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Croatian cuisine can be divided into 10 regional areas with their specific cooking traditions. Generally most dishes can be found all across the country with local renditions. World-class produce combined with Italian and central European influences provide a Croatian diner’s delight. Following are three samples.
Istria (northwestern Croatia near Venice, Italy)
Istrian is the most exquisite cuisine. FOCUS: fresh, quality ingredients (heavy Venetian) and specialties reflect this: Manestra (vegetable soup) is similar to Minestrone and Fritaja (omelette with vegetables) which is a version of the Frittata. Also a hand-rolled pasta called Fuzi (a hollow pasta shaped around a chopstick or rod) is often served with Tartufi (truffles) and game meats.
Croatian Prsut (prosciutto) is from Istria and Dalmatia. It’s more rustic (thicker and stronger tasting than the Italian) but the flavor is impressive.
Istria’s green nectar olive oil is famous internationally. There is an olive-oil route for local tastings from 94 growers. Like wine, olive oil is at its best when combined with food that complements its subtle flavors.
Istria has mapped out wine routes too with access to very popular wines for tastings. Istria’s grappa (Italy produces many grappas: grappa is a brandy made from pomace which are pressed skins and seeds of grapes. These Croatian brandies (35%–60% alcohol by volume) are worth sampling: Medica (honey) and Biska (mistletoe).
Dalmatia (southwestern Croatia on the coast)
The Adriatic Sea provides the area with top quality fresh fish. FOCUS: the local fish recipes use simple ingredients such as garlic, tomatoes and herbs. Seafood preparation includes Na Gradele (grilled seafood) or served as a Brodet (thick stew with red wine, sage and thyme). Besides seafood Pasticada (beef stewed with wine, spices and dumplings) is a treat served with red wine.
Pag Island produces Paski Sir (pungent cheese which has been soaked in olive oil and aged in stone) and top quality lamb.
Dalmatia produces wines and local brandies such as Rakija and Slijivovica (plum).
Continental Croatia (northern Croatia near Slovenia and Hungary)
The flavors in this area are influenced by central Europe. FOCUS: sausages, sauerkraut, bread, dumplings and meat, for example.
is a roast with more than one meat: Svinjetina (pork), Janjetina (lamb) and Patka (duck). It is served with M (baked noodles) or roasted potatoes. Another popular dish isZ (fried bread crumb covered veal steak stuffed with ham and cheese) served with Palacinke (crepes). The region of Slavonia bears strong Hungarian influences (one is a liberal use of paprika). On menus you can find F, pike and perch served with vegetables and noodles) and Slavonian Kulen (paprika flavored sausages served with soft cheese, tomatoes and peppers).
Sweets are O (walnut cake) and M (poppy cake) which are served strong local coffee.
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