Cesarica in the Old Town of Kotor

Cesarica in the Old Town of Kotor

Konoba Cesarica

Cesarica “Konoba” is in the heart of Old Town Kotor hidden away in a street behind between Pub Dock and Scorpion Bar. We discovered it when we arrived in 2009 and it has been a favorite ever since. It is consistently great; fresh food; warm and friendly service and the cozy ambience. Vaulted ceilings make for a great atmosphere, especially if you are with a group.

Hidden away in the maze of small streets that make up the Old Town of Kotor, it is not easy to find. Not to worry; any local will be able to send you in the right direction. It is very close to the Serbian Orthodox church of St Nicolas which you will find in one of the main squares.

The owner will show you all the old photos of his family on Muo just across the bay from Kotor. He was a sailor before he became a chef. I would highly recommend the black risotto, the squid stuffed with shrimp or the fresh catch of the day; grilled, with Swiss chard and boiled potatoes.

Entirely delightful. Enjoy!

Cesarica Inside

Cesarica Inside

 

Kotor Night Out: Dinner & Dustbusters

Kotor Night Out: Dinner & Dustbusters

We had visitors from Vancouver this weekend. We took them to our usual favourite places: Sveti Stefan, Budva, Perast, Kotor and everywhere in between.

On their last night we took them to, what is considered, one of the best restaurants in the Bay of Kotor. Sitting right over the water, it is a truly stunning location.

Dinner was sublime. Local delicious white wine from the producer Plantaze; fresh grilled fish; risotto with saffron and shrimp; black squid ink risotto; local organic vegetables. The weather was not on our side, but the pitter patter of rain on the glass was relaxing and created a dramatic evening picture-frame for the ancient fortress walls of Kotor.

Ken had just remarked on how “Western” he found the establishment. The menu, place settings, linens, wine list and so forth all seemed much more “international” than he had expected. Certainly, there are lots of other venues that are considerably more Montenegrin, but we thought this might be a nice last supper. Next time they come we can explore the 300-year old mill house restaurants and all the local other culinary offerings. However, moments after Ken’s remark, the server arrived to ask us if we wanted coffee or dessert which we all declined. Not only did he have the menus in hand, but a hand-held vacuum cleaner. At first I thought someone on the next table had dropped something and made a mess of themselves, or he was on his way to tidy up some small mess.

Before we knew it, our server was vacuuming our table. You know that tradition when the server brushes away your bread crumbs with a small purpose-made blade? Well, this was the local interpretation of that tradition.

Our dear guests quickly realized that our “new life in the country” was still full of these kinds of stories that make you smile and appreciate this secret garden and its amazing hospitality, hand-held vacuums at the dining table and all.

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The Third Autumn in Montenegro

The Third Autumn in Montenegro

Sitting outside in the sun this morning having brunch, it feels more like mid-September then the middle of November – it is a very warm 20 degrees with a fresh autumn breeze. The weather here is one of those great surprises that have made this life experience such a pleasure. Coming from Vancouver – known more for it’s Pacific Northwest rain than it’s blue skies – I didn’t know how much the sun and heat were good for me before moving to Montenegro. It’s true what “they” say: sunshine is healthy for your spirits. Here there is no need for those desktop light machines they used to sell at Whole Foods to help the rain-and-grey-cloud-bound-crowd with their Seasonal Affected Disorder.

We are entering our third Autumn of a new life in the country of Montenegro and have grown to appreciate many of the customs that were so different from home; so foreign to our past lives; many of which I tried to describe in my previous blog posts which were intended to be a running commentary for friends and family on the cultural differences of the West Coast of Canada and the Central Mediterranean to give everyone some flavour about this experience.

You may be surprised to hear that many things have changed over the past two-plus years. This year, my residential permit renewal is automatic. No more travelling to the smoke-filled attic of the Kotor City Hall for the rubber stamp ritual. Last year I had my fingerprints digitally recorded in Tivat. Progress for sure! Signs on public spaces still say “no guns, no dogs and no ice cream”, but now they also say “no smoking”. When we arrived in 2009 you could not avoid smoky-filled lobbies, bars and restaurants. Now, you are only allowed to smoke outside. A refreshing change for sure, especially because the air here is so nice and clean, free of big city pollution.

Other things, like banking, have not changed at all. It is still very much a “shared” experience with everyone crowded around you when you go to your bank. Line ups are almost unheard of and, at peak times, the experience of waiting and vying for a teller still taxes my patience. I still have not found the perfect Ceasar Salad, but maybe that is because I have stopped looking for it. I have, on the other hand, found the perfect pizza — wood burning oven, crisy crust and right here in Porto Montenegro — simply addictive, and I only have to walk over to the next building. In other areas like recycling you are just starting to see the birth of the movement.

It is an interesting time to be living in Europe. The financial and political turmoil is putting everyone on edge and Montenegro — as an official EU candidate for a year now — is not immune to the roller coaster political and economic drama happening between Greece (just to the south of us), Italy (across the Adriatic) and the power houses of Germany and France. The local court judge’s are on strike right now, and the opposing political parties are in daily power plays. Our development of Porto Montenegro gets caught in the journalistic crossfire between the newspapers depending on the party they are supporting.

December is almost upon us; we are planning a road trip to Switzerland, Prague and Budapest. It should be a great addition to the life experiences we have had thus far in our new life in the country. Travelling farther eastward than ever before.

Boiled or Roasted Kid?

Today I had a quick, but lovely, lunch outside by the water here in the Bay of Kotor. With the exception of “spaghetti bolognese” and a couple of other items, the Montenegrin menu was difficult to decipher. Yes, I know. I should be farther ahead than I am today. The kind and attentive server, aware of the selection challenge I was having, brought me the English menu. I ordered a dish which I knew had chicken in it, but I was not sure what else was coming. It ended up being a delicious spicy pasta dish with chicken and vegitables. Perfectly wonderful. I am just glad that I did not select from the Appetyre section of the menu… chewy and bitter come to mind!

I thought you might enjoy a couple of the other menu items I came across recently. How about Roast or Boiled Kid?

Ever been puzzled about what do to on your next holiday?

 Each day in this amazing life experience I am reminded of how quickly this little nation on the Balkan peninsula has been launched into 21st century Europe and the Anglo-Saxon dominated world. I greatly respect how they are catching up so quickly. Little signs like these are great, and slightly comic, reminders of the great diversity of the world we live in and how important it is to respect that diversity.

365 days and Counting!

When I first started this journal it was called “365 Days of Culture Shock – a New Life in a New Country”. Well, the original title seems out of date now. We have been in Montenegro since August of 2009 so the 365 days have come and gone. The “new” country is now in its 5th year, and growing up quickly. In November it became the first Balkan state in that many years to become an official European Union candidate.

Tatler Travel Guide

The change in the last year and a half has been amazing to watch. There is a brand new round-about at one of the busiest intersections on the coast; communist apartments have been painted bright new colors and given a new lease on life; new bars and restaurants have opened and there are more on their way. While I still cannot buy soy milk at the biggest supermarket, the other day I found lactose-free milk, so you know more selection is coming soon. You can quite literally see the market opening up one baby step at a time.
The evolution of Porto Montenegro set the pace of the changes in the country. When we arrived, the project had 85 berths which it was giving away for free for the first season and we were selling some off plan apartments. Today, we have created the new Porto Montenegro Yacht Club, a Sports Club for crew, built a fuel bunkering facility and become an official port of entry, so you just pull up to the marina in your boat and clear customs on the jetties. This summer we will be opening our 65 meter over-water Lido Mar pool and our maritime museum as well as handing over the next 45 apartments in two buildings. In the fall another 9 will be available. This means that by the end of the year we will have almost 80 waterfront properties finished with 20 retail stores and services on the pedestrian walks. The reassuring part is that most of the apartments are already sold and the commercial spaces leased out! Now we also have 200 berths open to paying customers. You should join Montenegro Yachting on Facebook to see all the latest events and photos from in and around the marina.
The first month of the new year has flow by with the team out and about at the London and Dusseldorf Boat Shows. Stay tuned for more chronicles of life at Porto Montenegro!