This is the blog for Matt Hollingsworth. I'm from Ojai, California. I've worked in comics for 22 years as a color artist.

This blog will largely be used to show my daily life as I live in Samobor, Croatia and as I travel around the region. Lots and lots of photos! Leave me a comment, will you?

All content on this blog is copyright 2013 Matthew Dale Hollingsworth and cannot be copied or used for any purpose without my consent.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ah, Celis White.

This is some tasty, tasty beer. For folks who like Hoegaarden, this is similar, but MUCH much more flavorful. And it was created by the same man who created Hoegaarden, Pierre Celis.

To make a long story a bit shorter; Pierre Celis created Hoegaarden in 1966, opening the brewery in his native Belgium. He had been lamenting the fact that large scale lager production was taking over and the old style of Belgian White Beers was disappearing. So, he opened a brewery and set about selling white beer, Hoegaarden.

His venture become very successful over time. His brewery had a major fire in 1985, was under insured and he sold a controlling stake to Artois, which later become InterBrew, then InBev. This is a major corporation and they reportedly wanted to introduce cost saving measures and high gravity brewing, changing the recipe and affecting the quality of Hoegaarden. Celis sold his remaining 40% stake in the company.

He later started up a new brewery in Austin, Texas and again set about making white beer, this one called Celis White, starting in 1992. Unfortunately, his financial partners in the business sold a controlling stake to Miller Brewing, who, like Artois/InterBrew, set about meddling in the recipe and trying to introduce cost cutting measures, thus repeating history and affecting the flavor of the beer.

Miller bought the remaining shares in 2000, then closed the brewery in 2001. Then Celis White was gone for a while.

But now it's back!

The rights to the name and recipe were bought in the States by Michigan Brewing:

Michigan Brewing

And in Europe, it's brewed by Van Steenberge:

Brouwerij Van Steenberge

And, Hop Devil, the beer place in the blog below, has the Van Steenberge version. It's similar to Hoegaarden, but with ten times as much flavor. It's just a much, much better beer. And so, it's a real joy to drink. I'm happy to see the Celis name and beer revived in a proper manner so people can drink a truly delicious white beer. If you have the chance to try this beer, do not pass it up! And don't drink the draft beer. Buy the bottle, pour 90% of it, then shake it up to get that yeast mixed up and pour the yeast into your glass. Much tastier this way.

In Depth Information on the History of Celis

Tasting notes.

Real Ale making more Celis beers.

First off, apologies for the low quality photos. I tried a new setting on my camera, for low light, and it sucks. The regular settings actually work better in low light. These newer settings really pixelate the photos, so I've had to upload lower res versions to try to hide that fact. Oh well, live and learn!

Anyway, Nara and I went to one of our favorite beer places last night; Hop Devil. It's in this mall near the main train station in the center of Zagreb. If you're here and wanna go, it's the one with the Cinestar theaters and it's near the Sheraton. The pub is downstairs on the basement floor.

This place has something like 75 Belgian beers on their menu. Many, many great beers including some classics like Rochefort, Westmalle, Duvel and many, many others. It's by far the largest selection of beers I've seen in Croatia thus far.

We joined Nara's friend Maja and her boyfriend Emir and had a great time hanging out and sampling some fine ales. The space itself is also very nice. One entire wall has water running down it, which is a pretty cool effect, and the water runs underneath a plexi glass section of flooring, which appears very blue in the photos. The area around the bar itself is also made to fit in with the Abbey idea of Belgian beers.

Have a look:

Water running down that entire wall on the left.

Our favorite beer there; Celis White, which is written up in the blog after this.

Lovely, lovely Nara.

Lovely, lovely Celis White.

Perturbed at the empty glass.

Ah, that's better.

Me and a blury Emir.


Maja and Nara.

Heavy Metal!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


My long struggle to get a visa in Croatia has come to a successful conclusion. I arrived in Croatia exactly 3 months ago, November 20th, and here it is February 20th. I just left MUP, the police station here where I have to go for this sort of thing, and finally have my business visa in hand. It took a lot of effort, time and money, but I am finally approved for a full, one year stay. And it's renewable each year.

So, there you have it. I will not be back in the States until the San Diego Comicon in July, during which I may stay for a bit and catch up with friends. My cats are relieved that they don't have to enter an airplane anytime soon.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

In Croatia, every town has it's own market, called a tržnica. It's the equivalent of a farmer's market in the States, basically, but they're open every day, usually. They open up very early in the morning and are usually closed by 2PM. At these markets you can find local produce, honeys, eggs, various cheeses, olive oil, meats, fish and various other stuff.

Sviježi sir.

There are always old women selling kiselo vrhnje and sviježi sir. Kiselo vrhnje is sour cream and sviježi sir means "fresh cheese". It's sort of like cottage cheese in the States, but without the curd chunks. It's smoother. You buy equal parts of both and mix them together at home, adding a good amount of paprika powder and freshly chopped garlic, and it's tasty. This is called "sir i vrnje" once mixed, "cheese and cream".

Sir i vrhnje.

The stuff sold at the market is usually homemade, they say it's domestic. So, the olive oil you get there is FAR, FAR tastier than what you buy at the store. And it's usually around $12-$15 for a one liter bottle, which is not bad for very high quality oil. The honeys are also produced by the guy selling them. There are various cheese sellers too, selling smoked and unsmoked cheeses of various sorts. A table is set up for selling lavendar flowers and those little lavendar pillows for your sock drawer. Various dried fruits are also available, with a large amount of figs. Local figs are really great.

In short, it's a better place to shop at for the stuff they carry than a regular store is. It's usually cheaper and of much higher quality, and you know you are handing money to the person who produced it or their agent.

The tržnica in Gajnice.

The interior area of "Dolac", the tržnica in the centar of Zagreb.

These women are selling "kiselo zelje", or "sauer kraut".

Inside, there's a lot more meat, fish and bread stalls.

Olive oil here on the right. The oils she's selling are great!

Friday, February 16, 2007

A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend Nara and I took the weekend off and went to a small nearby village called Samobor. It's not too far away from Zagreb, maybe 10 or 15 miles. We had booked a room for the weekend at a hotel. We took the bus there, which was around a 20 minute ride. Not too bad.

Upon checking in, we discovered that they'd given us a crappy room. When we opened the window, our view was of a wall that was under construction, instead of looking out on the square as we had requested. We'd booked the room 3 weeks before, so were naturally not happy with being screwed. So, we walked to another nearby hotel and booked a much nicer room and checked out of the crap hotel, not paying them.

Trg Kralja Tomislava, King Tomislav Square.

Our hotel is the middle yellow building on the right. We had a room upstairs with one of those sky lights. You can see Stari Grad in the background here, up on the hill.

Our new hotel room was very nice. It was kind of large and more like a flat than a hotel room, except with no kitchen. It was located directly on the main square of Samobor, so was close to absolutely everything. And we also had satellite TV, so we spent some time channel surfing, watching Al Jazeera and various French, German, Russian and other channels. The Russian channel was particularly funny as they did voice dubbing into Russian, but had the same guy literally just reading the lines for each character without intonation or acting. The German and French channels were very good and had interesting documentaries.

Look! Chuck E. Cheese!!!

The local cemetery overlooking town.

Stari Grad is in the background here, up on the hill.

Stari Grad.

We basically just had a relaxing weekend. We slept in late, then had free breakfast in the restaurant downstairs, eating pancakes, sausages, muesli, fruit, etc. We walked a lot, really getting some distance under our feet. There was an old ruined castle on the hill overlooking town, called Stari Grad ("Old Town"). We walked up there, then down and around the entire area. Nice walk.

Nara in our hotel room.

A really old building of some sort.

On the way to Stari Grad.

Stari Grad.

The view from Stari Grad.

Some areas down in the valley, when we were wandering around.

We ate at some great restaurants, Gabreku being our favorite. Local, fresh trout was fantastic, as was wild boar with gnocchi. The gnocchi soaked up the juices from the boar and was really excellent. At night, we hung out at a local pub and drank some Hoegaarden, watching local bands and karaoke.

Heading back into the centar.

Trg Kralja Tomislava, King Tomislav Square.

Because Fašnik, or "Carnival" was the following week, there were decorations everywhere of various sorts. Here we have fish in the creek.

Nara and me.

It was a truly great weekend. We walked enough that we got a lot of exercise, but we also relaxed a lot. We had fantastic food too. We may go back to Samobor tomorrow. A local band called Hladno Pivo, "Cold Beer", who Esad is friends with, are having a show there, as Fašnik is still going on.

As a side note, I had originally thought that Samobor's name was based on "only pine", as it's in nature and there are loads of trees there and such, and "samo" means "only" and "bor" means "pine". But we found out the town was originally called "Sanobor", so this theory was out the window and the locals had no idea what the name meant.