Croatia isn’t only known for its nature, landmarks and sights but is also a paradise for every foodie who seeks for destinations offering mouthwatering dishes. Some of the typical, traditional Croatian recipes and dishes are marked with the PDO and PGI marks. PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) mark identifies a product originating in a specific place, region or country, whose quality or characteristics are essentially or exclusively due to a particular geographical environment with its inherent natural (raw materials, environmental characteristics, location) and human (traditional and artisanal production) factors the production, processing and preparation steps of which all take place in the defined geographical area and in line with the strict production regulations established. The PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) mark designates a product originating in a specific place, region or country whose given quality, reputation or other characteristic is essentially attributable to its geographical origin and at least one of the production steps of which takes place in the defined geographical area. Some of the food products on the list are turkey from Zagorje, pršut from Drniš, Krk, Istria and Dalmatia, extra virgin olive oil from Cres, mandarins from Neretva, sour cabbage from Ogulin, kulen from Baranja, and potatoes from Lika.
Here are some of our favourites and the ‘must-tastes’ when you Travel to Croatia.
1) Pašticada is a stewed beef dish cooked in special sauce, popular in Croatia. It is often referred to as Dalmatinska pašticada because it originates in Dalmatia. It requires long and meticulous preparation: first, the meat is pierced and stuffed with garlic, cloves, carrot and bacon, then salted and marinated in vinegar overnight. The marinated beef is then roasted and cooked with roasted bacon, onions, parsley root, nutmeg, prunes, tomato paste, water and prošek up to five hours, depending on meat. After cooking, the vegetables are blended into a sauce. It is served with gnocchi or homemade pasta.
2) Soparnik is a savoury pie filled with Swiss chard. It is the most famous speciality of the Dalmatian region of Poljica, between Split and Omiš. It is a very simple dish made from common ingredients from the region: Chard with onions and parsley between two layers of simplest dough. Among the many local variations there are also sweet ones, for example with nuts, dried fruits or caramel. In 2016, the European Commission listed soparnik as a non-material national heritage of Croatia certified with the specific geographical origin.
3) Štrukli is a popular traditional Croatian dish served in households across Hrvatsko Zagorje and Zagreb regions in the country’s north, composed of dough and various types of filling which can be cooked or baked. Pastry is rolled out flat and very thin, to cover the table top. A mixture of cottage cheese with eggs, sour cream and salt is spread over the pastry.
4) Brudet is a fish stew made in Croatian regions of Dalmatia, Kvarner and Istria. It comprises several types of fish stewed with spices and red wine, and the most important aspect of brudet is its simplicity of preparation and the fact that it is prepared in a single pot. It is served with palenta which soaks up the fish broth, while other recipes serve it with potatoes or bread.
5) Peka is a blend of vegetables, meat or fish, slowly cooked under sač, a large metal or ceramic lid like a shallow bell and over which ashes and live coals are placed. It enables even, convection baking, and the bell shape allows the steam to recirculate, which makes the meat, fish and vegetables to remain juicy, and the potatoes, and vegetables to intermix their flavors with that of the meat.
If the road take you to Istria, make sure to try truffles or maybe oysters in Ston, further south, close to the King’s Landing. Croatia is also known for fine wine, such as Plavac Mali, Postup, Dingač and Pošip. While exploring any of the parts of this Mediterranean country, make sure you add wine tasting to your to-do list. Croatian inland and the coast, islands especially, are full of family owned restaurants where you can enjoy food made with a lot of love and leave with a full belly, but be sure to remember the place because you will want to return.