Dalmatia is a Croatian coastal region. A true Mediterranean heart of Croatia, Dalmatia is traditionally the land of fishermen, wine and olive makers. Food lovers visiting Dalmatia can enjoy the range of Croatian seafood, including the whole spectrum of Adriatic fish, prawns, oysters, mussels, clams, calamari, octopus and much else. Recently, Dalmatia has become famous internationally for its tuna farms.
Croatian cuisine is very proud when it comes to local ingredients, Dalmatian cuisine being no exception. The simplicity of traditional recipes using exclusively local ingredients is the must of every meal. Take fish, for example. Basically, Dalmatians prepare their fish in three ways. They grill it, or cook it all bianco, or prepare tasty light fish stews such as brodetto or gregada. The fish is always served along some home-grown vegetables such as Swiss chard cooked with olive oil, with the addition of parsley and garlic.
Swiss chard is a champion of another famed and simple dish, called soparnik. Once the food of peasants, today this modest yet savory pie officially became a part the Croatian intangible heritage.
The wide range of seafood risotto recipes are another Dalmatian specialty, practically a staple food. Oysters and mussels are always used fresh and cooked fast, with a little seasoning, just enough to bring out all the fantastic natural flavors. As to the soups, Dalmatian people like their fish soup to be clear and light, almost medicinal.
When it comes to meat, the cooking lore follows the same guidelines: the fresher, the simpler, the better. Food lovers will definitely enjoy peka, a signature Dalmatian dish. This is a recipe that goes thousands of years back: definitely tried and tasted! The cooking process is deceivingly simple because it requires certain fire-tending skills. Peka is done with veal, lamb, octopus, goat meat or even poultry – just name it. The meat is mixed with potatoes, vegetables and some Mediterranean herbs of your choice, such as rosemary, and placed under the bell where it is slow-cooked. This allows the juices to mix and mingle, eventually producing the wonderful, salivating aromas. No wonder peka is the highlight of Dalmatian cuisine!
Naturally, Dalmatian menu has its sweet finish. Actually lots of them. Beloved traditional sweets are krostule and fritule, sugar-coated fried pastry treats. Once cooked only during Christmas, nowadays the accompany every feast and season. You can try traditional crème such as paradižot or fruity treats like smokvenjak, made from locally produced figs.
All that seafood and peka dishes deserve the worthy accompanying drinks. People in Dalmatia say seafood must swim three times: first in the sea, then in the quality olive oil and finally – in wine. This lore is obeyed with an almost fervent dedication.
Dalmatia is a world-class wine region, with many wineries and world-awarded wines. The grape varieties in Croatia can sometimes be confusing to visitors, and not just because of unfamiliar names, but because many of the indigenous varieties are used in a very limited area with its own microclimate. Some of the highly regarded wines are Plavac Mali, Postup, Pošip, Dingač, Debit, Grk, and Bogdanuša. World wine experts have recently confirmed that Dalmatian variety called Crljenak or Dobričić is the ancestor of famous Zinfandel. Sure to satisfy every food lover’s palate, Dalmatian wines perfectly pair with seafood or peka or appetizers such as prosciutto. As to the sweet treats, they are to be enjoyed with Prošek, a Dalmatian dessert wine made from dried grapes, similar to Italian Vin Santo. A welcome alternative are liquors made from locally grown fruits or a great variety of locally made herbal brandies.
A typical Dalmatian tavern, called konoba, is by a rule situated in an authentic backdrop. Food lovers will appreciate enjoying their food tours as they cruise from a historic town to a picturesque village, along with the spectacular seascape. Before, during or after those unforgettable meals, you can enjoy some beautiful old architecture, stone-paved streets, churches, places, and squares. All set against that crystal clear Adriatic sea with its one thousand islands, in between pines and olive groves. And with a vista of vineyards, painstakingly incised into white glaring stone, generation after generation, century after century.
Historical cities such as Split or Šibenik are buzzing, lively Mediterranean hubs, boasting stunning UNESCO world heritage sites, restaurants and taverns. However, charming and intimate small towns, such as Skradin, situated at the edge of National Park Krka and its pristine waterfalls, offer their own take on traditional Croatian seafood dishes in an authentic and intimate ambient
Without any doubt, Dalmatia possesses the unmistaken Mediterranean charm. Its scents, sounds, and sites are sure to get you into that unique Dalmatian mood of sweet-doing-nothing or – as locals call it – fjaka.
The whole year round. Avoid July and August if you can. During these months traffic is heavy and you’ll spend too much time in the van.
fish, shells, herbs, vegetables
Brela, Split, Trogir, Zadar, Šibenik, Krka River and some 1200 islands
Tour With Zoran
Petra Svačića 41c
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