At Last…Online Grocery Delivery!

At Last…Online Grocery Delivery!

We’re very used to getting in the car and driving to the supermarket. We’re not lazy – it’s just we’ve had no alternative. We live in a small village and although it has four very renowned restaurants, it has no shop, Once we’d arrived here, four and a half years ago – the reality hit us pretty quickly. We’d been used to popping out of the house and crossing Burton Road, and there we were – at the West Didsbury Co-op. Larger supermarkets were a drive away, and we thought that going to Sainsbury’s in Cheadle was very convenient – but, we’ve now realised that we could be sitting in a traffic jam on the A34, putting ages onto a 5km journey, there and back. Now, we travel to Umag or Novigrad or Porec or Pula – the longest journey being an hour to Pula, but we also get to experience city life or eat in a harbourside restaurant, or outside the Roman ampitheatre. Don’t think Cheadle can top that! Going the other way, we also shop in Koper (on the Slovenian coast) or Trieste – 40 minutes to get there, and no traffic jams, just rolling hills, vineyards, the Adriatic coast…

But, I’ve been trying to find an online grocery delivery service for ages, because sometimes you just want a bit of convenience. And, a chance visit to our local council offices in Oprtalj turned up the most wonderful thing. Leaflets for an online delivery service. But no ordinary delivery service…

Primarily aimed at holiday makers, and from the company behind many of the boutique hotels, resorts and campsites in Istria – Valamar – online deliveries are now available all year round, and to residential addresses, as far as Opatija and even Krk Island on the west coast of the peninsula. We obviously had to give the service a whirl, and so last week we were back in the familiar world of online grocery shopping.

What we loved immediately about this service was the fact that they use local producers to source all of the groceries. So, all meats, cheeses, breads, wines, olive oil, fruit and veg are sourced from within Istria – and largely from family small holdings and farms. Fresh fish is caught off the coast. This definitely ticked our provenance boxes, and as we have to drive a lot by necessity, it felt like we were able to give a little bit back. The website is in English as well as Croatian, so the ordering process was very easy. The only glitch occurred at the payment stage because we needed a code from our bank and their app is not the easiest to navigate. PBZ, take note, please. A quick call to Valfresco customer services sorted it all, and I was just advised to select the cash payment option and pay the driver on acceptance of the delivery, until we’d sorted the code with the bank. The next day, the van arrived, loaded with our goodies…

Everything we ordered was delivered – no replacements. Although there was some use of plastic, most veg was wrapped in paper or in wooden crates. Everything was fresh and in excellent condition. And for just over 500kunas (roughly £55), we had a LOT of produce.

I ordered a veg box, not reading the details about what was included (lesson learned for next time) and ordered more garlic, onions and potatoes. We now have a glut of these veg and are having to think creatively about how to use them! Lots of meals are now including roasted potatoes, onions and garlic, but we’ve made a huge vat of minestrone soup and frozen it, and have roasted a tonne of garlic bulbs, which are now sitting in ice cube trays in the freezer, ready to be tossed into meals…

We rarely eat meat, but sometimes a spicy chicken curry, in particular, hits the spot. The chicken fillets looked worth an investigation and we both agreed that when cooked, it was about the very best chicken we’d tasted. Very obvious that this wasn’t factory produced, pumped with water and goodness knows what else. So, there was only one thing to make – a chicken curry with jasmine basmati rice…

For friends and family who live in the UK, this probably doesn’t seem too much of a momentous occasion – but it is. It’s another step towards a life which is becoming increasingly easier, as we continue to find out more about Istria – and as our house is for sale, it’s another little tip we can pass onto the new owners. (And, as an added bonus, Valamar Direkt also deliver prepped meals from partner restaurants – all you need to do is pop them in the oven. In the interests of research, we’re going to have to do this…)