Croatia is widely known as a touristic country of a variety of gastronomic specialties. Every year a greater number of foreign tourists enjoy in top delicacies.
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1. Mediterranean - coastline cuisine (Istria, Kvarner, Dalmatia and Dalmatian Zagora) which is characterized by the influence of Greeks, Romans, Italians and French.
2. Continental cuisine (Lika, Gorski Kotar, Slavonia, Baranja, Zagreb and its surroundings) is characterized by the influence of Turks, Hungarians and Austrians.Cuisine of Istria and KvarnerIstrian and Kvarner cuisine is based on healthy mediterranean specialties and sea food which is spiced with various aromatic herbs such as rosemary, basil and sage. The most famous delicacies of Istria and Kvarner are:
Istrian ham (pršut) - made from pork ham that is spiced according to special recipe and then dried in the bora. It is served thinly sliced with goat cheese and olives. It is also a symbol of traditional Istrian cuisine.Istrian Truffles - every gourmand will grade with a ten! They say that the Istrian truffles are the best in the world. They belong to top offers of every quality restaurant in Istria and Kvarner.Today it is prepared with various herb oils and meat dishes. You definitely should taste shrimp with truffles and and steak with grated truffles.Wild Asparagus - which are esteemed because of their unique taste. They are usually prepared with eggs or various sorts of pasta.Krk lamb - a lot of people consider this to be the best lamb in the world. The credit goes to mediterranean herbs which grow on grasslands of islands. It is mostly prepared under a baking lid with homemade potato and various types of lettuce.Istrian soup – a specialty served in traditional clay jugs. Ingredients are red wine, olive oil, fried bread, pepper, and salt. Considering that the main ingredient is wine, if you had drunk this traditional Istrian soup in large quantities- do not sit behind the steering wheel of your car. ;)Smoked sausages and boneless pork loin with sauerkraut – Kvarner’s delicacy which is either ember-roasted or cooked in wine.
Other Istrian and Kvarner’s delicacies worth mentioning are: sheep’s milk cheese, salty anchovies, Istrian lard spread, codfish, various saltwater fish, shrimps and mussels, gnocchi in wild game sauce, roasted lamb “under the bell”, various sorts of differently prepared vegetables, and grilled food.
The most famous sweet pastries are “fritule” (donuts),” kroštule”, dried figs, and many other sweet pastries made of chestnut in combination with various fruit.The liquor lovers will really enjoy their stay in Istria and Kvarner. Istrian wines are one of the best in Croatia. The ones worth mentioning are: Istrian Malvasia, Pinot blanc and Pinot gris, different types of Muscat, and many other. Besides the wine, you can also enjoy in homemade rakia and beer.
The gastronomy of Dalmatia and Dalmatian Zagora
Dalmatian cuisine is based on seafood, fresh fish and vegetables, olive oil and various Dalmatian spices such as laurel and rosemary, which add a specific taste to the food. Dalmatian cuisine is considered to be one of the healthiest in the world. It is easily digested, does not cause obesity and contains Omega-3 fatty acids which have positive effects on the heart and the human cardiovascular system. The fish is the number one dish on the plate of every Dalmatian and Dalmatian restaurant, and it can be grilled (“na gradele”) , stewed (“na brudet”), and boiled (“na lešo“). It can also be served pickled or salted, such as salty anchovies, the best one being found on island of Pag. Besides the variety of fish, the other famous delicacies are crabs, shrimps, octopus “under the bell”, and stewed eel. The other traditional Dalmatian delicacies worth mentioning are:
Dalmatian beef stew (“Pašticada”) – traditional Dalmatian dish made of beef round. The preparation is long (up to two days) and meticulous, and can be done in many ways. Dalmatian dry-cured ham (“Pršut”) – mady by a special recipe from pork round and dry-cured on “bura”, a cold, dry northern wind. It is served with cheese, olive, capers, or fresh melon.“Paški sir” – a cheese made of sheep’s milk characterized by hardness, saltiness and a specific smell and taste. Many consider it to be the best cheese in the world!Other traditional Dalmatian dishes worth trying are: various fish soups, pasta shuta, artichokes, boiled beef with salsa sauce, freshwater crabs and frogs. When it comes to sweet pastries, you should try famous Rab cake, Dubrovnik rozata, “starogradski paprenjak” (gingerbread cookies), fritule (donuts), Split (named after Croatian city) cake, “kroštule“, dried figs and marmelade, grapes and almonds.Every lunch or dinner should be soaked in fine quality white or red wine. Dalmatia is a paradise for wine lovers. It should be mentioned that the first vines in Dalmatia were planted by antic Greeks and Romans. Croats just contined to cultivate and improve them. The result of it all is first class red and white wine, which is considered to be the best in this region. The most famous varieties are : Dingač, Merlot, Pagadebit, Dubrovnik’s Malvasia, Žlahtina, Muscat, and numerous other types. Apart from wine, for your enjoyment there are homemade beer, rakia and liquers.
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The gastronomy of Lika and Gorski Kotar
As a result of mild summers, and long and cold winters the cuisine of Lika and Gorski Kotar is very caloric, with abundance of flavors and aromas. The food that predominates is forest fruits and the wild game dishes. The most served breakfast meals are Lika cheese “škripavac”, bacon with eggs or boar or venison ham, as well as delicious homemade fritters. For lunch there are different wild game and forest fruit soups, and sauerkraut with sausages and bacon. Usually, the main dishes are homemade lamb “under the bell” with potato, bear steak with gnocchi, roasted rabbit, venison round, wild boar, baked or fried bread, and beef, but also frog legs and trout. All those dishes are usually served with various fungi gravies or homemade cabbage, onion or bean salads. When it comes to sweet dainties, you should try various fruit salads made of forest fruits such as blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries. Apart from fruit salads, you can also enjoy in cheese, apple or forest fruit strudels, as well as custard pastries and pancakes.The assortment of red and white wine is divers and of the highest caliber. You can enjoy in Pinot gris, Welschriesling, Gewürztraminer, German Riesling, Semillon, Silvaner and others. You can also find various liquers, homebrew rakia, and beer, as well as crystal clear spring water.
The gastronomy of Zagreb and surroundingsIt could be said that Zagreb’s cuisine is a unique mixture of culinary delicacies from all Croatian regions. Every Zagreb’s restaurant offers traditional delicacies that are specific for other regions. Therefore, you can enjoy in Istrian and Dalmatian dishes such as: ember-roasted octopus, Dalmatian “pašticada”, shrimps, famous Istrian truffles, and various seafood. On the other hand, if you like caloric, spicy food, we recommend game from Lika and Gorski Kotar prepared in different ways, and grill food, but also traditional Slavonian specialties like cracklings, blood sausage, kulen sausage, cabbage rolls (“sarma”), and goulashes. You should also try roasted turkey-hen with pasta tatters, Zagorje’s strudels, “Stubičku pisanicu”, and Samobor cutlet. A true testimony to the exuberance and diversity of Zagreb’s cuisine is Marija Kumičić’s “Zagreb’s Cookbook” written in the 19th century.
The most famous Zagreb’s delicacy is “Zagrebački odrezak”- veal meat filled with cheese and ham. It is mostly served with French fries and a slice of lemon. Other traditional delicacies worth mentioning are “tripice”, smoked pork hock, wine goulash, and other seasonal dishes such as leek and beans, stuffed peppers…In a huge variety of sweet pastries you should try cheese and apple strudels, gingerbread cookies, Samobor custard pastries and numerous other cakes and cookies.
The assortment of wine is by far the best in Zagreb, as it offers the best wines from all Croatian wine-cellars. You can enjoy in Istrian Malvasia, Merlot, Cabarnet Souvignon, Pinot gris, “Crni Plavac” from the island of Korčula, “Plavec mali” from the island of Hvar, “Dingač” from the island of Pelješac, “Graševina” from Đakovo, German Riesling and others. Apart from the local ones, you can also enjoy in a world-wide known wines which can be found in the assortment of every better restaurant or hotel. Besides wine, you can find mead, rakia, homebrew beer and liquers.From numerous restaurants we would like to separate the two which are, in our humble opinions, the best, “Okrugljak” (www.okrugljak.hr) and “Baltazar“(www.restoran-baltazar.hr). Besides the restaurants and diverse cuisine, Zagreb also offers numerous pizzerias, which offer both local (Slavonian) as well as other, well known pizzas (Margarita, Hawaii, Mexicana...). Apart from pizzas, you can also order Italian food.
The city also has numerous fast-food outlets and restaurants, such as McDonalds, KFC, Chinese restaurants, Kebab shops, sandwich shops and others.
The gastronomy of Slavonia and Baranja
Slavonian food is often caloric, spicy and served in big portions. The most famous Slavonian delicacy is Slavonian kulen sausage, which both symbolizes Slavonia and is an international brand. It is made of minced pork that is spiced up by peppers, garlic, and other spices. A pork intestine, which serves as a cover, is filled with the minced pork. Then the sausages are dried in the smokehouses, on a light, cold smoke. After the drying, the kulen sausages are left in a cold and airy place, usually an attic. The kulen sausage is ready to be served after five to seven months. It is mostly served as a finely sliced appetizer, together with homemade cow cheese, ham, and winter food. Kulen is so esteemed that it is consumed only during special occasions, such as weddings, births, and sacraments of Baptism, and is gifted on an exceptional basis. There are other Slavonian traditional dishes, such as smoked ham, Shepard’s stew, goulash, fish paprikash, different stakes filled with ham and cheese, chicken prepared in a various ways, and freshwater fish (catfish, carp, pike, pike perch).You should try Slavonian sarma (cabbage rolls filled with minced pork or beef), cracklings, blood sausages, and shvargla. You should also try Slavonian ajvar, which can be served both as an appetizer and with bread. When it comes to sweet pastries and desserts, try strudels with walnuts, poppy and many other fruits and plants. You can also enjoy in various other cakes and pastries, such as Hungarian cake, doughnuts, „Čupavci” (lamingtons), and chocolate cake.
The wine lovers can enjoy in many sterling wines, such as Italian Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, German Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Frankovka (Lemberger).You should also try Slavonian rakia, and various liquors and beers.
To conclude, we would like to say that we yet didn’t visit a country with such a small total land area, but with such a huge variety of food and drinks.
Welcome to Croatia, a heaven for all true gourmands!