Monday, 23 January 2023

Employment in Croatia on Record High Levels, Job Ads Popping up Daily

January 23, 2023 - Good trends in the Croatian labour market. One million and 617 thousand residents are currently working, with the level of employment in Croatia last being that high back in 2008. In addition, the country marks record low unemployment, equal to the average of the European Union: 121,189 residents.

However, as Poslovni / HRT report, long-term unfavorable trends are still present. The aging population and the outflow of working-age people to other European countries. The ratio between employees and pensioners is still unfavorable - the number of workers per pensioner is 1:1.32. The job market opportunities, though, are changing faster than ever before.

Living in Croatia and working remotely for an employer who may not even be in the same time zone is an increasingly popular form of work in the country. Globalization has also affected Croatia. Employers based in the country have fewer and fewer professionals at their disposal because it is more profitable for such workers to be self-employed and freelance.

Labour market

"This means significant support for foreign employers, who are not registered in the Republic of Croatia, which means that the high subsidies given for independent work should be abolished compared to work based on an employment contract," said Hrvoje Balen, the president of Algebra's Board of Directors and president of the Executive Board of HUP ICT.

The demand for labour is still very strong. For example, employers in tourism are starting to look for workers earlier every season. Last year, 120,000 permits were issued to foreign workers, while at the same time, we have an equal number of unemployed people.

"We certainly expect growth; I think this is a strong growth that will not be pronounced in the future; we expect an increase of twenty to thirty percent, it is difficult to estimate at this moment because a lot of these work permits are extended permits for people to stay and work in Croatia," said Ivan Vidiš, the State Secretary in the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development.

There are more and more job ads, with a 22 increase in their number compared to 2019 on the Moj Posao portal alone. However, job advertisements from foreign employers do not follow this trend.

"Unfortunately, our market is exhausted, and in principle, there is a reduction in foreign advertisements in Croatia. Simply, so many people have moved out of Croatia that now it is more difficult for foreigners to find them, and they are looking further south, further east, on other continents", said the director of the Moj Posao portal, Igor Žonja.

Experts expect that there could be a slowdown in economies this year, which will also affect the labour market.

"We can see a certain slowdown, a cooling of the economy, and the labour market will feel this trend with a small lag; maybe sometime in the spring, slightly lower demand for work will be felt. It all very, very much depends on how much this recession in our foreign partners will hurt Croatia, how deep it will be, and how long it will last", stressed Dr. sc. Marina Tkalec, Institute of Economics, Zagreb.

In addition, due to inflation, higher wages will be in demand. Although we have more money in our wallets, it is worth less because inflation has grown faster than wages.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Monday, 23 January 2023

The Future is Here: Insect Flour Approved for Sale in Croatia

January 23, 2023 - Some new, unusual products will start appearing on the shelves of Croatian shops from January 24. The European Food Safety Agency approved it, concluding that the consumption of insect flour is not only 100 percent safe but also healthy.

Can you imagine a grasshopper, a mealworm, or a house beetle on your plate? From next week, in the form of insect flour, you'll be able to find them on the shelves of shops throughout Croatia, writes Dnevnik.

The European Food Safety Agency has approved insects as a food product and included them in the "novel food" category. This approval could pave the way for other insects, such as grasshoppers, ants, crickets, flies, and larvae.

"First, we had to get approval at the level of regulatory status to call it a new food," explained nutritionist Darija Vranešić Bender and pointed out: "They contain a lot of protein, from 55 to 85 percent of protein in 100 grams, which would be significantly more than compared to meat, beef, chicken and so on.''

Aleksander Gavrilović is the owner of the first certified insect factory, and his flour is waiting to be sold. The taste, he says, can vary: "If you feed the animal with chocolate the day before, you will get a chocolate flavour. Give them chocolate, apples, blackberries - you'll get all those flavours. You can use the flour to make anything - pancakes, bread, cakes.''

It is quite powdery under your fingers, it looks similar to cocoa powder, and the smell is pure chocolate, Dnevnik Nova TV reporter Sara Duvnjak described her impressions.

Vranešić believes that no matter how traditional Croatian people are, they are becoming more and more open to new cuisines: "If we look at other civilizations, they have consumed such foods in abundance for quite a long time. We call it entomophagy.

In certain Asian countries, insects are used as a crunchy dessert that, most importantly, does not cause weight gain. The nutritionist explains why: "They are of a relatively favourable fat content, which is approximately 20 to 30 percent, and a lot of that are unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, which are also beneficial for our health''.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Monday, 23 January 2023

Croatian Radio New York Launches Podcast Called Study in Croatia

January the 23rd, 2023 - Something new for the diaspora across the pond in the United States of America which aims to keep them connected to the homeland of their parents or grandparents. Croatian Radio New York's new podcast is likely to attract many.

Croatian Radio New York launches a podcast ‘Study in Croatia’. The aim of this podcast is to inform high school students, their parents, relatives and friends about the possibilities and admission processes for studying at the Croatian universities and colleges. During the first two podcasts, six higher education institutions were presented. Podcasts were hosted by Joseph Bogovic, senior at Townsend Harris High School in Queens, Srecko Mavrek, Croatian Radio NY host, Sara Skoda, college counselor at Townsend Harris High School in Queens, and Petra Pesa, Croatian Radio NY president and host. Boris Vilic, dean of the School of Professional Studies at Albright College in Pennsylvania, gave his introductory and final remarks to the podcast participants. He also introduced his voluntary work as a chair of the charitable foundation of the Association of Croatian American Professionals, ACAP, through which he led the creation of the Domovina Birthright Summer Program and several collaborations with institutions in higher education in Croatia.

Podcast Study in Croatia 1

Studying at the Rochester Institute of Technology Croatia (RIT Croatia) was presented by dean Don Hudspeth, a Canadian that has been with RIT Croatia since the beginning and lives with his family in Dubrovnik, and Ivan Smoljan, Recruitment and Enrollment Specialist. Valentina Vucenik, RIT Croatia freshmen, described her experience and student’s life in Zagreb.

Izabela Oletic Tusek, Head of International Department at the Faculty of Organization and Informatics (FOI) in Varazdin, and prof dr. sc. Violeta Vidacek Hains, Head of Student Research Symposium in collaboration with Universities in USA and College Professor, introduced studying options at the FOI. Students Jerry John Antolos and Erik Duranec described their views and excitement about studying at the FOI in Varazdin.

Dean Dr. Sc. Mato Njavro introduced the Zagreb School of Economics and Management (Croatian: Zagrebačka škola ekonomije i managementa, abbreviated as ZŠEM), which is a private business school located in Zagreb. Founded in 2002, ZSEM provides undergraduate and graduate education in economics, management, finance, marketing, and accounting. ZSEM has been voted the best business school in Croatia for five consecutive years, most recently in 2012, and is Croatia's largest private institution of higher education. In 2013, the Zagreb School of Economics and Management became the first business school in Croatia to receive AACSB accreditation. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, also known as AACSB International, is an American professional organization. It was founded as the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business in 1916 to provide accreditation to schools of business, and was later known as the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business and as the International Association for Management Education. Ruzica Lipovac, student at ZSEM, was born and raised in New York. She moved to Zagreb and followed in her older brother’s footsteps to enroll in the Zagreb School of Economics & Management. As a former International Baccalaureate student, with all her studies being in English, she wanted to continue having a global learning experience. The knowledge obtained has given her the expertise to help run businesses in the US and Croatia.  

Lovre Kolega, ZSEM alumni, is from the USA, specifically Florida. He moved to Croatia in 2013 to attend high school and continued studies at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management - completing the undergraduate program in Economics and Management. During studies at ZSEM, with the support of ZSEM's Career Center he got an internship at Rimac Technology, where he was immediately hired after graduating and where he is currently continuing his career path as a Project Coordinator.

The University of Rijeka is in the City of Rijeka, the third largest city in Croatia and the main Croatian port. As one of the largest universities in the region, it comprises 12 Faculties and 4 Departments, which offer more than 172 accredited study programs. University of Rijeka welcomes international students through student mobility stays, degree study programs or research/guest activities. To support mobility, the University has signed more than 600 bilateral Erasmus agreements with 30 countries and takes part in various bilateral and multilateral ventures in higher education. Students who wish to enroll in full degree study programs at University of Rijeka have the possibility of choosing study programs in English and Croatian language, attainable on undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate study level. Podcast speakers from the University of Rijeka were:

Prof Dr. Sc. Marta Zuvic, vice-rector for studies, students and quality assurance University of Rijeka

Marija Spoljaric  - Student International Business at Business College at University of Rijeka, student ambassador on the Ambassador Platform

Tyler Zanki – alumni born and raised in New Jersey to Croatian Parents. Graduated with a Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering in May of 2020. A year ago, he moved to Croatia, and now is studying at the Faculty of Chemical Engineering and Technology at the University of Zagreb. 

Aspira University College is a private college and a nonprofit institution, which organizes and conducts professional studies of Sport Management, Computer Science – Program Engineering, International Management in Hospitality and Tourism and Hospitality and Tourism Management. Aspira was presented by the following speakers:

Petra Mandac – Assistant Dean of International Cooperation

Josip Radic – International Relations Coordinator

Laura Mishevska - student

Algebra University College offers to the next generation of its students a possibility to study in English on validated bachelor study programs in the fields of computing, design and management and a unique chance to receive a Dual Degree from AUC and Goldsmiths, University of London. Algebra University College is the flagship of largest private educational organization in Republic of Croatia and the region (Algebra group), present today in more than 20 cities across Croatia. Founded in 1998, they currently have more than 150 full-time employees and more than 600 associated experts and higher educational faculties employed also in industry. Algebra is located in historic CUC campus in the heart of Croatian capital Zagreb, while adult education and training programs are conducted also in: Osijek, Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Split, Varazdin and Dubrovnik, as well as in more than ten other smaller cities. Algebra University College was presented by:

Hrvoje Josip Balen – President of the Board of Trustees at Algebra University College   and

Lidija Šimrak - Head of the International Office at Algebra University College.

“It was a great pleasure to moderate this informative podcast together with Joseph, who is such talented young man. Valentina was also a great contributor to discussions. I strongly believe in a big potential of the young people. My hope is that studying in Croatia will strengthen the ties between Croatia and Croatian communities around the world and develop solidarity among Croatian youth from many diaspora communities and homeland”, said Mavrek.

Podcast Study in Croatia 3 2

For more on the Croatian diaspora, follow our lifestyle section.

Monday, 23 January 2023

Fantastic Donna Vekic Advances to Australian Open Quarterfinal

January 32, 2023 - Croatian tennis player Donna Vekic advanced to the quarterfinal of the Australian Open after defeating the 17-year-old Czech Linda Fruhvirtova in the fourth round with 6:2, 1:6, 6:3 after two hours and seven minutes of play.

As Index writes, Donna Vekic played the first set brilliantly against the young Czech, hitting winners from all positions, but in the second part of the game, there was a big drop in the game of this 26-year-old Osijek player.

She lined up with unforced errors, so the third set decided the winner. Before the final set, Vekic went to the dressing room and took almost ten minutes of rest, which had a positive effect. For Vekic, this is her second entry into the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament after the US Open in 2019.

Her opponent will be fifth seed Arina Sabalenka, who knocked out Olympic winner Belinda Bencic 7:5, 6:2 in the fourth round. Vekic and Sabalenka have played six times so far, with the Croatian tennis player winning five times.

They met in the quarterfinals of San Diego (2022), at the Olympic Games (2021), in the semifinals of San Jose (2019), in the second round of Cincinnati (2017), and the first round of St. Petersburg (2016), and in the semifinals of the same tournament (2017).

"This is the first time I feel like I can win a Grand Slam"

Vekic knocked out Oksana Selehmetova, Ljudmila Samsonova, Nuria Parrizas-Diaz, and Linda Fruhvirtov on her way to her biggest success at the first Grand Slam of the season. Here is what Donna Vekic stated before the match with the Czech player:

"Everything started to fall into place at the end of last year. I played really well after the US Open; I improved a lot in Thailand and San Diego, where many wins inspired a lot of confidence. I saw that I could play at the top level again. After the surgery, it took me a year to get back to that level, and I'm glad it continues at the beginning of 2023."

"Perhaps because of all the difficulties I had with injuries, I now appreciate it more when I have the opportunity to play, especially in the biggest stadiums and tournaments. Of course, it's even better if I win; I have a clear goal in my head, tennis fulfills me, and I'm completely dedicated to achieving that goal," said Donna Vekic, then explained what that goal was.

"Every tennis player's goal is to win the Grand Slam, but the difference is that for the first time in my life, I believe I can do it," concluded the currently 64th player in the WTA ranking. The best ranking in her career was 19. She won three singles tournaments, where she earned almost 5.7 million dollars.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Sport section.

Monday, 23 January 2023

The Vegliot Dialect - The Krk Romance Language Extinct Since 1898

January the 23rd, 2023 - The Vegliot dialect, which is also often referred to as Vegliotic, is a now extinct Romance language once spoken on the island of Krk. The last speaker of the Vegliot dialect was Antonio Udina (Tuone Udaina), who passed away in June 1898. Little is known about the dialect named after the Italian name for Krk (Veglia).

We've explored many of the dialects, subdialects and indeed languages in their own right as some linguists consider them to be which are spoken across modern Croatia. From the Dubrovnik subdialect (Ragusan) in the extreme south of Dalmatia to Northwestern Kajkavian in areas like Zagorje, the ways in which people speak in this country deviate from what we know as standard Croatian language enormously. That goes without even mentioning much about old DalmatianZaratin, once widely spoken in and around Zadar, Istriot, or Istro-Venetian

A brief history of the Vegliot dialect

Of the now extinct languages once spoken on modern Croatian territory, we've looked into Istrian-Albanian, which became extinct in the nineteenth century after being introduced to parts of Istria by ethnic Albanians settled there by Venice who spoke in the Gheg (or Geg) variety of modern Albanian. Now we'll jump back into our linguistic time machine and head back into the island of Krk's past, during which the Vegliot dialect was spoken all the way until June 1898, when the last person to speak it died.

As mentioned above, the Vegliot dialect is named after the Italian name for Krk - Veglia, and its closest ''relative'' is believed to be Istro-Romanian, another Romance language once spoken more widely spoken across the Istrian peninsula, more precisely in the nothwestern parts near the Cicarija mountain range. There are two groups of speakers despite the fact that the language spoken by both is more or less absolutely identical, the Vlahi and the Cici, the former coming from the south side of the Ucka mountain, and the latter coming from the north side.

This language has been described as the smallest ethnolinguistic group in all of Europe, and without a lot more effort being put into preservation, the next few decades to come will almost certainly result in the complete extinction of the Istro-Romanians and their language.

A  Western Italian dialect of Dalmatic, the Vegliot dialect was once spoken by a group of Morlachs (pastoralists) who were engaged in herding. As each of these individuals passed away, the last remaining was speaker was the aforementioned Antonio Udina, who was often affectionately called Burbur.

Antonio Udina (Tuone Udaina)

Udina was born in 1823 on the island of Krk, and died on June the 10th, 1898, losing his life in a road mine explosion and taking the Vegliot dialect with him into the beyond. Nicknamed Burbur, Udina is deemed the last person to fluently speak in the Vegliot dialect, but he was in actual fact not a native speaker of this language. He had learned the dialect (or language, for argument's sake) from his parents who both hailed from the island of Krk and spoke it as their native tongue.

Well known Italian linguist Matteo Bartoli wrote a paper on Dalmatian/Dalmatic language(s) way back in 1897, in what was to be the final full year of Udina's life. At that time, Udina had not spoken in that language for around twenty years, and he had also suffered dental issues so severe they had affected the movements of his mouth and as such he speech, and on top of that - he was also deaf.

Despite being deemed the last speaker of the Vegliot dialect, he is not considered a reliable source in regard to this language owing to his health issues. That said, after Udina was killed in a road mine explosion, the Vegliot dialect also died and is unlikely to ever be heard again.

 

For more on the Croatian language and the many dialects and subdialects spoken across this small but diverse country, make sure to check out our lifestyle section. An edition on language is published every Monday.

Sunday, 22 January 2023

More Questions on Missing Russian Yacht Irina Vu in Croatia

January 22, 2023 - The story surrounding the missing Russian yacht Irina VU is getting weirder and weirder. There are many questions, these are the most important by Vedran Salvia for Index.hr

TODAY's statement by the Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, has deepened the issue of the sailing of the Russian yacht under the sanctions of Irina VU, and not resolved it.

She had to go through police and border control in Dubrovnik

What we knew until today is that the luxury yacht Irina VU, owned by the wife of Russian oligarch Ališer Usmanov, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was under EU, US and UK sanctions and was prohibited from sailing.

She was anchored in Betina on Murter, and according to the information from the website, she sailed from the Betina marina on October 6 at 10:14, and on October 9 around 12:00, she was in the Turkish port of Didim. In order for the yacht to leave Croatian territorial waters, it had to go through police and border control and control by the Port Authority in Dubrovnik.

Let's also recall the words of Frano Matušić at the beginning of the text, that is, on July 13, a decision was made to freeze the yacht. How did something like that get around the police? I guess that should be more important than the remark of one employee of the port master's office to other port masters' offices.

After all, what about the employees of the marina and shipyard on Murter? How did they not see that there was no yacht that was under sanctions and how was no one informed about it for three months? Furthermore, the people in charge at the marina and the boathouse had to give permission because a yacht that is in dry dock cannot be launched just like that.

To put such a vessel into operation, as we have learned from unofficial conversations with port and marina employees, a crane must be raised, the ship lowered into the sea according to someone's request, the crew must be notified. So, you need to do some paperwork, do all those actions that precede her sailing.

How did the crew know the surveillance system didn't see the blockage?

All the entities mentioned in this text were contacted by Index, looking for answers, which apparently are still not available to the public. We did not receive answers to written inquiries, and phone calls, as usually happens on Fridays in state institutions and companies, did not bear fruit. We were only answered by SOA, writing that they cannot comment on this case.

The most important questions are the ones we asked Butković's ministry. We were interested in who was supervising the yacht in the Betina skver (we asked the skver himself), but also who issued the order to lower the yacht into the sea, as well as whether permission was issued for it to set sail.

We asked this ministry, as well as the MUP and the Dubrovnik police, how the ship passed the border control in Dubrovnik. Finally, we were also interested in how the crew knew that the surveillance system did not see the blockage that Minister Butković was talking about today.

If they had known this, some logic dictates, they would not have gone to the border control, which they obviously had to cross. We were also interested in who made up the crew and what the sealing of the vessel implies, i.e. whether it also means a mechanical ban on driving the vehicle.

Hajdaš Dončić: There is no system, no control

Another state secretary, the one in the relevant ministry of the sea, Alen Gospočić told Slobodna Dalmacija that this is pure theft, so it is unclear how it was not reported as such, which is actually the story's context.

He also said something interesting to Slobodna Dalmacija - that they cannot have security guards in the ports and that it is an open marina, where everyone can come without any problems. "In the port of Betina, everything is open to anyone's access. Both you and I can come there, walk along the waterfront and jump on any yacht that is moored there.

The Ministry informed the port that the yacht was blocked, the harbor master issued an instruction to the authorities that the yacht should not be accessed in any way, and the Ministry does not hire security services for 24-hour guarding of other people's property, nor does it plan to do so, because such a system is unsustainable ", says Gospočić.

After all, Slobodna Dalmacija rightly asked itself how it is possible for the company Brodogradilište i marina, whose founder is Adut Konzalting, a company from Split, to let a ship leave without paying its bill. Especially the one that is under sanctions and is 35 meters long.

We also called the former line minister Siniša Hajdaš Dončić. "My brown yacht sails in the basement under the manhole, that's how one could characterize the total absence of a control system in Plenković's, sorry Luj 14 administration.

The harbor master should have been informed of the seizure and then the harbor master's office cannot issue a navigation permit. As I said, there is no system, no control," said Hajdaš Dončić briefly.

Former captain Obradović: I was on two sealed ships, there were armed security guards around us

We had a long talk on this topic with the former Dubrovnik sailor, long-sea captain Đorđe Obradović, who twice found himself on ships that were sealed by the port authorities. His statements actually best suggest what kind of procedure is involved in serious countries.

"Due to debts owed to suppliers of fuel and supplies, the ship I was sailing on was sealed by the port authorities in the port of Nassau in the Bahamas. We were tied to the waterfront for about a month, and the ship was guarded by two security guards armed only with pistols, who among other equipment had portable radio devices.

The ship was sealed very simply by placing a seal similar to the ones used on electricity meters in apartments on the cabinet with the ship's master certificate and important documents.

No one was allowed to enter the ship except for the crew who were allowed to go out, but only with a port pass, while passports and seaman's books were on board, in a sealed cabinet with other documents. From time to time, the control of the security company and the port authorities would come and tour the ship. When the company settled the debt, the port authorities unsealed the ship and allowed it to sail," he says.

He said more about the second case.

"The second time I was on the ship was in Galveston, Texas, when the company sold the ship to another owner. The US Coast Guard took away the ship's most important certificates and documents, and they put seals on the helm on the bridge and on the handle to start the main engine in the engine room There were security guards on the ship and next to it.

The sealing of the ship itself is a symbolic act and in some countries it can be a simple piece of paper prohibiting sailing. The actual seizure is taken care of by the authorities of the state that seizes the ship for various reasons, and in addition to the security guards who physically guard the ship, the most important thing is radar navigation surveillance, which identifies vessels, monitors their movement and takes the necessary actions, from permission to prohibition of navigation," he said.

"The seal can be removed, but no one would dare to do that"

Was it possible to remove these fillings?

"Of course, with slightly stronger pliers, but no one would dare to do that. Not only would the security guards alert the coast guard, but the coast guard would detect even the slightest movement of the ship with radar tracking.

Another reason is that none of the crew would dare to do something like that in America, because they would be blacklisted, lose their certificates and the right to an American visa, which were then mandatory, which would mean that they would not be able to board anywhere in the world. and work as a sailor.

As soon as the new company paid all the expenses the ship had from the sale to the takeover, the certificates were returned and it was allowed to set sail," said former captain Obradović.

We ask him how the seized Russian yacht Irina VU was able to set sail.

"It is really difficult to answer that question. A detailed investigation will show that, but considering the whole strange situation, it is possible that it was a combination of unfortunate circumstances for the Croatian authorities or a well-planned action by the shipowner with the help of someone from Croatia.

Everything was certainly well planned, but the question arises as to how they dared to take away the confiscated yacht, i.e. how did they know that the other harbor authorities were not informed about the seizure, so the Irina VU sailed from the Adriatic, even though she was spotted and tracked by radar and properly signed off before leaving Croatian waters.

If other harbor authorities, except the Šibenik one, had known that it was a seized vessel, the Irina VU would not have been able to leave the Adriatic. The Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure must investigate everything that happened and provide answers to your questions, because this is of interest to the public, and causes astonishment among seafarers," he added.

Former head of SOA Letica: There is probably corruption here

Former head of SOA operations, Ante Letica, said that several elements probably came together in this case.

"It is probably, I will not say about some negligence, but indolence of state bodies and organs, there is probably also corruption in this and that is why it is necessary not only that the port captains, the port authorities, the police and so on, but also the SOA , to investigate it, to see what is negligence, irresponsibility, indolence, and what is corruption. Someone will have to answer for that," said Letica.

He pointed out that it is strange to him how the yacht got into the sea from dry mooring.

"Then the crew was there and they sailed to Dubrovnik, completed the details that needed to be done - approvals from the port authorities, refueled, and it sailed out of Croatian territorial waters. That needs to be seen and I think that the State Attorney's Office will give the legal qualification of that act. We need to see where there is indolence, irresponsibility, negligence of state bodies, and where there is corruption, bribery and so on, and everyone should be held accountable according to their part of responsibility," said Letica.

He expressed the hope that everyone in the decision-making chain woke up because of this case and noticed the irregularities and gaps that need to be filled. "Now those yachts are better guarded, there are supposedly sailors there all the time who take care of maritime safety, there are also security guards, and I hope that this has now been raised to a higher level," said Letica.

Usmanov: I'm no longer married to Irina

The reaction of Alisher Usmanov's public relations office has since arrived following the publication of this article, we'll transmit that press release in its entirety:

"Mr. Usmanov and Irina Viner are no longer married. Furthermore, Mr. Usmanov is not the owner of the yacht Irina VU and is in no way connected with the vessel's disappearance from the Betina marina.

Mr. Usmanov is not an "oligarch" either - a term used to refer to businessmen who have profited through ties to the state and, more specifically, to those who participated in the privatisation of Russian state assets after the collapse of the Soviet Union. None of this applies to Mr. Usmanov, who made his fortune by creating his own companies and making very successful deals and investments on the open market."

Sunday, 22 January 2023

Snow on Islands, Chaos on Roads in Croatia

January 22, 2023 - After a very mild couple of weeks, snow has blanketed much of Croatia, causing chaos on the roads, reports Index.hr

A sudden cold snap in Croatia has covered much of the country in snow, including Dalmatian islands such as Vis, Brac, Hvar and Korcula (see Korcula in the video below), causing multiple problems on Croatia's roads.

The latest update from HAK (Croatian Roads) offers this advice (you can find the updated news on this link):

Throughouth the interior and in Dalmatia traffic is flowing with delays due to snow. Roads are very slippery too. Along the coast strong wind is blowing.

 

Due to very strong wind passenger traffic is allowed only:

  • on the DC25 Gospić-Karlobag state road;
  • on the section of the DC8 Adriatic road Karlobag-Sveta Marija Magdalena.

On the A7 Draga-Šmrika motorway there is a traffic ban on: doubledeckers, trailers, motorcycles, on the part of the DC8 Adriatic road Bakar-Karlobag, on the DC99 Križišće junction-Križišće state road and on the LC58107 Kraljevica-Križišće local road on the delivery vans and vehicles with covered cargo area too.

 

At Krk bridge traffic is suspended for: motorcycles, campers, campers with three or more axles, vans over 1,9 m of height, doubledeckers and passenger vehicles with a one-axle-trailer.

 

Due to winter driving conditions there is a traffic ban on freight vehicles with trailers and all other vehicles have to use the winter equipment on the following roads of

Gorski kotar mountain area:

  • Karlovac-Zdihovo-Delnice-Kikovica;
  • most state, regional and local roads in the area of Čabar, Vrbovsko, Delnice, Gornje Jelenje;

Lika mountain area and in the central parts:

  • DC1 Vaganac-Korenica-Gračac-Knin;
  • DC6 Jurovski Brod-Karlovac-Vojnić;
  • DC23 Duga Resa-Generalski Stol-Josipdol-Kapela;
  • DC25 Korenica-Lički Osik;
  • DC27 Gračac-Zaton Obrovački;
  • DC42 Josipdol-Plaški-Saborsko-Kuselj;
  • DC50 Žuta Lokva (DC23)-Lički Osik, Sv. Rok-Gračac;
  • DC52 Špilnik-Korenica;
  • DC204 Pribanjci border crossing-Bosiljevo junction;
  • DC217 Ličko Petrovo Selo-Ličko Petrovo Selo border crossing;
  • DC218 Bjelopolje-Donji Lapac-Užljebić border crossing;
  • DC220 Tijarica (Vukina Strana)-Kamensko;
  • DC228 Jurovski Brod (DC6)-Kamanje-Ozalj-Karlovac (DC1);
  • DC429 Selište Drežničko-Prijeboj;
  • DC522 Udbina-Gornja Ploča;
  • DC541 DC6-Novigrad junction (A1)
  • ŽC5144 Sveti Juraj-Krasno;
  • ŽC5140-Krasno-Otočac;
  • regional and local roads in the county of Ličko-senjska.

Traffic is suspended:

  • on the DC36 Karlovac-Sisak state road on the section Pokupsko-Hotnja, at Gradec Pokupski and Jamnica (due to flood);
  • on the DC547 Sveti Rok-Mali Alan state road (due to winter driving conditions);
  • on the ŽC5217 Bruvno-Mazin-Dobroselo and ŽC5203 Srb-Otrić regional roads (due to winter driving conditions).

On the DC5 Okučani-Lipik state road traffic is flowing with delays (driving speed limit of 30 km/h).

On the DC47 Trokut-Novska junction (A3)-Hrvatska Dubica-Hrvatska Kostajnica (DC30)-Dvor (DC6) traffic is suspended for vehicles over 7,5 tonnes (driving speed limit of 40 km/h).

 

Drivers are asked to adjust the way of driving and driving speed to road conditions, to keep the safety distance and not to start the journey without the winter equipment!


Difficulties can occasionally occur in roadwork areas.

Sunday, 22 January 2023

SuperSport HNL 18th Round: Hajduk Inches Closer to Dinamo as League Returns after Winter Break

January 22, 2023 - The SuperSport HNL finally returned after a long winter break, with Croatian clubs back in action from Friday, January 20 to Sunday, January 22. The 18th round brought some unexpected results, making the race for the title interesting as we kicked off the second part of the season. 

Istra 1961 v. Slaven Belupo (0:0)

Istra 1961 and Slaven Belupo opened the 18th round on Friday, January 20, 2023, in Pula, in front of 557 fans. 

The match went without goals, while Istra held more possession (61%) with 15 total shots to Beluop's 5. Istra also had six shots on target to Belupo's 0. 

 

Istra is currently in 6th place with 21 points and a game in hand, while Belupo is in 4th with 27. 

Osijek v. Rijeka (1:1)

Osijek and Rijeka met on Saturday, January 21, 2023, at a snowy City Garden Stadium in front of 2,082 fans. 

The second draw of the 18th round at least featured some goals. Spoljaric scored for the Osijek lead in the 9th minute. Frigan equalized from the penalty spot in the 38th minute for 1:1. Osijek's goal in the 89th minute was called offside thanks to VAR, and the match ended 1:1. Osijek held 49% of possession to Rijeka'ss 51%, with four shots on target compared to Rijeka's 3. 

 

Osijek is currently in 3rd place with 31 points, while Rijeka is in 8th with 16. 

Dinamo v. Gorica (0:0)

Dinamo and Gorica met in the second game on Saturday, January 21, 2023, in front of 3,568 fans who also had to brave the snow.

Not only was this the third draw of the 18th round, but yet another one without goals. Dinamo's goal in the 2nd minute was disallowed due to a foul after consulting VAR. Neither team was able to score for the rest of the match. Dinamo maintained 80% of possession throughout the game compared to Gorica's 20%. Both teams had three shots on target. 

 

Dinamo is currently in 1st place with 42 points and a game in hand, while Gorica is in last place with 9 points. 

Hajduk v. Sibenik (2:1)

Hajduk and Sibenik met at Poljud on Sunday, January 22, 2023, in front of 9,358 fans. 

Sibenik took the lead in the 13th minute when Arai scored for 0:1. Kalik equalized for Hajduk just before halftime for 1:1. Livaja saved the day in the 85th minute with a goal for 2:1, the final result. Hajduk had 70% possession throughout the match compared to Sibenik's 30%. Hajduk also had seven shots on target compared to Sibenik's one. 

 

Hajduk is currently in 2nd place with 38 points, while Sibenik is 9th with 13 points. 

Varazdin v. Lokomotiva (0:0)

Varazdin and Lokomotiva closed out the 18th round on Sunday, January 22, 2023, in front of 785 fans. 

The final draw of the 18th round also saw no goals. However, it was a close match, with Varazdin maintaining 48% of possession compared to Lokomotiva's 52%.  Varazdin had four shots on target compared to 5 for Lokomotiva. 

(no video available)

Varazdin is currently in 5th place with 24 points, while Lokomotiva is in 7th with 19. 

You can check out the HNL table HERE

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 22 January 2023

Croatia Marks THIRTY Years of Official Golf Strategy Failure

January 22, 2023 - After an astonishing 30 years of official golf strategy in Croatia, is it time for someone to be accountable?

This is not an article about golf.

I also hereby state that I have no real opinion or expertise on the merits of golf tourism, and so I offer no opinion on whether or not golf tourism is a good thing or not.

This is an article which uses the official golf strategy in Croatia to highlight the seeming incompetence and unaccountability of those in official positions in charge of charting (and delivering) Croatia's tourism direction. 

While looking into the research for this article, I came across two rather unlikely anniversaries for golf in Croatia. 

Did you know that Croatia is celebrating 100 years of golf tourism in 2023? And that its golfing heritage have some claiming that it is home to the oldest golf resort (please note - resort, not golf course) in the world. From the Brijuni National Park official website:

The construction of the golf course on Brijuni was finished in late 1922, and the first tournament was held on 21 March 1923, a mention of which was published in the Pula daily newspaper at the time. The course was claimed to be one of the biggest in Europe. More recent information suggests that the Brijuni course might have been the first golf resort in the world. The course certainly stood out, not only because of its climate and position (Mediterranean destination in “Mitteleuropa”), but also because of its good reputation. Namely, although European championships were never played here, if you were to read the newspapers and journals of the time, you would have got the sense that the course was exceptionally well-known and recognised, both among golf champions and the upper classes. In addition to world-class golfers, the course was frequented by members of the European aristocracy, the most renowned industrialists and artists. Up to 50 tournaments a year would take place on the course of Brijuni, and the trophies for the best players were finally presented at the New Year's Eve ball and gala dinner. 

The second anniversary Croatian golf is celebrating is even more unlikely given the state of play today (unless you have an insider appreciation of the genius of the Kings of Accidental Tourism): Croatia has now had golf tourism as a key component of its official tourism strategy for THIRTY years, since it first appeared in 1993, in the middle of the Homeland War (see the official document in Narodne Novine):

The new construction of content and capacities in tourism should be focused on the construction of quality additions to the existing offer (golf courses, fitness, etc.). Likewise. it is necessary, when investing (in new or existing facilities), to especially stimulate the construction of hotels of only higher and higher categories (four and five stars), and to stimulate them with tax and communal policy.

In the development and investment sphere, at the level of full state support, several so-called "project shock". These are, above all, projects such as Brijuni, the city of Dubrovnik (a new marina and residential center in the old city center), Tustica near Zadar (a large complex of nautical, golf and exclusive accommodation), the Goli otok project. Opatija, and, possibly, the project of revitalization and bringing the castles of Hrvatski Zagorje into tourist exploitation. In addition, in almost every large tourist company (combination) until yesterday, it is necessary to define and start a basic project that affects any restructuring.

golf-tourism3.png

(Croatia.hr screenshot)

Croatia currently has three 18-hole golf courses, some 30 years later. Brijuni, which opened in 1922, Zapresic near Zagreb (2004), and Golf Adriatic near Savudrija near the Slovenian border, which opened in 2009. The Croatian National Tourist Board tried to have us believe there was an 18-hole golf course called Dolina Kardinala in the middle of Central Zagreb a few years ago, before they removed it when I pointed this out (read more in Tourism Quiz of the Summer: How Many Golf Courses Will Croatia Have Next Week?).

They were right to remove it. Dolina Kardinala closed in 2012, and this is how it looked from a drone tour a few years ago. 

So in 2013, on the 20th anniversary of Croatia's official golf tourism strategy which had yielded just two courses in that time, in addition to the one which opened 90 years previously, the 7-years tourism strategic plan was presented. One could argue that 2 courses in 20 years was not exactly a roaring success, but it did not seem to deter the Kings of Accidental Tourism, who once more put golf at the heart of their long-term strategy. 

golf-tourism-strategy.webp

Not only a healthy interest in golf, but no less than 30 golf courses were to be constructed over the next 7 years, by 2020. Seriously impressive stuff! The strategy document (the link used to work for me, now I get a message of Forbidden 403...):

The 2020 tourism development strategy foresees the construction of 30 new high-quality golf courses, roughly at the following locations: 14 in the northern Adriatic, 8 in the southern Adriatic, and 8 in continental Croatia.

By 2020, the end of the 7-year plan, not a single course had been started. Nobody seemed to mind or make a comment, the 7-year plan had come to an end. 

Indeed, such is the relaxed pace of life in the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism that for the next two years, there wasn't an official strategy document at all, as the next 7-year plan was being worked on. I think I am correct in saying it still has not been officially released some three years later. 

So Croatian tourism has been rudderless without an official 7-year plan for almost three years. Has anyone even noticed?

golf-in-croatia.webpBack to the golf. The plans looked very pretty indeed. 

The difference between Croatia and tiny Slovenia next door is that the Slovenian golf courses were actually real - here is a guide to the 13 Slovenian golf courses compiled by the Total Slovenia News team a few years ago. 

Having marvelled at the genius of the Kingdom's methods over the years, one thing I have learned is that if the Kings are doing nothing, they sure know how to look busy and tell everyone how busy they are, as we explored a few years ago in No Courses Started in 10 Years, But THREE Croatian Golf Tourism Conferences in 2019.

That sure is busy. 

The other thing to do to look busy if nothing is happening is to order an expensive report to show how busy you are. And so the 2017 Golf Action Plan was born.

golf-jack.webp

In the redacted edition of the report, there is mention of two quite special projects - Porto Mariccio in Istria, and Srdj above Dubrovnik.  The latter is currently the subject of a US$500 million lawsuit against the Republic of Croatia, from memory under arbitration in Washington in a suit filed by the Israeli investor, and Porto Mariccio is my favourite Croatian golfing story, for it involves one of the greatest names in golf, the late Jack Niklaus. The Golden Bear arrived with great fanfare in 2016 and was met at the airport by the then Prime Minister Ivo Sanadar (before he went to prison). Nicklaus announced a 200 million euro golf resort called Porto Mariccio in Istria. With the Prime Minister's very public backing, that had to be a cert, surely?  

I contacted the Jack Nicklaus Course Design company in 2018, some 12 years later, while researching Whatever Happened to Jack Nicklaus' Croatian Golf Course, Approved by PM Sanader? asking about their involvement, to get this response:

Unfortunately we have not had any communication with the Porto Mariccio project in a number of years and are unable to provide any update for you.

So here we are in 2023, celebrating 100 years of golf tourism in Croatia, and analysing 30 years of official golf tourism strategy. So where are we? Director of the Croatian National Tourist Board Kristjan Stanicic took time out from issuing SLAPP lawsuits against fat bloggers and gave a quite extraordinary interview to Novi List recently. You can read my take on his interview in Croatia National Tourist Board Finally Adopts Some of My Ideas. On golf, he had this to say:

One of those contents that we may already be a little bored with, but it is certainly golf. In no way to break the deadlock, we are aware that, for example, the south of Portugal and Spain are working on golf during the winter season. Climatically, we are very similar.

We are similar, but with the difference that there are very mild winters, which means that you can play golf all year round. We can use it in some southern destinations, islands, even Istria. But nothing happens overnight. There is a lot of talk about golf, it has been worked on for many years.

The esteemed director might be a little bored with golf, but I think the taxpayer would rather see some results, or at least a focus on some other niche that will have some results.

And perhaps a little accountability for the non-delivery of 30 out of the 30 golf courses to be delievered by 2020. Indeed, what are the results of these 30 years of official golf tourism strategy? 

Two golf courses and a lawsuit for half a billion dollars against. Good job!

But the final word perhaps should go to the official Croatian National Tourist Board website, which is celebrating 100 years of golf tourism. The 18-hole course from central Zagreb has gone, as have the other courses in Croatia. Here is the relevant information about 100 years of golf tourism and 30 years of official golf tourism strategy in the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism:

Your greatest hits

Despite only having a few courses with 18 holes at the moment, besides the one in Brijuni National Park and some private courses, Croatia aims to become a significant golf destination. Just relax during a game walking through fields surrounded by its idyllic countryside and enjoy its gentle climate to find out why.

Soon you’ll discover there is much more than meets the eye, they say that most company decisions are made on golf fields but the only decisions you will have to make are which vineyards to visit, where to go shopping, will you go sailing… or just keep playing one more hole!

As the Croatian National Tourist Board was keen to point out in their SLAPP lawsuits against me, I am not a tourism expert (nor did I claim to be). I don't know a lot about golf either, but one thing I do know is that they are called 'golf courses' not 'golf fields'. Perhaps we can organise another golf conference to discuss. 

Read more - 10 Things I Learned from my SLAPP Lawsuits in Croatia.

Golf in Zagreb? Bring Your Own Clubs, Kilts, Whisky and Bagpipes.

****

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia & Balkan Expert YouTube channel.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Sunday, 22 January 2023

Croatian Desserts: Tradition, Influences, Walnuts, Figs, Secrets

January 22, 2023 - On TCN we have started sharing recipes for traditional Croatian desserts, as well as desserts that might have originated elsewhere, but are traditionally made in Croatia. Before going too far, it's only right to properly present the categories. Exploring the wealth of desserts in Croatia, enjoy this lovely Sunday read written by Morana Zibar.

Just as the landscape, culture, and customs change from one Croatian region to the next, so do the Croatian desserts. From deep down in the Mediterranean south all the way to the fertile plains in the Danube region, the map of Croatian desserts is as impressive and plentiful as the country itself.

After their first encounter with Croatia, most people are amazed to see just how much diversity there is in such a small country. For comparison, the total area is less than the size of West Virginia. The diversity in Croatia comes from its geography, mostly. However, the influences from bigger neighboring countries and their cultures (Italian, French, Hungarian, Austrian, Turkish) found their way to the sweet department, too.

Yet, the basis of traditional sweets is always similar. Their background can usually be traced to the very simple and modest recipes of our grandmas. They used what was available and abundant, ordinary ingredients like eggs, flour, fresh cream and cheese, seasonal fruit and nuts like apples or walnuts. The really fancy stuff was kept for rare special occasions, and experimenting began only after the tradition had been firmly established.

Desserts in Zagreb and Central Croatia

Although Zagreb and northwestern Croatia seems like a small and fairly compact area, things do get complicated. There are many little sub-regions with their special features: Zagorje, Međimurje, Prigorje, Moslavina, Podravina… Plenty of similarities, but also a lot of differences. A common trait is that many traditional desserts here include dairy products. And what the folks lacked in exclusive ingredients and spices, they compensated for with creativity and dedication.

Zagreb is another story. While rural areas based their sweet heritage on simplicity, the bourgeois class in Zagreb looked up to Vienna. The citizens of Zagreb greatly admired the more elaborate, fancy desserts. These two basically separate traditions – peasant food and culinary bourgeoisie – began to overlap at some point, to mutual benefit.

Photo by Zagreb Tourist Board

Many typical Zagreb dishes, as well as desserts, originally stem from Viennese cuisine. Gradually, they evolved into local variations, taking on a life and identity of their own. The ubiquitous strudels and dumplings with plums or apricots are definitive proof of the region’s Austrian-Hungarian heritage. A quaint little place with strudels and other old-school Zagreb desserts is the Jakšić pastry shop just off Kvaternik Square. In popular downtown pastry shops like Vincek and Cukeraj, you can try Zagreb's signature cake modeled on the famous Sacher cake from Vienna. Local pastry masterminds even created a rich chocolate cake and named it after the famous historical figure - Jelačić torta.

Samobor and kremšnita

The little town of Sambor is home to one of the most famous Croatian desserts – kremšnita. Even though its variants are now a supermarket item all over Croatia, the original is something special. Protected and listed in the Register of Cultural Goods, the recipe was devised in the 1920s. It consists of two layers of puff pastry and fluffy custard cream in between. The U prolazu pastry shop and the Livadić café are the only two places with the authentic Samobor kremšnita on offer.

Photo by Samobor Tourist Board

If you visit small town fairs, like the one in Samobor, have some traditional paprenjaci (pepper cookies) and medenjaci (honey cookies). Also, pancakes with walnuts in wine sauce from Samobor's Gabreku 1929 restaurant are a must-try.

Zagorje and štrukli

Zagorski štrukli are the trademark of the Zagorje region. This handmade pillow-shaped dough with a filling of cottage cheese, eggs and cream is very versatile. Štrukli can easily be a starter, main course or dessert, either savory or sweet. The sweet version contains some sugar or even fruit, fresh cream on top and into the oven it goes. La Štruk in Zagreb is štrukli heaven, while the ones at the Esplanade hotel are an institution.

Photo by Zagreb Tourist Board

Međimurska gibanica is the flagship of Međimurje, one of the richest and most complex traditional Croatian desserts. Layers of phyllo dough are the basis of the gibanica, as always. Between those layers of dough? Almost everything they could find: cottage cheese, walnuts, apple, and poppy seeds. A meal on its own, indeed. The one in the sophisticated Mala hiža restaurant is to die for.

Photo by Međimurje Tourist Board

In almost all parts of continental Croatia, especially in the countryside, orehnjača (walnut roll, sometimes also called the orahnjača) and makovnjača (poppy seed roll) are standard. It seems that each region brought its own touch to this basically simple cake. Zlevanka is a simple pie from the northern regions, boasting a combination of cornflour and cottage cheese.

Photo of orehnjača

Slavonia and the Danube Region

The east of Croatia is unfortunately not so prominent on the tourist map. It has, however, always been known as the place where people express their hospitality and friendship with food. (Think of Italian grandmas, but with heavier artillery.) Returning home with a few extra pounds is quite normal. On top of that, it has traditionally been the ground where vegetarians fear to tread (don’t worry, that’s changing now). The cuisine of Slavonia stands for a lot of meat and fat, hearty dishes and huge portions, but also a lot of comfort and happiness. The desserts follow the same principles. And they just keep coming, as almost every social gathering eventually turns into a festival of treats.

Croatian desserts in Slavonia come in all forms and sizes, from creamy and buttery cakes for festive occasions to simple little sweets. The genre of so-called wedding cookies actually served on a wider range of occasions, is true art. There are probably hundreds of them. Some of the most popular are breskvicečupavcioraščićibećar šnitevanili kiflejulka šnitebijela pita...

Mađarica

Mađarica, the ultimate crowd pleaser and an icon among Croatian desserts is particularly good in this area. Its name literally means a Hungarian girl, but nobody knows its exact origin. Basically, it’s just layers of dough and chocolate buttercream. Seems simple, but takes a lot of effort to make. Women often compete whose mađarica will have more layers!

Mađarica, photo by Morana Zibar

Salenjak is something like a Slavonian croissant. It is puff pastry wraps, filled with homemade jam. But, it has a secret ingredient: lard is used, not butter! Dessert with the funniest name is most probably poderane gaće – torn underpants. Imagine a doughnut, but flattened, very simple, and often found as a sweet snack sold at fairs. Bazlamača is an old-fashioned pie similar to zlevanka, but often topped with jam or walnuts.

Photo of tačkrle by Baranja Tourist Board

Tačkrle or taške is a traditional take on ravioli: potato dough, filled with plum jam and topped with breadcrumbs in butter. Strudelspies, and pancakes are an import, but nowhere are they as rich and mouthwatering as in east Croatia.

Croatian desserts in Istria and Kvarner

Istria is known as the region with a very developed gourmet scene, which goes hand in hand with its blooming tourism. This is the area where the Mediterranean meets the Alps, where Venetian and Austrian influence helped shape the local tradition into something unique. You can dine either in Michelin-star establishments or rural taverns and family farms. The style will be different, but the service and food will be equally good.

Pasta dishes are a staple of Istria, so a lot of desserts are pasta-like and pastry based. Kroštule are a simple treat, a perfect companion to a brandy at the end of a meal. In the past, these crispy deep-fried little ribbons were associated with the carnival season, but now they are here all year round. One of the most peculiar and delicious Croatian desserts can be found only around the town of https://www.total-croatia.com/labin/">Labin – labinski krafi. Basically, it’s a sweet ravioli with a heavenly filling of cheese, raisins, brandy or rum, lemon zest. You can have krafi served with a savory sauce. However, when they are meant as dessert, you get a decadent sweet sauce on top.

Povitica is a local version of the walnut roll, but made in the shape of a Bundt cake. It is a traditional part of the Easter menu. Pandišpanj is a simple, aromatic sponge cake with lemon and orange zest. One of those old-fashioned cakes that don't capture attention with their looks, but certainly do with their taste. The same goes for bucolaj, a traditional sweet bread, perfect for breakfast, with milk.

International classics with local twists

There are adaptations of some international classics. Whipped zabajon comes from the Italian zabaglione, but it's made with local Muscat wine. Likewise, the Austrian Schneenockerln (floating islands) became paradižet in Istria and Dalmatia, while it is šnenokle in the continental part. Restaurants will often serve their take on Italian favorites like tiramisupanna cotta or semifreddo.

Šnenokle or paradižet, photo by Morana Zibar

To add a very distinctive local touch to anything, including desserts - just add truffles! Istria is the truffle country of Croatia, so don't say no if somebody offers a cake or ice cream with truffles. Most artisan shops will certainly have products like chocolate bars, pralines or spreads with truffles. The town of Lovran on the Kvarner Riviera is the capital of chestnuts. When they are in season, all will be full of chestnut-based desserts. The highlight is the traditional Marunada festival in October. To keep it simple, just grab the classic chestnut purée in the charming Kaokakao patisserie in Volosko or Opatija.

Kvarner Islands

Kvarner islands do have their own peculiarities on the dessert menu, but they are not easy to find. Bukaleta is a great little off-the-beaten-track tavern on the island of Cres. They are specialists for lamb dishes, but also have two almost forgotten traditional desserts. Combine sheep suet, flour, dried figs, raisins, and spice, mash and boil them together and then slice the result - you get olitoGrašnjaci are little round fritters, filled with jam and walnuts. Sheep-farming has a long tradition on the islands, so skuta, sheep's milk curd cheese is a common ingredient in homemade desserts. Another fine example of using fresh dairy is presnac from the island of Krk. It consists of pastry base and a sweet sheep's milk cheese filling.

Rabska torta, photo by TZ Rab

On the other hand, you won't have any problems finding the famous rabska torta, the pride of https://www.total-croatia.com/rab-island/">Rab. This beautiful and original spiral-shaped cake made from ground almonds, flour, lard, maraschino, sugar, eggs, lemon, and orange zest goes back to the 12th century. The story goes that even Pope Alexander III enjoyed it greatly when he had some in 1177. The place to overdose on it is Kuća rabske torte (The House of Rab Cake) in the old town of Rab. Muštaćoni are Rab's delicious native cookies, with almonds, chocolate, and mixed spice.

Gorski Kotar and Lika

The mountain area dividing the coastline from the continental Croatia is a beautiful green wilderness full of forests and mountains. Not much farmed or populated, but certainly has its representatives on the list of Croatian desserts. Things do grow there, but mostly on their own, in the woods. This is the land of delicious wild berries and some of the best honey in the country, among other things. These two regions gave a significant contribution to the genre of strudels and pies.

Gorski Kotar is famous for its wild blueberry strudel. Try it in Bitoraj or Volta, well-known restaurants in Fužine.

Photo by Gorski Kotar Tourist Board

The cuisine of Lika is very traditional and humble, everything revolves around meat, potato, cabbage, and dairy. Desserts pretty much follow the same direction, but don't disappoint. Masnica is a rich pie filled with cream, cheese, onion, prosciutto, raisins - it can be either savory or sweet. Lički uštipci are delicious, deep-fried balls of dough (and joy!), similar to Dalmatian fritule. Sometimes the dough includes dried plums or raisins, but originally they're just plain. Thousands of visitors flock to Plitvice Lakes, but Plitvice strudel has its fans, too. Triangle-shaped, with a bit thicker pastry, it has a rich filling that can include cottage cheese, apples, walnuts, sour cherries, or poppy seed. Lička kuća restaurant, inside the national park, offers an authentic version of cheesecake. Basa, a very local version of creamy soft cheese, goes into it.

Mediterranean Influences on Desserts in Dalmatia

On the Dalmatian Coast, you've reached the genuine Mediterranean. A lot of olive oil, aromatic herbs, figs, almonds, oranges, lemons, carob... It's all there. Obviously, Dalmatia shares a lot of basic recipes and procedures with the rest of the Mediterranean basin. The Italian influence is quite strong because, throughout history, the Venetian Republic and Italy ruled large parts of Dalmatia. Yet, every town and every island is also proud of its authentic culinary heritage. One thing almost all Croatian desserts there have in common is a lot of pleasant, seductive aromas typical for the Adriatic.

The little balls of joy you often see at street food stalls are fritule. Simple round fritters aromatized with brandy were once a staple of any festive season. But since they are easy to make and irresistible, they are now here all the time. On the other hand, sirnica (pinca is its continental counterpart) is still traditionally prepared only for Easter. It's a simple sweet bread, with the wonderful aroma of lemon zest and rum, or brandy. On the more exotic side, baškotini are one of the best-kept secrets of the island of Pag. These toasted biscuits, perfect for dipping in latte, have been baked in St. Margaret's Convict in Pag for centuries.

Fritule, photo by Šibenik Tourist Board

Korčula desserts

When it comes to small everyday cookies, the island of Korčula is the champion. Its most famous sweet treats are cukarinklašun, and amareta. Unusually shaped, crisp, and simple, cukarin needs to have a companion: a glass of sweet wine called prošek. Crescent-shaped and tender klašun is filled with almonds or nuts, including rose liqueur, lemon zest and spice. As the name suggests, amareta is made from ground almonds. Meet them all, as well as some original creations, in the legendary Cukarin pastry shop.

Photo by Korčula Tourist Board

There is yet another crisp and aromatic cookie in many Dalmatian places, especially in Trogir. It is called rafiol. Although the name suggests a connection with the ravioli pasta, the two are totally different. Rafiol is actually a sugar-coated, crescent-shaped cookie with an aromatic filling. The recipes for the filling vary; usually, it includes ground almonds or nuts, but also chocolate.

Rafioli by Morana Zibar

Trademark cakes in Dalmatian cities

Split, the largest Dalmatian city, impresses with its ancient architecture, but also with splitska torta - Split cake. Layers of meringue mixed with almonds, dried figs and raisins are filled with orange-infused buttercream. Yes, it's a calorie bomb, but one you can't refuse. Oš kolač artisan pastry shop is a great place to try modern interpretations of Split's favorite desserts. Many Dalmatian cities have their trademark cake; rich, luxurious and made for special occasions. This tradition usually doesn't go to far back: just like we mentioned before, the trademark cake comes with the rise of the middle class. When the expensive ingredients like chocolate, refined sugar, or mixed spice became widely available, desserts were taken to the next level.

Skradinska torta from Skradin is something really special. Special enough to be served to the newlyweds before their first nuptial night. A mixture of eggs, sugar, rose liqueur, honey, ground walnuts and almonds is baked and glazed with dark chocolate. Imotska torta, from Imotski, is a tart, consisting of a pastry base and almond filling with spice and aromatic liqueur.

Torta Makarana by the Makarska Tourist Board

Torta makarana, from Makarska, is the queen of any festive occasion. The pastry base is filled with a mixture of ground almonds, eggs, sugar, citrus juice and zest, spices, and aromatic liqueur. This one has an interesting history, traced back to 1838. It was served to Frederick Augustus III, the last king of Saxony, who was so delighted that he named it.

Endemic cakes, found in one place only!

A very endemic cake is still around on the island of Brač, more precisely - in the village of Dol. Hrapaćuša has a layer of sponge and a layer of thick sweet nuts, sugar, and egg whites mixture. The name comes from a type of stone used for building houses in Dol. And don't even try getting the recipe: a handful of local families guard it with their life!

Hrapaćuša cake, photo by Morana Zibar

And speaking of strange desserts, nothing beats Stonska torta, the cake from Ston. It's made from a local pasta called makaruli, similar to penne tubes. They are joined by a mixture of ground almonds or walnuts, grated chocolate, cinnamon, and lemon zest, plus eggs and butter, all coated with more dough.

Everywhere you look, there's a fig

The south is full of fig trees, offering their sweet soft fruits in the summer. Of course some of those will end up in Croatian desserts! In Zadar, there's a charming little festival dedicated to figs, and in Pet bunara restaurant you can taste their original creation called Šinjorina Smokva cake. Dried figs are used to make smokvenjak, a great way to preserve memories of summer on long winter days. How do you make it? Ground dried figs with a bit of brandy, maybe some almonds or herbs. Either flat and round or shaped like salami, you cut it little by little. Smokvenjak loves the company of homemade herbal brandy. On the island of Vis it is known as hib.

Rožata, photo by Dubrovnik Tourist Board

Something a bit lighter and wobblier than all those heavy cakes comes from Dubrovnik. Rožata or Rozata is usually defined as the local version of crème caramel. Nowadays you can find it all along the coast. It is a delicious custard pudding with caramel topping, but the secret lies in the local rose liqueur. And all those beautiful bitter oranges that don't make it as zest? Arančini are the candy of Dalmatia - candied orange peel. The version with lemon is called limončini.

Arancini

Throw in some candied almonds while you're at it as well - bruštulane mendule. Let's not forget, Hvar is the island of lavander. So why not use it in artisan chocolates and pralines, together with other Mediterranean ingredients? At Gamulin Chocolates they can show us how.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

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