Discovering Croatia’s Flavours
Croatian food proved to be a delightful revelation to Nikki and myself. It is tasty, fresh and very diverse and whereas we have always targeted Sicily and mainland Italy for our food trips, we have discovered that neighbouring Croatia provides some stiff competition with many restaurants dishing up some very fresh, high quality and relatively inexpensive meals.
The cuisine along the Dalmatian coast is mostly seafood-based whilst the food served inland also includes rich, continental Balkan fare. The Istrian peninsula is well-known for its gastronomy which incorporates local truffles and high-quality olive oil resulting in some very intense flavours which were right up our street.
Discovering Traditional Croatian Food
Here are some traditional Croatian food dishes we tried that deserve a special mention:
Black cuttlefish risotto
at home cuttlefish (or squid) ink is usually incorporated in a pasta dish but in Croatia, it’s in a risotto. Very rich and fishy, we both loved it.
a light dish usually served with boiled potatoes and greens; this together with a glass of white wine makes for an excellent lunch.
ubiquitous along the Croatian coast, another perfect lunch dish.
often served with polenta and crusty bread this is a very hearty dish, I would say best enjoyed during the colder months. Although we visited in spring, I enjoyed its intense flavours so much that that I ordered it three times during our stay in Croatia.
Fresh pasta with truffles
the Istria region of Croatia is truffle heaven so we made sure to indulge in truffle dishes during our time there. My personal favourite was homemade pasta with fresh truffle and shrimp from a restaurant in Volosko.
cyclindical rolls of minced meat grilled and traditionally served with ajvar and onions. Ćevapčići are found in almost every Balkan country and we didn’t really notice any particular differences between Croatia’s version of the dish and any other.
this dish is traditional to the Zagreb region and can be made sweet or savoury. It is primarily made of dough and a creamy, cheesy filling and other ingredients are added as desired. It is usually baked but can also be boiled. Nikki and I both had baked dishes – mine included truffles whilst his was made with wild boar sausage. This dish is really heavy but it was a very welcome dinner after having only snacked on some fruit for lunch (myself not Nikki). We would have loved to share a sweet version of the dish for dessert but we were far too stuffed to try anything else.
a strong fruit brandy available in many flavours. In istria, the drink is made from grapes and known as grappa (and is similar to Italian grappa). Many restaurants served us complimentary shots of rakija before or after a meal.
Croatians love their sweets and there’s so much to choose from… from sweet breakfast pastries to lavish cakes, we loved sampling the different types. We also had the pleasure of being invited to a Croatian friend’s wedding where we were told that traditionally the bride’s neighbours send different sweets to her house on the wedding day which were then served to us at the pre-wedding party!
this is a Dalmatian dish of stewed beef cooked with a sauce of bacon and prunes and traditionally served with a side of potato gnocchi. It tasted very different to the beef dishes we are normally used to eating, but it was definitely very tender and rich!