Cultured, cosmopolitan, and unfailingly captivating, the languid beauty and lifestyle of Croatia make this laidback country one of the most delicious destinations on the Mediterranean. Shaped by a rich heritage and an exotic mix of cultural influences, holidays to Croatia offer a wonderful surprise around every corner – one of the best of which is discovering the delicious diversity of the traditional cuisine. |
Here are five traditional dishes every visitor should try while on holidays to Croatia.
Cevaps, or Cevapcici, is a delicious sausage made from a combination of pork and lamb; pork, lamb and beef; or lamb and beef. Arriving in the country at the time of the Ottoman Empire, the original recipe came from Persia. The simple, flavoursome sausage also includes onions, garlic and plenty of salt and, unlike a regular version, they have no casing. Cevaps were traditionally threaded on to skewers and cooked over an open fire, but nowadays they're more likely to be grilled, pan-fried or even boiled, before being served on the local lepinje (bread).
For cheese connoisseurs, the soft Croatian Kajmak is a taste sensation not to be missed. Made from raw (unpasteurised and unhomogenised) cow or sheep’s milk, this unripened cheese is very pale, and has a delicate flavour that makes for the perfect accompaniment for meats (including Cevaps), or on its own as an appetizer on lepinje. Traditionally, Kajmak is made by boiling milk, then skimming the surface layer of cream and placing it in a salted wooden tub, called a cabrica. The process is repeated many times until a tub of cheese is complete. Kajmak can also be left to ferment, which results in a stronger taste and a creamy yellow colouring.
Slow-cooked on a flat open fireplace under a metal or terracotta dome, it's not so much what's in Peka that matters, but the way it's cooked. The method is known as Ispod cripnje (literally, 'under the lid'), with vegetables, lamb, chicken, fish, veal, potatoes, octopus or whatever ingredients are in season locally forming the basis of the dish.
The fireplace and dome covering are preheated for around an hour before the tray containing the seasoned, oiled ingredients along with some herbs of choice is placed on the concrete, then covered with the dome, creating a vacuum of hot air. Hot embers are then placed on top of the dome, adding to the extreme heat and resulting in a tender, full-bodied flavour.
Also called Brudet or Brodeto, Brodet is one of the most enjoyable ways to savour the freshness and flavour of the abundant local seafood, including monkfish, sea bass, shrimp and langoustines. Originating from the regional cuisines of Dalmatia, Istria and Kvarner, Brodet is rustically prepared in one dish.
Using at least three varieties of seafood along with onion, garlic, white wine, potatoes, tomatoes and seasoning, it is often accompanied by polenta and crusty bread to soak up the rich broth. The secret of the traditional recipe is in the layering of the ingredients, which are not stirred at all during the cooking process, ensuring that the seafood remains intact. Absolutely mouth-watering…
Nobody, but nobody, should consider their holidays to Croatia complete without trying the fabulous delicacy of the Klipici. Originating in the northern Baroque city of Varaždin, Klipici has evolved from a previously plain, unstuffed roll, to the versions today, which can be stuffed with anything from savoury, cheesy, meaty fillings, to sweet, sticky, finger licking delights. Made from a simple dough mixture, once kneaded, proved and rolled, the Klipici are cut and shaped (similar to a croissant), then brushed with egg, sesame seeds, salt or cumin, before being stuffed – or not – and baked in the oven. Bite sized morsels of gourmet heaven, Klipici leave a lasting memory of the iconic taste of Croatia.
Tasting the Traditions
The true heart of a destination can often be found in the unique character of its traditional cuisine, and this is certainly true on holidays to Croatia. Recipes and techniques have been passed down through the centuries, with every spice, every herb, and every humble ingredient contributing to create a complete gastronomic history.
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing luxury holidays to Croatia, Bermuda, Sicily and many other destinations around the globe. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.
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