One of the most important aspects when travelling for me is food. I live to eat, and whenever I travel, I love hunting down places that serve authentic, delicious local food. Without paying tourist prices, of course! So when BonAppetour approached me with their unique platform that connects travellers with local home chefs - I replied with a huge, resounding "yes"!
BonAppetour's concept is simple - hosts around the world offer meals, cooking classes and other cultural experiences such as market tours and wine tastings while guests simply choose a host they like and book a meal / class / experience with them. It is the best way to experience the local culture, enjoy local food and make some new friends!
We found a host in Montenegro, and booking a date is easy and straightforward. We exchanged a few messages with the hosts, Daliborka and Slavo, regarding food allergies and the exact location and in just a few weeks, we found ourselves at one of the most beautiful dinner settings ever:
The dining location was situated right next to their shell farm, where Daliborka and Slavo grow oysters, mussels and clams. Daliborka and Slavo are a loving, friendly and warm couple who made us feel welcomed the moment we arrived. As it was nearing the end of summer when we visited, the weather was a bit windy and chilly, so we all started with a shot of homemade schnaps, a strong liquor but smooth and effective in warming us up.
As Daliborka and Slavo prepared our main courses, we started off with fresh shellfish platter - all of these are directly from their shell farm, so it's impossible to get any fresher than these! The shellfish tasted so sweet and good - the clams were my favourite.
Daliborka and Slavo meet up with their friends often during summer at their shell farm for food and drinks, so the small hut next to their shell farm is also equipped with all the cooking equipment and tools. Unfortunately, the wind was so strong that day that Slavo had to cook inside the hut instead of outdoors - but that's not stopping me from checking out what he's cooking!
Buzara is a seafood stew cooked in white wine with garlic, parsley and sometimes tomatoes and served with bread to soak up the sweet juices from the stew. We had eaten quite a bit of buzara during our trip in Balkans but the one made by Slavo was so fresh, so sweet and so delicious that all of us stopped talking and just kept digging in.
By the time we finished the buzara, we were all already ¾ full, but then came the next dish - a paella that is full of mussels, clams and goodness.
The wind died down a little as the sun sets, so Slavo prepared the last dish outdoor - deep-fried small fishes! (I'm not sure if they are smelt, so I'm just gonna stick to the term small fishes.) Even though I was already stuffed, I couldn't resist fried food and actually ate quite a bit... oops!
We were enjoying the deep-fried small fishes and wine, and chatting with Daliborka and Slavo when we ran out of wine - so Slavo head out to the sea to haul up a bottle of wine for us. Yes you didn't read it wrong! Daliborka and Slavo's homemade wine are stored under the sea to age!
The lack of light and constant temperature under the sea creates an ideal environment for wine to be preserved and to be aged. Apparently some find that wine aged under the sea tasted better than those aged on land!
The opportunity to interact with a local is priceless and these are the experiences that one will never forget for life - just like our réttir (sheep-herding) with the locals in Iceland and how we stayed with the locals after we locked ourselves out of our car. And that's why I think BonAppetour is an excellent platform which enhances travellers' experiences - be it learning how to make new dishes or bonding over a delicious meal!
Full disclosure: We were hosted by BonAppetour for the dinner, but our delicious and memorable times with our hosts, Daliborka and Slavo, are our own!
You may want to check out what else we did in Montenegro and our Balkans itinerary!