Everybody comes to Croatia expecting gorgeous nature, crystal-clear waters and plenty of sunshine, not many have expectations around the food or Croatian cuisine. Yet, the food served aboard our yachts and the gastronomy scene in Croatia is often what “wows” our guests.
Whether you take half-board or full-board, we have no doubt you will be amazed by the quality of food in Croatia. To whet your appetite, let us share some of the foods to try when sailing in Croatia.
Let’s start with olive oil – the liquid gold of Croatia and companion to every meal. As a small country, it is hard for Croatia to compete with food giants like Italy and Spain, especially when it comes to olive oil production. However, regardless of quantity, Croatia has quality. In fact, part of the charm is that there is such a small production; many groves are still lovingly tended to and picked by families, following traditional and organic methods. In the prestigious New York Olive Oil Competition, out of around 60 Croatian olive oils entered in the competition, 51 were awarded Bronze, Silver or Gold, and olive oil from island Šolta won “Best in Class”. Croatian olive oil was dubbed “consistently the world’s best”, an extraordinary achievement for a small country. Olive oil also makes a great gift or souvenir to take home with you to remember your time in Croatia.
Croatia also has incredible award-winning cheeses. Cheese from island Pag (Pakši Sir) produces some of the most famous cheeses, and Gligora cheeses are some of the most awarded cheeses in the world. Pakši Sir is made from sheep’s milk which is naturally salty because the sheep graze on salt-dusted shrubs, giving it a unique flavour. Škripavac is a traditional full-fat cheese made in the region of Lika. Sir iz Mišine is a traditionally made cheese in the mountainous areas around Zadar, Šibenik, Split and Dubrovnik. It is aged in lambskin sacks that gives it its unique and aromatic flavour. There are also some excellent goat's cheeses produced in Croatia, many are infused with local herbs and spices, making a great addition to any cheese platter. If you love cheese, be sure to let your chef know and they will source a selection of Croatia's finest cheeses for you to try.
Pršut and Dried Meats
Maybe you are more familiar with prosciutto from Italy or Iberian ham from Spain but Croatia also has excellent dry-cured ham – pršut. Depending on the region, some pršut are smoked with sea salt and various Mediterranean herbs, others – particularly in Dalmatia, are dried using the natural Bura (bora) wind. Croatia has a long history of making dried and cured meats like sausages and salamis. Try Kulen, a spicy dried sausage from Slavonia or pancetta from the black pig of Slavonia. Istrian Boškarin (beef) salami or carpaccio is also famous and a must-try. Then there are salamis from deer and donkey for the more adventurous. A platter of pršut, cured local meats, and various cheeses make a great appetiser or afternoon snack with a crisp glass of local wine.
Another fact many don’t know is that Croatia has truffles. Istria is famous for its truffles and traditional truffle dishes with handmade pasta. Gourmets flock to Istria to go truffle hunting or try these delicacies in famed local restaurants. Istrian fuži is one of the best-known past varieties of Istria, they blend perfectly with a truffle sauce because of their hollow centre that allows every bite to be a rich delight. There are also cheeses infused with truffles or try a truffle frittata for a little decadence at breakfast.
Another delicacy Croatia is famous for – oysters! Mali Ston near Dubrovnik and Lim Bay in Istria are two of the most famous areas for oysters – you can even do an oyster tasting on location. Why are these oysters so famous? The clean salty Adriatic and the climate make for the perfect oyster farming conditions. Plump and full-flavoured oysters are what you can expect. If you do a southern sailing route towards Dubrovnik, maybe take a day to explore the fortified walls and salt pans of Ston (which are on the UNESCO tentative list), then enjoy a tour of the oyster farm and try oysters straight from the sea! A unique and memorable experience.
Local Markets (Pazar)
The beauty of a crewed yacht charter is that your chef will take care of all the shopping and prepare gourmet feasts day-after-day. However, we still recommend our guests to wander through the local markets (Pazar) at least once. The Pazar is like the beating heart of every town, this is where you will get a feel for the Croatian people and culture. The bright array of colours, intoxicating smells from fresh fruit and produce, and the general energy of the Pazar is a memory that will stay with you. Explore and discover more local and traditional Croatian foods here.
Croatian foods to try when sailing in Croatia
This list is barely the tip of the iceberg, and we haven’t even mentioned the traditional dishes you must try when you visit Croatia yet either! We will have to save that for next time. In summary – be prepared to be wowed on every front when you sail in Croatia.