In the last couple years, Croatia has climbed high up on the ladder of Europe’s foodie destinations. It’s not surprising: The ingredients are fresh and high quality; the sources of food — like the Adriatic Sea — clean and pristine; and the cooking style honest and no-frills, with recipes passed down over generations. I’ve tasted my way through the country and found the following food experiences so unique that I now tell everyone traveling to Croatia to try them, too.
Photo by Amauri Aguair
A Cooking Class in a Medieval Palace
In the stunning seaside town of Trogir, on the Dalmatian coast, Tatjana Ciciliani has been making waves as one of Croatia’s most inventive home chefs (she has appeared on the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” among other media appearances). A cooking class inside Tatjana’s home in a 13th-century palace at the heart of Trogir’s ancient harbor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a singular experience. You get to shop at the local market for the ingredients that you’ll then cook, and you’ll chop and stir alongside Tatjana in her living room/kitchen, which spills out on to the private garden courtyard. Best of all, Tatjana’s charisma is on par with her cooking, so you’ll be as well entertained as you’ll be fed. Book via www.secretdalmatia.com.
Photo by Zagreb Bites
A Food Tour of Zagreb
In Zagreb, Croatia’s up-and-coming capital, sign up for a food tour led by one of several prominent local food bloggers. Zagreb Bites offers bespoke jaunts that take in both popular favorites and little-known hidden spots where you can savor the city’s choice bites. Wander around Zagreb’s colorful Dolac Market, try a taste of štrukli (local dumplings filled with cottage cheese), toast with a traditional herb grappa and then share in a home-cooked meal.
Photo by Eat Istria
Explore Istria with a Gourmet Guide
In Istria, the triangle-shaped peninsula lauded for its gastronomy, there is no better guide than Goran Zgrablić of Eat Istria. One of the founders of Taste of Croatia and self-dubbed “a gourmet vagabond,” he offers personalized cooking classes and wine tours. Sign up for one of Goran’s food experiences and you’ll have a one-off chance to learn to make žgvacet (a traditional meat goulash), fish carpaccio and Istrian pasta like fuži.