Molten Chocolate on the Adriatic

Restaurant Blu, Rovinj, Istria, Croatia

One thing is clear; I definitely want to return to Rovinj in Croatia’s Istria region. And when I do, I?ll be eating at the restaurant Blu again. I am just not sure whether I’ll be returning more for the view on the Adriatic, or for Chef Nikola Hrelja?s chocolate cake (bonus – I got his recipe, it’s below!).

Restaurant Blu, Rovinj, Istria, Croatia

Restaurant Blu, Rovinj, Istria, Croatia

It’s a toss up.  And the food that is served while you ooh and aah at the clear blue water – so close you literally can touch it – is worth writing home about too.  Istria is well known for its truffles (as in the mushroom, not the chocolate!) and its olive oil.  Both were present – and delicious.

Restaurant Blu, Rovinj, Istria, CroatiaRestaurant Blu, Rovinj, Istria, Croatia

A glass of crisp white Malvazija wine came first, then flatbread with olive oil, rosemary and sea salt.  My lunch that day started with a spring seafood salad with edible flowers and aromatics.  Steamed branzino and baby shrimp were in the mix, and a little bowl of pink salt was on the side for sprinkling on top.  A trio plate came next: a thin strip of zucchini wrapped around sole; monkfish steak with black summer truffles in cream sauce; and a calamari burger with a peppery sauce to finish.  Never had a calamari burger before, but I have to say, I really liked it!

Restaurant Blu, Rovinj, Istria, CroatiaRestaurant Blu, Rovinj, Istria, CroatiaRestaurant Blu, Rovinj, Istria, CroatiaRestaurant Blu, Rovinj, Istria, Croatia

Now I know that a chocolate soufflé, or better yet, a molten chocolate cake, is nothing quite earth-shattering and original. And I?ve certainly had my fair share – in New York, Paris and many places in between. But the one I had at Blu really stood out. Baked to perfection, the chocolate just oozed out on to the plate with a simple touch of the spoon. I hardly even noticed the whipped cream – even though, I’m sure it wouldn’t have hurt. What got me most excited of all though was the exterior, the cake encapsulated in a thin, crunchy layer of crystallized sugar.

Restaurant Blu, Rovinj, Istria, CroatiaI cleaned my plate, licked my lips and headed straight for the kitchen.  I was hoping to talk to the pastry chef, meet this molten chocolate cake wizard!  I ended up having a long and very pleasant conversation with Lidia Fabris, the owner. She’s second from the right in the photo here, hiding between her son Lorenzo and Chef Hrelja.  On the left is Blu waitress Ljiljana.  Lidia is from Belgrade, born to a Hungarian mother and Italian father.  She opened Blu six years ago with Nikola in the kitchen, wanting to be as close to nature as possible – the sea, the markets, the fishermen.  Fresh seasonal food, with a menu that changes daily depending on their morning visits to the market.  Luckily there’s nothing seasonal about the Lindt 75% chocolate Nikola uses, and you can find his “chocolate soufflé” on the menu all year round.

Back to the table I went, and everything was gone.  All the plates cleared, that divine chocolate dessert but a memory.  But now, I’ve got the recipe (and more than plenty Lindt chocolate here in Switzerland)!  So even if I don’t quite have the same view from my dining room table here in Zürich, I think I’ll just close my eyes and pretend.  Time to turn on the oven and take a quick trip back to the Adriatic…

Restaurant Blu, Rovinj, Istria, Croatia

Restaurant Blu
3 km from the centre of Rovinj in the ?Borik? area of town, right on the beach

Blu’s “Chocolate Soufflé”

4 eggs
4 egg yolks
¾ cup (180 grams) sugar, plus extra to coat dishes
1 cup (120 grams) flour
4 teaspoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
8.5 oz (240 grams) chocolate
1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon (240 grams) butter
a few drops of high end quality olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Butter individual baking dishes/ramekins and generously coat with sugar. Melt chocolate and butter in saucepan over low heat. Whisk eggs and egg yolks together. Whisk in sugar, then chocolate mixture, cocoa powder, flour and baking powder. Pour butter into dishes. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle with few drops of olive oil before serving. Serve with whipped cream.

18 Responses to “Molten Chocolate on the Adriatic”

  1. sabriena says:

    Hi! oh my goodness I can’t wait to go to Croatia!! when that will be, I have no idea!! but it looks amazing…and the food ain’t too shabby either.
    Looks like an amazing time!

  2. jen laceda says:

    Oh, the food looks lovely!!!! Looks like you had an awesome meal!! That monkfish with truffles look absolutely heavenly. Not to mention the molten chocolate cake!! It’s 1:00 pm here in Toronto (waaay past my lunchtime), and I haven’t had a meal yet. But guess what? I’m going for a break now.
    By the way, you are good, girl! To have risked everything and showed no fear, and to have used your dangerous prowess into acquiring this recipe for us!! I just have to try it now. Your efforts will not go in vain!

  3. Lani says:

    I need to tell you that your description of the molten chocolate cake was so visual that I tasted the chocolate and felt the crunchy crystalized sugar! Two of my most favorite tastes. I can just imagine sitting by the water with a glass of wine in hand and dining on such fresh and most delcious ingredients….and the birds singing! This sounds like heaven! I am ready to go….thank you for sharing.

  4. Julia says:

    oh my, these look delicious! I’ll have to try it out sometime. I’ll also have to ‘try out’ Croatia!

    oh yeah, I also live in Switzerland, love France and food–so I’m really glad I found your blog. Inspiring, full of goodies and lovely photos!

  5. Kylie says:

    Yum! Thank you for sharing the recipe!! AHHHHHH.
    Side note…I came across your blog tonight on google when I was looking for travel info from Zurich to Venice on page 2…
    Yum, thanks again!

  6. marilyn says:

    Amazing! The photos and articles want us to make our next trip to Croatia. Your blog certainly deserves the travel blog award. A job well done!

  7. Baron's life says:

    You win loyalty through someone’s stomach…Loved the post, the food, the dessert…the stuff and the place look heavenly…I’m familiar with the Italian side of the Adriatica…Trieste,,,ever been?

  8. Jean - OurExplorer Tour Guide says:

    So much attractive, the place and the foods! 😀

  9. Kerrin says:

    Jen, glad to hear all my efforts of storming the Blu kitchen will not go in vain ! You’ll have to let me know what your trio over there thinks of the cake – when you bake… in your new kitchen perhaps !

    Julia, so glad you found MyKugelhopf. Sounds like we have a lot in common, right off the bat! Love France, love food – and love Switzerland I hope?! Where do you live here?

    Kylie, how’s the trip planning coming along? I bet there are some great deals online, SWISS has economy savers with great prices – I found one for Zurich-Venice, definitely worth looking up. Enjoy the nougat and gelato ! 😉

    Marilyn, thanks so much for your note here. So when’s the next trip ?!

    Baron’s Life, I could not agree more ! I have heard of Trieste, just north of the Croatian border. But didn’t have a chance to spend any time there. Would you recommend it?

  10. Baron's Life says:

    Thanks for the follow-up…much appreciated when real conversations do go on sharing experiences and so on. Trieste is not cheap to visit when you compare it to Croatia..I know a lot of Italians from Trieste used to hop on their Vespas and go shopping across the border….To me Trieste has a certain: Je ne sais quoi that is very attractive and appealing, the coast line is just a visual feast, with Italians and tourists hustling up and down it…Also the people there are a mix of Italian, German and Slavs…so they tend to be tall fair skinned and sport beautiful smiles. the botanical garden, the churches’ architecture, again the coast line/road are things I will bever forget. You will see a crossroad of how different European cuktures blended over time with all that it brings together…ie: food, agriculture, architecture, atmosphere, etc…a real gem…it has a different but certainly a Cote d”Azur type of feeeling.
    Cheers and keep well

  11. katy says:

    Oh. My. Gosh. What a magnificent experience you had. Thank you for sharing it with us. Seriously dreamy.

  12. Tony says:

    Wow! Croatia has been on my list forever and I cannot wait to get there after reading your latest.

    I’m in Central America now and strongly considering heading to Croatia next.


  13. Julia says:

    Hi Kerrin! Yes, I love Switzerland too. I must admit it wasn’t my ideal place at first–my dream was more directed at living in France…but Switzerland has grown on me and I am always just a drive or train ride away from France! I live in a small town called Klingnau. It’s about 15 minutes from the town Baden. Do you speak German? I’m slowly learning 🙂

    Have a good day!

  14. Julian says:

    I Love the chocolate so much, even i never try yet, i think i would to

  15. Kerrin says:

    Baron’s Life, once again, I most absolutely agree with you – so fabulous to go back and forth with readers, to get your feedback and hear about YOUR experiences too. Thank you so much for sharing your comment about Trieste, sounds pretty fantastic to me.

    Tony, I hope you’re enjoying South America. Let us know what you think if you head to Croatia next.

    Julia, glad to hear you love Switzerland too ! I’ll admit – I always dreamt of living in France again too! But moved to Zurich instead, and haven’t looked back since. As you said, we are so close to France – and so many other countries too! I can’t say I speak fluent German (or Swiss German for that matter), but I get by (using both!) . . . I do know all the food vocabulary in German though!! 😉

  16. kelleynr says:

    Delish! I want some!

  17. El says:

    Absolutely gorgeous. The views are breathtaking and the cake looks amazing.

  18. Renata says:

    Big kiss from Croatia! I love your article! Renata

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