For the final installment of my series about traveling in Croatia, let’s turn our attention to the country’s gastronomy. Croatia is still a relatively new international destination and it is unusual to find Croatian cuisine outside the Balkan region. My guide is going to help you navigate what to eat and how to experience the food scene in Croatia.
Croatian dishes that you must try
As you travel along the Croatian coast, you are likely to encounter seafood dishes such as black risotto (crni rižo). The rice is tinted with squid ink and cooked with fresh shellfish, garlic, and a dash of red wine.
Peka is a unique dish that you can only find in Croatia and neighboring nations. Meat or seafood (octopus is typical), potatoes, and vegetables are mixed with spices in a special tray topped with a domed lid before being slow-cooked over embers for a couple of hours. Some chefs will stir a splash of cognac or brandy into the mix halfway through.
Štrukli is a pastry filled with cottage cheese and sour cream that has its origins in Slovenia. Modern chefs create their own signature versions paired with such delicacies as truffles or berries.
Dubbed as the ‘Croatian Tuscany’ you know that you are in for a treat when you visit the region of Istria. This northwestern county is celebrated for its pasta, gnocchi, and risotto dishes tossed with locally sourced truffles. You must also sample pršut, Istrian prosciutto, which is best served with a drizzle of olive oil – another renowned product of Croatia!
Although we associate the blush of Zinfandel with California, these black-skinned grapes in fact originate from no other than Croatia! There are over 200 indigenous grape varieties in the country so if rosé is not your preferred wine then you will find reds and whites to pair with your discovery of Croatian food. The full-bodied Plavac Mali is touted as being the best red wine in Croatia while white wine devotees can look forward to a fruity Istarska malvazija or a dry Grk bijeli.
Vineyards stud the Istrian region and run along the length of the coastline and give you the option to take a tour and sip wine at the source with a beautiful view of the Croatian countryside.
Food experiences in Croatia
Croatian food is so appetizing that wherever you choose to eat, it will be an experience in itself, whether you opt for a casual cafe or a fine dining destination.
Luxurious Croatia offers 10 Michelin-star restaurants alongside 13 Bib Gourmand and 55 Plate Michelin establishments. Restaurant 360 occupies a romantic spot overlooking the port of Dubrovnik and is highly acclaimed for its scallops and pan-seared duck. Meanwhile, if you intend on island hopping or sailing around Croatia, you can make a stop for exquisite seafood at Alfred Keller at the Alhambra Boutique Hotel on Lošinj Island.
If you want to savor the flavors of Croatia long after your vacation then do consider signing up for a cooking class. These run throughout Croatian cities and often start with a market tour where you will have the opportunity to pick out your own ingredients. Other classes are hosted in private houses and apartments which adds a personal touch.
Prefer to eat in the comfort of your vacation villa? One of the best foodie experiences in Croatia is indulging in a private dinner prepared and cooked in your holiday home by a professional chef.
Contact me when you are ready to book your trip to Croatia and we will devise a bespoke itinerary that factors in activities and dining experiences.
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