The village of Hrasce is known for a large number of traditional wooden houses, which serve as the settlement’s landmark. But in addition to this unique architectural feature, the village also has a well-known restaurant which attracts numerous guests- both local and foreign. Simply called Hrasce, it is a perfect spot for eating a variety of delicacies. But the roasted lamb takes the lead.
One must understand that to Croats, lamb meat is not just a simple dish. Its consummation is usually tied to important family gatherings or large celebrations such as weddings. Some people even go for lengthy excursions, voyaging for kilometers, just to dine the lamb roast in a specific restaurant. Many of these end up in Hrasce, enjoying the meals prepared by Mijo Kljajic.
For the last two decades, this resident of neighboring Cazma prepares lamb meals in the aforementioned restaurant. In that time, he perfected his skills, offering nothing less than superb dining experiences to his guests. Mijo keeps the roasting area of the kitchen in perfect order, working alone and lacking even a chair to sit. “I don’t have time to do so,” he explained to LC source. “If I need a rest, I just lean on the table for couple of seconds.”
Full of vigor, he even chops the wood on his own. “I like to be prepared for every situation, so I always chop more wood than needed. Besides, you never know when my back will start hurting, thus it’s good to have some in the reserve,” he added with laugh.
“The person responsible for roasting can’t leave his station in the kitchen. The lambs, which we bring from Island of Pag and Mountains next to Zadar, must not become dry. At the same time, if you stop roasting too soon, the meat will be rare.”
The owner of the restaurant, Blago Bagaric, is full of praise for Mijo’s work. “We serve meat of best possible quality. But this means nothing if the people preparing the dish is lacking knowledge. Roasting is a special kind of culinary art, and it takes a lot of experience to master it.”
On average, Mijo works ten hours a day. Orders just keep coming in, yet he satisfies the demand thanks to hard work and avid discipline. “A single lamb roasts for a little less than two hours. During this time, one needs to make cuts in the meat and salt them if needed. It’s not an easy job, but I really enjoy every second of it. It is really a kind of work you need to love.”
“I’m just that kind of a person. I enjoy the meal I made myself much more, than when I’m being served,” he giggles, as another order came to his corner.
Photo: Mario Kecer / CROPIX