Maxine Clayman is a travel writer and editor of the blog My Hidden Gems. In the next in our World In London series she meets Croatian born Ana-Maria Volaric who explains why it’s her mission to bring a taste of Croatia to London.
“Last year my husband Chris and I decided to set up D’Issa, a company selling exclusively Croatian produce.
“I’ve lived in London now for 24 years and I’m married to a North Londoner. I’m originally from Zagreb and I still feel incredibly connected to my roots. I wanted to draw on my knowledge and passion for Croatian culture and introduce Londoners and visitors to the capital to Croatian food.
“Currently we’re the only Croatian retailer in the UK. We have a stall in Borough Market and we also sell to Fortnum & Mason and a couple of specialist delis in London. Our merchandise is quite high end, which may surprise a lot of people, as Croatia isn’t a country that’s necessarily associated with quality cuisine.
“There are only around 2,000 Croats living in London so our food is still relatively new to people. My aim is to educate Londoners about one of the best-kept gastronomic secrets Europe has to offer. For instance, it might come as a surprise to discover that some of the finest truffles in the world can be found in Istria, Croatia.
“Our fig products are proving incredibly popular with Londoners. Smokvenjak is a traditional Croatian fig cake made from dried figs, almonds, lemon juice, raisins, rosemary and sage. It’s packed with natural energy, so it’s good for athletes, and you can use it as a base for canapés, with cheese or ham.
“Pumpkin seed oil is another unique item that we stock. It’s got a wonderfully nutty flavour and is great for roasting and marinating meats. But my top tip is to drizzle it over vanilla ice-cream. Delicious.”
Visit D’Issa at Borough Market on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in the Jubilee Market area. www.dissa.co.uk