Yesterday, as part of a family summer tradition, we made a dinner outing to a nearby roadside restaurant that specializes in lamb and suckling pig. This inspired me to think of my favorite Croatian dishes, the things I crave the moment I get off the plane. So here’s my top ten, a mix of continental and coastal specialties that I’d recommend to anyone visiting Croatia.
Lamb from the spit I’ve tried the lamb in Patagonia that everyone raves about but it doesn’t come near the Croatian lamb. The best spots to try it: the islands of Cres and Pag. Sorry vegetarians!
Pašticada This typical dish from the Dalmatian coast is hearty and great to have any time of year. What is it? A beef stew in a red wine sauce, most often accompanied with gnocchi.
Fuži with game meat An Istrian mainstay, this hand-rolled pasta can be served with a million things. Truffles are a popular topping but what I really love are fuži with venison, deer or wild boar.
Fritaja with asparagus This simple tasty dish is basically an Istrian version of an omelette, prepared with wild asparagus that’s picked in spring.
Štrukli This standard from Zagorje are basically large dumplings filled with cottage cheese and typically served with fried bread crumbs. I love to have them baked and covered with loads of sugar.
Filana paprika This dish is comfort food par excellence in my world. It’s far from fancy: green peppers filled with ground meat in a tomato sauce, served with mashed potatoes.
Brodet There are few things in life as delicious as having this Dalmatian fish stew with a side of polenta after a long day on the beach.
Kalja A downhome peasant dish, this stew features lamb and veal as well as cabbage, potato and carrots. My mom’s is the best.
Purica s mlincima Another Zagorje specialty, roasted turkey with broad baked noodles known as mlinci is often served at celebrations and special occasions.
Lignje You can have your squid fried or breaded but whatever you do, make sure you order a side of boiled potatoes and blitva (swiss chard) in olive oil.