Monday Meal Review: Croatia

I gave the wine bottle opener a final twist of the wrist, dropped the bunny ears, and smiled at the satisfying “pop” as the cork released the wine to the air. I brought my nose closer and gave the bottle a  cautious sniff.

I wanted it to be bad. Terrible. One step shy of vinegar would be okay. But I knew. I knew that, having paid an exorbitant fee of $5 for the wine, I was probably destined for a perfectly mediocre bottle.


I took a sip and, as feared, the bottle was not terrible. I swished it around my mouth like mouthwash. On second thought, there were some slightly sour notes. I could work with that.

With two quick motions – splish, splash – I poured the wine together with some cola.

Perfectly mediocre wine ruined by … cola. Ugg.

I cringed, feeling my brain tighten around the thought.

I tried to get Mr. Picky to sample the Bambus first, but he simply smiled at my outstretched hand. Reluctantly, I brought the fizzing ruby nectar to my lips and took a sip.

Hmm. First thoughts? Cola. Yes. Sweet. Yes.

Sweet enough to cover that sour note I’d detected. Perhaps the Croatians were onto something, after all.

Mr. Picky’s turn.

I shoved the glass in his direction. He took the world’s smallest sip.

After a pause, he grunted “Weird,” and handed the glass back over.

His one syllable answers never fail to summarize exactly what’s on my mind.

As a degreed English major, I find this completely maddening.

Warm Christmas Potato Salad (Seasoned Potatoes with Salt Cod) [Recipe]

What I like most about this dish:

I found comfort in this dish – my warm bowl filled to the brim with creamy red potatoes, salt cod, green onion and bacon, splashed with good quality olive oil. The chill in the air seemed to thaw as the carbs and protein settled into my bones. I’m not even sure what that means. But it was good.

What I like least about this dish:

While the entire dish was tasty, salt cod is surprisingly chewy. As in, set the tables with a few boxes of dental floss. It’s like the stuff was made to firmly lodge itself between your teeth! If you don’t like to floss and don’t want to go to the trouble to rinse and soak salt cod, try regular cod – but be careful not to over-mix because the tender flakes will easily fall apart under the weight of the potatoes.

Ham and Cheese Bread (Prisnats) [Recipe]

What I like most about this dish:

“Cheese, bacon, ham, and more cheese. What’s not to love?” – so says Mr. Picky. As for me, I mostly like the concept that this dish would work for brunch or any sort of potluck.

What I like least about this dish:

Bottom line? My batter needed a bit more flour – or I needed to chop my ham into smaller cubes – they sunk under their own weight, down to the bottom. While everything tasted great, this dish had issues visually! On a lighter note (har har), I preferred the meat-free top half, while Mr Picky preferred the bottom. Now that’s the kind of teamwork I can get behind!

Croatian Holiday Nut Roll (Pavotica) [Recipe]

What I like most about this dish:

Mr. Picky and I have been battling for years about whether or not to put walnuts in our chocolate chips cookies. He says no, I say yes. Well, he was busy when I was making the Pavotica, so I took the photos. Thus, he had no idea there were walnuts in the bread. He loved it. He ate an entire loaf before midnight! (Yes, his stomach hurt for an entire day). Only then did I tell him about the walnuts. He shook his head and cut into the second loaf without saying a word. I think I finally won the great walnut battle.

What I like least about this dish:

I’m not sure why, but the filling separated from the dough in areas, making an air pocket in otherwise beautiful bread. While this doesn’t affect the taste, the slices aren’t totally neat.

Bambus (Celebration Drink) [Recipe]

What I like most about this dish:

This was a fun (and easy) dish to try. I have to admit, the sweet cola actually cuts out the sour taste of a bad wine – if only to replace it with sugary soda.

What I like least about this:

My waist is not convinced I need to be putting cola in my wine. I think I’d rather spring for a good wine instead. As far as finding the ingredients – I never thought I would say this, but I need to find a worse liquor store. I asked the salesman to sell me a bottle of terrible wine. His cheapest stuff. He pulled out a $5 bottle. That’s not cheap! I asked about 2 buck chuck. He shook his head emphatically. Oh, no. We don’t carry that! Well, excuse me!

Ava’s Corner


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