Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Queen of Oysters Project Presented in Dubrovnik

30 June 2021 - The EU-funded project entitled Queen of Oysters was presented today in Dubrovnik’s Hotel Lero. The project is focused on traditional Mali Ston shellfish farming on Peljesac Peninsula.

Project coordinators Andjela and Ksenija Matic of EventLab alongside the head of the project Vedran Kunica, presented the efforts to local tour guides today. Vedran Kunica is one of Pelješac oyster farmers and a secretary of Stonski Skoljkari – Association of Ston Shellfish Farmers.

Mali Ston Oysters recently received the European Union’s protected designation of origin and protected geographical indication. This is the only instance of such a designation for this specific type of oyster. The European flat oyster (Ostrea Edulis) has been cultivated in the Bay of Mali Ston for centuries. It is one of the most delicious oysters in the world. This is one of its very last natural habitats in Europe. Locals call it the Queen of Oysters. The intent now is to turn this delicacy into a local food brand. While Mali Ston oysters might be popular on a national level, globally they are still to receive the recognition they deserve. Most guests coming to the Dubrovnik area don’t realise they are going to be staying so close to the source of such wonderful seafood.

Project Goals

The Queen of Oysters project is complex and mainly focused on marketing and promotional efforts. It started in February this year and will last for a year. Through it a new visual identity of Mali Ston oysters is envisioned. It is simple and to the point.

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Image Courtesy of EventLab and Association of Ston Shellfish Farmers

One of the goals of the project is communicating the information on local oysters to various stakeholders and raising awareness and consumption of oysters locally. Special workshops with restaurant owners and local chefs are a part of the efforts as well. Restaurants play a key role in the sales of Mali Ston oysters. 

Various events were in the organisers' plans as well, but due to COVID-related restrictions, not all are going to happen.

When it comes to promotional efforts, the project is going very strong. There are oyster posters on Dubrovnik Airport and on city buses. Mali Ston oysters are also a part of Croatia Airlines' in-flight magazine. You will be able to see some project posters on Jadrolinija ferries during the summer as well. Local restaurants received hemp fabric promotional aprons featuring the project logo. The response from them is overwhelmingly positive.

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Image Courtesy of EventLab and Association of Ston Shellfish Farmers

Brochures and booklets

Printed material is especially impressive. Three different booklets and flyers created through the project contain interesting information about the oysters as well and wonderful visuals. They represent a great way of raising awareness of Mali Ston oysters and the area in which they traditionally thrive. The small flyer is going to be in restaurants to inform the guests about Mali Ston Oysters. It will be at the airport as well. The design of the brochure is such as to give a bit more info on history, tradition, and oysters themselves. It also folds out into a lovely photograph. The booklet is serious informational material that contains thorough information on the oyster and the area.

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It is clear this project is the long-awaited push to brand Mali Ston oyster a bit better. Sadly, this treasure of local cuisine has spent too much time in the shadows of some other local attractions.

The presentation went off successfully with plenty of questions and suggestions from the auditorium. Also, there were some interesting ideas about how to increase sales and there was much talk about the guests and their experiences.

For more content like this follow Made in Croatia

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Prices of Croatia's Favourite Slavonian Delicacies Rising

June the 19th, 2021 - The prices of some of Croatia's favourite Slavonian delicacies are rising, with the price of the much loved Slavonian kulen potentially rising by as much as 100 kuna.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the price of some Slavonian delicacies, such as kulen, could increase by 100 kuna, as was reported local portal Glas Slavonije.

Producers of dried meat products from the Eastern Croatian regions of Slavonia and Baranja, when compared to the producers of some other products, only partially felt the negative effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The bigger producers of these typically Slavonian delicacies, who pointed out back in June last year that the pandemic had indeed caused certain problems with placement, especially from mid-March to mid-May, felt the most issues of all.

"People weren't going out and buying our products, and their purchasing power was reduced. However, the decline in those spring sales was partially compensated for during the summer and autumn of last year,'' said the director of the company Baranjka, Miodrag Komlenic.

Smaller producers of such produce claim to have managed to sell their stocks, and production, despite the pandemic, has thankfulyl not really been reduced - some have even expanded their offer.

"I can't say that the pandemic has stopped our sales. The demand is growing more and more, so I left only a certain amount in stock to meet the needs of our long-term customers,'' said Slobodan Stankovic.

He is also considering selling his items in smaller packages (of 100 or 200 grams), and is adamant that one kilo of kulen in his next ''round'' is going to cost 250 kuna (the current price is around 200 kuna per kilogram).

"One kilo of my kulen has been 200 kuna for years. But I think that the real price should be between 250 and 300 kuna,'' said Milodrag Stojkovic, the owner of a family farm (OPG) which produces Slavonian delicacies. He manages to rationalise this decision because of the raising of the price of fodder, which should soon increase by as much as 35 percent.

"Corn has already risen in price, I have to pay 200 kuna for 100 kilograms of that. I have to charge people these price increases because doing business will be impossible and completely unprofitable otherwise. Rising prices for various items are common, so it must be the same with cured meat products,'' Stojkovic concluded for Glas Slavonije.

For more, follow Made in Croatia.

For all you need to know about the wide variety of Croatian food, recipies and traditions from up and down the country, check our our dedicated section.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Cultural Identity of Vukovar: New Book Presented in Vukovar

June 9, 2021 - The fascinating question of the Cultural Identity of Vukovar is researched in a new book edited by Dr. Mateo Žanić and Petar Elez. However, as the editors stressed in the introduction, further research is needed to encompass all social groups in Vukovar and their contribution to the heritage of Vukovar.

After being published back in April this year, the book „Cultural Identity of Vukovar – Contribution to Investigating Heritage and Successors“, was presented this Wednesday in Vukovar. As Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute writes on its website the book was published in cooperation with the Vukovar State Archive, so it was only suitable that the first book presentation was held in Vukovar at the videoconference hall of College Of Applied Sciences „Lavoslav Ružička“ (named after a famous Croatian chemist whose work is awarded a Nobel Prize). In addition, the event marked International Archive Day.

The book was edited by Dr. Mateo Žanić and Petar Elez, and the presentation, alongside editors, saw scientific experts Dr. Dražen Živić, Mirela Hutinec, and Dr. Domagoj Tomas talks about the book.

„Fast events triggered by globalization process and information revolution which paradoxically lead to today's societies being fiercely occupied with the meaning of past, and preserving its valuable traces. In that context, there is a spreading interest for heritage that holds an important component to understand the relationship between the past and present“, says the editorial introduction of the book.

The editors went on to explain how „the city proved to be futile to interpret the meaning of heritage and its contribution to cultural identity,“ and the editors wanted to present various aspects of Vukovar's cultural heritage.

Apart from editors Žanić (who wrote a chapter „Layers of memories and material heritage in modern-day Vukovar) and Elez (author of the chapter „State archive in Vukovar and development of archive service in Vukovar-Srijem County“), the book features eight more authors. Ivan Rogić (Whose Heritage? Who is the successor?), Dražen Živić (on Vukovar's feudalists), Vlasta Novinc („Danube, food, Corso“), Dragana Drašković (on the cultural life of Borovo Selo), and more by Dragan Damjanović, Toni Roca, Ivana Bendra and Ivan Hubalek.

With these broad presentations of culture and heritage in Vukovar, editors hope this book will encourage further research as they are aware this is certainly not the final word on these interesting questions and issues.

„As editors, we are aware that the book does not deal with topics that concern different social groups that left their trace in Vukovar end enrich the history of the city. We hope that future editions that will deal with this topic expand the reach of issues and help us to realize better what do we inherit from the past and why is that important“, concludes the introduction of the book.

So far, the book is available only in Croatian, and research that will, as editors say, deal with other social groups in Vukovar is yet to come. Keeping in mind the terrible aftermaths of the war in Vukovar in the 90s and inter-ethnic tensions, further findings on joint cultural contribution to Vukovar may indeed be the enlightenment needed for peaceful cohabitation and development of Vukovar as a perspective city in Croatia.

Speaking of heritage, learn more about UNESCO recognized heritage in Croatia on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 5 June 2021

World Food Atlas Rates Two Croatian Cheeses Among Best in World!

June the 5th, 2021 - When it comes to what Croatia has to offer, most people will likely immediately think of the sun, the glorious Adriatic sea, the many islands and the wine. Croatin gastronomy is certainly up there on that same list, and Croatian cheeses are becoming more and more well known internationally. Two Croatian cheeses are doing so well, in fact, that they've been ranked among the planet's very best.

Pag cheese is probably the first of the Croatian cheeses to spring to the mind of the majotiy of people remotely familiar with the country's production of this much loved food item.

The bizarre moonlike northern Adriatic island of Pag, the northern part of which belongs to Lika-Senj County and the central and southern part to Zadar County, is home to some of the most mouthwatering Croatian cheese for those who aren't lactose intolerant, of course. This island produces cheese which is then exported and taken all over the world to be enjoyed by cheese lovers, and it has firmly placed the entire country on the cheese map of the globe.

The World Food Atlas from Taste Atlas has picked up on the treasure trove which is Croatian gastronomy, more precisely on Croatian cheeses, and has declared two domestic products to be among the best the world has to offer.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, The World Food Atlas is a well-known website which is a must-browse for all food lovers or ''foodies'', and now they have published a revised ranking with the world's best cheeses.

On the list of the top 100 best rated cheeses according to the votes of the audience, there are as many as two Croatian cheeses. Skripavac took a more than respectable 61st place, and the famous, aforementioned Pag cheese has taken an extremely impressive 14th place.

If you're a cheese lover, you can view the entire list by clicking here.

For more, make sure to follow Made in Croatia.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Croatian Culinary Heritage to be Protected with European Union Funds

April the 13th, 2021 - CUHaCHA might seem like a strange word and a bit of a mouthful to try to pronounce, but this project is set to set just how important Croatian culinary heritage is firmly in stone.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes, aware that traditional food plays a major role in the tradition and folklore of countries and is the basis of cultural heritage, the Zadar County Agency for Rural Development - AGRRA, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of the Herzegovina-Neretva County-Canton, the Tivat Municipality and Zadar County have jointly launched the CUHaCHA project.

As Ana Zubcic, AGRRA's international cooperation project manager, explained, tradition, Croatian cultural heritage and that of other surrounding countries, gastronomy and catering/hospitality are inextricably intertwined in this region. In addition, Zubcic pointed out, local cuisine and local products can encourage both innovation and promotion, and ultimately ensure further development at the regional and global level, this further improving the overall tourist offer.

Accordingly, the main goal of the "CUHaCHA" project is to strengthen and preserve the identity of Croatian culinary heritage and the common culinary heritage of the programme area, as well as to further contribute to the development of tourism, and it's a project worth 710,946.94 euros in total, of which the EU is co-financing 604,304.89 euros.

"Our general goal is to revive those dishes through gastronomy and traditional dishes that are slowly falling into oblivion and thus provide tourists the opportunity to experience the authentic flavours of the region. Food has played a key role in the tradition of our area for thousands of years now and remains an important part of our cultural heritage. In this way, we not only work to promote the destination and our traditions, but also offer an opportunity for innovation in this field,'' added Zubcic.

The project started back in August last year, and the first meeting of the partners involved was held in November, when the first project activities and plans were initially agreed.

Namely, as Zubcic revealed, as part of the project, common culinary heritage trails will be developed to strengthen and diversify the tourist offer, a culinary heritage monograph will be published, and training will be held for all service providers to ensure better culinary heritage management.

The project will also arrange traditional kitchens with the aim of promoting culinary heritage. Unfortunately, like the majority of other things, this project was also slowed down by the ongoing pandemic, but a culinary heritage survey is planned for the next six months.

"By researching all three areas, we'll find out what these dishes are, and then revive them and offer them in restaurants and in the general tourist offer. We believe that this will encourage farmers as well, because tradition and home-grown food are the key to this story.

The idea is that those who already offer food, if they don't already offer traditional food, for them to go in that direction,'' concluded Zubcic, adding that they will soon adapt and equip a traditional kitchen where training sessions for caterers, chefs and restaurant managers will be held. One of the last steps will be a virtual gastro trail.

For more on Croatian culinary heritage and local dishes, check out or dedicated section.

Friday, 19 February 2021

Samoborska Cesnofka Becomes Protected Product After Kremsnita and Greblica

February 19, 2021 – In a relatively short period, more good news came from Samobor, both for the citizens of this tradition-rich town and its surroundings and for all local cuisine lovers. Namely, after the Rudarska greblica and samoborska kremsnita, samoborska cesnofka also became a protected product. Enough reason to visit this charming medieval town in Zagreb County this weekend?

Samoborska češnofka, a favorite Samobor garlic sausage, received national protection of geographical origin from the Ministry of Agriculture. This transitional protection at the national level is an essential first step towards gaining the status it deserves on the European gastronomic map.

Tradition of more than a hundred years

When the European Commission decides to protect it on the EU level, samoborska cesnofka will be protected from unauthorized use and misuse throughout the European Union market, just like Rudarska greblica now, a local specialty from Samobor area. However, Samoborska kremšnita entered the Croatian Register of Protected Cultural Heritage.

Samoborska češnofka, named after its main ingredient – a decoction of garlic (in Croatian – češnjak), has been produced for over a hundred years in a specific way from pork, beef, and lard, and a decoction of fresh garlic and dry wine, with each butcher adding its own flair to this recipe. It is eaten with greens, beets, potatoes, and goes best with traditional Samobor cornbread, which will be the next autochtonous Samobor product to get its protection.

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The members of the Ethno Fletno Association are working on protecting Samobor cornbread, usually eaten with Samoborska cesnjofka, but also other home-made dishes. / Screenshot Televizija Zapad

A few years ago, the City of Samobor even launched the Češnofka Festival, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was not held last year. This year, it will be held if the epidemiological situation allows it. And not only that. On the occasion of protecting samoborska češnofka, the Deputy Mayor of Samobor, Željko Stanec, announced a center for various Samobor tradition guardians.

Samobor gastronomic delicacies available in the "to go" offer

The diligent hands of the people of this region write the history of taste worth experiencing. Although the restaurants are still closed, all the flavors of the Samobor region are available in the "to go" offer in the "K Gabreku 1929 "cellar, the favorite Kavana Livadić, and "U prolazu" confectionery for the well-known kremšnite in Samobor.

Therefore, you can spend this 'almost' spring weekend in Samobor, 30 minutes away from Zagreb's capital, with protected indigenous flavors. This charming town along the Slovenian border dates back to 1242 and the charter by which King Bela IV confirmed the status of a free royal trading post.

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Samobor / Zagreb County Tourist Board

Also, Samobor Square is one of the few where all buildings are protected monuments of the first category. Right next to the main square, in the Filipec family tasting room, you can taste another Samobor gastronomic icon – bremet, the most famous liqueur in the Zagreb region. Samobor bermet is an aromatized red wine made from selected varieties of Portuguese and Frankovka grapes with wormwood and southern fruit. The secret recipe dates back to the time before Napoleon.

Zagreb people's favorite excursion destination

This urban pearl of Zagreb County, with its preserved old town, but also with numerous cultural sights, has always attracted excursionists and tourists.

A walk through Samobor comes across the Samobor Museum, the former dock of the composer Ferdo Livadić and a gathering place for cultural greats of that time. The Old Samobor Town ruins, a former castle that watches over the town in the lowlands, hide its turbulent history.

From 1268 until recently, this building was owned by many different families. It used to flourish with life, and now there is only one beautiful monument left to the destructive ravages of time. Over the centuries, numerous nobles and kings were the lords of Samobor-grad, from the Czech king Otokar, who built it in 1268, to Arpadović, Frankopan, Erdody, Matija Korvin, and many other blue blood families.

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Ruins of Samobor Old Town / R. Klarić, Zagreb County Tourist Board

As the owners changed, so did this castle. In 1902, the Old Town ended up in Samobor's ownership for 5,293 crowns. Since then, attempts have been made to rebuild it, but no attempt has borne fruit. But maybe even better, because the castle in this form has some magic that it might not have if it wasn't in this state. There is a spirit of the time in it. It hides among the walls and swims among the surrounding trees. This place truly breathes some unique energy. The fort is located in a forest not far from the center of Samobor.

Oh, and did you know that Samobor's Old Town was almost fatal for Jackie Chan, who nearly perished here while shooting the famous film God's Armor?

Oldest mine, nature park, mountain peaks, and educational trails

Only five kilometers away from Samobor, in the Rude village, you can visit the Mine of St. Barbara, one of Europe's oldest copper and iron mines. This small settlement gave rise to the mentioned first protected gastronomic product of the Zagreb County – a crispy salt pie Rudarska greblica, once a modest snack of local miners.

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Rudarska greblica / Josip Škof, Zagreb County Tourist Board

Outside Samobor, with a walk in the fresh air, unforgettable views uphill of the Samobor Hills, a protected Nature Park together with Žumberak, await to be discovered. There are many marked trails, and they will satisfy both beginner walkers and ambitious climbers. Although none of them is higher than 1000 meters, the peaks Oštrc, Japetić, and Okić are key places in Croatian mountaineering.

The first trip under the Croatian Mountaineering Association's auspices was organized in 1875 to Oštrc, and the ascent of the writer Dragojla Jarnević on the steep side of Okić in 1843 was Croatian's first recorded alpine venture.

You can add an educational note to the trip by visiting the Budinjak Eco Center and the Educational Trail of Princes, a prehistoric site with a site of old burial mounds, or the Ethno House under Okić. In this rural household, time stood still more than a century ago.

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Welcome to Samobor / Josip Škof, Zagreb County Tourist Board

Source: Zagreb County Tourist Board

To read more news from Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 19 February 2021

People also ask Google: What is Croatia Famous For?

February 19, 2021 – What is Croatia Famous For?

People outside of the country really want to know more about Croatia. They search for answers online.

Here, we'll try to answer the popular search terms “What is Croatia famous for?” and “What is Croatia known for?”

Most of the people looking for answers to these questions have never been to Croatia. They may have been prompted to ask because they're planning to visit Croatia, they want to come to Croatia, or because they heard about Croatia on the news or from a friend.

What Croatia is known for depends on your perspective. People who live in the country sometimes have a very different view of what Croatia is famous for than the rest of the world. And, after visiting Croatia, people very often leave with a very different opinion of what Croatia is known for than before they came. That's because Croatia is a wonderful country, full of surprises and secrets to discover. And, it's because internet searches don't reveal everything. Luckily, you have Total Croatia News to do that for you.

What is Croatia known for?

1) Holidays


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Croatia is best known globally as a tourist destination. Catching sight of pictures of the country online is enough to make almost anyone want to come. If you've heard about it from a friend, seen the country used in a TV show like Game of Thrones or Succession, or watched a travel show, your mind will be made up. Following such prompts, it's common for Croatia to move to first place on your bucket list. If it's not already, it should be, There are lots of reasons why Croatia is best known for holidays (vacations).

a) Islands


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What is Croatia famous for? Islands © Mljet National Park

Within Croatia's tourist offer, its most famous aspect is its islands. Croatia has over a thousand islands - 1246 when you include islets. 48 Croatian islands are inhabited year-round, but many more come to life over the warmer months. Sailing in Croatia is one of the best ways to see the islands, and if you're looking for a place for sailing in the Mediterranean, Croatia is the best choice because of its wealth of islands. These days, existing images of Croatia's islands have been joined by a lot more aerial photography and, when people see these, they instantly fall in love.

b) Beaches


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What is Croatia famous for? Its holidays are famous for their beaches © Szabolcs Emich

Croatia has 5835 kilometres of coastline on the Adriatic Sea - 1,777.3 kilometres of coast on the mainland, and a further 4,058 kilometres of coast around its islands and islets. The Croatian coast is the most indented of the entire Mediterranean. This repeated advance and retreat into the Adriatic forms a landscape littered with exciting, spectacular peninsulas, quiet, hidden bays, and some of the best beaches in the world. There are so many beaches in Croatia, you can find a spot to suit everyone. On the island of Pag and in the Zadar region, you'll find beaches full of young people where the party never stops. Elsewhere, romantic and elegant seafood restaurants hug the shoreline. Beach bars can range from ultra-luxurious to basic and cheap. The beaches themselves can be popular and full of people, facilities, excitement and water sports, or they can be remote, idyllic, and near-deserted, accessible only by boat. Sand, pebble, and stone all line the perfectly crystal-clear seas which are the common feature shared by all.

c) Dubrovnik


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What is Croatia famous for? Dubrovnik © Ivan Ivanković

As a backdrop to Game Of Thrones and movies from franchises like Star Wars and James Bond, Dubrovnik is known all over the world. Everybody wants to see it in person, and that's why it's an essential stop-off for so many huge cruise ships in warmer months. But, Dubrovnik's fame did not begin with the invention of film and television. The city was an autonomous city-state for long periods of time in history, and Dubrovnik was known all over Europe – the famous walls which surround the city of Dubrovnik are a testament to a desire to maintain its independent standing for centuries while living in the shadow of expanding, ambitious empires.

d) Heritage


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What is Croatia famous for? Heritage. Pula amphitheatre is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world

The walled city of Dubrovnik is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Croatia's rich architectural and ancient heritage. Diocletian's Palace in Split is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still the living, breathing centre of life in the city (that people still live within it and it is not preserved in aspic is one of its most charming features and no small reason for its excellent preservation).

Having existed on the line of European defence against the Ottoman empire, Croatia also has many incredible fortresses and castles. The fortresses of Sibenik are well worth seeing if you're visiting Sibenik-Knin County and its excellent coast. A small number of Croatia's best castles exist on the coast, Rijeka's Trsat and Nova Kraljevica Castle is nearby Bakar being two of them. Most of Croatia's best and prettiest castles are actually located in its continental regions which, compared to the coast, remain largely undiscovered by most international tourists.

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Many spectacular castles in the country's continental regions are, for these parts, what is Croatia famous for

Pula amphitheatre (sometimes referred to as Pula Arena) is one of the largest and best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world. A spectacular sight year-round, like Diocletian's Palace, it remains a living part of the city's life, famously hosting an international film festival, concerts by orchestras, opera stars, and famous rock and pop musicians. Over recent years, it has also played a part in the city's music festivals.

e) Music Festivals


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What is Croatia famous for? Music festivals © Khris Cowley

There is a very good reason why the city of Pula leapt massively up the list of most-researched online Croatian destinations over the last decade. It played host to two of the country's most famous international music festivals. Though the music at some of these can be quite niche, the global attention they have brought to the country is simply massive. Clever modern branding and marketing by the experienced international operators who host their festivals in Croatia mean that millions of young people all over the world have seen videos, photos and reviews of Croatia music festivals, each of them set within a spectacular backdrop of seaside Croatia.

f) Plitvice Lakes and natural heritage


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What is Croatia Famous For? Plitvice Lakes, national parks and natural heritage

Known for its chain of 16 terraced lakes and gushing waterfalls, Plitvice Lakes is the oldest, biggest and most famous National Park in Croatia. Everybody wants to see it. And many do. But that's not the be-all and end-all of Croatia's stunning natural beauty. Within the country's diverse topography, you'll find 7 further National Parks and 12 Nature Parks which can be mountain terrain, an archipelago of islands, or vibrant wetlands.

2) Football


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What is Croatia famous for? Football. Seen here, Luka Modric at the 2018 World Cup © Светлана Бекетова

The glittering international careers of Croatian footballers Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Ivan Perišić, Mario Mandžukić, and others have in recent years advertised Croatia as a factory of top-flight footballing talent. They helped put Croatia football on the map with fans of European football. Football fans in Croatia have a very different perception of just how famous Croatian football is to everyone else in the world. If you talk to a Croatian fan about football, it's almost guaranteed that they will remind you of a time (perhaps before either of you were born) when their local or national team beat your local or national team in football. 99% of people will have no idea what they are talking about. The past occasions which prompt this parochial pride pale into insignificance against the Croatian National Football Team's achievement in reaching the World Cup Final of 2018. This monumental occasion brought the eyes of the world on Croatia, extending way beyond the vision of regular football fans. Subsequently, the internet exploded with people asking “Where is Croatia?”

Sports in general are what is Croatia known for

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Croatians are enthusiastic about sports and engage in a wide number of them. The difference in perception between how Croats view the fame this gets them and the reality within the rest of the world is simply huge. Rowing, basketball, wrestling, mixed martial arts, tennis, handball, boxing, waterpolo, ice hockey, skiing and volleyball are just some of the sports in which Croatia has enthusiastically supported individuals and local and national teams. Some of these are regarded as minority sports even in other countries that also pursue them. Croatians don't understand this part. If you say to a Croatian “What is handball? I never heard of that,” they will look at you like you are crazy or of below-average intelligence.

3) Zagreb


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What is Croatia famous for? Its capital city Zagreb is becoming increasingly better known

Over relatively recent years, the Croatian capital has skyrocketed in terms of fame and visitor numbers. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world now come to visit Zagreb each year. Its massive new success can be partly attributed to the rising popularity of international tourism in some areas of Asia (and Zagreb being used as a setting for some television programmes made in some Asian countries) and the massive success of Zagreb's Advent which, after consecutively attaining the title of Best European Christmas Market three times in a row, has become famous throughout the continent and further still. Zagreb's fame is not however restricted to tourism. Zagreb is known for its incredible Austro-Hungarian architecture, its Upper Town (Gornji Grad) and the buildings there, an array of museums and city centre parks and as home to world-famous education and scientific institutions, like to Ruder Boskovic Institute and the Faculty of Economics, University of Zagreb.

4) Olive oil


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What is Croatia famous for? Olive oil

Croatian olive oil is the best in the world. Don't just take out word for it! Even the experts say so. In 2020, leading guide Flos Olei voted Istria in northwest Croatia as the world's best olive oil growing region for a sixth consecutive year. Olive oil production is an ancient endeavour in Croatia, and over hundreds of years, the trees have matured, and the growers learned everything there is to know. Olive oil is made throughout a much wider area of Croatia than just Istria, and local differences in climate, variety, and soil all impact the flavour of the oils produced. Croatian has no less than five different olive oils protected at a European level under the designation of their place of origin. These and many other Croatian olive oils are distinct and are among the best you're ever likely to try.

5) There was a war here


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What is Croatia famous for? A relatively recent war left its mark on the country © Modzzak

Under rights granted to the republics of the former Yugoslavia and with a strong mandate from the Croatian people, gained across two national referendums, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic country, with each republic containing a mixture of different ethnicities and indeed many families which themselves were the product of mixed ethnicities. Ethnic tensions and the rise of strong nationalist political voices in each of the former republics and within certain regions of these countries lead to a situation where war became inevitable. The worst of the fighting was suffered within Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina and the part of southern Serbia which is now Kosovo. The Croatian War of Independence (known locally as the Homeland War) lasted from 1991 – 1995. The Yugoslav wars of which it was a major part is regarded as the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II. In many cases, this war pitted neighbouring houses or neighbouring villages against each other and sometimes members of the same family could be found on opposing sides. The war left huge damage on the country and its infrastructure, some of which is still visible. Worse still, it had a much greater physical and psychological impact on the population. Some people in Croatia today would rather not talk about the war and would prefer to instead talk about the country's present and future. For other people in Croatia, the war remains something of an obsession. If you are curious about the Croatian War of Independence, it is not advisable to bring it up in conversation when you visit the country unless you know the person you are speaking with extremely well. It is a sensitive subject for many and can unnecessarily provoke strong emotions and painful memories. There are many resources online where you can instead read all about the war, there are good documentary series about it on Youtube and there are several museums in Croatia where you can go and learn more, in Vukovar, Karlovac and in Zagreb.

6) Wine


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What is Croatia famous for? Its wine is some of the best you'll ever try © Plenković

Croatia is not really that famous for wine. Well, not as famous as it should be because Croatia makes some of the greatest wine on the planet. Croatian wine is only really famous to those who have tried it after visiting – you'll never forget it! A growing cabal of Croatian wine enthusiasts are trying their best internationally to spread the word about Croatian wine. However, there isn't really that much space in Croatia to make all the wine it needs to supply its homegrown demands and a greatly increased export market. Therefore, export prices of Croatian wine are quite high and even when it does reach foreign shores, these prices ensure its appreciation only by a select few. There's a popular saying locally that goes something like this “We have enough for ourselves and our guests”. Nevertheless, Croatian wine is frequently awarded at the most prestigious international competitions and expos. White wine, red wine, sparkling wine, cuvee (mixed) and rose wine are all made here and Croatia truly excels at making each. You can find different kinds of grape grown and wine produced in the different regions of Croatia. The best way to learn about Croatian wine is to ask someone who really knows about wine or simply come to Croatia to try it. Or, perhaps better still, don't do that and then there will be more for those of us who live here. Cheers!

7) Croatian produce


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Drniš prsut
is protected at a European level, one of 32 products currently protected in this way and therefore what is Croatia famous for © Tourist Board of Drniš

To date, 32 agricultural and food products from Croatia have attained protection at a European level. These range from different prosciuttos, olive oils and Dalmatian bacon, to pastries and pastas, honey, cheese, turkeys, lamb, cabbages, mandarins, salt, sausages, potatoes and something called Meso 'z tiblice (which took a friend from the region where it's made three days to fully research so he could explain it to me at the levels necessary to write an informed article about it – so, you can research that one online). While some prosciutto, bacon, sausages, olive oil and wine do make it out of Croatia, much of these are snaffled up by a discerning few of those-in-the-know. The rest, you will only really be able to try if you visit. And, there are many other items of Croatian produce which are known which you can also try while here

Truffles


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What is Croatia known for? Truffles © Donatella Paukovic

By weight, one of the most expensive delicacies in the world, truffles are a famous part of the cuisine within some regions of Croatia. They feature heavily in the menu of Istria, which is well known as a region in which both white and black truffles are found and then added to food, oils or other products. Truth be told, this isn't a black and white issue - there are a great number of different types of truffle and they can be found over many different regions in Croatia, including around Zagreb and in Zagreb County. But, you'll need to see a man about a dog if you want to find them yourself.

Vegeta


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What is Croatia known for? Vegeta

Having celebrated its 60th birthday in 2019, the cooking condiment Vegeta is exported and known in many other countries, particularly Croatia's close neighbours. It is popularly put into soups and stews to give them more flavour. Among its ingredients are small pieces of dehydrated vegetables like carrot, parsnip, onion, celery, plus spices, salt and herbs like parsley.

Chocolate


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What is Croatia known for? Chocolate is a big export© Alexander Stein

Though making chocolate is only around a century old in Croatia, Croatian chocolate has grown to become one of its leading manufactured food exports. Some of the most popular bars may be a little heavy on sugar and low on cocoa for more discerning tastes. But, lots of others really like it.

Beer


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What is Croatia famous for? Its beer is becoming more famous internationally © The Garden Brewery

The exploding growth of the Croatian craft ale scene over the last 10 years is something that is likely to have passed you by, unless you're a regular visitor to the country, a beer buff or both. Most of the producers are quite small and production not great enough to make a big splash on international markets. However, even within a craft-flooded current market, Croatian beer is becoming more widely known – in one poll, the Zagreb-based Garden Brewery was in 2020 voted Europe's Best Brewery for the second consecutive year

8) Innovation


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What is Croatia famous for? Pioneers, inventors and innovation. Nikola Tesla was born here

From the parachute, fingerprinting, the retractable pen and the tungsten filament electric light-bulb to the torpedo, modern seismology, the World Health Oganisation and the cravat (a necktie, and the precursor to the tie worn by many today), Croatia has gifted many innovations to the world. The list of pioneers - scientists, artists, researchers and inventors - who were born here throughout history is long. And, although innovation is not currently regarded as experiencing a golden period in Croatia, there are still some Croatian innovators whose impact is felt globally, such as electric hypercar maker Mate Rimac.

9) Being poor


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What is Croatia famous for? Being poor. Yikes!

The minimum wage in Croatia is among the lowest in Europe. Croatian language media is constantly filled with stories about corruption. There is a huge state apparatus in which key (if not most) positions are regarded to be politically or personally-motivated appointments. This leads to a lack of opportunity for Croatia's highly educated young people. Many emigrate for better pay and better opportunities. This leads to a brain drain and affects the country's demographics considerably (if it usually the best educated, the ablest and the youngest Croatian adults who emigrate). Many of those who stay are influenced by the stories of widespread corruption and lack of opportunity and are therefore lethargic in their work, leading to a lack of productivity. A considerable part of the Croatian economy is based on tourism which remains largely seasonal.

10) People want to live in Croatia


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What is Croatia famous for? People want to come and live here. No, really.

Yes, despite many younger Croatians leaving or dreaming of leaving and despite the low wages, many people who are not from Croatia dream about living here. Of course, it's an all too familiar scenario that you go on holiday somewhere and while sitting at a seafood restaurant in sight of a glorious sunset, having had a few too many glasses of the local wine, you fall in love with Miguel or however the waiter is called who served it and Miguel's homeland. But, with Croatia, this is actually no passing fancy, no idle holiday dream. People do decide to move here. And not just for the sunset and Miguel (nobody in Croatia is called Miguel - Ed).

Croatia may be known for being poor, but it also has one of the best lifestyles in Europe. That it's cafe terraces are usually full to capacity tells you something about the work to living ratio. Croatians are not just spectators of sport, many enjoy a healthy lifestyle. This informs everything from their pastimes to their diet. There are great facilities for exercise and sport, wonderful nature close by whichever part of the country you're in. You can escape into somewhere wonderful and unknown at a moment's notice. The country is well connected internally by brilliant roads and motorways, reliable intercity buses and an international train network. The tourism industry ensures that multiple airports across Croatia can connect you to almost anywhere you want to go, and major international airports in Belgrade and Budapest, just a couple of hours away, fly to some extremely exotic locations. There are a wealth of fascinating neighbour countries on your doorstep to explore on a day trip or weekend and superfast broadband is being rolled out over the entire country. This is perhaps one of the reasons Croatia has been heralded as one of the world's best options for Digital Nomads. In a few years, when we ask what is Croatia famous far, they could be one of the answers.

What is Croatia famous for, but only after you've visited

Some things you experience when you visit Croatia come as a complete surprise. Most would simply never be aware of them until they visit. They are usually top of the list of things you want to do when you come back to Croatia.

Gastronomy


fritaja_sparoge_1-maja-danica-pecanic_1600x900ntbbbbb.jpgGastronomy is only one of the things what is Croatia known for only after you've visited © Maja Danica Pecanic / Croatian National Tourist Board

Despite a few famous TV chefs having visited and filmed in Croatia over the years, Croatian gastronomy remains largely unknown to almost everyone who's never been to Croatia. That's a shame because you can find some fine food here. Croatia has increased its Michelin-starred and Michelin-recommended restaurants tenfold over recent years. But, perhaps the bigger story is the traditional cuisine which varies greatly within the countries different regions. From the gut-busting barbecue grills and the classic Mediterranean fare of Dalmatia to the pasta, asparagus and truffles of Istria to the sausages and paprika-rich stews of Slavonia and the best smoked and preserved meats of the region, there's an untold amount of secret Croatian gastronomy to discover.

Coffee


restaurant-3815076_1280.jpgWhat is Croatia known for? Well, to locals, it's famous for coffee - not just a drink, it's a ritual

Croatians are passionate about coffee and about going for coffee. It's a beloved ritual here. Going for coffee in Croatia is often about much more than having coffee. It's an integral part of socialising, catching up and sometimes being seen. It doesn't always involve coffee either. Sometimes, you'll be invited for coffee, only to end up ordering beer. It's not about the coffee. Although, the standard of coffee in Croatia, and the places where you drink it, is usually really good.

The misapprehension: What is Croatia known for (if you are a Croatian living in Croatia)

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Friday, 18 December 2020

Crotaste House of Croatian Food Opens in Downtown Zagreb

ZAGREB, Dec 18, 2020 - The Crotaste House of Croatian Food, a promotional-sales outlet with a wide range of domestic products from all around Croatia, opened in downtown Zagreb on Friday, offering 220 various products from over 100 producers.

Crotaste, located near Europe House in the city's centre, offers a wide range of domestic products including Slavonian salami, Dalmatian prosciutto, GMO-free eggs, asparagus, wine, olive oil, Pag cheese and fish from the Adriatic.

The project is the result of cooperation between the Croatian Agriculture and Food Agency (HAPIH), the Agro-Klaster company from Vukovar-Srijem County, the Ministry of Agriculture and Vukovar-Srijem County.

"Our aim is to secure a place for SMEs from all over Croatia to promote and sell their products with the European quality label in the centre of the capital city, which is particularly important during these difficult times of the corona crisis," HAPIH director Krunoslav Dugalic said ahead of the official opening.

Opening the Crotaste House, Agriculture Minister Marija Vuckovic underscored that this is finally the realisation of the idea of connecting Croatia's blue and green regions.

"Croatia's agriculture and food industry is continuing to work and develop during these difficult times. We are managing to make some structural changes, and despite everything we have registered growth in agriculture and the food industry of a net 5% in production, and 10% in productivity compared to last year, which is an excellent result." Vuckovic said.

She said this was possible in part due to the government's jobkeeping measures, adding that EU funds helped boost agricultural development as well as other sectors such as fishing, the wood industry, and wine production for which COVID loans from the HAMAG agency for SMEs can be expected.

"We have secured HRK 360 million in income support for farmers who experienced a fall of 15% and many of them are wine producers," she said, adding that despite travel passes being introduced, farmers will be allowed to work as they did during the spring lockdown.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Croatia Ranks 4th in Undiscovered Gastronomic Destinations in World

November 17, 2020 – Croatia receives another gastro recognition as the gastro portal Chef's Pencil has declared it as one of the best undiscovered gastronomic destinations in the world.

As Večernji list reports, it is a competition named "The Most Underrated Foodie Destination in the World" conducted among 250 renowned chefs and culinary experts, who singled out under-exposed gastro destinations that can stand alongside popular gastro destinations such as France and Italy.

They selected the top 10 countries that can boast of their gastronomic offer and wealth but are not widely-known as gastro destinations. Croatia took a high fourth place on this list, behind the Philippines, Vietnam, and Mexico. It is followed by Thailand, Peru, Australia, Jamaica, Portugal, and Norway.

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Screenshot Chef's Pencil

"Croatia has become a really popular place to holiday over the last few years. And who can blame all those holidaymakers for reaching for pristine Adriatic waters, spectacular beaches, sublime Mediterranean climate, atmospheric Roman ruins, incredible national parks, and soaring mountains… Have I mentioned the food yet? And maybe that’s why it’s an underrated foodie destination – the country has so much going for it, the food has to fight for attention," they say from Chef's Pencil about the Croatian cuisine, noting that it's hard to pinpoint it as it varies from region to region.

"Dalmatian food is typically Mediterranean with lots of fish, veggies, and olive oil. Istrian cuisine is similar although they have their own special approach to beans and pasta here. In Zagreb there’s more of a European vibe with meat and a special attachment to cabbage, while in Slavonia its pork and more pork and lots of paprika," they explain, naming some of the best Croatian food such as sheep's cheese, cured ham, black risotto, octopus salad, brudet, sarma, and more.

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Octopus salad / Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

Although Croatia is already recognized for its gastronomic excellence, offering unforgettable gastronomic experiences for all food lovers, chefs, and experts who participated in the survey believed that our country deserves additional international recognition.

"Recognitions like this give us an additional incentive to continue the development of our gastronomic scene and to continue to promote ourselves as an attractive and quality gastronomic destination, which we really are," said Croatia National Tourist Board director Kristjan Staničić.

Recall, in 2020, the Croatian National Tourist Board presented Croatian gastronomy on this renowned portal, as well as Croatian chefs and regional gastronomic specialties.

Kvarner was presented by the youngest Croatian chef with a MICHELIN star, Deni Srdoč, who shared with readers a recipe for a lamb dish "Heritage lamb". Marko Gajski, the chef of LD Terrace in Korčula, who was also awarded a MICHELIN star this year, presented the Dalmatian region through his original recipe for Komiža bread, while chef Bruno Vokal from Noel, Zagreb's first MICHELIN star restaurant, shared his original recipe for "Deconstructed štruklji". Marina Gaši, chef and owner of the family restaurant Marina in Novigrad, presented the flavors of Istria via sardine tartare. The story of Croatian gastronomy was concluded by Tomica Đukić, chef of the Osijek Hotel and official chef of the Croatian national football team, who presented the rich flavors of Slavonia with a flavored fillet of a black Slavonian pig with pumpkin and beetroot.

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Rich gastronomic offer from Slavonia / Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

Saturday, 14 November 2020

PHOTOS: Around Zagreb Dolac Market with a Michelin-starred Chef

ZAGREB November 14, 2020 - Autumn's wild colours are exploding at Zagreb Dolac market, the largest outdoor tržnica in Croatia. Who better to guide us on our photo tour of this iconic institution than Bruno Vokal, head chef at Noel, Zagreb's only Michelin-starred restaurant?

_III4230.jpegBruno Vokal © Šime Lugarov, used by kind permission of Šime Lugarov and Varionica Craft Brewery

My name is Bruno Vokal and I'm from Zagreb. I trained to be a chef here. I spent three years at the culinary school in Novi Zagreb and I started to work straight afterward. Both of my grandmothers were chefs and my mother was a pastry chef. I worked first here in Zagreb, then on the Croatian coast, then in Austria. I came to work at Noel for the first time in 2017, as a sous chef. After a year, I wanted to progress. I went to work in a restaurant called 360 in Dubrovnik and at the three-Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester Hotel in London. I've been back at Noel as head chef for six months now.

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It is my responsibility to every day maintain the standard of the food here so that the restaurant retains its Michelin star or attains a higher recognition. More important to me is the concept. I am constantly asking what kind of lifestyle do people want to live.

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Of everywhere I previously cooked, the place that had the most impact was Alain Ducasse in London. There, it was classical French cooking, but with so much style. It was style based on taste. It wasn't so important how the plate looked. It was all-natural cooking, from the ingredients to the way it looked on the plate. It had the biggest impact on me. It defined for me many things that I had already been thinking about.

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Every day I go to the market with my sous chef, Antonio. Sometimes it's Zagreb Dolac market, sometimes it's Kvatrić. It depends what we're looking for. Zagreb Dolac market is much bigger, with a much bigger offer. I'm not directly orientated to any specific ingredients, I'm oriented to seasons. When I see seasonal produce, that's when I get my ideas. Every new dish, every statement I make, it all comes from following the seasons, its produce and asking myself what the people want to eat.

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Today at the market I found chestnuts and cep mushrooms (Boletus edulis) which both ended up on the menu. I was inspired to make a dessert using mushrooms, hazelnuts and chocolate. I found some great langoustines (scampi) and I made a pasta dish using those and a cappuccino made from the shells. If you see a good ingredient, use it, make the dish. It's like this always. There is never anything on the menu that is out of season.

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At this time of year, I particularly like seeing on Zagreb Dolac market things like pumpkin, chestnuts, kale, beetroot, all kinds of radishes - white, black, red. With the radish, I made a dish with cuttlefish, kale, a preserved sea fennel that we preserved when it was young and a pesto of pistachios. Also in the dish was a meat essence and a ravioli using limes. When you put it in your mouth it had a kind of taste like bean salad, ha! I wanted to make something with a lot of vegetables. Usually, people just make one on the side. Here, there were five, all cooked individually, but designed to be eaten in the same mouthful. This is the kind of cooking I'm really proud of.

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We have several ingredients here in Croatia that are quite unique. Of course, Croatian truffles. Also, many different cheeses. We have one which is a mixture of cottage cheese and fresh cream (sir i vrhnje), which I like to use. It has to be homemade, you cannot buy it from a regular store because the taste will be lost. We have a national dish called štrukli. How do I make the one at Noel? I make small pasta buttons and fill them with cheese, so there is the perfect balance of cheese and pastry in the bite. We reduce fresh cream so that we get a naturally intense sweetness and we make a milk powder, which we caramelise, that gives the taste of the browned top of a štrukli cooked in the oven. We serve it with chips of dried milk, which give a crunchy texture and finish with a sauce.

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Winter is the next season. I can't say yet what will be on the menu, but we will begin our preparations now. We will preserve some of autumn's food, like cabbage, salt meat, start making sausages. Winter for me means maybe less vegetables and more carbohydrates than autumn. We will rely on pastries like mlinci and pasta.

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This time for me is one of the best of the year for food from Zagreb Dolac market. From the end of the summer to the start of winter is the harvest time. Earlier, you get cucumbers, then all kinds of paprika, aubergine, all of which can be preserved. Right now we have amazing onions and pumpkins. With pumpkin, I recently made a tart, a dessert. It had three different kinds of pumpkin served on the side. At this time of year, you can get a wide variety of mushrooms, but the supply can be small and irregular. You can't rely on it. Today I saw black trumpets on Zagreb Dolac market, but the seller only had two boxes. That's not enough for the restaurant, maybe five portions. That's more something I'd buy to enjoy at home or to feed the staff here in the kitchen.

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When I go to the market, of course, I have my favourite sellers who I go to see every time. This relationship is key. It can only happen with time. I make requests, we talk about the produce. They see more of me, we talk more. It's a very important bond to build, especially if you're going to get to the stage where they will maybe change their growing habits the next season in order to satisfy what you want. You need that trust because sometimes you're thinking about a specific item on the menu one week in advance. Sometimes, it's one year in advance. If I convince a grower to plant salsify for me and then I am next year the only guy with salsify, I am a happy chef. This is not only a relationship between a head chef and a supplier, everyone should do this when they go to Zagreb Dolac market or any market in Croatia. You will get your food at the best price and you will get the best produce. But, it's not the kind of thing you can do over only one or two weeks. It takes time. I'm at the market every day. Some days I might only buy two things, but I'm there.

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It's not only vegetables that I buy from Zagreb Dolac market. Some of the best meat suppliers can also be found there. I have a butcher on Kvatrić who I use all the time. I buy pork from him - pork shoulder to make a terrine. He's been there a long time. He has two shops and very good produce. We talk a lot. I get beef from him to make tartare. I know the calves he has are really good. Some of the best ones come from Slavonia. Others come from the islands. The meat available from the different kinds of cows we have in Croatia is also dependent on the season. I take bones and ribs from him for my stocks. Stocks are very important in a restaurant like ours. For these bones, he charges me nothing. I always start with veal stock. It's mild. If I make a duck stock, I start with the carcass and build it up using the veal stock. I start all my other stocks using veal stock, so I have to make quite a lot of it. All stocks taste better when you begin with this base. The veal stock is the only one that begins using fresh water.

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For seafood, I have a main supplier from Rijeka, then others who are on call. They are from all over the coast and the islands. Sometimes, though, I see something at the market and just take it, like I did with the langoustines. For wild meats, I buy directly from hunters. Again, it's very seasonal. They go hunting over a large area. Sometimes they bring me hare, deer, wild duck or boar. Other times I buy deer from the island of Cres. They are small and have very mild meat, not game-y at all. It suits the palette of the clientele here in Zagreb.

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On these links you can check out the other features in our Around Zagreb series:

AROUND ZAGREB VIDEO: Zagreb to Zagorje in a Yugo Car

Around Zagreb: Meet Zagreb Statues, Dressed for Tie Day

Around Zagreb Mirogoj Cemetery on All Saints

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All photos © Marc Rowlands unless otherwise accredited

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