I've somehow made my way to Zagreb, Croatia and almost as quickly, I have made my way to their iconic dessert.
Croatia has been on my list of places to visit for quite some time. Why? I honestly can’t say. After I left for college, my parents and sister hosted a Croatian exchange student who was, through my few interactions, very nice. All I remember speaking to her about was Croatia's love of meats and maybe motorcycles.
Prior to leaving for my 24 hour trip to Croatia I researched a few things - their currency (it's not the euro), the language(s) they speak, and of course, where to eat. Sadly I came up slightly short on baked goods but there is one item that stands out; Kremsnita or cream cake.
After taking the Flix Bus at 6:30 am with a gaggle of sleep-deprived youths who had clearly been on this bus over night, I set out to explore Croatia's capital city.
Arriving at the city center, I found a farmers market that I'm told has been there since c.1930. The market was filled with locals and plenty of produce. I should also probably mention that the temperature hovered near 95 degrees, so sharing close quarters with the people (and the flies) in this farmer’s market gave me a good excuse to go find a coffee.
Away from the crowds and sun, strolling through Zagreb's cobblestone alleys happily caffeinated, I made my way to lunch; meat. "Grandpa's Special" did not disappoint. Karla, if you're reading this, thank you for informing me of the meats. A large beer and at least 70g of protein later I was ready to walk again, this time with a mission to find cream cake.
I took my time walking down from the upper town to the lower town where cafes are situated in the middle of every street. Thus, I stumbled upon Vibcek Slastičarnica: Tradition & Quality Since 1977. The facade of this cafe is ever-intriguing, not because of it's glitzy store front, but rather the opposite. I've spent many years in search of pies and baked goods with No More Mr. Nice Pie. When I see an understated bakery, I can spot it a continent away.
I hurried across one of Zagreb's most iconic streets avoiding StraßenBahns in each direction (because finding baked goods is my favorite sport).
10 Kurns later ($1.60) I have what appears to be a block of the densest dessert I've ever encountered in front of me. However, the look of the cake is as deceiving as the cafe's understated storefront - it is as light as a cloud. My fork has no trouble slicing through a thin layer of chocolate followed by a light cream, a clotted cheese, and finally shattering a layer of phyllo dough. I cannot stress how light this cake is. It's almost like a whipped-cream-weighted cheesecake. I am a happy guy. Sustained by a slice of Kremsnita, I set out to find my hotel in 96 degree weather.