Joe and I are currently living and working remotely from Split, Croatia. The coastal city is built on olive oil, espresso and wine, fresh pasta, squid and sea bass and ‘shells’ galore from the Adriatic sea, aged cheeses from sheep set free across salt-kissed grasses.
And I can’t stop thinking about sandwiches.
It all started with dinner plans last weekend. Joe and I decided to visit a ‘konoba’ — or traditional Croatian tavern — for their squid ink risotto. But upon walking over, we passed a corner sandwich shop. Locals flowed in and out. Down the block, people were chowing down on the same steaming sandwiches.
We turned around. The shop owners poured us a pint of ‘pivo’ and freshly griddled thin sliced of chicken. Then, tucked into a ciabatta-like roll ready to go with a swipe of mayo. A swipe of ajvar, the local roasted eggplant and red pepper sauce. It’s velvety rich and addictively delicious — I tore through a jar my first week here. Scoop of sautéed onions. Lettuce for crunch. Eaten, standing, by the shop windows as we watched the world go by.
Later on, we discovered that Croatians squeeze their day’s share of seafood, pasta, meats, and local vegetables into lunch. Lunch is a meal to gather around a table for. It’s a meal to fold a napkin into your shirt for. It’s a meal to head to the nearby konoba for. Dinner is on the go.
Joe and I freestyled the sandwich for dinner the next night with silky soft scrambled eggs. For Valentine’s Day, after an evening sipping cocktails at Sanctuary (I drank Brooklyns all night exclusively for nostalgia’s sake: rye whiskey, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur and bitters), we decided to forego a fancy dinner out. It was time for another sandwich.
The shop owners made us their final sandwiches of the night with these omnipresent, finger-sized pork sausages. We ate them in the cold, as we wound our way home under and through the city’s Roman ruins. It was just what I wanted for Valentine’s Day dinner.
We’re in Split through mid-March — plenty of time for squid ink risotto, fish brodet, and beef stews over leisurely lunches. For now, it’s all about the sandwiches.