|Wandering through Diocletian's Palace, we marvelled that this 4th-century building -- as much fortress as residence, clearly, is still being used today, housing shops and restaurants, and comprising a good chunk of old-city Split|
Naps were generally more hope than reality, but she would catch a few winks when being carted by her very patient (and strong!) Mama and Papa. And while she's not one for sitting still, we managed dinners at restaurants, in large part because Croatians are almost as charmed by children as Italians are, and because her folks, like so many parents, have a few food-ordering tricks up their sleeves.
|Yep, still in Diocletian's palace. Can you spot my four ahead?|
But our second night in Split, we miscalculated in our late afternoon ambling, and all of a sudden, it was 7:00, we were in the very pleasant, well-touristed area of Diocletian's Palace, and we agreed the restaurants there weren't the best for visiting with a very active kid. We had in mind a place we'd passed the previous evening, and we decided we'd aim in that direction for an 8:00 arrival. Indeed, we pulled up in front of the restaurant about 8:15, Little Girl running off immediately to the playground just across the lane, the rest of us happy to see there was a table just adjacent to that playground. The table wasn't set yet, but surely we could prevail on our server to make it available, if only to keep the active kid out of his path. . . .
It would have been perfect, but sadly, the only work the server was doing, standing in front of the restaurant, was advising hopeful diners that "Something had happened in the kitchen," and there would be no meals coming out of it that evening.
Okay, so now it's 8:15, and by the time we pull The Active One away from the swing set it's almost 8:30, and although she hasn't registered hunger yet, we suspect that when she does, the need will be conveyed loudly, perhaps even vehemently. . . . And we've moved past the most obvious cluster of likely spots . . .
Luckily, we quickly come up with a Plan B, a restaurant closer to our temporary home, considerably more upscale and hence one that we were "saving" for the following evening, perhaps even one Nana and Granddad might have sent the recent newlyweds off to, keeping Little Girl home with us -- Restoran Dvor, which features a series of terraces working their way down alongside the path to the sea, each terrace dotted with settings of attractive white tables and lacy white chairs.
That didn't last too long, but first Nana, then Granddad, took her for a stroll down the path to the beach, and back up. (She squawked, squealed a bit, in protest at being taken away from Mama and Papa, but both Granddad and I know how to move quickly and explain firmly and distract convincingly. . . and then the lure of the beach . . . )
Back at our table, her next diversion was clambering from her chair to rustle the stones from the gravel carpeting the terrace. Throwing them was quickly declared a no-no, and that was a big disappointment (I began to understand why my daughter isn't a fan of eating out with this girl, but on the other hand, none of the other diners seemed to notice and our server struck up a parent-to-parent talk, comparing notes on Twos and Fours). When Nana found a fine-tip marker in her bag, many, many small rocks were given primitive faces. . .
The food that arrived first, though, was my bowl of deliriously green soup adorned by pea sprouts dancing atop a soft egg. So much there to trigger a Child's skepticism. Quite hot, as well, so before I offered her a spoonful, we played up the drama of blowing to cool it down. Then carefully moving the spoon to her lips, I watched her tentatively sip a tiny portion, then wrap her mouth around the bowl of the spoon to swallow the rest with a contended sigh. "Peas," she surprised me by declaring. I hadn't said what kind of soup it was, but the bright taste of the fresh vegetables obviously spoke for itself.
After that first spoonful, I could barely manage to get in a slurp or two before getting her next cooled-down mouthful ready. At one point, she said quite firmly, "Basta, Nana, basta." (Have I mentioned she's well on her way to bilingualism?) I thought she was telling me she'd had enough, but no, apparently -- as I found when I directed the next spoonful toward my gullet, this baby bird was telling her feeder that Nana had had enough. Leave the rest for Hungry Girl. . .
We lingered for another hour or two that evening, enjoying a beautiful bottle of Croatian red, and then a second. Delicious course followed delicious course as the full moon rose in the sky, emerging from behind one tree, crossing over to hide behind another. Swallows swooped, hurling their fierce insect-eating cries all 'round us, and bats darted their dark ghosts through the twilight skies. We planned future visits and celebrated how much we'd enjoyed this one. And finally, Papa hoisted Little Girl against his chest and we wandered up the hill, and home. . . .
And back at home, remembering that meal, I decided that I wanted to recreate that pea soup. Pater and I shared my first attempt last week, and we both agree that it was a success. I'll have to try it out on the grandkids here, to see if they like it as much as their Italian cousin, and I'm still playing a bit with recipes. But next week, I'll share the simple instructions I followed for my first batch, along with some serving suggestions and an idea for using up any leftovers.
And here we are, bottom of the page, so it must be comments time. Memorable meals in faraway places? Or eating out, with kids or grandkids? Or memories of Split, if you've been? Three-generation outings? Fresh pea soups you have known? Or just a wave, to let me know you were here. . . Always happy to hear from you. (oh, but may I just say -- if you comment at the Bloglovin' site, I may not see your comment and I'm very unlikely to respond to it. I'd much prefer that you click through to my actual website, if you don't mind)