Croatian cooking is typically Mediterranean with fish, shellfish, fresh vegetables and olive oil taking centre stage. Varieties of fish include dog’s tooth, gilthead, grouper, mackerel, sardines and sea bass. You will find cuttlefish, octopus and squid, lobsters, mussels, oysters and shrimps. These are presented grilled or in stews and risottos.
The local smoked ham is very good. Lamb is also highly regarded, especially baked on an open fire.
There are some interesting local dishes, some found on individual islands, to be sought out or avoided. Take Vitalec as an example – lamb’s offal wrapped in lamb gut and spike-roasted, not everbodys idea of culinary heaven.
Regions with a plentiful supply of fresh water, the Neretva valley, Trilj and the Cetina basin, are well for their frog, eel and river crab dishes.
Pag and Dubrovnik produce high quality sheep’s cheese. Pag’s is known as Paski-Sir, a hard, distinctively flavoured cheese. The unique flavour comes from the method of rubbing the cheese with olive oil and ash before leaving it to mature; in addition, the sheep eat a diet that includes many wild herbs such as sage.
Dalmatian desserts are good too. The most usual ingredients include almonds, eggs, honey, local fruit, dried figs and raisins. Try Orehnjaca, a sweet bread with walnuts or poppy seeds. Palacinke are pancakes usually served with jam or chocolate.
Dalmatian wines have been regarded highly since ancient times. Famous wines include Babic from Primosten, Dingac and Postup from the Peljesac Peninsula and Plancic from the island of Hvar. There are also good local brandies and liqueurs.