Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Food and Wine Odyssey: Sea, Salt and More Wine

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 10:53 AM

click to enlarge The Adriatic Sea beckons.
  • The Adriatic Sea beckons.

This is the fifth of a series of sponsored posts documenting Bohemian and Pacific Sun publisher Rosemary Olson's wine and food cruise around Italy and Croatia with Duckhorn Vineyards and Food & Wine Trails.

Croatia and Slovenia

In Zadar, Croatia I visited the Salt Pans and Salt Museum in Nin and did a walking tour of Zadar. Besides buying several bags of sea salt, the rest of the tour was slow. Our tour guide admitted on numerous occasions that her brain was too hot to remember anything so that was that.

Later, we went on a panoramic tour of Koper, Slovenia. It was incredible. Slovenia was a surprise as it's not well-known to many Americans. The country is working hard to build tourism by sharing the local goods of wine, olives, truffles, tomatoes and air-cured prosciutto.

click to enlarge Lunch is served.
  • Lunch is served.

Nearby Piran is nestled on a coastal inlet where no cars are allowed. Following WWII it became part of Yugoslavia and many people moved to Italy as a result. In efforts to rebuild the city, the Yugoslavian government gave away free houses (with no water) to bring the people back. The movie Piran Pirano tells the story of this time. I bought 10 more bags of salt for gifting. It's the best table salt I ever tasted.

For food and wine lovers like me, Padna village was special. We traveled into the hills where villagers prepared local foods for us. The crisp white wines were great and the truffle spread was incredible— rich, creamy and redolent with truffles.

Duckhorn Wine Tasting

Duckhorn's Alex, Neil, David and Jim hosted a blind tasting of their wines, namely, Merlots and Merlot blends. Merlot is considered "a sommeliers best friend" due to its versatility in pairing with a variety of cuisines.The tasting also included single vineyard and estate grown Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Duckhorn has eight distinct vineyards in Napa Valley. They also source grapes from Santa Maria's Bien Nacido and Sonoma County's Dutton Ranch vineyards.

I love blind tastings because I revel in the complexity of each wine. One wine really stood out: the 2003 Three Palm Vineyard blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah and Cab Franc. This over-the-top delicious wine had a higher percentage Cabernet Sauvignon than others in the tasting. It would be great with prime rib. It won my vote for the best wine tasted on the trip. Too bad it's sold out back home.

The Adriatic Sea was calling. With the heat wave the water was a balmy 86 degrees. I ran back to the cabin to put my swimsuit on, flung a towel over my shoulder and headed for the beach. One slight dilemma: I wasn't sure what to do about my bag with money and passport. I decided to go to a beach cafe and chat up the staff. A tall, congenial young man approached me and I asked him if he would be willing to watch over my bag. He said yes instantly and I looked in his eyes and asked "are you trustworthy"? He looked at me with disconcerted eyes and then a warm smile.

"Someone just stole my wallet last week and all of my money, so yes, I'd like to help you," he said.

I said I'd gladly pay him for helping me. We shook hands and he tucked my bag away and I ran into the sea and swam and sang for over two hours. In the water I met a young happy Slovenian couple. We chatted in the water, laughing because they had broken English and it was hard to understand one another. We then decided to share in a drink and talked about fashion and textiles at the cafe where my bag was hiding. I happily paid the young man 10 Euros for its safe keeping and suggested he spend it that night and have some fun with friends. Then it was time to leave. I was about to miss my ship, which was bound for Venice. We hugged and I hurried back to the ship barely on time, laughing with the crew and telling them of my fun in the sea and with the Slovenians.

I made sure to rinse right away because the dense Mediterranean salt content gave me a severe rash once in Mallorca, Spain. I was covered head to toe in tiny red bumps that itched and burned. It was so bad that no one would stand next to me in the Louvre Museum in Paris. I looked out the museum window and saw a pharmacy across the street. I went in and showed them my condition and they nearly cried and gave me a large tube of cream. I was better two weeks later back in the states. So, do enjoy the salty sea but rinse very well, right away!

Ciao for now.

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