Back to Balkan

A day off work during the week is a magical thing.

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What to do? Chores that don’t get done during the week? Nap? Brunch? Absolutely nothing for no reason at all?

When blessed with such a day, I couldn’t help but take advantage. Last Wednesday was my dad’s birthday, and I had grand plans of bringing him cake. Sadly, Frankie had the misfortune of being shipped out to the desert for work, so I took it upon myself to enjoy his birthday on his behalf. You know, because I’m a good daughter and all that.

The team from DividoĀ put out the call on Twitter, inviting people to their latest round of Back to Balkans dinners. Because I’m not an idiot, I was the first to put my hand up, and because they are polite and delightful, they said yes! Kindly, they also extended their invitation to my mum so we could enjoy an awesome birthday dinner, minus the birthday boy himself.

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The Back to Balkan feasts are a celebration ofĀ all delicious things from the region, with a focus on Croatia and Macedonia. The concept came about as the chefs told stories of their favourite foods from their family homelands – comparing the individualĀ tweaks made from home to home. So, the decision was made to have regular dinners showcasing the dishes that felt like home. If you know anything about me, it’s that I love the kinds of dishes that remind you of home, no matter where that is. It means that you’re cooking from the heart, and that’s only ever a good thing.

A lucky twist of fate had us sitting at a table with Jacqui from Pantry in Suburbia, who is a fabulous dining partner when all the meals are designed to share.

The entreesĀ began with a light chicken soup, subtly flavoured with lemon. It’s incredibly warming and comforting, reminiscent of something your nonna would make you when you’re sick.

This was quickly followed by a charcuterieĀ board full of interesting meats – the dried beef is akin to a soft jerky.

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The spicy Croatian sausage were a clear winner on our table, full of punchy flavours.

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I loved the home-made pastry filled with mushrooms, feta and onion, gently sweet and juicy.

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We wasted absolutely no time polishing off everything in front of us, and I ran my eye over the table more than once to see if we had missed any morsels.

Sharing plates is perfect when you’re trying new things – there’s no meal envy!

I wouldn’t have chosen the seafood stew, but I was pleased to find it full of plump mussels and clams.

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The wood roasted pig from the LinleyĀ Valley was utterly fantastic. Soft, juicy meat, complete with crispy skin. It was well worth the trip to DividoĀ justĀ  for the pig, which we unilaterally agreed was the best in Perth. Get thee to Mount Hawthorn, stat.

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Here’s Dan the Macedonian Chef (I’m pretty sure he answers to that), giving that amazing Ā pork a quick run under a torch, just to make sure the skin is extra crispy. It was awesome to be allowed in the kitchen and see the guys work together seamlessly.

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Dessert (always my favourite part of any meal) came full circle in the comfort stakes.

Have I told you how much I love rice pudding? Because I really love rice pudding. In particular, I loveĀ thisĀ rice pudding. Jacqui’s partner was full by this stage, so I may have eaten his. And some of mum’s too.

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The rice pudding was servedĀ along side delicate sweet pastries and apple cake.

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The service at DividoĀ is nothing short of exceptional. I prefer to beĀ left alone, while others like to beĀ waited on hand and foot, and I find that Divido strikes a nice balance. They’re also one of the few ‘nice’ restaurants that are open on a Monday, where they also do Champagne Mondays – which is pretty great value if you ask me.

The next round of dinners is due to beĀ held in early October – you can sign up to their mailing list at Divido.com.au for news and updates, and I suggest you do, because they book up pretty quickly!

**Dinner was paidĀ for by the lovely team at Divido (and I thank them for it!), but this review is still objectiveĀ and I would definitely go back and spend my own money (hell, I already have) – it’s worth it.

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