It’s no exaggeration to say food conveys a culture, customs and character of its origins. With cuisine, we express the bounty of our pastures, fields and oceans, the traditions of our forebears and flavours fused over generations.
A very good friend of Luxury Charter Group, Dragan Grbic is a chef and local identity in Trogir, Croatia. Dragan shares his talents with fortunate guests as a chef onboard a luxury charter yacht that cruises around the fascinating islands of Dalmatia. On board NAVILUX he takes immense pride in imparting the culinary heritage of his homeland through delectable dishes that are as authentic as they are appetising.
Now, Dragan's talents are captured in his first cookbook, translated into English and ideal as a mouth-watering memento of a visitor's experience in Croatia.
"Theatre on a Plate: A traditional Dalmatian cookbook with a modern twist" is a beautifully photographed and concisely written selection of recipes, with slivers of their history and some insight into ingredients and their significance.
"There is probably no cultural activity which resembles theatre as much as gastronomy does," explains Dragan, a quietly-spoken yet effusive host wherever he sets his table. "In the sequence of ingredients that in an almost alchemical way become a creation which is consumed just once, since in its nuances it is never identical in its range of tastes and aromas, it's just like a show we might watch."
From soup, antipasti and side dishes, veritable feasts derived from seafood and sides of lamb, to sweet treats, liqueurs and several specific ingredients singled out for special praise, "Theatre on a Plate" is as much travelogue as cookbook.
Each recipe is as simple as it is succulent, made of easily sourced ingredients – though some could be a trifle tricky, such as cuttlefish ink, or sea urchins!
Among our personal favourites are the no-nonsense recipes for chicken roulades, chicken fillets stuffed with truffles and tomatoes, or the foolproof chocolate tortes that can be whipped up in a matter of minutes and cooked to gooey perfection in just 8.
"Theatre on a Plate" is Dragan's intimate culinary confession, intertwined with episodes from his life and career. He draws inspiration from the influence of his mother and grandmother, his own discoveries through childhood to the present day, and pays tribute to the myriad uses of herbs and regional staples which trace their origins to Ancient Rome.
Dragan conveys his great passion for demonstrating his feeling for the culinary traditions of this mysterious and mesmerising corner of Europe, and his main intent of delighting guests.
Whether you have experienced Croatia first-hand, or wish to savour it solely through this compact compendium, the gourmet prose of "Theatre on a Plate" will transport you to the rich artistic ambrosia of the Adriatic.
Jeni Tidmarsh of Luxury Charter Group endorses "Theatre on a Plate" and wrote a testimonial for his book.
"Dragan Grbic has the gift of conjuring a warm, welcoming table. Whether onboard a luxury charter yacht or around a shaded table in Trogir, Dragan is inspired by the beauty and bounty of his homeland. He is a natural chef: creative, passionate and generous, at ease with the demands of catering to diverse palates and proud to impart traditions through the universal language of good food.
I have had the pleasure of savouring the fruits of Dragan's skills in both my capacity as a guest and as a luxury yacht charter specialist.
Through this English translation of his brilliant compendium, may Dragan's hospitality, humour, and of course his epicurean talents evoke your memories of the myriad flavours of Croatia."
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