Flavours of the Adriatic: Šurlice Pasta
In the second installment of our food series, we’re leaving Vis and heading up north to one of Kvarner’s precious – Krk island.
Krk is widely known as the island of lamb. They love it so much, they organise lamb-themed food festivals on the regular; the past two months have seen both the Black Sheep (Crna ovca) manifestation and the Days of Lamb and Cheese, and more than ten towns on the island participated in the gastro bacchanalia with lamb and wine galore.
Writing about lamb as Krk’s trademark might leave a substantial number of other communities a bit angry, though, as it can’t be deemed exclusive to one place in Croatia. We’ll leave the lamb on the spit to roast for a while, and focus on a side dish that can really be called indigenous to Krk: šurlice!
Šurlice are a type of pasta similar to Istrian fuži; the pasta dough is rolled out, cut into small pieces, each flattened by hand and then wrapped around a thick knitting needle. I mean, don’t feel any pressure to dig around for knitting needles in particular as any type of needle will do, but seeing that homemade pasta is traditionally made by local grandmas who are sure to have knitting equipment at hand at all times, I guess that’s the first thing that comes to mind.
Forming a long tube-like shape by rolling some dough around a needle sounds easy, right? It’s not. It’s actually one of those things that seem simple as someone else is doing them, but the second you try your hand at repeating the task, you fail miserably and scorn yourself for being overconfident. Perfect šurlice come with years of practice, and that’s what I love the most about traditional cuisine: you can create wonders with a few humble ingredients (oil, flour, eggs + some water and salt), but becoming a pro takes a lifetime.
Why the name šurlice, you ask? The resulting cylindrical shape might remind you of an elephant’s trunk, called surla or surlica in Croatian. Sprinkle them with a bit of local dialect, and voila – šurlice. It’s a local favourite, and no festive occasion on the island can go without the beloved pasta.
Back to lamb now: šurlice are a perfect kind of pasta to pair with thick delicious sauces, as their hollow shape enables the sauce to cover the pasta entirely. If you end up on Krk, some juicy lamb stew served with šurlice should be your first pick – ask for a piece of sheep milk cheese that’s locally produced, grate a generous dose onto your stew, then grate some more ’cause you only live once. Pair with Vrbnička žlahtina wine to round up a perfect Krk meal, and enjoy!
Image source: Pixabay