Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Experiencing the Authentic Cuisine of Croatia

by Tony Maniscalco 

A holiday walking in Croatia will take you to beautiful towns, fascinating cities and an enchanting countryside, and in all of them you will find plenty of opportunity to satisfy a well-earned appetite with the wonderful local food.
Croatia is situated between the Mediterranean and Central Europe and its cuisine takes on the best of both. This ensures the food is diverse and interesting - from the spectacular bounty of the ocean to the substantial rustic dishes bursting with flavour. Croatians tend to see their most important meal as lunch (ručak), however local restaurants will certainly cater for those who prefer to have their main meal at dinner (večera).

Snacks

Markets open early (at around 6 am) so if you're setting out for a long day and want to take some food with you they're a great place to get fresh fruit and cheeses. Bakeries (pekaras) often sell filled sandwiches, but for something different you could try the traditional Balkan pastry dish burek, which are filled with minced meat or cheese. Alternatively, if you prefer the vegetarian option you could try zeljanica, which are filled with spinach or krumpiruša filled with potato. Other traditional offerings, ideal for the energy needed while on holiday walking in Croatia, are cevapi, which are rissoles made from pork, lamb or beef, or pljeskavica, which is a bit like a hamburger.

The Main Event

Whether you choose to take your main meal at lunchtime or in the evening you will find plenty of dishes to choose from. Many meals will start with pršut, a platter of wonderful Croatian ham and some local cheese. If you like strong cheese you should try paski, which is a bit like a cross between Parmesan and cheddar or, for a milder flavour, you could try sir sa vrhnjem, a cream cheese. Soups are often served and you can choose from krem-juha, a thick cream soup, or juha, which is lighter and often served with noodles. For those with heartier appetites, a strukli should fill you up; this is a kind of heavy pastry, which is often filled with cottage cheese.

The meat used in the local cuisine is often pork or veal, and the Croatian version of the Wiener schnitzel is bečki odrezak - different versions are available, some with cheese and ham. A spicy sausage called kobasica is often served with an aubergine and pepper relish called ajvar. Lamb is popular and you may see it being spit roasted whole in roadside cafes.
If you're on a holiday walking in Croatia around Dalmatia you may have the opportunity to try pašticada, which is beef stewed in wine and prunes. In this region, turkey is the most popular poultry used. The Mediterranean influence is, quite naturally, on display on the coast, where you will find many different and delicious seafood dishes. A flavourful and extravagant salad, salata od hastoga features small, bite-sized portions of lobster seasoned with herbs and olive oil. Fish choices can be made from whatever the restaurant has that day and you may be presented with a tray to choose from.
Fish is often served with blitva, which is a local Swiss chard, potatoes and garlic. John Dory is popular, along with sole, sea bass and, more unusually, scorpion fish. A lovely seafood stew to try is brodet, in which the seafood is steeped in various spices and red wine. For the sweet fan, pancakes are a popular dish with various accompaniments and rozata is the local crème caramel. The Balkan influence can be seen in the local version of baklava.
No matter where your holiday walking in Croatia takes you, you can be sure that you will not go hungry. Try everything and open your palate to a new world of flavour.

About the Author 
Tony Maniscalco is the Marketing Manager for Ramblers Worldwide Holidays. Join us on a holiday walking in Croatia to the most scenic locations & landscapes at the best value prices. We offer over 140 guided group walking holidays in over 60 different countries.