Updated: Mar 19, 2020
The one thing we most enjoy snacking on - meats and cheese. Croatia boasts with its charcuterie diversity which is an exquisite blend of continental and Mediterranean.
These foods are deeply rooted in the Croatian way of living since day one. Croatians have mental pictures from their childhood of their grandfathers taking a break from hard work in the field and cutting up meats, or their grandmothers snacking on cheese while preparing lunch for a large family. Not only old people like to indulge, to be clear. Charcuterie is an inevitable part of any event - a company banquet, a wedding, a birthday. Often accompanied by wine and rakija - the clear spirit which is the Croatian equivalent of the Italian grappa. Cold platters make a great appetizer too - salty and savory, perfectly paired with pickled vegetables, dried figs & other fruit and crackers.
If you thought Italians are the ones who nailed all aspects of meats and cheeses, this might come as a revelation and surprise to you.
When it comes to Croatian traditional food, its beauty lies in 5 different regions that are spread throughout the coastal area, mountains, central Croatia, and the green valleys.
The ones that we singled out have a long tradition of production and are protected with a designation of geographical indication - not to mention how mouth-watering and rich in flavor they are.
Sounds like - #prosciutto! Exactly right. The other side of the Italian boot is extremely good at making pršut, with special thanks to Bura which helps the curing process. This cold sharp wind coming from the mountains and developing near the coast mixing with salt particles contributes to its taste, making 4 different denominations of #pršut internationally recognized and branded with strict EU standards - you can rest assured that this products never encountered any additives and preservatives other than sea salt.
Istrian Boškarin Sausage
Made from the indigenous ox found only in the Istrian peninsula. #Istria is a leading region when it comes to traditional delicacies, and this rustic and aromatic salami won’t disappoint you. It will somewhat taste familiar because of the texture and looks of Italian sausage/salumi, but will twist your taste buds with the explosion of intense aromas. Mind that #Boškarin beef comes in many forms and can be deliciously prepared as goulash and other dishes.
Check how this Timeout article covered Istrian food.
Panceta & špek (slanina)
Again, something familiar but produced with customized procedures of different regions. All made from pork belly meat, they differ not only by contrasting natural conditions that will shape the meat but are also made using different procedures. Panceta (same as italian pancetta) won’t be cured at all after the specific brining process, while špek (same as speck, also known as slanina), will be air-dried after brinning, on a beech or hornbeam tree to be precise. If you ask an average Croatian, they’re all great additions to literally any dish.
This classic coming from lowland Croatia, Slavonia, is enjoyed by anyone across the country. Made from premium pork cuts but heavily flavored with spicy paprika and garlic and rounded up with a distinctive smokey aroma. Paired best with mild cheeses and light red wines, we’re thinking who doesn’t like a good kick of spicy?! If you’re a fan of Spanish chorizo or Italian nduja, this is your cup of tea.
Cheese from Pag
hard sheep cheese from the island of Pag. The no.1 cheese in Croatia, most appreciated and most enjoyed on any occasion. Made from a small sheep breed found only on the island which is fed in a micro-ecosystem of herbs, clovers, and grasses. This cheese is the champion of artisanal cheeses produced in Croatia and has won numerous world-range cheese contests, including the gold medal at the 2019 Global Cheese Awards in Somerset, UK.
Tasting notes vary depending on wheels aged a few months or those aged up to two years, when the savory flavor intensifies, followed with a tangy kick. It is aromatic, fully flavored and butterscotchy without excessive dryness.
Cottage cheese from Zagreb
A complete opposite in flavor from the previously described one. A cottage cheese like this cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Made from fresh, full fat cow milk. This cheese delivers a mild pleasant taste with balanced acidity and a leafy structure - unlike creamy ricotta which is whey cheese or Spanish queso blanco. This is something definetely worth trying: try it with homemade cream and spice it up with chives. It can be found on local farmer's market displayed in tiny refrigerators by old ladies known as Kumica.
Kordun smoked cheese
A good smoked cheese its what makes a cheese platter complete. Try this hard smoked cow milk cheese is produced in the mountain region of Croatia. Full of smokey applewood aromas and rich buttery taste, the tradition of making this cheese was passed through generations of women who used a specific technique of applying rennet into the liquid.
Well, I would ad something more but, I feel kind of hungry now..do you? :)