It was six years ago when Mr and Mrs Nikolac started their family hotel and restaurant Draga di Lovrana. The inherited property stood at this surreal location on the very top of a mountain crest, with a magnificent view of the Kvarner Bay. Christian Nikolac runs his own fish business, but his wild card was getting Zdravko Tomšić to chef his restaurant and freely create the menu. Tomšić.
One of the best Croatian chefs opted for traditional haute cuisine with a modern twist. “My philosophy is to serve the meal as it is supposed to be, there is no shortening or simplifying of procedures. I don’t skip phases, I don’t change ingredients.
This is a tedious and boring repetition of tasks” says Tomšić, whose mere appearance triggers the images of monks creating finest delicacies, cheeses and beer in the contemplative calm of amonastery. This is a simple job. This is a skill, there’s no art in cooking. As in all crafts, you may reach a point where you touch art, but this does not come as a rule.
If you were a stone-mason, you would spend most of your professional life doing monumental masonry. One or two angels, but basically, straight lines. I’m persistent enough to cut stones in straight lines. He says that there are no specialties in his cooking (“I treat a simple steak as a specialty”), but there are some dishes that marked Tomšić’s work.
We have to start with marinated shrimps with crud cheese from the island of Pag, frog fish fillet in olive oil and Malvasia white wine emulsion, rubbed parsley, garlic and rosemary, smoked gilthead sea bream with honey, olive oil, orange juice and green tabasco emulsion, vacuum cooked tuna with wasabi and Gijon mustard, lamb with egetables and butter stewed potato.