Category Archives: Croatia

* Club Mate *


Club Mate

As we set off from sleepy Papnat in the the searing heat, we passed flourishing market gardens, animals laying sedately under the canopy of trees and the occasional car with tourists, naturally (the locals wouldn’t dream of leaving the house mid afternoon.) After cascading down a hairpin windy road, we reached the beach of all beaches, the local’s secret of Korcula.

We headed down a secret garden kind of path to the glorious beach, aquamarine water sparkling in the bright, bright sun, this certainly was a paradise dreams were made of. We found a space, hit the water and explored the bay, swimming into wee coves and climbing up and down the rocks.

As a keen swimmer, Croatia was an absolute wunderland. Every morning I’d set off on an exploratory mission. With bikini underneath and goggles in hand, I’d jog around the bays and find a cordoned swimming area, which are found all along the coast. There is something so invigorating about doing laps in the sea, surrounded by other keen swimmers and placid fish bobbing around in the waves. In Croatia, swimming is a part of everyday summer life – the men practically live in their speedos and more often than not, the teency, figure-hugging lycra is patriotically designed with the Croatian flag on, proudly for the world to see.

After a long swim in the ocean, we were parched and in desperate need of refreshment. We headed to the beach watering hole ‘Club Mate’ and met the local lads. What is ironic is that the Club-Mate that I’m used to, is the famous carbonated yerba mate tea drink I practically live on when I’m in Berlin (along with half of the population there.) Club-Mate is derived from the leaves of the yerba mate tree native to South America. In its usual guise it is a hugely popular tea in Argentina and other parts of South America. However, in Germany and other parts of world lucky enough to have it, it’s a low sugar, highly stimulating and refreshing drink, which goes perfectly with vodka and an afternoon playing table tennis on the banks of the canal. Yerba mate contains a serious dose of antioxidants and is highly caffeinated, but without the usual jitters and crash that is associated with coffee.

We sat down and had a natter with Mate, the proprietor, who occasionally got up to blow his whistle and entice those walking past to have a shot of rakia, the house distilled spirit not dissimilar to rocket fuel. In another ironic twist, it was Mate’s family restaurant we’d just visited and were booked in to later that night. We spent the afternoon there, drinking beers with Mate and his friends, who had helped build the beach shack and were making sure that it lasted the summer, by keeping a half-cut but ever watchful eye on the place.

I thought it fitting to replicate Club-Mate, the drink, as an ode to our friend Mate and his kooky beach club. As Club-Mate is practically impossible to come by in New Zealand (one place sells it in Auckland) I’ve had to make it myself in order to indulge my addiction and I’m pretty damn pleased with the result.

Club Mate

2 tablespoons of yerba mate*

A litre of boiling water

A lemon, sliced

A few drops of vanilla extract (optional)

3 – 4 tablespoons of raw honey or agave

5oo mls – 1 litre of cold water or soda water

Steep the yerba mate leaves in boiling water for a few hours or overnight, along with the sliced lemon, vanilla (optional) and honey or agave.

If you have a Soda Stream machine, add the desired measure of cold water and fizz it up. If you don’t have a Soda Stream machine, simply add the desired measure of soda water. Serve on its own with ice or as a mixer with vodka and prepare to dance all night long.

* Yerba Mate is available at good health food stores and organic shops.

* Rose and Basil Frozen Yoghurt *


Rose and Basil Frozen YoghurtWhilst on holiday on the island of Korcula (kor-chew-la) in Croatia, we came across a beautifully rustic, family-run restaurant which served some of the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted. On a sleepy afternoon, we went for a cross country burn on the scooter in search of a famously remote beach, which is renowned for being a heavenly paradise, free from all those irritating tourists. We stopped off in the sleepy little village called Papnat for a squizz at the local country folk (who must have been having a sensible siesta as they were not in sight) and found this gem called ‘Konobe Mate’.

Set in the front garden of the family home, grape vines and creepers adorned with bright flowers provided a whimsical setting and welcome respite from the sweltering heat. The endearingly genuine service typical of many in the hospitality trade extended here, as the waitress made polite, inquisitive conversation and praised our selection. On such an intensely scorching afternoon there was only one option – the rose and basil frozen yoghurt, washed down with an espresso and a shot of her finest homemade rakia (house distilled fermented fruit, reminiscent of rocket fuel concocted in days gone by).

We tucked into delectably icy pillows of this rose and basil frozen yoghurt, a combination that I’d never thought would go well together, but it just works. It’s so fragrant, with intense bursts of floral and herbaceous notes. Put simply, it’s like feasting on a summery garden, only creamy. We were so enchanted with this delightful restaurant, we made a booking for that evening and set off into the blazing sun towards the coast.

In order to make this frozen yoghurt you need an ice cream maker, which can easily be purchased at an appliance store or in good condition off Ebay or Trade Me. Ensure that the frozen yoghurt is the perfect consistency by checking it often. I’m usually so captivated by the creation of this frozen yoghurt, I can barely tear myself away from watching it. Am I alone here?

Rose and Basil Frozen Yoghurt

2 cups of plain, unsweetened Greek yoghurt

3/4 of a cup of milk

1/2 a cup of good-quality raw honey, warmed

1 1/2 tablespoons of rose water

A teaspoon of vanilla paste or a vanilla bean, deseeded

2 tablespoons of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

A couple of handfuls of fresh, organically grown rose petals (optional)

Whisk together all of the ingredients for a couple of minutes until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Transfer to the ice cream maker and follow the user instructions until the desired consistency is reached. In the ice cream maker I use, it took about 35 minutes until lusciously textured frozen yoghurt was created. Best eaten as soon as possible.