While we were in the Istria region of Croatia we had the great fortune of staying in an apartment on an olive farm. This place was incredible and the hosts could not be nicer. When we were leaving, the matriarch of the family gave us a little parting gift of food items she had made or collected - bread, fig jam and some walnuts. We were so touched by this sweet gift and were so excited to dig in!
We broke the bread straightaway and (I think) just plunged it right into the fig jam but, the walnuts needed to wait. How were we going to crack them? Maybe we'd be able to find a nutcracker in the next apartment we were staying in. No such luck. Our apartment in Zadar did not have a nutcracker but, there was a large metal spoon. So with a little (ok, a lot) pressure, a dishtowel and the aforementioned spoon, we set upon cracking these nuts. This was so difficult! I was basically lifting myself off the ground pressing so hard into the shells with nary a crack for my struggles. Zac, however, had much better luck (aka strength). He did a bang up job of cracking these lovelies! And they really were so beautiful and fresh. Oh, we were so excited!
I should say this was our first time using an oven with temps in Celsius. And we didn't do any research into the Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion. This was problem number one. Problem number two was that we started doing something else and completely forgot about the nuts. It wasn't until we could smell this horrible burning coming from the kitchen that we remembered. Our excitement was totally deflated when we pulled our once beautiful nuts from the oven. They were beyond recognition. If we hadn't seen what they looked like before we put them in the oven, we would have had no idea what we were pulling out of the oven.
I don't remember having such fresh walnuts again, but we did make it up with chestnuts!