Pirates of Dubrovnik // crni rižot

Sailing along the Dubrovnik Coast

“Land Ahoy” shouts Raffles, between a volley of “Arrhhs’ and “Yo ho ho’s”. As you do when sailing in to Dubrovnik’s Old Town on a timber galleon. The tiny traveller is convinced it is a real life pirate ship and, in a strange twist, it would appear the skipper concurs – proffering my small swashbuckler a feathered pirate hat, vintage gun, fake parrot and the wheel, before promptly disappearing into the ether.

Sailing into Dubrovnik

Our fellow passengers (all hundred or so of them) are blissfully unaware that they are now sailing under the captaincy of an armed and delusional pre-school pirate who can’t even see over the wheel.

Fortified walls of Dubrovnik Old Town

Envying them their blissful ignorance, Mr Eats World and I quietly soil ourselves and wonder where the hell the erstwhile skipper has buggered off to. Edited highlights of my life start flashing before my eyes and I pray to any God who’ll listen that the absent mariner thought to set the boat on some kind of aquatic auto pilot before he vanished.

Dubrovnik coastline

A good five minutes pass before the skipper nonchalantly returns to his post with a casual “bok” (hello). Deranged though he clearly is, we’re incredibly happy to see him and mightily relieved that somehow Raffles managed to avoid crashing into any of the sharp pointy bits of the rocky Dalmatian coastline while he was AWOL.

Sailing to Old Dubrovnik

Kapetan Crazy once again takes command of his ship and our pulses settle to a more steady pace… only to start racing again just minutes later as we reach the fortified medieval walls of the Old Town and sail into its movie-set harbour.

Dubrovnik Old Town Harbour

As testament to his devotion to his new found career, Raffles has stowed away behind a timber staircase, announcing that he’s “a real pirate now” and intends on staying with his ship forever. You reckon, sunshine?

little stowaway - croatia

Trading Boat Dubrovnik

Forcibly removing our kicking and screaming baby buccaneer from the galleon of his dreams, we enter Dubrovnik Old Town as nature intended… that is if nature intended that we should be wrestling a recalcitrant pre-schooler and his wriggling sibling. It’s early enough in the morning  that it hasn’t been overtaken by the hordes of tourists that are sure to descend at any moment. We step into The Stradun, Dubrovnik’s pedestrian main street that stretches almost 300 metres from gate to ancient gate, and are staggered by its fairy tail prettiness- only a few strolling locals, a busker and a family or two of pigeons dotting its gleaming expanse.

The Stradum, Dubrovnil

The limestone-paved street has been polished to a glassy sheen by years of use and is so shiny and smooth that we have to stop ourselves flinging of our shoes and sock-sliding past the spectacular Renaissance confection that is the Sponza Palace, the uniform rows of pretty green window shutters, fountains, statues, Baroque churches and bell towers all the way to a Franciscan Monastery and Pile Gate, the city’s main entrance, at the other end.

Roof of Saint Blaise Church

Sponza Palace

Sponza Palace detail

Off the main promenade we weave our way through a maze of narrow cobble-stone lane-ways that cut through the old town, the occasional scar of shrapnel damage the only reminder still visible from the conflicts of the early 90’s which saw the city under months of violent siege.

Dubrovnik old town street

We stumble upon Gundulićeva Poljana, a pretty baroque square overlooked by an enormous statue of a 17th century poet of the same name, though better known as Ivan to his mates.

Dubrovnik Old Town Market Sta;ll

It is market day and the square is a heaving mass of red and white umbrellas sheltering table after table of brightly coloured fresh fruit and vegetables, local cheese, olives, honey and spices.

Dubrovnik Old Town market

A legion of local cats encircle the market waiting for the exact right moment to pounce on the gluttonous goodies.

cat at dubrovnik markets

While the kitties seem more interested in procuring produce of the pesce variety we can’t resist the crimson temptation of a bucket of fat and fabulous raspberries.

Raffles and I feast on our luscious load as we wander around town, the juice staining Raffles chin as he greedily gobbles his share… and most of mine.

But the raspberries are just an appetizer and lunch is beckoning.

Dubrovnik is a city of seafood which suits us (and the local felines) just fine. Dining is heavily influenced by Italian cuisine, as evidenced by the proliferation of pasta, pizza and risotto crowding every menu. Tuna, shellfish, calamari, squid and octopus are staples and popular local dish crni rižot (cuttlefish risotto) is not only one of the more obvious nods that Dubrovnik makes to Venice but one of its tastiest.

The dish, dyed an inky black by breaking cuttlefish ink sacs onto the rice at the end of the cooking process, initially horrifies Raffles but any fear of its startling appearance is soon belted away by its flavour packed punch.

Dubrovnik en famile

In fact, as we await for Raffles ‘pirate ship’ to fetch us for the return voyage we agree we’ve all been pretty knocked out by the beautiful seaside town.

Back in Sydney, we’re revisiting our day in Dubrovnik and, as I’m a bit short on pirate ships, it looks like it will have to be via a steaming bowl of crni rižot. It’s relatively simple, especially with the assistance of my little sous chef who does all the stirring while I focus on the cutting and measuring. Raffles also gets a fascinating bonus lesson in cuttlefish biology as we skin and prep the slippery little suckers and remove their inky sacs.

Lunch is served. And no,  there is no reason why it can’t be eaten while you wear an eye-patch. But I do have to draw the line at the kids using a cutlass as cutlery.

Dobar Tek! (happy eating)

Pirates of Dubrovnik // crni rižot

Pirates of Dubrovnik // crni rižot

Ingredients

  • 5 medium cuttlefish or calamari
  • 1 large onions, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 cups fish stock (warmed)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice
  • 1 tomato, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Lemon slices

Instructions

  1. Wash cuttlefish thoroughly under running water and pat dry.
  2. Remove the outer skin and cartilage.
  3. Carefully remove the ink sac and reserve for later use.
  4. Cut the cuttlefish into small strips, reserving tentacles.
  5. Heat a deep skillet with olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes.
  6. Add the cuttlefish, parsley (reserving little) and tomatoes and cook until soft.
  7. Add the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  8. Pour in wine. Once evaporated add fish stock one cupful at a time until absorbed.
  9. Repeat until the rice is almost tender, but firm. (If you run out of stock use warm water).
  10. Add the ink from the squid and stir, cooking for a few more minutes.
  11. In a separate pan sauté the tentacles in a little garlic and olive oil.
  12. Take off the heat and add butter, a sprinkle of fresh parsley and season the risotto to taste.
  13. Add cooked tentacles to serve.
http://boyeatsworld.com.au/2013/01/16/pirates-of-dubrovnik/

25 Comments on Pirates of Dubrovnik // crni rižot

  1. Karen
    December 31, 2012 at 11:07 pm (4 years ago)

    somewhere I’ve wanted to go for a long time! Sounds like a gorgeous day.

    Reply
  2. Kate
    January 1, 2013 at 10:32 am (4 years ago)

    That is certainly the way to do it!

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm (4 years ago)

      Always make an entrance I say!

      Reply
  3. Shelley
    January 3, 2013 at 5:53 am (4 years ago)

    Dubrovnik is just stunning. We were really wowed the first time we saw it. I can’t wait to get home so I can try out all your amazing recipes! Happy new year!

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 31, 2013 at 2:15 pm (4 years ago)

      And to you Shelley. I’m loving following your adventures. 🙂

      Reply
  4. subversivereader
    January 25, 2013 at 8:07 am (4 years ago)

    What an absolutely stunning part of the world – looks like another to add to my ‘places to visit’ list

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 25, 2013 at 9:19 am (4 years ago)

      I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s beautiful.

      Reply
  5. always josefa (@always_josefa)
    January 25, 2013 at 10:08 am (4 years ago)

    A gorgeous post and beuatiful photos. The town and coast line are amazing. Love your pirate story, heart felt and warming xx

    Reply
  6. mamagrace71
    January 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm (4 years ago)

    What a great story to introduce us to such a beautiful town. I’ve always wanted to go to Dubrovnik. So full of history and culture. One day…

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 26, 2013 at 9:20 pm (4 years ago)

      Thank you for the kind words 🙂 x

      Reply
  7. Twinkle in the Eye
    January 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm (4 years ago)

    What a wonderful trip and what a wonderful post! Makes you feel like you are there.

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 27, 2013 at 8:48 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks for visiting. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Kim-Marie from Kimba Likes
    January 28, 2013 at 5:05 pm (4 years ago)

    What a beautiful part of the world, and I adored the photos of your little pirate!

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Kim-Marie. Stay tuned for more tales of pre-school adventure

      Reply
  9. yinyangmother
    March 23, 2013 at 7:37 pm (4 years ago)

    For some reason this popped up on my FB feed so only reading it now! What a lovely story – your write so evocatively and you are so very brave in your travels with your two in toe. We were in New York when our son was 18 months, but our daughter was 8, so it was a bit easier. Love your love of travel and the food that brings all the memories back.

    Reply
  10. Nicole @ Suitcase Stories
    March 27, 2013 at 4:23 am (4 years ago)

    Great post! We are going to Croatia in August and these photos have made me even more excited 🙂

    Reply
  11. Kim
    May 23, 2013 at 1:52 pm (4 years ago)

    Love this post! I missed Dubrovnik – I had a near week in Hvar and a couple of days in Split. Thanks for taking me there – your photos are lovely. Croatian food – just divine. I’ve never gorged on do much fresh perfectly cooked seafood before – thanks for the recipe so I can reminisce. x

    Reply
  12. mummymanifestodotcom
    May 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm (4 years ago)

    A lovely tale of pirates and adventure! My BIL’s family are from Croatia, it seems like such an interesting place to visit

    Reply
  13. musertegan
    May 23, 2013 at 8:33 pm (4 years ago)

    Oh wow, every boys dreams to sail their own pirate ship, what a great opportunity. Your pictures are gorgeous.

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      May 26, 2013 at 1:37 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks. It was a special moment he’ll never forget 🙂

      Reply
  14. robomum
    May 23, 2013 at 8:54 pm (4 years ago)

    I’d love to visit this place. The scenery looks amazing….

    Reply
  15. Rachel
    May 24, 2013 at 10:41 pm (4 years ago)

    What a fantastic experience for Raffles. I have one of my own boys beside me and his teacher is Croatian so we are currently memorising names and dishes to ask hime about. Wonderful post as usual Aleney xx

    Reply

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