Photo by Maja Danica Pečanić

The Food that Amazed Anthony Bourdain

What better way to escape the pressures of everyday life than a vacation on Croatia’s Adriatic coast, where everything is simple, providing the ultimate relaxing escape? Sunshine – check. Beaches – check. Some of the cleanest sea in the world – check. And food. The best for the last.

The Chef Recommends

Anthony Bourdain famously pronounced himself an idiot for not discovering Croatian cuisine sooner and delivering the magic of Croatia’s gourmet offer into living rooms all over the world. And one of the biggest secrets of this cuisine? Simplicity. Simple as that!

The Changing Menu

Freshness is another key factor in the changing seasonal menu , with its roots back in the harsh realities of life on the coast and islands. The family diet was totally dependent on what one could source locally. Peasant food, made at home based on grandma’s recipes that were passed on for generations. Perhaps your grandma was right; everything really used to be better!

The Natural Influence

The proximity of the sea was of course a major source of gastronomic treasures, and the fresh fish and abundant seafood remain one of the top attractions of a visit to the Croatian coast today. Other key ingredients, such as olive oil and wine, continue to be produced by almost all families for their home use. So wine-hopping around the neighborhood should definitely be on your to-do list.

The Beloved Ingredients

Come in spring, and you’ll see locals disappear into the wilds in search of wild asparagus, while in November you can find a sea of orange in the Neretva Valley, whose 1.4 million tangerine trees send quality fruit all over the world. Another key ingredient that makes up the Mediterranean diet includes the essential ‘blitva’ (chard), which combined with potatoes, garlic and olive oil, is one of the most popular side dishes. Meat lovers will be entranced by the sensational lamb on offer, usually prepared on the spit, then lightly flavored and served with a side dish and salad. Simply prepared, full of flavor.

The Comeback of the Century

Ancient recipes, which used to combine these ingredients to make popular peasant food, are today celebrated as gourmet wonders which contribute to the region’s culinary diversity. What a comeback!

The Gourmet To-Do List

Here are a couple of tips&tricks for foodies! Don’t miss out on soparnik (a tasty pie with chard) – the ultimate peasant food from the Poljicka Republic region and today protected as part of Croatian cultural heritage, Viška pogača – a pie from Vis, gregada – seafood heaven from Hvar, or vitalac,- lamb offal from Brač which is also protected as cultural heritage are just some of the unique Croatian offers which are a MUST.

The Markets Catch

Lemons from Vis, the Marasca cherries, Ljubotovica garlic, ubiquitous honey are some of the ingredients you should look for at the local markets. And let us not forget the flavors to be added by the wide range of herbs to be found in this natural paradise. Of course, you need to include some home-made rakija in your gourmet vacation. Cheers or as we Croats say: živjeli!

In a fast-moving world, take some time to slow down the Croatian way. A healthy lifestyle at a relaxed pace, with local food and vibrant tastes, simply prepared.