Boškinac restaurant’s cuisine aims to explore the historical gastronomy of the island of Pag and the neighboring regions, including Lika and the Zadar area. We are completely dedicated to this mission, as well as to exploring the highlights of the traditional Dalmatian food and ingredients used in the island’s traditional cuisine.
My childhood was filled with an abundance of rich flavors of my mother and both grandmothers’ cooking, full of the primeval scents of the Mediterranean. These formed a deep-set memory, one that has followed me throughout my life. The subconscious, intuitive world of scents and aromas from my childhood and youth sets in motion an eruption of ideas and combinations every January, February and March, when I meet with my chef and team of cooks to create the menu for the new season. The unstoppable surge of ideas evokes the sea, fields, poverty cuisine and rich feasts, family gatherings, cakes from my mother’s oven, the vegetables my father would bring on a donkey from the fruitful Novalja field, the juicy grapes and ripe figs in the summer, the bitter kale in the winter days, and the fragrant tomatoes and carrots from my grandmother’s little garden.
This season’s menu is inspired by poverty cuisine and, in addition to classic dishes revamped for the new season, guests will find foods that are completely unexpected. We would like to present these in our own way and give them a stamp of tradition and a show of respect for their significance in the lives and traditions of our predecessors, but also lend them a contemporary touch through a new approach and techniques, while at the same time containing our playfulness in order to preserve their simultaneous simplicity and sublimity.
In this spirit, our menu will include palježina (seared lamb’s feet), Dalmatian marinade, rooster, brudet (seafood stew), asparagus with bio eggs, dry octopus, ox and salted roe, lamb liver and lamb sweetbread, lamb tripe, Buša cow from the Lika region, wild herbs from the Novalja field, salicornia picked in the Pag salt pans, crithmum from Pag bay, young peas from the Zadar hinterland, dried lamb, cuttlefish, squid and wild fish, both from the waters around Pag and from the rest of the Adriatic.
One of the novelties this year is the tasting menu consisting of seven courses containing exclusively Pag lamb. The menu is designed for true gourmands and Pag lamb aficionados. All the courses in this menu, as in every other menu, are completely authored by our chefs, and the dishes on this particular menu are also quite unusual and not easy to come by anywhere else. The menu will be called Lamb 7.
Here, we will only present some of the dishes, as well as some of the exceptional ingredients that have strongly inspired us in the creation of recipes for this season’s menu. These dishes will be found on our á la carte menu, on the tasting menus with five and seven courses, and on the Lamb 7 tasting menu.
Palježina, a traditional poverty dish made of seared lamb’s feet, bitter cabbage and bacon, will be reinterpreted as a thick ragout with seared feet, Brussels sprout cream and garlic sprouts served with small, different colored gnocchi.
Brudit (seafood stew), another classic Mediterranean and Dalmatian dish, is made with the Adriatic squid. We use the squid’s head and fins for the sauce and the body is cut in half and stir-fried. We add a few drops of beet juice for the color and get interesting rolls. The exquisite, smooth brudit sauce is served with breaded dumplings made of the traditional polenta from the Lika region and baked wafers with garlic.
Wild asparagus has traditionally been prepared in two ways in the region. It is either cooked or fried in an egg omelet. We serve the asparagus with eggs as well, but we also use the tips to make a first-rate soup. We dip a sous-vide bio egg in the soup, rim it with lamb rinds and add subsequent layers of fresh cheese cream and dry lamb powder..
In Novalja, octopus has traditionally been cooked with potatoes and amply spiced with garlic and olive oil. We serve it with potatoes after cooking it until it is completely soft while making sure it retains a good color and texture. The octopus is served with cooked and fried new island potatoes and fresh vegetables from our garden.
Lamb confit is a delicacy we all loved when we were young and one we used to call “puškica.” Today, we serve confit lamb cut, with vegetables, wrapped in lamb handkerchief previously colored with curly kale cream, with a side of roasted peppers and celery cream.
Buzara, which consists of seafood stewed in olive oil with added tomatoes and spices, is a classic dish and one that represents the best of Dalmatian cuisine. At Boškinac, buzara is served with Roman gnocchi and Adriatic scampi tails, over which we pour the delicious, smooth buzara sauce in front of the guests, immediately before serving. The sauce is made with fish broth, scampi heads and Boškinac wine.
Lamb tripe, another classic poverty dish, has been reinterpreted for our new menu, but the authentic taste of the young Pag lamb tripe has been preserved. This rare, unique dish is served with organic polenta, pancetta chips, basil emulsion and Pag cheese cream.
We get excellent organically fed roosters from the Zadar area and we marinate the breasts, legs and thighs. The legs and thighs are wrapped in skin, prepared sous-vide and deep fried immediately before serving to make the skin crusty, while the breasts are only mildly fried on butter and served on an aromatic stick. Broccoli cream and pear jelly are served on the side along with rooster pâté on crispy bread.
Lešada has always been a mighty soup with fresh fish, potatoes, carrots and garlic, enriched with the finest olive oil one could find at home. We have kept all the ingredients. The fish is briefly poached in the finest fish broth and the best local olive oil and dumplings made of island potatoes and carrots are added to the stew. Lešada remains a mighty fish soup rich in taste, with ingredients that vary depending on the offering of fresh fish at the local fish market.
Dry octopus has traditionally been prepared as an egg omelet in our region, while our neighbors on Rab island prepared it as a goulash. We have experimented with this particular ingredient ever since the opening of Boškinac and we remember our first chefs, Stephan Machi and Dino Galvagno, making an excellent dish with dry octopus and caramelized onions on blini. Today, we prepare it as a dry octopus ragout with smoked purée made from locally grown potatoes and the yolk of a sous-vide bio egg..
The seabed is an attractive platter that allows our guests to literally smell the sea. It contains dry ice that spills into the clear, fragrant sea in a glass vessel. We serve raw fresh white fish, tuna and oysters on the glass placed over the vessel. The dish is served with various herbs that grow by the sea and creams made from those herbs..
We also prepare a seafood pasta dish that consists of spaghetti made from organic flour and locally laid eggs and soup made with Adriatic scampi, murex and salted mullet roe. We add some toasted pine nuts to get both the taste and scent of the primeval Mediterranean, the one lauded by many artists as the cradle of civilization in their works.
The indigenous Buša cow from Lika is part of the offering of authentic, organic foods on our menu. The meat of the organically fed cows is used in two other classic dishes. One of these is pašticada, a Croatian traditional slow-cooked beef dish prepared in a special rich sauce. To prepare it, we slow-cook the bottom round and eye round in vacuum and use the tougher pieces of beef for the broth and sauce for the pašticada. The meat is stuffed with locally produced pancetta and the finished meal is served with Roman gnocchi. The other classic beef dish is steak tartare, consisting of a beefsteak, or Buša cow fillet, served in a highly attractive and interactive manner, like any other dish on our menu.
Another meat dish made of beef is made with the tail of the Croatian organically fed Simmental cow. The tail is confit for an extended period of time and then served with crispy ginger and broccoli crusts and creams.
Tapas Boškinac is a decent platter consisting of eight small bites. The dish is served on a specially designed wooden platter and contains sashimi tuna, beef tartare, spicy rooster pâté in a small cone, lamb liver praline with truffles, lamb breast meatballs rolled in almonds, fried breaded octopus praline, and prosciutto with homemade grissini and chunks of mature Pag cheese.
Wild herbs are of special interest to us and can be found in different dishes. They include the salicornia that grows next to the Pag salt factory, crithmum that we pick along the edges of our island, wild onions and leek, fennel, chicory, wild mint, thyme and many other varieties.
Our tasting menus with five or seven courses are a special experience in themselves and represent the crown of our gastronomical achievement. We change them each year, but they always reflect our passion, curiosity and dedication to fervently researching and presenting our island’s full gastronomical potential. The Lamb 7 tasting menu consists of seven courses of Pag lamb. These are the carpaccio of the Pag lamb tenderloin, lamb liver praline, palježina with different colored gnocchi, lamb muscle with curly kale, lamb tripe, lamb chops, lamb breast praline and lamb sweetbread in honey. This tasting menu also reflects and crowns the 15 years of research of the young Pag lamb and we are convinced that it will offer an unforgettable gastronomical experience to everyone who enjoys Pag lamb.
We also offer an up-to-date selection of the annual production of the finest Pag cheese makers. The large and small Pag cheese tasting menus offer visitors 6 or 12 of the island’s best cheeses. The cheeses are pasteurized, unpasteurized, made from raw milk, aged 6, 12 or 18 months, only a few months old, and produced by the many small local cheese makers, including the family farms Vidas, Figurica, Oštarić, Ropuš and Roguljica, as well as the cheese dairies Paška sirana, Sirana MIH and Sirana Gligora. Our guests have the opportunity to taste a unique selection of the finest cheeses made by Pag’s best cheese makers all in one place, in the pleasant, relaxing ambience of our terraces.
Special May weekend offer at Boškinac
Guests looking to explore the charms of Pag island and try some of the finest local dishes can book a 3-night stay at Boškinac as part of the special May Long Weekend offer. The offer includes buffet breakfast, a selection of menus and a special gift at check out.
Author: Boris Šuljić Boškinac
Photo: Dean Duboković