Along the coastline, the cuisine strongly features seafood and resembles Italian in style and flavours, while in the Continental inland regions you'll find Austro – Hungarian and even Turkish cuisine further towards the Bosnian border. Each region has it's own particular speciality, and wherever you go you'll be surprised by the fine quality food made and prepared from fresh and seasonal products.
Around the Capital, Zagreb and north-western Croatia, hearty meat dishes are favoured. Spit roasted lamb, while pork and duck are also firm favourites, and often accompanied by 'mlinci' (baked noodles) or roast potatoes. The Hungarian influence in this region adds some wonderful goulash dishes that are rich and flavoursome.
And for dessert one should not forget the thin pancakes (palačinke) filled with locally made plum jam or chocolate, although some prefer lemon juice sprinkled with sugar.
In eastern Slavonia near the Hungarian and Serbian border, the cuisine becomes spicier than other regions, with garlic and paprika are used very liberally. The river Drava, provides fresh fish, mostly carp and pike. A dish called Fish Paprikaš is one of the specialities of this region where the fish is simmered slowly in a paprika sauce and served with noodles, although, as with everywhere in Croatia, modern styles and presentations are also favoured.
The region's hand-made sausages and dry-cured meats are also a speciality, particularly kulen, a paprika flavoured sausage served with fresh cottage cheese, peppers, tomatoes and pickled vegetables. Delicious desserts of pastries stuffed with walnuts, poppy seeds and homemade plum jam are always popular.
Coastal cuisine from Istria to southern Dalmatia is typically more Mediterranean, using a lot of olive oil, garlic, fish, wine and herbs and anything from the sea! The typical Dalmatian cuisine has not changed for centuries and the best Dalmatian cuisine remains simple, without too much fuss.
Croatians are the most prolific of fishermen and there is a bounty of Adriatic seafood available including fish, crabs, lobsters, mussels, octopi, cuttlefish, sardines and oysters on offer. Your chef on board your luxury charter yacht will no doubt be shopping at the local markets to provide you with delicious seafood dishes while on board.
The restaurants also pride themselves on serving the freshest of these ingredients. There are many ways to prepare this local seafood but grilling remains the most popular. The chefs often use different woods to create the coals lending particular flavours to the fish. One particularly common and popular combination is sardines on the grill or fried served with blitva, swiss chard and potatoes drizzled with olive oil and flavoured with garlic. This is Dalmatian fast food, fast and super healthy!
Popular alternative seafood dishes include gegarda, brodetto and na buzera, which are all variations of a fish stew, involving several ingredients in the same pot (usually olive oil, white wine, parsley, fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic). And every seafood restaurant, and grandmother, has their own crni rizot recipe, a black risotto coloured by squid ink and flavoured with shellfish.
Dalmatia is also home to some exceptionally good local cheeses. Pag cheese is the probably the best known of the artisan Croatian cheeses. It is a hard, distinctively flavoured sheep cheese originating from the island of Pag, and is often served with dry cured ham as a starter. The Gligora Sheep's Cheese has won many international gold medals over the past few years.
Pašticada is a stewed beef dish cooked in a special sauce. The meat is pierced and stuffed with ham, garlic, and cloves then marinated in red wine and vinegar. The beef and juices are slowly simmered with the juices and vegetables resulting in a very rich sauce and usually served with hand-made gnocchi.
Another "must-try" dish is a peka – basically a blend of meat (or octopus) and vegetables flavoured with olive oil and herbs and slow cooked under a bell-like dome in the embers of a fire oven. It is a very traditional dish cooked in a simple manner but very tasty.
Pogača bread and soparnik from the Omiš Cetina River hinterland are becoming widely known as firm favourites with many visitors to Dalmatia. Pogača bread is a bread similar to foccacia but stuffed with potatoes, ground beef, or cheese and topped with herbs or seeds. The island of Vis has its own speciality - a particularly tasty fish filling that you can enjoy either as a main course or a quick bite.
Soparnik is a sometimes called the 'Croatian pizza' as this famous dish does indeed resemble a huge pizza in some aspects. The dough is spread out on the table then filled with swiss chard (similar to English spinach) onion, garlic and olive oil, then covered with another thin layer of dough, rubbed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and then baked on and under hot coals. Delicious.
For dessert try a fritule or rozata. Fritule are small sized doughnuts and have a distinct flavour thanks to sultanas, a dash of Grappa or lemon rind, added to the dough. Rozata is a sweet cooked cream similar to a crème caramel served with caramelized sugar. A speciality of the Dubrovnik region, with the unique flavour of added rose liqueur known as rozolin; hence the name 'rozata'.
Modern Croatian food offers both sophistication and fresh deliciousness. It is an easy blend of traditional ingredients and flavours presented in a contemporary, and sometimes innovative, way. The choice of restaurants is huge and the standard very high. We are sure that while in Croatia on your luxury charter yacht your meals ashore will add to the rich memories you will take home.
For details about the luxury motor and sailing yachts, gulets and mega yachts available for charter in Croatia please contact the specialists at Luxury Charter Group. We know Coatia well and look forward to sharing some of our secrets with you.