1001 DALMATIAN FLAVOURS – 5 must-try dishes in Dalmatia
Mediterranean cuisine is continuously being praised for being the healthiest, with the region being blessed with a wealth of fresh ingredients such as fruits, fish, herbs, and vegetables being available, creating sumptuous concoctions loved throughout the world. Croatian cuisine cannot be defned alone as just Mediterranean, as its influence goes far beyond the azure coastline of the Med. In fact, Croatian culinary traditions have been greatly influenced by its previous conquerors; French, Austro-Hungarian, Italian, and Ottoman and some of the preferred dishes are a melting pot of all these. What to eat? Where to eat? These questions are increasingly being asked by tourists as it is recognized how iportant culinary experiences ar for travellers, bringing them even closer to a local culture, far more so than sightseeing might do. Let's zoom in on Dalmatia to taste the local favourites and find out who makes the best.
Simple is often the best, and peka is definitely back-to-basics comfort food. Under a čripnja, a bell-like lid covered in coal for about two hours, a concoction of meat – lamb, veal, octopus or chicken – with vegetables, olive oil and fres herbs, makes up peka This ancient way of preparing food results in the juiciest of juciest roasts you would have ever come across.
Another simple bite comes from Dalmatia's „furthest-out“ island of Vis. The Viška pogača is a focaccia-like sandwich filled with anchovies, onion and olive oil which was put together by house wives as a survival snack for their fishermen husbands who would often be out on the sea for days on end; it was cheap, tasty, and nutritious! The town of Komiža on Vis also has its own pogača variation, with added tomato sauce and its up to you to discover which version you like the most.
Pašticada si any blue-collar's favourite lunch-break meal and a compulsory dish at every Dalmatian feast. This beef stew smothered in a thick sweet sauce oozes with a million flavours, a result of several days of marinating in vinegar, lemon and rosemary and sizzled slowly with carrots, red wine, cloves, nutmeg and Dalmatian prosciutto (pršut). Every konoba (tavern) will likely have a pašticada on the menu served with homemade gnocchi.
A stew of Adriatic goodness, gregada is a specialty from the island of Hvar that combines various whitefish, potatoes, white wine, olive oil and garlic into a flavourful pot. The best gregadais cooked slowly and is never stirred, only shaken.
There are also a few dishes that fall into the „bizarre“ bites category, but that doesn't make them any less tasteful. Vitalac is an ancient dish from the island of Brač where lambs's offal is fired on a spit, then wrapped in cault to be further grilled; the result is a bacon-crispy sensation with a tender stuffing. Brač is famed for their lamb that has not yet tasted grass, but only their mother's milk that has grazed off salty pastures abundant with Mediterranean wild herbs. Vitalac came about as an appetizer to nibble on as you wait for the lamb on the spit to be fire up.
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