Croatia is a wonder! Forget the jagged coastlines and stunning Adriatic vistas for a moment: let’s talk about the food. The country’s 2,000-kilometre coastline is made up of over 1,200 islands, with culinary influences from all across the Mediterranean, blending with unique local flavours to present an array of specialty cuisines. Great food, great views, and great people – what more could you possibly want?
With so much to see, do and taste in Croatia, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are five of the tastiest highlights throughout the Croatian islands, guaranteed to please even the pickiest gastro tourist:
Red wine in Hvar
While Croatian vintages lack the international fame of their Mediterranean neighbours, France and Italy, they’re one of the wine world’s best-kept secrets! The island of Hvar is a stunning Adriatic haven with a warm climate and fertile soil that’s home to orchards, lavender fields, and yes, vineyards! Wine grapes have been cultivated on Hvar since antiquity; the original vines were brought to the island by the Greeks and the original Hvar vineyard is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today the island is home to the country’s most popular wine-tasting tours.
Hvar’s vineyards are home to the Plavac Mali grapes, which yield a bold and complex red wine.
Tour a winery, relax in some of the Adriatic’s sunniest weather, and don’t forget to make a toast: Živjeli!
White wine in Vis
Formerly closed off from the world under the former Yugoslavian regime, Vis has escaped many of the blights of modern development, and the island retains much of its Venetian-era architecture. An ancient aesthetic doesn’t mean Vis has been left behind, though. Discounts on island travel and experiences can be found online with a little bit of searching. Today, around 20% of the island is dedicated to winemaking and viniculture.
Vis is also one of the few places on Earth where the Vugava grape is cultivated.
This is a demanding species that needs a lot of care, but the results are worth it! Some of the best wine in the world comes from these grapes; the sweet and rich flavours come together for a full bouquet that pairs wonderfully with the island’s abundance of fresh seafood.
Lamb & olive oil in Brač
Brač is perfect for vacationers in search of somewhere a little quieter and off the beaten path, but there’s nothing quiet about its flavours!
Lamb features heavily in Brač cuisine. While spit-roasted lamb and baked lamb are delicious and popular options, anyone with an adventurous palate won’t want to miss out on vitalac: skewered lamb offal wrapped in lamb intestines cooked over an open fire. This specialty dish can be found only in Brač! If that’s not your style, try butalac instead. The stuffed leg of lamb gets its flavor from a special herb and grass rub and a splash of local wine.
Get a taste of history at the Museum of Olive Oil in the town of Škrip. The museum itself is a restored press from the mid-19th century and offers a unique look at olive oil production throughout the ages. Be sure to book an olive oil tasting as part of your tour.
Sage honey & cheese in Pag
Like vitalac from Brač, Pag’s delicacy comes from sheep! The indigenous Paška Ovca flocks feed on tasty herbs growing in the island’s salt-rich soil, which impart a unique flavor into their milk and makes for a rich and complex cheese. Paški Sir (“cheese from Pag” in Croatian) is available in both young and mature varieties. Young paški sir is aged for approximately 3-4 months, while its mature counterpart is aged for up to a year.
Sage, one of the many herbs in the Paška Ovca sheep’s diet, also comes into play in the island’s delicious sage-blossom honey. The growing conditions, like the bora winds that blow sea spray and salt to the soil, are perfect for the hearty Dalmatian sage, which has been renowned since ancient times for both its aromatic flavor and medicinal properties.
Seafood & prosciutto in Krk
No trip through Croatia would be complete without a visit to the place the ancient Romans designated “the Golden Island.” Krk is one of the Adriatic’s largest islands and is renowned for both the quality and variety of its seafood. Scampi from the Bay of Kvarner is said to be the tastiest in the world! Meanwhile, those who favor fish over shrimp will delight in perch, swordfish, cuttlefish, sea bass, oysters, and so much more.
Not a fan of seafood? Don’t worry! Krk is also home to Croatia’s first European Union-protected specialty product, Pršut. Trust me, there’s regular prosciutto and then there’s Krk prosciutto – as smooth and savory as butter, with an incredibly mild flavor. Visit the House of Krk’s prosciutto tavern to learn about this family business’s unique processing methods, and of course, sample some of the delicacy itself.
Today’s post is written by Andrea Boffo, CEO of PlusVoucherCode – a website that provides discount codes to save money on online purchases.
Have you ever been to Croatia? Do you think you’d enjoy the food?