|All photos from Vrgorac Tourist Board|
One of the biggest changes moving from Manchester to life in Dalmatia is my relationship with vegetables. I still recall the woman from Cambridge in a shop on Hvar in November who was complaining that there were no tomatoes for sale. When it was explained that it was not the season for tomatoes, she appeared confused, as tomatoes are for sale 12 months a year in her shop back home...
The quality of the fresh fruit and vegetables in Dalmatia is exceptional, and I have come to accept the seasonal availability of produce. Not only to accept, but also to look forward to the coming season - asparagus in a month, for example. There is no comparison between the quality and taste of fruit and vegetables produced in Dalmatia and the bland offerings in British supermarkets.
The other difference between Manchester and Dalmatia apart from availability is buying habits. Many families grow their own food and will sell to others, while there are certain places where one should always stop and buy things if one is in the region.
One such place for me at least is Vrgorac, which is a stunningly beautiful little town in the middle of the most perfect landscape, which few people have heard of, and fewer have visited. It appears almost from nowhere on the drive from Mostar back to Split, as the road winds round in acres of pristine forest in the hills. It is totally unspoilt nature, with historic Vrgorac in the middle.
In summer, the first signs of life in the hills are individuals dotted around the winding roads - strawberry sellers. If I come home without Vrgorac strawberries, I am in trouble...
Strawberries are only part of the story, as Vrgorac has a great reputation as a quality producer of fruit and vegetables, all grown in a healthy and a natural environment. It was no surprise, therefore, to see the Vrgorac Tourist Board launching an excellent culinary initiative at GAST 2013 in Split this week, called Zeleni Dani, or 'Green Days', a great idea to celebrate the local produce in season in late Spring and Autumn.
Working with the restaurants and other local partners, the Vrgorac Tourist Board will be holding several events in the shoulder months of March, April, September and October with a culinary theme. In addition to its gastronomic scene, Vrgorac has plenty to offer. It has historic fortresses and a lovely old town (see video below), and is the birthplace of famous Croatian poet Tin Ujevic (read more about him here).
For more information about options for that healthier holiday, contact the Vrgorac Tourist Board.