Croatian cuisine and Bosnian banquets
As a self-proclaimed foodie, experiencing local ingredients, flavours and dishes is high on my holiday agenda. This summer, my family and I spent a glorious two weeks exploring the culture – and food – of Croatia and Bosnia. Despite sharing a border, there is an obvious difference in the two countries’ cuisines. Each region of Croatia has its own distinct culinary tradition and a Mediterranean influence is undeniably apparent. On the other hand, Bosnia and Herzegovina cuisine is a mix of Western and Eastern influences and incorporates a range of different cooking techniques. So, after a serious few months of food research on Pinterest, Instagram and TripAdvisor, the time finally came to start our summer adventure…
Having landed in Dubrovnik airport, we drove to our villa situated just inside the Bosnian border, via a leisurely pit stop at a local supermarket –somewhat of a family tradition at the start of every vacation! On our first evening we explored the local vicinity (consisting primarily of a mountainous road), and came across a fantastically authentic Bosnian restaurant. Drijen is set in the middle of the Bosnian countryside, offering delicious traditional food and a definite favourite with the locals. We enjoyed a platter of Istrian ham and local cheeses to start, followed by a mouth-watering dish of veal cooked ‘under the bell’ – a traditional way of cooking meat under a metal, ceramic or earthenware lid on which hot coals and ashes are heaped. We ended the meal, so delicious we returned for round two another day, with a shot of Slivovitz, a fruit brandy made from damson plums and something of a Bosnian speciality.
One day we ventured into the Bosnian town of Trebinje, described as the epicentre of the second wine region in the country, with vines growing everywhere the eye could see, and visited the award winning vineyard, Vinogradi Podrumi Vukoje 1982. Unknown to many, Bosnia is a big producer of quality wines, many of which are sold in America and China, but unfortunately don’t reach the UK due to importing laws. We enjoyed a delicious tapas-style meal and tasted a selection of vines, recommended on our own palate preferences and to suit the food we were thoroughly enjoying. Following an exquisite lunch we were invited to the cellar in the basement and were given a fascinating tour and taught the history of the wine region and the vineyard’s history.
Splitting our time between Bosnia and Croatia, we found ourselves drawn to the historic Dubrovnik Old Town. After a walk around the sights (and dodging the many Game of Thrones tours) we stumbled across a doorway in the city wall, which opened out into a gorgeous cliff-face bar, Buža II. We enjoyed a drink of Ožujsko, the most popular beer in Croatia with an estimated 10 bottles being consumed every second, and took in the jaw-dropping view at a small, sought after table, before venturing to Gradska Kavana Arsenal for a delicious lunch.
Fish was the star of many a meal in Croatia, perhaps rather obvious due to the Adriatic sea running the alongside the country. One evening was spent at Gverovic Orsan , a coastal restaurant located in the fishing village of Zaton Mali, in an old converted boathouse. Homemade, traditional Dalmatian dishes filled the menu and our choices included an entire fish for the table, fish carpaccio and seafood pasta, paired with an exclusive wine selection. On the topic of seafood, we also visited Restaurant Obala, set on the idyllic island of Lopud, just one of the 1000 Croatian islands. Restaurant Obala, founded in 1936, offers a seasonal menu to celebrate the season’s freshest ingredients, allowing us to taste finest dishes from the sea, such as calamari, octopus and a Lopud style royal buzzara, consisting of lobster, prawns, scampi and mixed shells.
If you are looking for your next foodie adventure, I couldn’t recommend Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina enough! Check back regularly for more Hubbie gastronomic adventures…