I am in Croatia. This was not a planned trip. I was supposed to be in Berlin for four months but ran into visa problems. With only a few days notice, my boyfriend and I chose our destination, bought a ticket, packed our things, and flew to Pula, Croatia—a place I knew nothing about.
For us, traveling is more than 50% about the food. And Croatia delivers!
The markets are a combination of indoor/outdoor with produce from local vendors, a stunning fish market, and artisan crafted meat and sausage. The quality of the meat is important here—a tradition that has been lost in much of the western world. Large booths also featured truffles (a local specialty), cheese, olives, and chocolate.Surrounding the market in Pula are little cafe’s with pizza and pasta and meat with a true Italian feeling. There is a strong Italian influence—both in charm and excellence, like coffee, food, and cafes because we are only hours from Italy. The cafes were filled with older, local men talking and drinking beer and coffee from early in the morning.
The charm is indescribable. Most of the cities along the coast (Mediterranean sea) date back to the prehistoric era and most still have ancient Roman ruins with very old buildings and limited car access. There are charming cafes in the old city and harbors with little cafes and ice cream stores along the boardwalk.
It is a perfect place to drink Italian style coffee at quaint cafes, swim in the Mediterranean, eat dark chocolate gelato, dine at charming restaurants, drink wine, and always finish with the complimentary grappa.
The other night we were invited to a goat fest. I am not a huge meat eater. But when you are in a culture that puts such love into the production of the their meat, it has a completely different feeling—as you eat it and in your body. There is such an appreciation for all parts of the animal and its preparation.
We sat down, ordered wine, and played a game of backgammon. Our goat arrived on a huge plate with German style potatoes. It was presented in such abundance. It was so delicious. And so fresh. It was prepared so simply but with such love.
This same restaurant has prepared us an entire lobster caught by local divers. And because we are now regulars, we were offered the remains of a dish ordered by a group of Italians—octopus slow roasted with potatoes in a wood burning fire pit.
What to make for Dinner in Croatia?
Chop up some tomatoes, parsley, fennel, red pepper, and olives all fresh from the market.
Sauté locally prepared sausage and onions cooked with extremely fresh new potatoes and green onion. Topped with oven-roasted eggplant with truffle infused olive oil and mushrooms sautéed in butter.