Restaurant “Bujol” invites you to taste the bakala (dried and salted cod) made by our grandmothers
“Bujol”, one of the more authentic Izola restaurants is located in the famous Manzioli Square.The concept of the restaurant is based on a simple manner of preparing and presenting local food. The food from Izola which is the most traditional food in the region. They are still following the principle they started with ten years ago: no additives or preservatives are added to the food. The goal of the restaurant is namely to present authentic gastronomy and the way life in Izola used to be. We spoke to its owner Alen Pušpan.
»Bujol means a bucket (other traditional words are also šič and štenjak); in this restaurant, bujoli were part of an interesting story. We wanted to open our restaurant in December 2008. Just before the opening, however, Izola experienced disastrous floods. The restaurant was flooded by the sea and everything was floating in about one metre of water. The place looked like a boat filled with water. And, of course, we also used bujoli to empty it.«
How would you describe your cooking style?
Our cooking style is extremely simple: since all of our food is traditional, we make dishes our mothers and grandmothers used to prepare. These are extremely simple dishes. Personally, I believe that this is what makes our kitchen so magical. We undoubtedly base our style on fresh food, especially fish caught daily at sea.
We also follow the principle to immediately transfer onto the plate everything caught at sea.
Where do you buy your ingredients?
We try to work towards being connected to local fishermen, meaning that we buy our fish directly from them. In times of scarcity, however, we obviously help ourselves with different networks and buy fish from the fish market. We swear by using local, home-grown ingredients, which is why we also collaborate with our mussel farmers.
Which is the most typical dish in your restaurant?
We place a lot of emphasis on small pelagic fish. A lot of people avoid this type of fish: a lot of work goes into its preparation, since it is harder to clean, prepare, store, and maintain.
»One simply cannot prepare fish without olive oil and good Malvasia; of course, we cannot forget the salt from the Piran saltpans. All these ingredients are intrinsically linked.«
How did you prepare your menu?
The menu basically made itself: we just transferred our home cuisine into the restaurant. Each and every guest from the Primorska region who decides to visit us will immediately feel like home while eating our food. However, the genuine spirit of home will surely also take over tourists and visitors.
You mentioned wine before: in your opinion, which wine goes best with your cuisine?
As far as wine is concerned, we also went back to basics; the queen of our restaurant is Malvasia, the simplest glass we recommend with fish. It goes perfectly with white fish and pelagics alike. Otherwise, I love orange wines, meaning wines that have been ripened in a different process. Orange wines are somewhat heavier and more complex; however, fish can also withstand such strong flavour.
What do you feel is the key to satisfying your guests?
All aspects are extremely important: first, one has to offer a quality experience, meaning fresh produce and well-prepared food. The people that are involved in catering are also extremely important. One of our great advantages, however, is certainly our location: our restaurant overlooks a famous Izola square and a magnificent church which all of our guests find impressive.
»Tourists have an increasingly developed eating culture. They yearn for good, quality home-made food. What they eat is important to them.«
White bakala and anchovies in lemon juice
300 g of dried cod
200ml of olive oil
100–300ml of water
3 garlic cloves
a pinch of salt
Anchoves in lemon juice
200g of anchovies
a pinch of salt
a pinch of pepper
Soak the dried cod in lukewarm water for 24 hours. Next cook it with basic spices used to prepare soup. Cool it, drain it and clean it by removing the flesh from the bones. Mince the flesh in a bowl with a wooden hammer (in a manner similar to what we do with spices in a mortar), add some olive oil (the oil has to be added intuitively, until the flesh can no longer absorb it) and the soup used to cook the dried cod. Next, season: freshly minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Mince and mix again, adding the ingredients until a spread is formed.
Anchoves in lemon juice
Clean fresh anchovies, open their bellies and remove the bone in the middle, leaving only a fillet in the form of a butterfly. Soak the fillet in natural lemon juice. Continue layer by layer: add salt and pepper, if needed, and repeat twice or three times. Leave it to stand for 24 hours in order for the fillet to develop its taste. Then, put it into concentrated lemon juice (1/3 of water, 2/3 of lemon juice), adding a few pinches of pepper. After 6–7 days, the dish is ready. Until then, keep it in a dry place.