Let’s talk food and wine! The best part of travelling right? Well to me it is high up on my list of priorities when travelling. Of course when travelling we all like to visit the main attractions and do all the touristy things however trying the local cuisine gives you a chance to discover the countries very own special culinary personality. In general the Dalmatian cuisine is a made up of Mediterranean flavours with an emphasis on seafood, veal, lamb, prosciutto, wine, garlic and the main ingredient olive oil.
A question we get asked allot from our guests is what are some traditional dishes of Dalmatia and what restaurants do you recommend to go and try them? I have seen the gastronomy industry in Split boom over the past five years. The number of restaurants including casual and fine dining, cafes, wine bars, pubs, snack bars, has doubled. The city centre is filled with many new places to eat, whether you want a simple pastry, quick sandwich or burger, light salad, pastas, fresh seafood, steaks, sweets and cakes, or vegan options now you have many places to choose from.
While there are many traditional delicious dishes that are true to Dalmatia I have put together a list of authentic dishes that are widely available in Split and are worth trying. Firstly healthy and very popular with the locals is grilled fish, with the Adriatic Sea at our door step Dalmatia offers you a variety of fish. What could be fresher and tastier than fresh fish from the sea, to the grill and on to your plate served with spinach and potatoes drizzled with olive oil. This dish in Croatian is called Riba sa žara sa blitvom. Also you will find that olive oil is an essential staple ingredient in Dalmatian cuisine in fact the Dalmatian production of olive oil is among the best in the world.
Secondly is crni rižot which is black risotto made with cuttlefish. Cuttlefish is known for its black ink which is the main ingredient of this tasty dish even though it may look at bit scary. This flavourful dish has influences from our Italian neighbours and is a seafood lover’s dream!
Thirdly is a peka which can be octopus or meat baked under the lid; this dish is one of the top gastronomic offers in the Dalmatian cuisine. Personally my favourite is a veal peka, it so yummy. This dish is so popular that majority of locals have the equipment to create this perfectly tender dish in their own homes. So how is this dish prepared, the octopus or veal your preference along with potatoes seasoned with herbs and olive oil are put in a pot or tray and covered with a cast iron lid which is a bell shape and then placed in the embers of a fireplace baking slowly making a perfectly tender dish filled with flavour. A peka is a must while visiting Dalmatia.
Next is pašticada this dish is commonly served at weddings and similar special occasions. For all you meat lovers out there this dish is for you, the meat is pierced and stuffed with garlic, cloves, carrot and bacon then marinated over night then the following day the beef is stewed in a special sauce and is served with gnocchi. This dish is heavenly!
Followed by prušut i sir, prosciutto is cured ham and cheese served as a platter with olives and bread. Whether it is a wedding, birthday or simple family and friends gathering you will always find prosciutto and cheese on the table in Dalmatia. The type of cheese commonly served on this platter is a hard cheese that has a stronger flavour. The Dalmatian region is renowned for this delicacy and takes pride in its local varieties. Try a prosciutto and cheese platter and pair it with some local indigenous wine sorts and taste the true flavours of Dalmatia. Prosciutto and cheese platter and a glass of wine is the perfect appetizer or entrée, the only problem is eating too much and not having room for your main meal and of course desert!
Speaking of desert personally my favourite meal, clearly I have a sweet tooth. A traditional Dalmatian desert is rožada which is a pudding made of custard that has a delightful rose liqueur aroma and is surrounded in a pool of syrup goodness. This delicate desert is light and very yummy. Another popular Dalmatian desert is fritule, this desert is commonly served around Christmas time and available at the Christmas markets. Fritule are small pastries that resemble small donuts flavoured with rum and lemon zest containing raisins and topped with powdered sugar. The only problem is you can’t stop eating them!
I don’t know about you but all this talk of delicious Dalmatia cuisine is making me hungry. So the next time you are in Dalmatia be sure to try at least one of these authentic Dalmatian dishes or if you have the time try them all they are worth trying your taste buds will be very pleased.
Please feel free to ask our team for any restaurant suggestions within Split we are happy to assist you and can make reservations for you as well. Note that a few of our organised private tours include lunch or dinner with set menus offering you the chance to try some above mentioned authentic Dalmatian dishes. See our Fish Farm Experience tour and try some fresh Adriatic fish. See both Workshop and Peka tour and River Cetina Outing tour to try the famous Dalmatian peka! As mentioned previously Avere Tourism wants to help you make memorable moments on your holiday! We hope to hear from you soon.