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)

Handball, music

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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

Monday, 5 October 2020

36 Incredible Photos: Best Edible Croatia Mushrooms

June 4, 2021 – It's mushroom hunting season in Croatia! Here are 36 stunning images of the best Croatia mushrooms, which you can pick - then eat - after being guided by one of the country's many experts or associations

Autumn in Croatia means it's time to head to the forests. At this time of year, the free food the land gives up is aplenty and foraging is a popular pastime in Croatia with a tasty treat at the end. The best Croatia mushrooms should only be sourced in the wild alongside an experienced guide – many of the Croatia mushrooms below have lookalikes which are poisonous. Luckily, there are expert guides and associations all over the country who will help you find the best Croatia mushrooms. Here are some of the finest edible examples you should hope to come across on any trip

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Morels (Smrčci)

Unmistakable thanks to the honeycomb texture of their caps, these mysterious mushrooms grow across much of the forested world but vary in form within their distinct regions. They have a weird symbiotic or endophytic relationship with trees that nobody exactly understands. Nor the fact that in some areas, this bond is with deciduous trees, in others it is with conifers. They are not autumn mushrooms but spring Croatia mushrooms and they like to live around fir, pine, poplar, elm, oak, chestnut, olive and ash trees.

sulphur-ovinus-3663099_1920.jpg© Ulrike Leone

Chicken Of The Woods (Žuti kruh)

With a name in Croatian meaning yellow bread, there can be no mistaking that this is an edible mushroom. These can grow to be pretty big - the largest recorded was found in the UK and weighed 45 kilograms. Some deer are known to eat this fungus and it is a delicacy in select German kitchens, the taste compared to chicken or lobster.

Steinpilz_2006_08_3.jpeg© Grizurgbg

Porcini (Vrganji)

Porcini mushrooms are highly prized by cooks. They have a brown or red-brown cap and a cream-coloured stem (stipe). They like to grow in forests and can be preserved for year-round use by drying them. This intensifies their flavour. You can find these Croatia mushrooms within every region, in particular in the whole continental section stretching from the Dinaric alps, through Karlovac and Zagreb counties, Zagorje and up to the Slovenian border and Medimurje. They also grow in Istria and Dalmatia, even on some of the islands.

1620px-Calocybe_gambosa_080420wa.jpg© Strobilomyces

St. George's (Đurđevača)

Annually appearing in fields, grass verges and along roadsides in early spring - around the time of St George's Day – this mushroom is considered a delicacy across much of Europe, in particular Romania and Italy. It has been documented as being the most expensive and highly regarded mushroom in Umbria and Marches in central Italy during the 16th century. In the field, it smells a little like cucumber.

1664px-Fichten-Reizker_Lactarius_deterrimus.jpg© H. Krisp

Saffron Milk Cap / Pine mushroom (Rujnica)

The rujnica mushroom has orange cap that becomes sticky in the rain or morning dew and it stains a deep green colour when handled. It lives in coniferous forests. This Croatia mushroom is here named after the month of September and there's a village which shares its name in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The village lies right next to the border with Croatia, west of Cazin. A fresco in the Roman town of Herculaneum in modern-day Campania, Italy depicts this mushroom. It is one of the earliest pieces of art in the world to illustrate a fungus.

Polyporus_squamosus_Molter.jpeg© Dan Molter

Dryad's Saddle / Pheasant's Back

The two most popular names for this fungus in English come respectively from Greek mythology and its distinct, animal-like markings. It can grow up to 50 centimetres across and is an important part of the forest eco-system as it breaks down decomposing trees. It can also attack living ones. It's only edible when young.

Hedgehog_fungi2.jpg© D J Kelly

Sweet Tooth / Hedgehog mushroom (Prosenjak)

This yellow to light orange to brown mushroom often grows in an irregular shape. It is best eaten when young as older specimens can develop too much of a bitter taste, although the needles it grows, by which the mushroom is most easily identified, only appear as it matures. Again, it's best picked with a guide. It can grow as big as 20 centimetres in diameter and likes to live on the ground or in leaf litter within both coniferous and deciduous forests.

Lepista_nuda.jpg© Archenzo

Wood Blewit (Modrikača)

This most distinct-looking fungus can be found in coniferous forests, but these Croatia mushrooms seem to much prefer deciduous woodlands here. It's possible to see them in all but the coldest months, but they are most common in autumn. Wood Blewits have a sharp, distinct scent and range from lilac to purple-pink in colour, growing darker, towards brown, as they age. They need to be cooked to be consumed as this greatly reduces (although does not completely remove) the risk, albeit rare, of an allergic reaction.

Handkea_utriformis_G25.jpeg© Jerzy Opioła

Mosaic Puffball

These puffballs are only edible when young. At this time they typically measure 6 to 12 centimetres across and are always white in colour. When mature, they turn brown and can reach 25 centimetres in breadth and have a height of 20 centimetres. Their upper skin eventually disintegrates over time allowing its spores to be released. This process is often hastened by rain or by being trodden on by cattle. The taste is said not to be spectacular, but the fungus does contain a natural antibiotic.

Seta_de_cardo_Pleurotus_eryngii_2012-10-03_DD_01.jpeg© Diego Delso

King Trumpet / French Horn / King Oyster

This distinct mushroom is the largest species in the oyster mushroom genus and is highly prized in the Asian kitchen. It is widely cultivated in Asia as a result. Cooks there love it because, although it has little taste when eaten raw, upon cooking it develops umami flavours popular in Asian cuisine.

False_Morel.jpeg© Jason Hollinger

Brain mushroom / Turban fungus / Elephant Ears (Hrčci)

English names for this fungus in are pretty self-explanatory. Here, these Croatia mushrooms are known as hamsters. Although a delicacy in Scandinavia (in particular Finland), Eastern Europe (in particular Bulgaria, but Poland too), some parts of North America and around the Pyrenees, their sale is actually prohibited in Spain and some other countries. That's because this mushroom can kill you if you don't prepare it properly. Symptoms of hrčci poisoning involve vomiting and diarrhoea several hours after eating, followed by dizziness, lethargy and headache. Severe cases may lead to delirium, coma and death after five to seven days as the mushroom's active agent turns into monomethylhydrazine (MMH) in the body, this toxin then damaging the liver, central nervous system and kidneys. To eat it safely, you must first dry the mushroom completely, then hard boil it, then rinse it, then hard boil it again. In Finland, they are used to make omelettes, soups or in pies. There is some evidence that this mushroom may be carcinogenic. I'll give this one a miss.

0_Helvella_crispa_-_Havr_1.jpeg© Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

White Saddle / Elfin Saddle (Jesenski hrčak)

The 'autumn hamster' is easily identified by its irregularly shaped whitish cap, fluted stem, and fuzzy underneath. It grows in grassy areas as well as in humid hardwoods, such as beech, (not so well in resinous trees), along the side of pathways, in hedges and on the sloping edges of meadows. These Croatia mushrooms contain the same active agent as the other 'hamsters' and are poisonous in their raw state and also possibly carcinogenic. Striking in appearance due to the irregularly shaped lobes on the cap, this one is perhaps best to spot, but to leave where it is.

3426px-Meripilus_giganteus_Karst_1882.jpeg© Michael Gäbler

Giant Polypore

This monster fungus can grow to 70 to 150 centimetres in diameter and 10 to 50 centimetres in height. It isn't very kind to the trees it feeds off and isn't very tasty, even when picked you. But, it's worth looking out for because it is quite spectacular in size and in its colourings. This fungus was once thought to be inedible. It is now under investigation for use in medicine, as a methanol extract from the fungus has proven to be toxic to some cancer cells.

Coprin_noir_d'encre_41.jpg© Jean-Louis Lascoux

Common Ink Cap (Jajasta gnojištarka)

Edible, but poisonous when consumed with alcohol, it is advised you drink nothing alcoholic either 20 hours before or after eating these mushrooms. When combined with alcohol, resulting symptoms include facial reddening, nausea, vomiting, malaise, agitation, palpitations and tingling in the limbs, but if a lot of alcohol is consumed this could even lead to heart attack. So powerful is the active agent in the mushroom that it is used to treat alcoholism. One old English name for the mushroom is Tippler's Bane (today, the word bane is used to mean a cause of great distress or annoyance, but previously it was used to describe a poison that causes death). The black liquid that this mushroom releases after being picked was once used as ink.

Agaricus_campestris.jpg© CC BY-SA 3.0

Field mushroom (Rudnjača)

These wild Croatia mushrooms are the ones closest to the cultivated white button mushrooms you buy in the supermarket. Only these are bigger. Their caps can be 5 to 10 centimetres wide. These mushrooms used to be more common in the days before cars, when every vehicle was horse-drawn. They like to live in pastures, especially those in which horses are present. In Scotland, these mushrooms used to be placed on the skin after a scald or burn. Research into the medicinal properties of mushrooms continues in many areas, including in the use of dressings for similar injuries such as ulcers and bedsores.

fungus-1194380_1920.jpg© Barbroforsberg

Chanterelles (Lisičarke)

Usually orange or yellow in colour, the chanterelles that grow in Croatia and other Mediterranean areas can be nearer to white. They are meaty, funnel-shaped and full of flavour. Chanterelles are known in English-speaking nations by their French name as they were popularised by the growing interest in French cuisine during the 18th century. These mushrooms in Croatia can be found in every region.

Russula_virescens3.jpg© Paffka

Green-cracking Russula / Quilted Green Russula / Green Brittlegill (Golubača)

These Croatia mushrooms are here known as Pigeon mushrooms. Their caps can be as wide as 15 centimetres and are highly distinctive - pale green with darker green patches that look not unlike mould (the Croatian words for mushroom and mould are very similar). They taste better than they look - mild, nutty, fruity, even sweet.

mushrooms-4565407_1920.jpeg© Jerzy Górecki

Parasol (Sunčanica)

Another mysterious mushroom, this one can be found living a solitary existence, or in the famous circles of folklore tales sometimes referred to as 'fairy rings'. Only the cap of this mushroom is edible, the stem is too fibrous. In European cooking, it's common to see the caps stuffed and then baked or coated in egg and breadcrumbs before frying. They grow in deciduous forests, on forest edges and in meadows. This Croatia mushroom is here known as little sunflowers, perhaps because they can be as tall as 30 centimetres.

Macrolepiota_rhacodes_JPG3.jpeg© voir ci-dessous

Shaggy Parasol (Kuštrava Sunčanica)

Much smaller than its sun-loving cousin above, this little mushroom better prefers the shade. Although edible, the mushroom contains toxins which can cause upset stomachs or allergic reaction. There's another mushroom sometimes called False Parasol which looks almost exactly like this but is poisonous. Also know charmingly as the Vomiter, it is the mushroom responsible for most poisonings each year in North America.

Amanita_rubescens_100_7069.jpeg© EmillimeS

Blusher (Biserka)

These Croatia mushrooms are known as Guinea Fowl. They have a reddish-brown and look very similar to several species of poisonous mushroom. Their flesh alters in colour, turning pink when cut or bruised, hence its name in English. The mushrooms contain a toxin that is removed by cooking – you can't eat them raw. It's best to wash the cap before cooking or remove the top layer altogether, as this contains most of the toxin. It's difficult to find good specimens for use in the kitchen as this mushroom is regularly attacked by insects.

Oyster Mushrooms

There are many types of oyster mushroom. Several edible varieties grow in Croatia.

Oyster_mushoom_fells.jpg© Aaron Sherman

The Tree mushroom is particularly familiar as it is widely cultivated. In the wild, its cap is laterally attached to the tree without having a stem.

2011-06-30_Pleurotus_cornucopiae_5_70824_cropped.jpg© Mushroom Observer

The Branched Oyster mushroom always has a stem. The mushroom can grow to 15 centimetres, has a pale yellow, brown or grey surface and off-white gills. It can have a mild smell quite close to aniseed.

Pleurotus_pulmonarius_LC0228.jpeg© Jörg Hempel

Sometimes known as the Indian Oyster, Italian Oyster, Phoenix mushroom or the Lung Oyster, pleurotus pulmonarius is one of the most cultivated mushrooms in the world and is famed for its medicinal value. It is almost identical to the mushroom most commonly associated with the name Oyster mushroom (pleurotus ostreatus), which likes to grow on dying or dead trees (it is never the cause of their death).

Pleurotus_ostreatus_JPG7.jpegPleurotus ostreatus the mushroom most commly referred to as Oyster mushroom © voir ci-dessous

If you have any vegetarian friends, maybe best not to tell them that all oyster mushrooms are in fact carnivorous – their mycelia eat bacteria and tiny worms called nematodes

Agaricus_augustus_2011_G1.jpeg© George Chernilevsky

The Prince mushroom (Vilovnjača)

The Prince mushroom seems to like people. It is not only found in deciduous and coniferous woods but also in gardens and by the roadside. It sometimes springs up in earth overturned by human hand. While its scent is strong and nutty, reminiscent of aniseed or almonds, it has a very mild taste when eaten.

Charcoal_Burner_-_Russula_cyanoxantha_45202732211.jpeg© Björn S

Charcoal Burner (Ljubičasto zelena krasnica)

These Croatia mushrooms seem to be better appreciated in some regions than others. They were designated 'Mushroom of the Year' in 1997 by the German Association of Mycology. They seem similarly respected in Croatia, where their title – Purple Green Beauty – is far more complimentary than its common name in English.

2008-08-Agaricus-Stuttgartx7.jpgThe changing form of the Horse mushroom as it ages is brilliantly depicted in this image by © Salix

Horse Mushroom

A close cousin of the Field mushroom, this large white fungus is frequently found near stables, in meadows, near spruce trees and around stinging nettles – it shares their love of nutrient-rich soil.

Amanita_vaginata_6820.jpeg© Mushroom Observer

Grisette (Preslica)

These are reasonably rare Croatia mushrooms and are more commonly enjoyed in the diets of cows than in humans. That might be because of, or in spite of, their reputed intoxicating effects. They have greyish or brownish caps.

Lactarius_piperatus_98569.jpeg© Mushroom Observer

Blancaccio (Paprena Mliječnica)

These creamy-white mushrooms complain by bleeding an off white, peppery-tasting milk when cut, explaining the name of these Croatia mushrooms - the peppery milkcap. They are best used as a seasoning, rather than eaten whole, after having been dried.

Aleuria_aurantia_Orange_Peel_Fungus.jpeg© The High Fin Sperm Whale

Orange Peel Fungus (Narančastocrvena zdjeličarka)

Edible but unremarkable in flavour, this fungus is best left in situ. Do look out for it though - it really does look like dried orange peel!

Craterellus_cornucopioides_JPG1.jpeg© Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

Horn of Plenty (Mrka Trubača)

Not so much black food exists in our diets, proof that you eat as much with your eyes as with your mouth. Whoever named this mushroom didn't help it much – it is known in Croatian, French and Italian as 'trumpet of the dead'. Croatians make a delicious black risotto using squid ink, so they really should get past the appearance and eat more of this Croatia mushroom. These mushrooms, which are also part of the oyster mushroom family, grow in abundance across Slavonia.

TricholomaSejunctum.jpeg© Archenzo

Yello Knight / Man On Horseback (Zelenka)

This mushroom has been traditionally eaten across many of the world's continents and remains popular in some parts of Asia, particularly in China. It was reputedly a popular favourite among medieval knights, who reserved the finest-tasting mushrooms for themselves and it grows well in France. In recent times, it has been associated in Europe with poisonings, however, it is under research for its medicinal properties. Extreme caution should be observed if you are attempting to pick this for consumption. Our expert Croatian guide said it should not be picked at all.

Black_White_Truffle.jpg© Mortazavifar

Truffles (Tartufi): the most expensive Croatia mushrooms

Are truffles mushrooms? Well, kinda, yes, even though they do grow below ground. It would be foolish not to include them in any list of fungi-for-food as they are so highly prized. Istrian cuisine is famous for its inclusion of truffles and both the more-common black and rarer and stronger-in-flavour white truffles grow there. However, truffles can be found in much more of Croatia than the region in which they are most famous. You'll need a guide with a specially trained dog to find them. They grow near oak, hazelnut, cherry and other deciduous trees.

Bovista_nigrescens_BS17.jpegThis fantastic picture by © Jerzy Opioła perfectly illustrates the three life stages of the Brown Puffball. They can only be eaten in their earliest stage of development when they are completely white

Brown Puffball

Like the Mosaic Puffball, this one is also edible only when young and white in colur., although this one is considerably smaller, measuring just 3 to 6 centimetres across. Although it likes to live in grassland, especially that used as pasture for animals, it can grow in altitudes of up to 2,500 metres.

Fistulina_hepatica_fistuline_hpatique_2.jpeg© Kean10

Beefsteak Fungus (Vukovo meso)

Sometimes called the Tongue mushroom and is elsewhere awarded a name related to liver, this mushroom has previously been used as a meat substitute in places like France. It is only edible when pink and young. The mushroom requires a sustained cooking time. It likes to grow on oak and chestnut trees and issues a blood-coloured liquid when cut.

Oronges.jpeg© Yaqui

Caesar's mushroom (Blagva)

Enjoyed in the diet since at least Roman times, blagva only grow in North Africa, southern Europe and in Mexico. So popular were they with the Romans that they can nowadays actually be found along the side of some old Roman roads which stretch further north into Europe. These classic-looking mushrooms have a distinctive orange cap and a yellow stem. In Italy, they are named after eggs because they look like them when first starting to grow. Although native Croatia mushrooms, these are super rare. At this time of year, you can sometimes see them on the open-air market tables in Bjelovar-Bilogora county and Sisak-Moslavina county. Whether or not that is completely legal given their current-day scarcity is best answered by another.

Total Croatia News would like to reiterate that hunting for wild edible mushrooms in Croatia should only ever be undertaken alongside an acknowledged guide or association

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Some of the Croatian language common names used for these fungi may be of more frequent use in Bosnia or typical to other regional dialects rather than standard Croatian. If you know better Croatian names for some of these mushrooms, please do let us know and we'll be very happy to amend the article.

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Thursday, 1 October 2020

19 Incredible Dishes: The Best Vegetarian Food In Croatia

October 1, 2020 - Happy International Vegetarian Day! To celebrate, we bring you a list of 19 meat-free snacks and meals that make up the best vegetarian food in Croatia


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Starting a feature of the best vegetarian food in Croatia with a picture that has what looks suspiciously like meat in it comes at the top of a long list of dumb moves made by this writer - vegetarians, please forgive me. It was an impossible picture to find and this Youtube screenshot of a non-vegetarian option was the only one available on open license

Krpice sa zeljem

A lowly peasant dish made from cabbage and pasta, krpice sa zeljem neither sounds too appetising on paper nor looks inviting in its rather bland appearance. But, when you've no money left and need to fill your stomach, this is a great option. It's seasoned simply with salt, pepper and oil. Although most Croatians wouldn't do it, it's nice with butter or a butter and oil mix instead. Always use white pepper, not black, to accompany the salt in this. Some people make it with bits of pork too, like the one we have unfortunately pictured.

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Youtube screenshot © Andreina kuhinja

Granatir / Pašta s krumpirom

Also known as grenadir marš (grenadier march) or pašta s krumpirom (pasta with potatoes), this is a simple dish from Slavonia and is popular in other parts of northern continental Croatia. Onions and potatoes are the exciting ingredients, but the flavour comes from the ground paprika powder so prevalent in Slavonian food. Further away from Slavonia, you might find spring onions added and it seasoned instead with white pepper. You can really imagine the Austro-Hungarian troops of old marching on full stomachs of this cheap dish. Vegetarians fond of this meal might try exchanging the spring onions for leek (poriluk), for a change.

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Vanjkuši are probably the most obscure of all vegetarian food in Croatia so, again, we couldn't find a picture. Their name can be translated as pillows © Jay Mantri

Vanjkuši

Some in Croatia might not have heard of vanjkuši (also known as vankuši or jastuci). They are a distinct speciality of the old region of Moslavina, located to the east of Zagreb. Vanjkuši are not wildly exciting in colour, but these baked pastry rolls filled with egg, cornmeal and cottage cheese are a tasty snack or extravagant side dish, seasoned with salt, white pepper and sometimes butter and/or cream.

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© Nenad Damjanović / Croatian National Tourist Board

Pera

This little-known snack from Vrbovec is a much more authentically-Croatian take on pizza. The thin crust is topped with fresh cow’s cheese, sour cream and egg (sometimes cornmeal too), cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven and then cut into triangles for sharing.

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© Rainbow Pizza

Pizza

Yes, it's Italian. But most of the food on the Croatian menu either comes directly from other nations - Turkey, Bosnia, Hungary, Austria, Greece - or is inspired by them. Pizza is included because it's on sale everywhere in Croatia and almost everyone eats it. Like that other Italian favourite, ice cream/gelato, Croatians are brilliant at making pizza. It is possible to buy inferior pizza in Croatia, but you're not wise to do so - just look a bit harder. There is a great pizza available almost every place you go in Croatia.

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© Bonč

Štrukli

Sometimes štrukli is claimed by Zagreb. But, it's suspiciously close to dishes prepared in both Slovenia and Austria. We prefer to allocate this boiled or baked pie-type dish to Zagorje, the agricultural region over the mountain, north of Zagreb. The land, agriculture, food and recipes of Zagorje inform the capital's cuisine more than anywhere else. Štrukli comes with all manner of fillings, although the most popular (and the best we've tried) comes filled with cheese.

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© BiHVolim

Zeljanica

Zeljanica is burek made with spinach. Except in Bosnia, where burek je samo s' mesom! (burek is only with meat!) There, it is only called zeljanica. Nobody in Zagreb is going to shout at you if you ask for burek with spinach. The spinach is wrapped in rolls of pastry before being cooked, the outside layers baking, the inside layers being steamed. Fans who cook this at home should really try a combination of spinach and feta-like or fresh cheese - it's delicious, but almost never on sale to the public.

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© Kokini recepti

Ćoravi gulaš

A peasant stew translated as blind goulash, this thick and tasty soup-like dish boasts potatoes, onions, carrots, tomatoes, parsley and sometimes peas. It is flavoured with ground paprika, salt, pepper, bay leaves and garlic. Best eaten with artisan or homemade crusty bread, this is a brilliant light lunch or inexpensive evening meal.

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© Maja Danica Pečanić / Croatian National Tourist Board

Fritaja sa šparogama

Asparagus is one of those foods, like sprouts, which you probably avoid as a kid, but can't get enough of when you grow up (after you've lost your extra taste buds). They certainly can't get enough of it in some parts of Istria, where there are festivals dedicated to the delicacy. You're sure to find fritaja sa šparogama on the menu of the best traditional Istrian restaurants during the vegetable's growing season. This egg-based dish also contains onions, olive oil, simple seasoning and often herbs. It's great for breakfast, brunch or lunch, eaten with crusty bread and it's a super treat when served with goats cheese and cold Istrian white wine like malvasia. Yum.

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© V Cirillo

Maneštra

Another dish from Istria, these days this stew-like soup is sometimes flavoured with meats. But in its traditional peasant serving it is a vegetarian favourite, comprised of beans, potatoes and sweet corn and flavoured with garlic and parsley.

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Burek is the most common vegetarian food in Croatia © Nikola Škorić

Sirnica

This is burek with a cheese filling, except in Bosnia where... you know the rest.

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Stews like Đuveđ make up a large percentage of the vegetarian food in Croatia © Rainer Zenz

Đuveđ

Đuveđ, sometimes called Đuvec, is a stew of Turkish descent. Its ingredients vary depending on who's cooking and what's in season, but it's not uncommon to find all of the following in this inviting dish - tomatoes, onions, carrot, courgette, aubergine and rice. Flavour can come from a variety of herbs, including oregano, thyme, rosemary and/or marjoram, depending on the chef and region, also salt, pepper and paprika powder.

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Of all the burek / pies in the list of best vegetarian food in Croatia, Bučnica is perhaps the most extravagant © Bučnica fest

Bučnica

Bučnica is arguably the most extravagant of all the burek/pies as its filling has the greatest number of ingredients. Inside its layers of pastry, you will find pumpkin, fresh cheese, sour cream, eggs, butter, salt and pepper. It's seen more frequently in autumn after pumpkins are harvested.

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© zeevveez

Sataraš

Though small in ingredients and simple to prepare, it's really easy to make a mess of sataraš. For the best results, always cook the ingredients in this order - onions, then peppers, tomatoes towards the end. This light vegetable stew is from Hungary and their best version uses the lightest of fresh peppers and the freshest tomatoes. Garlic is often added. Similar to French ratatouille, in other regions, they add courgettes and chilli powder to the dish. This is essentially simple, inexpensive, peasant food. To ramp it up to gastro-levels, try cooking one or all elements separately and then combining together at the end, like a salad. This works especially well with the peppers. Approaching sataraš in this non-traditional way preserves the individual flavours of each vegetable and stops it turning into a uniformly tasting mush.

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Pasta with truffles, one of the most opulent offerings of vegetarian food in Croatia © Maja Danica Pečanić / Croatian National Tourist Board

Fuži s tartufom

This Istrian pasta dish shines its spotlight on locally-sourced truffles. You can find it made with both the more common black truffles or the rarer (and more expensive) white truffles. If it's made with truffle oil, give it a miss - it's not the real deal. Unusually for a pasta dish, this one often makes use of butter. It adds to the luxuriousness of the taste.

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© Чакаровска

Krumpiruša

You might hear one or two people insist that Croatians don't usually eat meals that include more than one carbohydrate. This small number of people are usually from Zagreb and presumably forgot about krumpiruša (or indeed that many ask for bread to accompany their sarma - which contains rice - and is served atop mashed potato). Krumpiruša is lowly in ingredients, but one of the most satisfying pastries in Croatia. For the best results, again, use white pepper to season if you're making it at home.

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Youtube screenshot © Sašina Kuhinja

Zlevanka

To an outsider, zlevanka sounds like the name of the charming lady who rents you a holiday home in Montenegro. It's actually a speciality sweet pie from northern Croatia (particularly Međimurje), a peasant dish made with eggs, sugar, salt, cornflour, milk, fresh cheese or sour cream, yeast and oil. The cornflour is essential to give it the snack its distinct yellow colour. You might also see it called bazlamača, zlevka or kukuruznjača. Even sweeter versions are available which include apple or poppy seeds.

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© Cyrus Roepers

Gibanica

Popular all over the Balkans, in Turkey, Syria and in German-speaking nations, the origin of gibanica is a fight for some other writer. We're only concerned with the delicious taste of this strudel, which stars egg and cottage cheese. It can be served as a sweet or savoury snack.

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Soparnik is the undisputed king of vegetarian food in Croatia © Marc Rowlands

Soparnik

Profiled recently in a popular TCN feature, soparnik is the king of Croatian snacks. It is the rarest, usually only found in the Dalmatian hinterland behind Omiš. It is also the most authentically-Croatian item of food on this list. Blitva (a hardy, green chard), a little onion and salt are the filling inside this delicate, thin pastry, which is cooked in huge rounds on a traditional wood-fired oven. Delicious olive oil and tiny pieces of garlic are placed on top while it is still warm.

If you want to try some of the best vegetarian food in Croatia, check out this list of vegetarian restaurants

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Sunday, 1 October 2017

Shrooms are in the Air: Croatian Mushroom Picking for Beginners

Welcome to fungal Croatia! This is not an invite to choose your favourite foot infection but rather an invitation to indulge in the ancient mycophilic tradition of foraging for wild mushrooms in the Fungi Kingdom of Croatia.

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