Who better to guide us on an epicurean’s journey down the Adriatic coast for Croatia holidays than expert Croatian travel writer, Mary Novakovich.
by Croatia Gems, 1st December 2022
Photo © pelegrini.hr
Mary Novakovich’s recent piece in The Telegraph takes us on a culinary tour of the Croatian coast. However, unless you have the time to sail the whole coast, let’s savour bite sized episodes of her journey as every area has its own epicurean delights.
We are reminded that Croatia now has 10 Michelin star restaurants. Nine of these are on the Adriatic coast, so within reach of the usual Croatia holidays’ destinations. Do remember though, local restaurants (konoba) serve fantastic organic, fresh dishes at very affordable prices, but we can all splash out on vacation? Hand in hand with lovely food is of course Croatia’s wine. It is multi-award winning, with local grape varieties now well-known across the world.
Food and wine journey – Istria
We’ll let Ms Novakovich guide us from top to bottom of the country. Starting in Istria (a romantic heart-shape of a peninsula), the area excels with its olive oil, truffles, and wine. She suggests eating at Rovinj‘s Michelin-starred Monte restaurant for its sea food (local mussels a speciality) and a spot of wine tasting. She suggests the rich and robust Teran red wines and the Malvasia whites.
All the way down the coast you will also feast on Prsut (air-dried ham) enhanced by the enduring Bura wind, spicy salami, tapenades and smoked mussels, as the precursor to your main dishes.
Moving down to the nearby Kvarner Gulf, Mary advises being tempted by the amazing scampi which thrive in the clear Adriatic waters. She suggests washing them down with a white Zlahtina wine, from the island of Krk. The karst landscape here produces this moreish delicacy.
Islands of Cres and Pag
You’ll want to stop off at the island of Cres to indulge in “Croatia’s tastiest lamb”. The sheep graze on nutrient-rich aromatic herbs which grow across the island, giving it unique flavours, aroma, and texture. Then you are encouraged to try “one of Croatia’s best-loved cheeses”, the Paski Sir made from tangy sheep’s milk, from the island of Pag.
Fancy some Maraschino Liqueur? Well make your way down towards Zadar, Croatia’s oldest city, where it originates from. The 16th century monks’ recipe is still used, together with the abundant Maraska cherries. In northern and central Dalmatia, we’re told that you’ll find another lovely white Croatian wine, Debit, which is an easy-drink wine found everywhere in this area. Stop off to indulge your palate at Michelin-starred Pelegrini restaurant in Sibenik, opposite the town’s UNESCO world heritage cathedral. Make time to visit the Krka National Park and swim in the waterfall pools.
Central Dalmatia’s islands
You’ll now be in central Dalmatia, with its well-known islands. Mary advises stopping off at little known Solta for its full-bodied Dobricic red wine, as well as award-winning olive oils.
Popular Hvar is known for being the sunniest island, so you are advised to try the golden Bogdanusa wine.
Korcula island and the Peljesac peninsula have some of Dalmatia’s well-known wines, including the red Plavac Mali. On Korcula the white Posip and rare white Grk wines, are renowned. Why not try them at Korcula town’s Michelin star LD Restaurant when savouring a fantastic meal?
If you can pop over to Vis island, Mary suggests that you snack on some Viska Pogaca, a ‘tomatoey’ baked bread pie stuffed with anchovies, washed down with its indigenous Vugava white wine.
The Peljesac peninsula is a 10-minute ferry hop from Korcula town and is the place to find locally produced red Dingač wine. The peninsula’s charms include the delicious oysters from interesting Ston. This area has so much to offer it is often overlooked in favour of Dubrovnik. However with the opening of the new bridge linking central and southern Dalmatia, it is expected this will change.
The journey of course continues to the Dubrovnik riviera, where you can find more Michelin star restaurants, delicious food and all the wines mentioned above. Have a great time on your Croatia holidays wherever you taste these epicurean delights.
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