Food from around the world

Zagreb: first encounter with the štrukli

Once upon a time there was an electromechanical engineer who had a peculiar and tasty idea. His brother was a physical trainer, working on the coast during the high season and trying to find a year-round job. Once upon a time, there was a Croatian speciality with a funny name, the štrukli (pronounce shtrooklee) and a Serbian pilot who was in love with it. These are not fairy tales but true stories that were told to me in a small street of Zagreb…

« If you ask us what is the speciality here in Zagreb: then ‘štrukli’ is the only answer. On that street there is a place called ‘La Struk’ where they serve only that dish.» In a few words, fellow blogger and tourist guide Iva (go have a look at her website Secret Zagreb) had aroused our curiosity… and our appetite.

On the following day, it was raining (as it had continuously during our whole stay in the Croatian capital). We agreed that a dish made with warm and gratinated cheese was de rigueur and we found ourselves at a table in that small restaurant that would become one of the highlights of our road trip in Croatia.

2 + 3 + 2

Menu de La Struk, Zagreb

« If you are not sure when to to eat štrukli, follow a simple formula: 2 for starter + 3 for lunch + 2 for desert » stated the menu of La Struk. In this place you can eat salty or sweet version of this dish, boiled (traditional) or gratinated (more recent). Salty: nature, with truffles, in a special version changing with the seasons (we’ve tasted one with peppers)… Sweet: with nuts and honey, blueberries, cinammon and apples… I’m glad we decided to order only one štrukli per person (I had perceived the suggestion was not to be taken literally when I spotted lasagna-sized plates served at the other tables 😉 ) because it was more than enough to satisfy our appetite.

Moments later we were served burning hot plates, right out of the oven, filled with layers of soft dough and melted cottage cheese, gratinated on the top. The first mouthful convinced me I had found the best comfort food I could imagine for such a rainy day.

Stories around the štrukli

La règle du Strukli, La Struk, Zagreb

What about that electromechanical engineer and his sporty brother? And what about that pilote from Belgrade? Here comes their stories…

Just before leaving that charming little place, I gave a visit card to the nice lady who had served us and told her I would probably write an article about that place and that dish that I’d liked very much. « But you know, there is a story to tell about that place », she exclaimed. « I have 2 sons : one is an electromechanical engineer but he works in the marketing field. He has many ideas and he was the one who imagined a small restaurant serving only štrukli. My other son, he is a physical trainer. He works on the coast during the high season but it’s not a year-round job and he was looking for something else to do. He told his brother : ‘We have to open that štrukli place’ and managed to convince him. They were joined by a friend, found an expert cook and made it real! They had not expected it would have such a success! »

And behind that story, there is another one that she told me… « I’ve read it in the newspaper: there was this pilot from Belgrade who would stay at the Esplanada, a very good hotel, every time he landed in Zagreb. He loves štrukli so much that he always ordered 2 as appetizers, 3 for the lunch and 2 for dessert. He proclaimed this was the best formula! We decided to use that story in the restaurant… »

We’ll be back

Chanson du Strukli, La Struk, Zagreb

In that small restaurant, every piece of the decoration has a meaning and conveys stories, creating a sort of unique foodie mythology. Above the door, you’ll spot music notes from a popular song in Croatia translating roughly in : « Mama cooked some štrukli but it was overcooked… ». « When we have Croatian customers who have liked it here, I ask them to sing the song to show their satisfaction », the mother of the 2 brothers told me with a smile.

I dare say it happens a lot if the smiles on the faces of the other customers, delighted to get a taste of their childhood, is an indication. When we ate there, that place was only opened since a few months. Let’s hope it will be there when we next visit Zagreb, so that we get a chance to try a sweet version of that dish…

 Practical information

Here is the address! For an idea of the prices, take a look at the picture of the menu above: it’s very cheap. We paid less than 100 kn (approximately 13 €) for 2.

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