Nic Freeman

Sharing the wonders of travel & everyday adventures

Everything Homemade in Petrinja, Croatia

A soft thud from the front of the house signals the fall of another petite red apple on the driveway. Our gracious host, Senad, had apologised for the scattered obstacles underfoot as we arrived from Zagreb at dusk, but we politely shushed him, secretly delighted with the novelty of freshly-fallen fruit.

home grown apples in Petrinja Croatia

After a warm welcome serve of homemade rakija, cheese and sausage, our appetites are keen and minds expanding to the idea of self sufficient food culture. But the joyful abundance of homemade delights yet to experienced in Petrinja is just too much for our westernised imaginations to foretell.

A tour of the backyard garden the next morning reveals almost enough produce to stock a store.

home grown produce in Petrinja CroatiaP1320948

home grown produce in Petrinja Croatiahome grown produce in Petrinja Croatia

home grown produce in Petrinja Croatiahome grown produce in Petrinja Croatia

“If you wish to cook anything, we have it…  everything is homemade”, smiles Senad as we stand with him and his wife, Branka, between the tangle of cherry tomatoes,  silver beet and plump pumpkins. He is holding a bunch of crooked carrots that were unearthed only moments before, and is taking us through the yard, past the herbs, beans, blackberries, cucumbers, citrus and pears.

home grown produce in Petrinja Croatiahome grown produce in Petrinja Croatia

Emerging from the rambling garden, we sit at the outdoor table, near the “Summer Kitchen” where homemade tomato sauces are created from ripened fruit and baskets of ‘homemade’ hazelnuts are stored. We drink refreshing homemade elderflower cordial, one of Branka’s favourites, and as Senad pours us another glass he offers, “I’ve got ice here… it’s homemade too”.

home grown produce in Petrinja Croatiahome grown produce in Petrinja Croatiaelderflower cordial in Petrinja Croatia

The homemade joke keeps running all week as our bellies bulge with the warm hospitality of Branka and Senad’s family and friends. Later in the week we take our garden adventures out of town, to a property owned by Senad’s family. The garden there is bigger, growing onions, potatoes, apples, chestnuts, walnuts, corn and sunflowers… all among the usual vege-patch suspects, of course.


The humble joys of growing food for the family and friends is far from lost on our hosts, and I marvel as they explain that this home grown, homemade way of life is very much a cultural norm, borne of resilient traditions and economic necessity.


As we continue to explore Petrinja and surrounds, we eat the apples from the driveway, grapes from overhead vines, little white peaches and cute baby pears from the trees out back. Almost every meal is accompanied by delicious smoked sausage, homemade by Senad’s brother, from boar hand-slain by Senad’s father. To wash it down, we drink plum rakija or current juice. We devour Branka’s grandmother’s apple strudel, formed with handmade pastry and hand-picked apples. We enjoy seconds and thirds of Senad’s mum’s marble cake, made from her very own, home grown walnuts.


When we are full of chilli cheese made by the lady down the road or  sour cherry jam or preserved peppers, we are given jars of pickles from Boro’s mother and a bottle of award-winning, 42% alcohol plum rakija from Senad’s father’s friend.


But my favourite feed of the week is the gluten-free hazelnut cake with chocolate icing, homemade by Senad’s mum with hazelnuts that grew by the back porch. The cake is served with a walnut liqueur that, amazingly, makes the world seem even sweeter.


A very heartfelt thanks to Senad and Branka for hosting us in Petrinja, and to their families and friends for welcoming us in with such warmth and cheer. Your kindness and hospitality meant the world, and visiting you, eating your delightful food and learning about Petrinja was a real highlight! We hope to repay your hospitality when you visit us in the future.


15 comments on “Everything Homemade in Petrinja, Croatia

  1. Our Adventure in Croatia
    November 23, 2012

    great photos, everything looks delicious and so fresh, I feel like I am there myself 🙂

    • Nic Freeman
      November 24, 2012

      Thanks! I had such a good time exploring that garden. Fresh garden produce always makes me more connected with the world.

  2. jeseris
    November 23, 2012

    Lovely post, Nic. I would love to live like this!

    • Nic Freeman
      November 24, 2012

      Thanks Jeseris, me too! I had the happy fortune of growing up on a bit of property in the countryside of NSW, Australia, and being sent to milk the cows, pick the herbs and collect the eggs each day. It was wonderful. It is something I would love to recreate in the future, in my now metropolitan home.

  3. simphonyblue
    November 23, 2012

    great photos! great post,congrats!

    • Nic Freeman
      November 24, 2012

      Thanks SB – glad you enjoyed. Thanks for reading 🙂

    November 24, 2012

    Oh My I Wish I Was At The Table. Everything sounded and looked amazing! My mouth is watering. I love the fruit that has fallen and slightly warmed by the earth. I think it’s juicier then 🙂 exactly how Mother Earth intended it.

    • Nic Freeman
      November 24, 2012

      I wish I was back there! I salivated a lot while putting this post together this week, and have been having cravings for fresh produce since! I think you’re right… it always tastes better when it is fresh, straight from the earth.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. ReadyClickAndGo
    November 24, 2012

    Strudla looks fantastic!

  6. The Mind of RD Revilo
    November 25, 2012

    Reblogged this on RD Revilo.

  7. bakess
    December 1, 2012

    I’m an Australian soon-be international airhostess. I hope one day I will be able to visit here, it looks so so so beautiful!! xx

    • Nic Freeman
      December 10, 2012

      Hi Bakess, Thanks for reading! Congratulations on going international. I’m sure you’ll have lots of adventures between flights. Nic

  8. Pingback: Travel. Food. Photo. Croatia. « Nic Freeman

  9. Pingback: Gratitude for a Wonderful Year of 2012 Travel Adventures « Nic Freeman

  10. Pingback: Idyllic Croatia: A photo walk through memories | Nic Freeman

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This entry was posted on November 22, 2012 by in Travel and tagged , , , , , .

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