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Dining in Croatia is all about sampling its delicious produce and unusual regional specialities. Croatian food is at its best when it’s homemade and rustic, and many of the best places to eat pride themselves on sourcing produce from local farmers and markets.
In the Istria area, punchy olive oils and earthy truffles are considered the region’s prize delicacies, both of which you’ll find drizzled and grated over fuzi (hand-rolled pasta) in Croatia’s best restaurants. Some chefs even trickle certain varieties of local olive oil over ice cream… don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!
The coastal region of Dalmatia unsurprisingly specialises in seafood, most commonly served in a stew called brodet which is richly flavoured with red wine, sage and thyme. Other culinary treats found in this region include prsut (prosciutto) – far more punchy and pungent than its Italian equivalent – and paski sir cheese from the island of Pag.
Off the beaten track in Baranja in eastern Croatia, paprika is a popular ingredient. Don’t leave without relishing the smoky flavours of the region’s signature dish fis paprikas (freshwater fish boiled in paprika-spiced water).
Though it doesn’t get nearly as much press as it should, there is a lot to recommend Croatian wine. Istria has a dedicated wine trail that includes top winemakers such as Coronica and Kozlovic – look out for grape varieties like white malvazija and raisin-sweet muskat while you’re in the area. You might also want to brave a shot or two of the local firewater grappa, unusual varieties of which include honey and mistletoe.
Dalmatia also has a long-established wine scene with famous varieties including posip, rukata and grk from Korcula Island and dingac and postup from the Peljesac vineyards. Try the local rakija (brandy) too, a Balkan favourite commonly made from plums.