Friday, September 2, 2011

Beautiful and Boozy Kotor, Montenegro

After departing from Venice, Kotor in Montenegro was the first stop of the cruise. To be honest, Emi and I had low expectations. Probably because we didn't know what to expect. We had originally signed up for a 4x4 excursion through the hills and valleys of Croatia and Montenegro, but not enough people joined in so the excursion and our plans for Kotor were canceled. Instead of signing up for something else, we decided we would wander through the city to see what piqued our interest and especially our appetites.

Kotor is a beautiful city. Everything I imagined a Mediterranean port to be. Colorful and warm, surrounded by the mountains and blue sea. We knew this place was special, but didn't know at the time this would be one of our favorite ports of the entire cruise.

What made this port special for us was the amazing experience we enjoyed at a small family owned restaurant called Restoran Mediteran outside the walls of the city.

We were hungry and tired after walking around in the hot, humid heat so the shaded outdoor dining area covered by grapevines provided a much needed hiding spot from the hot Mediterranean sun.

Emi read before we left the ship that the specialty wine of Montenegro is Vranac. Vranac is a bold red that comes in 1 Liter bottles, no wimpy 750 mL bottles, but a whole Liter. Also it comes sealed like a beer bottle with a bottle cap. This was a great wine and with the heat and little to no food in our stomachs the beginning of a fun day.

One of the patrons of the restaurant came over and told us our waiter didn't speak much English, so he could help us order. He told us his brother ran the restaurant, but he wasn't paid to work there. We were definitely a little skeptical, but he ended up being our guide for the meal and really added to the experience.

We started with their crumbly olive oil cheese, with their variation of Prosciutto, tomatoes, and olives. This delicious meze provided us with a great sampling of their local cuisine. Also salty cheese, meats, and olives always pair nicely with a glass/Liter of wine.

Our first "Greek" salad of the trip. The feta cheese was amazing. We had never tried anything like it before. Not as salty and dense as the American feta we are used to here in the States. This cheese was softer and less salty. I felt I could eat a whole block of it. The tomatoes, cucumber, and even the red onions were sweet too. Emi usually avoids red onions, but even she enjoyed them. A perfect salad.

This amazing bowl of deliciousness is olive oil with parsley and slivered garlic. It was amazing, sooo garlicky, yet without that overpowering raw spicy taste fresh garlic can leave behind. We dipped our loaf of bread in this amazing olive oil and also used it to garnish our main courses.

Emi was convinced to order the local fresh Dorado and I went with the grilled octopus. Both were brought out fresh and grilled up right in front of us. Fish is semi expensive in the Mediterranean because of over fishing in the region, but octopus and squid are more affordable and just as delicious.

My octopus was served with grilled vegetables. The best recommendation of the meal was my new friend's recco to drizzle the garlic olive oil over the octopus. I can still taste this tender, slightly charred, BBQ octopus. It wasn't chewy at all and had such an amazing flavor. Maybe it was the Liter of wine, but this was one of my favorite meals of the entire trip.

Our friend deboning Emi's Dorado

Emi's Dorado was served with soft grilled potatoes. This wasn't quite as tasty as my octopus, but a good opportunity to try the local catch. We had a great time because of the amazing food, great affordable wine, and conversations with our new friend.

Emi as some of you may know has a soft spot for animals, especially kittens. Everywhere we travel I feel as if she's buying canned fish or storing away her leftovers to feed cats. I call her the cat lady. This was a sickly kitten she adopted and named Monte, short for Montenegro. We saw him earlier in the day and Emi decided she would pack up her leftover fish for him.

"That might not be his momma"

After lunch we decided to walk off the feast and took a hike up the mountain. It was a steep and hot climb, but well worth the walk for the beautiful view. When we were done we had some time to kill and I noticed how most of the bars in the city had really cheap booze, so decided that's how we would utilize our remaining time in Kotor. I miss being on vacation!

We ordered their local beer Nicksicka which came in a dark and light variety. After a few of those, which were nice, cool and refreshing we decided we should try their other well-known local specialty, Loza.

Each drink was around $2. The cold, clear Loza was super strong, 90 proof, but went down surprisingly smooth. It didn't have a strong aftertaste, so it sort of reminded me of vodka. After sipping a few of those we were ready to stumble back to the ship.

I guess Emi didn't think the Loza was as smooth as I thought it was.

Later that night we ended up having a few more drinks and paid for it the next day, but at least it was a day out at sea so we didn't miss muich. Kotor is a port we'll always remember for its beauty, amazing food, and cheap drinks. The city seemed pretty hard to get to unless by boat since it was tucked away, so this may have been our one and only opportunity to visit this amazing port. Maybe we need to start planning a return cruise.

- Kyle

1 comment:

  1. What a great pic of ya'll (the first one and every other!!) AND, I love Monte, sweet kitty!