam dish and tiramisu with syringed filling!! You will definitely remember this for ages! I hope I have a meal like this one day!

  4. June 7, 2010 1:31 pm

    Wow!! That does look like a totlly incredible meal – I’m so jealous! I had an incredible Moroccan meal in London earler this year; that was out of this world 🙂
    Have a great day!

  5. June 7, 2010 1:49 pm

    I’m so jealous I could pass out! That food looks fantastic. My only real complaint is – you guessed it – not enough swim suit shots of Ryan. Very disappointing!

    • June 7, 2010 3:46 pm

      What makes you think he’s been wearing a swimsuit, Nathaniel?

      YOW!!!

  6. Madeline - Greens and Jeans permalink
    June 7, 2010 2:09 pm

    You guys look SO happy in all of these pictures! What an amazing experience!

  7. June 7, 2010 2:21 pm

    WOW! That looks amazing and delicious and insane! haha! Love it! I have never had a dining experience like that before my in life!

  8. June 7, 2010 3:40 pm

    Holy s***, that looks like one FREAKING AMAZING meal!!! If you’re going to splurge on food, Europe is definitely the place to do it. The presentations alone are incredible, I can’t even imagine how delicious it was!! For my mom’s birthday this year we went to Sho Shaun Hergatt in New York…it was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Spending tons of money on expensive dinners frequently is kind of silly, but for truly special restaurants or occasions, it’s fun to splurge sometimes! Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!!

  9. June 7, 2010 4:36 pm

    I wish I was on this trip with you – even for the food alone!

  10. June 7, 2010 4:44 pm

    WOW!! That’s a crazy intense meal! But it looks awesome!! I’ve never had a fancy meal like that with many courses but I have a feeling I would love it! Enjoy the rest of your trip!!

  11. June 7, 2010 5:07 pm

    So so beautiful! It makes me want to go to Pula.
    I will always remember this hole-in-the-wall pizzzeria we ate at in Rom 3/4 nights

  12. June 7, 2010 5:25 pm

    you might just be the luckiest girl in the world…what an amazing trip! i’m so excited we have 3 weeks of this to look forward to 🙂

  13. June 7, 2010 5:33 pm

    Awesome meal and great pics, thanks for sharing! Love the crazy food, dishes and utensils! We’ve had some pretty memorable meals on various trips, nothing quite like that though!

  14. June 7, 2010 6:13 pm

    everything looks and sounds to die for! You had me at coffee foam 😀 I am glad you guys enjoyed your extraordinary meal!

  15. thehungryscholar permalink
    June 7, 2010 6:21 pm

    You know what meal I always remember? That place that put fries in our salad. Oh, good times.

    That dessert spoon is pretty baller. So is your private beach. You two are like celebrities, like Jay Z and Beyonce or something.

  16. June 7, 2010 6:43 pm

    It looks like you are still having an amazing trip! And the food looks wonderful!

  17. June 7, 2010 7:00 pm

    Everything looks amazing! And that olive oil tasting… WOO!

  18. June 8, 2010 1:41 am

    how did you remember all that??
    p.s. are you really tall?

    • June 8, 2010 7:49 am

      Yes! Between five nine and five ten. How did you know?

  19. June 8, 2010 2:07 am

    That meal looks amazing, and I am so glad you posted a tasteful bikin shot. Muahahaha. 🙂

  20. actorsdiet permalink
    June 8, 2010 5:37 am

    wowee! weirdly the fanciest meal i ever had (in italy) i don’t even remember — too much food — gave me amnesia!

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