Back in her school days, Anne Conness’ friends chose familiar territories like Italy, France, and Spain to study abroad in, while the Tin Roof Bistro chef ended up in Belgrade, the current Serb capital that previously stood as the urban center of the former Yugoslavia. Her stay there lead to a deep appreciation for and understanding of the region’s cuisine, an interest she put on the menu last night at the restaurant’s “Taste of Croatia” wine dinner in Manhattan Beach. Though not every dish served was 100% traditionally Croatian so much as inspired by the culture, the tables were filled with Croat and Crotian-American families, suppressing the strains of Slavic pop as Croatian wines flowed to the glasses. Just for giggles, we plunked a Russian into the action to get her Eastern European angle on what was served (and because we’re not very adept at deciphering long strings of consonants). Take a look in our slideshow of Tin Roof Bistro’s “Taste of Croatia” dinner.
With Butterball potatoes, red onion, and arugula. While the potatoes gave this a very Eastern European feel, octopus tends to be a central feature of meals in coastal Croatia, typically caught and immediately grilled in front of diners. The further inland one goes, the meattier the food gets.
Prosek is a time-honored sweet wine made on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast that is distilled from raisins. Served on ice as an aperitif (and traditionally with a slice of citrus), it tastes similar to red vermouth on the rocks.
Cabbage rolls stuffed with spiced lamb and rice. Practically every Eastern European country has a version of this dish, authentically served with a thick slice of bread.
Served with red pepper ajvar, a blend of red pepper and eggplant. Conness’ version brought a more upscale approach to a traditional caseless sausage cooked over an open flame and derived from Middle Eastern and Persian customs. It reminded our own agent of the kebab she grew up on in Azerbaijan.
This poppy seed roll, which veers on the more subtle side of sweet, can be found at pretty much every Russian bakery in L.A.
The Tin Roof Bistro chef with the evening’s wine distributor, Michael Newsome of Blue Danube, responsible for bringing Coronica Malvasia istria, Bibich G6 Riserva Grenache, and Milos Stagnum Plavac Mali to the table.