FOODIE FRIDAY — If you travel through the Balkans by motorbike or car, you will often see roadside farm stands of varying size and stature. We saw them in almost every country through which we traveled, it seemed that the most farm stands were by far in Croatia and Bosnia.
Farm Stand Honey
If I can be so bold – every single roadside farm stand had honey for sale; many of the farm stands had cheese as well, but honey was the staple. Although the labels on most of the jars were in the native language, through broken English, hand gestures, and some crude stick drawings, we were able to discern that there were many different honey types based on the type of plants the bees were pollinating in the region. They included clover, citrus, buckwheat, wildflower, sage, etc. It seemed as though it was a gimmick, but in sampling each of the flavors, some genuinely tasted like the plant from which they said the honey was made.
We debated stopping at one of these local farm stands because frankly we don’t have much room to store anything on the motorbike when we travel. That being said, we felt we would really regret not stopping and picking up something to enjoy, perhaps on our catamaran cruise of the Dalmatian Coast which was quickly approaching. I think we were also encouraged to stop because we had driven by so many stands on our way to Plitvice Lakes but ran into a dry spell on our way out. So we stopped at one of the most humble ones we had seen. There was a really nice gentleman farmer operating his stand that day. We selected two cheeses he had made on his farm from his cows and sheep. We picked a hard, aged, strong sheep cheese, and a softer, somewhat milder cow cheese. Although he spoke about 5 words of English, he was super nice and let us sample every variety of honey to pick the right one. He also explained all of the honey at his stand were from bees he owns and for which he cares. Because we’re able to get lots of varieties of honey where we live (San Diego, CA), the one we selected was called Borovina, a taste we have not found in the US and only once during our travels, in Italy.
Our favorite “honey” though I don’t think it was truly a honey, is something they called Borovina. It has the consistency of honey, but with a distinct but subtle pine essence. We sampled something similar when visiting Rebecca’s cousin in Milan which they bought at a shop in the mountains where they have a home in Fondovalle, in the Italian Alps. I didn’t like it at first, but now I am a huge fan of it. It’s very tasty but not overwhelming. If you can imagine honey but with a hint of the smell and flavor of pine needles; it is truly unique and should be on every foodie’s list.
Other Farm Stand Products
On our way out of Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, we came across another roadside stand that we could not pass up. It was a bit bigger than most of the others we saw and with a big “Home Made Products” sign adorning a bright yellow shack, I was reminded for some reason of our travels to Jamaica, the shack was that bright. The older gentleman running the stand was very gregarious; he was very engaging and helpful without being pushy. He really seemed like he wanted to make sure we were happy with the right selections so we could tell our neighbors, just a super nice guy. In addition to honey for sale, he had all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables, bundles of hanging garlic and peppers, a wide selection of dried fruits, and bottles of olive oil. I’m really glad we travel by motorbike, because I’m sure I would have bought a lot more. As it was, we bought some honey and more Borovina so we could bring some of the tastes of the Balkans back home to our family in America.