Three days before I left for Italy, I attended the Back to Balkan Dinner at Divido, a special event to celebrate the Croatian, Macadonian and Greek roots of the team behind Divido. I was intrigued at the idea, particularly by what makes a “balkan” meal and was also looking forward to heading back to Divido, as A and I really enjoyed our meal the last time we were there.
Upon arriving, we looked over the menu for the evening and noticed the large amount of food we were promised – including a spit pig. Reading over Divido’s explanation of the evening on their website, it mentions that the quality of food is not the only important aspect of a Balkan dinner but the quantity is as well. We can definitely say that they met both of these requirements – the food was spectacular and there was enough to feed a small army!
On the night, A and I were seated to Kristy, from Kristy Leigh’s Food for Thought, and her husband. It was lovely to meet Kristy, who is seriously passionate about her food! Typically, her blog features her created recipes however she did write a blog post on the Back to Balkan dinner, which you can read here.
Our Balkan dinner began with Polenta Sourdough served with Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar. The sourdough arrived warm and even though polenta sourdough is typically a dense bread, Divido managed to still make it fluffy. An excellent starter that was a good indication of what was to come.
The Balkan dinner was split into three courses, each with a variety of dishes to share between the table. The entrée featured five dishes, covering the entire tabletop. The first dishes I tried were the Salate od Hobtnice (Slow cooked octopus with shallots, olives and EVOO) and the Kiseli Piperki (pickled peppers and cauliflower). I couldn’t find fault with either dish.
The Sarma reminded me of a similar dish my mother made me when I was growing up. It consisted of braised veal, pork and smoked bacon rolled within pickled cabbage leaves. It’s impossible for me to say it was better than my mother’s version but it was a very enjoyable dish.
Our Skordalia (shallow fried salt cod with garlicky potato puree) required 24 hours of preparation time for the salting of the cod. The end result were soft, salty pieces of fish that was paired perfectly with a garlicky potato puree.
My favourite entrée of the evening was the Guba so Ciren, a cheese and leek burek made with traditional filo pastry. Growing up in a Middle Eastern household, my mother made something similar called ‘Gollash’, but minus the leek. The crunchy, buttery filo envelopes a cheese and leek filling – it’s delicious!
After our shared entrée, I could have skipped the mains and gone straight to dessert but was intrigued by the wood roasted suckling pig – my first suckling pig to sample! For our mains, we shared two types of wood roasted meats; the Pecane Janje (wood roasted lamb, lemon and oregano) and the Pacena Swinjetina (wood roasted suckling pig, paprika, and garlic).
My favourite of the two was the lamb, which was possibly the best lamb I have tasted. It was super soft and the flavour from being wood roasted was subtle but it was very unique. The entire table mentioned that it was the highlight and definitely outshone the pig.
To match our wood roasted lamb and pig, we were served Fagiolakia (Braised beans, tomato and cumin)…
… as well as Salata od Krumpira, a Croatian crushed potato salad, made with olive oil, parsley and aged vinegar and Kupas Salate, a Croatian coleslaw. All three dishes were excellent accompaniments to the meat.
By this stage, I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough room for dessert however when the array of desserts arrived, I couldn’t help but try everything.
The favourite of the night was the Turkish Delight ice-cream, made in-house. There were big chunks of Turkish delight within the rosewater flavoured ice-cream and it transported me back to eating traditional Turkish delight in my childhood.
I also enjoyed the Napolitanki, a Croatian take on a chocolate and hazelnut wafer, but not as light. The flavours are strong and if you enjoy the flavour combination of chocolate and hazelnuts, then you’ll definitely enjoy this dessert.
Once again, I felt as though I stepped back into my mother’s kitchen whilst eating the Melomakarona (Spiced pecan cookies in syrup), as my mother made ‘Ka’ak’, an Egyptian cookie recipe that is typically eaten during celebrations. The Melomakarona’s were very heavy, dense cookies with a unique flavour, thanks to the spices used.
We were also presented with Kolac, a Croatian torta.
Both A and I had an excellent night sampling this Balkan feast and I really hope that Divido does another Back to Balkan dinner in the near future. Trying dishes from cuisines that are rich in history but not easily accessible around Perth was an excellent aspect of this evening, as well as the excellent food presented by Divido.
A and I would like to thank Divido for a fantastic evening.