Local specialities include: prosciutto, cheese, wine and seafood- especially things like tuna, which are caught locally out of the Adriatic. Restaurants frequently don’t post menus. You eat what is caught that day, the chef recommends it. What do we have? Nothing else. That’s the catch of the day.
I’m in heaven. This is my kind of place. Yeah, ordering exactly what you want is cool if you’re a picky eater, but I’m not. I feel like I trained for this day. This is my triathlon. Feed me, sweet locals! Throw your best at me, I can take it!
If you’ve read my About Us, you’ll know I did have a list of ‘do not likes’ once… and I forced myself to at least tolerate them. (I’m not into sports- not sure why- but, I do have a mildly competitive streak and I guess this is where it expressed itself)
Perfect example- black pudding. Spending a week in Ireland, this was very much a thing. Breakfast- black pudding. All the time. Beans, eggs, sausage, black pudding, toast, coffee, bacon (hey, no wonder my shorts don’t fit!) Heck, they also have white pudding. (note: any savoury dish called ‘pudding’ usually means you don’t want to know what’s in it).
Blood sausage can be one of two things: the best thing you ever tasted or… the worst. 90% of my time in Dublin it was, sadly, the worst. It was a lump of protein that even the locals smothered in ketchup since it, well… just wasn’t great. That last day, though (yes, I kept eating it)… wow.
Black pudding, or blood sausage, is Anthony Bourdain’s favourite treat. Now, I get why. Done well, a good black pud is perfect. It’s transcendent. (also note: done anything less than very skillfully… … … oy. Not for me.)
But, back to Croatia. I have been learning a lot about Croatian history since I planned this trip. It seems like a perfect place that has, unfortunately, always been fraught with turmoil.
Back in the day, the Greeks and the Romans battled over Split (that’s how old!). It’s really impressive for someone who hails from a city where a 125-year old house is part of our museum.) From Napoleonic handovers to more recent World War II hand-offs (and hand-backs) (and hand-offs again… it was a very confusing time). Heck, this place was once Yugoslavia, even in my own lifetime!
Officially speaking, the Yugoslav Wars raged from 1991 to… well, that end date isn’t very solid, since wars rarely end so cut and dry(1995, according to some. 2003, for others.) Serbia and Montenegro weren’t recognized until 2006. Kosovo (as of 2008), remains independent, but is still not officially recognized.
As far as I’m concerned, it is because this region is the prettiest girl at the ball. Everyone fights over them because they are precious. Damaged, but beautiful. Always, so beautiful.
Split itself is split (ha?) into two main sections- ‘city’ and ‘old town.’ The city is a wall of shockingly uniform buildings- sort of what you would expect from the term ‘Yugoslavia’, as I was raised (thank you, Dad’s National Geographic subscription). The Old Town is touristy, but for good reason. I don’t exactly know how or why it was preserved but- it was. It’s a testament to my two Archaeologist parents that I make Colin spend (far, far too long) at ruins. Yeah, it’s a pile of bricks and I know you’re hot- but this pile of bricks is 1,5000 years old!
(Note: OMG. I have become my parents. WHAT.)
This entire recipe is infused with almonds so, if you’re not a fan, I would probably suggest moving along. Ground almond in the crust, almond custard, sliced almonds…
The plums, when baked, get sweeter and pair absolutely perfectly with the nuts. I call for slightly firm plums in the recipe- they will cut easier and sweeten up in the oven. Don’t get fully hard ones, but I honestly wouldn’t recommend soft-and-ripe, either. We want a hint of tartness and ease of cutting- everything points us to those plums at the market that look ripe, but feel a little firm for your teeth.
This recipe makes two… because you need two. I had Colin’s parents over for dinner before we left and, between the five of us (just five, I swear!), we ate… 1.5 tarts. The rest served as lunch the next day. I promise, two tarts is not too much for this beauty. I daresay, two tarts might not be enough…
All I’m saying is, no one would judge if you doubled this recipe. 4 TARTS. Yaaaaaas, queeeeen…
|Red Plum Frangipane Tart|| |
- 200 g flour
- 175 g ground almonds
- 175 g granulated sugar
- 200 g cold butter, diced
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp almond extract
- ¼ tsp vanilla
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 8-10 red plums, ripe but still firm
- Icing sugar, to dust
- Place all crust ingredients except the egg yolk, into a food processor. Pulse until it has the texture of coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk, then pulse until the mixture comes together to form a crumbly pastry. The pastry will be too soft to roll out, so scoop it out into two 10 inch tart pans and press it evenly across the bottom and sides of the pans. Rest in the freezer for at least 20 mins.
- For the frangipane cream, add butter, sugar, almond extract and vanilla to a medium mixing bowl. Mix together with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Crack in the eggs and beat until well combined. Stir in the slivered almonds.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice plums and set aside. Pour the frangipane cream into the pie shells, dividing it evenly among the two. Arrange the sliced plums on the top of the frangipane in concentric circles. Bake for 45 minutes, until the pastry appears golden at the edges.
- Let the tarts cool and dust with icing sugar before serving.