Financial Times, English international daily newspaper published an article titled “Why Croatia is the next big foodie destination”.
“This is world-class food, world-class wine, world-class cheese. The next big thing is Croatia,” enthused the late chef Anthony Bourdain when he first visited the country in late 2011. “If you haven’t been here, you’re an idiot.”, writes Polly Russell for Financial Times.
“Bourdain’s surprise at the gastronomic riches of Croatia was perhaps understandable. For thousands of years, the region had it all: salt production along the coast, started by the Liburnians well before the 1st century BC, plentiful fish from the clear waters of the Adriatic, a climate ideal for wine production, and olive oil that was prized above all others. In the 1st century AD the Greek epicure Apicius suggested adding bay leaves, cypress root and salt to Spanish oil so that it tasted more like the Liburnian version.
But since the end of the 19th century a calamitous combination of circumstances contrived to decimate Croatia’s food culture. Wine production was all but killed off by phylloxera. The communist era saw food production centralised and collectivised, at the expense of regional variety. And the 1991-95 war of independence reduced parts of the country to a minefield.
The scars of war have healed, but today it is less the cuisine that draws tourists than the 5,000km of beaches and islands stretching along the Croatian coastline. Thanks to a committed and growing group of food producers, chefs and winemakers, however, it looks like Croatia’s food fortunes are ready to return.
This became abundantly clear as I explored the Zadar region, north of Split, set between the Adriatic and the Velebit mountain range. The city of Zadar itself was occupied by the Romans, was the capital of Dalmatia in the Byzantine period, was sold to the Venetians in the 15th century and became part of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1797.”
Polly Russell also writes about Pag and the well-known Pag cheese:
The island is synonymous with Croatia’s best-known cheese. “In Croatia Pag is cheese and cheese is Pag. Pag’s sheep, a breed unique to the island, eat a diet rich in aromatic herbs flavoured by the north-east winds known as the bora. When a big bora blows everything is covered in salt, like a frosting of snow.
Pag is also home to one of the country’s best restaurants: Boškinac, a secluded stone house situated amid olive groves, pine forests and vineyards (they make their own olive oil and wine, and run a four-star boutique hotel). If anywhere, this was where Bourdain’s Croatian epiphany took place, the chef having tasted their slow-cooked stew with noodles, and a dish of lamb tripe. Appreciative of Bourdain’s blessing, this June, Boškinac inaugurated an annual “Bourdain Celebration Day”, with tributes and a tasting menu and, of course, plenty of good wine.