Cultured Palate: Dishes from Croatia

Croatia has become a well-known travel destination in the last few years. Known for its amazing architecture and history, as well as gorgeous beaches and hiking trails. One of the reasons why it has become famous recently is because it’s the host of many different filming locations for the white-hot HBO show Game of Thrones.

Visit the Croatia cities of Dubrovnik and Split, both of which double for King’s Landing, but be sure not to miss the rest of the country, including scenic Lokrum Island, which doubles as Qarth. If you’re thinking of Croatia as a summer travel destination, make sure to do some research on the food scene first. Traditional Croatian food bridges the divide between Eastern European and Mediterranean cuisine, and makes use of traditional cooking methods to craft thoroughly modern dishes.

1. Manestra

In the Istrian region, this is one of the most common dishes to see on restaurant menus since it’s a basic staple that has been perfected over centuries. Manestra at its most basic is a bean soup, which starts with a paste of cured meat, garlic, and parsley. This paste is then simmered with water and beans, usually over a fire, for hours until the soup is fully cooked. Typically, people add pieces of charcuterie to the soup for a kick of flavor at the end.

2. Strukli

This pastry resembles a cross between Greek baklava and Italian lasagna. The thin pastry is rolled out and filled with anything from cheese to fruit, sometimes even truffles, then rolled back up and either baked plain or covered in clotted cream and butter, and left to cook in an oven until browned and crisp. This dish is popular all over Croatia, but is native to the region around Zagreb. There’s even a restaurant called La Struk that only serves strukli, and they’re known for their delicious and filling variations.

3. Fusi

Many Croatian families compliment their meals with homemade pasta, served on the side to sop up the delicious sauces. A popular Croatian pasta dish is fusi, which is a diamond-shaped, hand-rolled pasta popular in the Istrian region of the country. These hearty noodles are delicious when served with local meat stews, because their rougher texture encourages the sauce to cling to the noodle in way that’s unique to homemade noodles. If you can’t convince someone’s mom to make them for you, visit Tavern Toncic in Zrenj for the best version Croatia has to offer outside of a home.

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