On Tuesday, March 29 a specialized gastronomic workshop led by one of the most prominent Croatian chefs Hrvoje Zirojević was held in Veranda Tavern in Štikovica. The workshop is part of the project “Branding of Mali Ston oysters – The Queen of Oysters” and its aim was to present the gastronomic potential and splendor of the taste of Mali Ston oysters and encourage the local community to pay more attention to this indigenous product. Everyone was delighted by the skill with which Zirojević, otherwise known for his extremely creative seafood dishes, gave the Mali Ston oyster different roles in his dishes.
Chef Zirojević simply explained his fascination with the sea and seafood: “I have been a passionate fisherman for over 30 years, and from my earliest childhood I was most attracted by the smell of the sea and seaweed when it was low tide. All my life I have been trying to conjure up these aromas in my dishes, and we can get them with the Mali Ston oyster.”
The workshop began with the presentation of oyster chips, a very intense snack with an extremely concentrated taste of the sea, minerals and seaweed. The guests could then watch chef Zirojević finishing the first dish, a tuna carpaccio stuffed with hake liver and oyster ganache, in which oyster meat and sea from the oyster shell are an integral part. This was followed by ceviche made of white fish, shrimp and oysters, which was additionally seasoned with cold oyster and gin tea, adding a Mediterranean finish. Finally, seafood pasta was served, with frozen oysters grated on top, which, along with the creaminess after melting in contact with the warm pasta, brought an additional umami to the dish. There was also oyster salt, a unique seasoning that, just like the walls, connects Ston salt and Mali Ston oyster.
Dishes were accompanied by Croatian wines, chosen by the three-time sommelier champion of Croatia, Siniša Lasan. Rukatac was paired with ceviche, orange wine was served with carpaccio, rosé with pasta, while the off-dry Gewurztraminer wonderfully softened the intensity of oyster chips.
– In the story about the Mali Ston oyster, we followed, through Hrvoje’s unique creative prism, all the knowledge, experience and emotion in a deep and sincere commitment to this spectacular product. Like when you let someone guide you with your eyes closed. Because you trust him. From a woman’s perspective, I would call every bite an ecstatic delay – Nikolina Farčić, president of the Chamber of Crafts of Dubrovnik-Neretva County and president of the Guild of Caterers, described her impression of the workshop.
Fun, educational and from the perspective of a top connoisseur, Zirojević enjoyed conveying everything he had accumulated during his years of research and pushing boundaries. It is an incentive for all those who are ready to value the Mali Ston oyster as a unique gem. With great applause, Zirojević thanked the caterers on arrival, emphasizing that this is just the beginning of the story of the gastronomic potential of Mali Ston oysters and that he hopes that some of the presented elements of different oyster processing will be found in dishes on their menus in the future.
Before the workshop, shellfish farmers presented themselves to Dubrovnik caterers at a B2B meeting, where they exchanged experiences and strengthened their relationships. Fresh Mali Ston oysters and sparkling wine were enjoyed during themeeting.
This gastronomic workshop is one in a series of workshops within ‘The Queen of Oysters’ project, which covers various target groups of tourism stakeholders in order to make Mali Ston oyster a ‘not to be missed’ product when coming to Dubrovnik-Neretva County.
The project is co-financed by the European Union from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.