Croatia’s Food Curiosities

For broke millennials who have the travel bug, and for regular travelers, Croatia is fast becoming a coveted destination. Its combination of Mediterranean lifestyle and Balkan affordability make it not only a financially savvy holiday destination but also a place that has both a taste of the familiar and unfamiliar.

Those with more expensive tastes might like to head to Dubrovnik, which has every opportunity for a champagne-filled vacation by the sea. Those who are on a slimmer budget might want to head to Split, which is a smaller-scale Roman city and has its own airport that offers wallet-friendly flight deals.

A taste for the botanicals

Croatia has an abundance in one flower in particular, and the more you dip in and out of local shops you will notice its prevalence quickly enough. The island of Hvar is particularly renowned for its fragrant fields, and is in itself a destination worth making your way to. In fact, just Google ‘Croatian lavender’ and you’ll receive a truckload of results giving you tips on where to find lavender in Croatia, what to do with it and the best fields to go visit. These bee-friendly flowers also find their way into local sweets and chocolate, which go perfectly with Croatian wine, or make unique souvenirs.

High-quality beers for a small price

Once arriving in Croatia, it’s likely that the first thing that will be on your mind will be a cold glass of beer. After you dump your bags and check in, finding a restaurant with local beers on tap is almost too easy. In general, nights and meals out in Croatia are incredibly affordable, meaning that many put their meals on a first Premier credit card for the duration of the trip.

You’ll feel much less guilty about that extra beer or two when you realize they’re under 10 Kuna­ – each. Unlike many countries, however, cheapness is not necessarily reflected in taste, with the region’s beers being both refreshing and balanced.

Gnocchi, but not as you know it

Gnocchi has been weaving its way into menus served a number of ways. Sliced thin and flecked with basil, sautéed with a creamy sauce or served as a simple side, this pasta dish has become a favorite in many restaurants. In Croatia, it is served simply but with a richness that will make you come back for more. On countless menus you can find it served boiled (better than it sounds) and with slices of steak in a rich wine and beef sauce. The result is a happy balance between homely comfort and rich indulgence.

Mediterranean meets Balkan

This doesn’t just mean carbonara served with a side of sauerkraut. Instead, Croatia’s cuisine offers a taste from different aspects of Europe. Sharp, wholesome, fragrant and comforting; all of these feature within Croatian cuisine.

It’s not assumed that all fish should be served lightly with new potatoes and salad. Fish and seafood comes served in a variety of ways. Worth trying are their fish stews, which see white fish poached with red wine, beans, celery and potatoes. Brudet is a local fish casserole that is worth keeping your eyes peeled for and is frequently recommended by travelers. What makes Croatian seafood so sought after is its freshness; its glittering coastline is a visual reminder of how recently your dinner was caught.

Croatian wine

Although Croatian wine isn’t abundant on supermarket shelves in some countries, it certainly takes priority in its home country. You’ll find yourself guessing what the background flavor is, and for many it’s apple. Brits will be reminded of cider at times, but the very light acidity pairs with the region’s food perfectly. For those dishes that require lightness but something to cut through the richer flavors, this wine is well worth ordering for the table.

If in Split, book a wine tour and experience delicious wines in the beautiful scenery. One of the best wine tours to try is Winery Kovac, where the owner explains the history of his vineyard while you look over it, sipping on well-crafted wine and food.

Pastry for every palate

If visiting Europe wouldn’t be complete without warm pastries in the morning, then you won’t be disappointed. Once again Croatia delivers with its use of unexpected flavors.

If you’re traveling to Split, you’ll see a bakery called Bobis on seemingly every street corner. Within their display counters you’ll see some familiar baguettes with salami and cheese, chocolate and almond croissants but you’ll also spot some interesting Germanic additions, too. Sour cherry strudels are an absolute must try. They keep the same sharpness as apple strudel, but the cherry syrup adds an extra richness that make for a particularly moreish breakfast, which pairs very well with black coffee.

You’ll also spot little phyllo pastry knots called ‘burek.’ A particular favorite are the cheese and spinach flavor ones that make for either a satisfying savory breakfast or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. You won’t find these in such ubiquity outside the Balkans, so be sure to make the most of them on your visit.

Istrian ham

This ham, which although tastes a little bit like prosciutto but is darker, smoky and thicker-cut. In fact, it is listed as one of the top 10 things to try in Croatia by the BBC. You’ll frequently find it listed as an appetizer, served with thin slices of Dalmatian cheese and maybe even some olives and almonds for good measure. The method of air curing it gives it an intense, rich taste, which is often balanced by the smoothness of the cheese it is served with. This light but substantial starter is far too easy to get used to, so be sure to grab a pack of this famous Dalmatian ham in the duty-free, if possible.

The affordability of Croatian cuisine not only makes your holiday feel far less financially tight, but it also makes indulging a little more guilt-free. Whether it’s a marbled ice cream along the harbor, a pleasingly inexpensive cappuccino or another round of beers, it’s a country that’s easy to treat yourself in. Croatia’s geographical place means that menus will always have a taste of the familiar and unfamiliar, which should always be indulged in while you have the opportunity.

Previous post:

Next post: