Gluten Free Montenegro

I was a bit absentminded before we left for Montenegro. I ran out of time with everything going on and did not do any gluten free restaurant searching or worse, I didn’t even prepare restaurant cards in the local languages, which could range from Montenegrin, Serbian, Croatian, Russian, Albanian, Bosnian… there were usually five or six languages on every pack in groceries and none of them were English!

When we first arrived on Sunday, we bought some emergency supplies at a convenience store on the way to Lipci because we weren’t sure what would be open on a Sunday and I needed a gluten free breakfast at home on Monday morning before our rafting trip.

Navigating the first grocery was a little terrifying because everything was so foreign and the language was incomprehensible to try and figure out what gluten, wheat, etc would be. Still, we stuck to known basics like polenta, rice, lentils, meat, and yogurt.

Later on that day we realized most groceries were open and throughout our visit we found that they actually carry a lot more gluten free cereal than we have at home, which we enjoyed a lot during the mornings at the flat. We also ran into a place selling a bunch of Schär products, so we picked up some bread for me to take rafting on Monday, which came in handy because the rafting company provided both breakfast and lunch and it was nice to supplement the none safe bread with my own.

With our own kitchenette at home, we did a fair amount of home cooking, having lentils and sausages one night, rice and pork another, and so on, but after diving on our second day there, we stopped for lunch in Budva since we wouldn’t visit it again later with the hour drive from our flat.

We actually just visited a restaurant next to the dive center that they recommended, called Konoba Langust, because we were hungry and we received a 10% discount coming from the dive center. Prices were pretty touristy, but the food was alright.The restaurant was sat right at the beach, which was nice to look out onto, plus the restaurant was really cute and had a wonderful Mediterranean feel.Without a restaurant card to show the waiter my restrictions, plus the pretty dismal knowledge of what gluten even is in Montenegro, I decided to go safe and order a risotto dish with shrimp. I did ask if it had any flour in it, because you never know, and he assured me it didn’t. Who knows if he actually knew what flour means, but I did not get sick the whole trip, even when some waiters were really clueless or confused what I was asking.After that lunch we headed to Sveti Stefan to see it before heading home from Budva and it was sooo hot, we just had to stop for an iced coffee at Hotel Adrovic.The coffee was pretty expensive, closer to Zurich standards, but the view was magnificent.After our rafting and diving days, we had several stay-at-home days to relax and enjoy the swimming across the street. Snacks and drinks were included everyday. 🙂In the evenings, we often cooked at home and enjoyed the amazing mountain view from the balcony. I always like eating at home on holidays without good public transport because then Kay can enjoy alcoholic beverages as well without driving my butt around as the designated driver.

One night he made pork chops with sauteed onions and peppers, served with a side of rice. It was pretty darn yummy and sooo much food.We didn’t always eat at home. A couple nights we ventured out for meals in the nearby towns. After all, Kay would spot coastal restaurants like the Tramotana beach bar and want to try them out.It was wonderful how even with high 30ºs C/90ºs F, the night would cool to the low 20ºs C/70ºs F. It was the perfect for sitting outside at night without overheating.

At Tramotana we had local cured meat and cheese with olives for our appetizer. Very Mediterranean and after this, we bought some similar meat and cheese in a grocery to eat on the balcony at home.This was a place that had no idea what gluten was, but I again explained “No bread! No flour!” although I really don’t think he knew what flour is, but he was a very attentive waiter since we arrived earlier than most Montenegrins usually do and he always made sure we were taken care of. The food turned out fine and I ordered this delicious octopus dish for my main. Later in the week we had reservations at Ćatovića Mlini, which we knew would be rather expensive for Montenegro, but it had good reviews and was close to Lipci. It seemed like an oasis of wealth compared to the surrounding area. It was one of the few places that looked really well kept and was beautiful.

We had come earlier in the week and booked a table outside for Friday evening to get a spot outside,  but even despite booking in person, they lost our reservation and just sat us at a last table next to the water, which was nice… but that path was also used by a huge group of Russian guests (30+) with many children running forth and back right next to us. That got a little annoying by the end of dinner.For a  starter I ordered mussels to make sure I got enough of them on this trip. I really adore them hot. In German, there is no word distinction between oysters and mussels… black and grey, so I always am a bit tripping what to call them in English.For the main, Kay and I both ordered the same: black risotto with truffle sauce, fresh fish, and shrimp. It was heavenly! I almost wanted to come back again just to order it twice. 🙂For dessert I ordered flambeed pineapple with a cream and ice cream topping. It looked a little strange, but the taste was also amazing with the carmelization.The last place we went for dinner was Aquarius in Herceg Novi, which also had a wonderful seaside view.Our waiter here spoke better German than English, so we went with that. I ordered mussels one last time, this time for Kay and I to share, even though he is not the biggest fan of seafood, and he really liked these ones with a lovely tomato sauce. It was almost like a soup.After the mussels, Kay went for steak (boo!) and I went for the catch of the day with potatoes. It was a salt crusted fish. I am not a big fan of avoiding really small bones during a meal, but the taste was worth it.We really miss out on fresh fish back in Switzerland, so it’s always nice to get some when we are out and about.

It was a nice combination of cooking and eating out with the kitchen at home and the bonus of being so close to the sea was that I could pop up and grab snacks and cold drinks during the day.

Montenegrin food is in line with the whole Mediterranean diet in the region. Lots of fresh fish, fresh flavors, and several options for those suffering celiac disease. I did not get sick one time and have gotten fairly confident with ordering things on the fly even without restaurant cards explaining my illness, but then again I do not react as strongly as others might.

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