“A meal without a wine is like a day without sunshine”
– Jean Savarin
Gastronomy (“Foodie”) tour, 14 days/13 nights. Croatia regions (Continental, Gorski kotar, Istria, Mid & Sud Dalmatia), Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Slovenia.
Traveling anywhere, the local cuisine is a perfect way to capture the essence of the place. Enjoy the magic of food paired perfectly with wine and surrounded by natural beauty and the priceless cultural heritage of Croatia. It is a total experience of sensation and magic arising from a harmony of taste, bouquet, style and texture.
We can start our gastronomy tour in the capitol of Croatia, a 1000 year old city that still preserves its historical identity and charm with its neo gothic cathedral, entrance to the city walls “Kamenita vrata”, the open market Dolac, numerous parks, pedestrian zones and thousands of small restaurants and bars on Tkalčićeva street or Cvjetni trg (Flower square) where you can drink your long coffee just like in some Mediterranean town. Zagreb’s architecture as well as its gastronomy has its roots in the Austro Hungarian tradition – that is why some of the dishes such as “Kajzersmaren” will be seen as typical both in Croatia and Austria. Pepper biscuits and “licitars hearts” colourfully decorated in the typical Croatian way can be a perfect souvenir.
Zagreb – Veliki Tabor
A picturesque part of inner Croatia called “Zagorje “with its green slopes, free cattle on the fields and traditional small houses will impress you with its “zagorske štrukle” (cheese puff pastries) , “zagorska soup”, and baked turkey with mlinci (pasta tatters). After visiting the perfectly preserved old burg “Veliki tabor”, we can walk (or drive) a part of the wine road and try a glass of “zagorsko” wine.
Zagreb – Samobor
Only 20 km from Zagreb, under the slopes of “Samoborsko gorje” enjoy the charm and exquisite beauty of baroque architecture and deliciously prepared, according to old recipes preserved from the 19th century, unforgettable “kremšnita”, “samoboska muštarda” and “bermet”: simply must try specialties.
Fuzine – Rovinj
On our way to the sea, in the heart of a conifer forest near Bajer lake and Vrelo cave, lose yourself in unforgettable specialties like homemade sausages with cabbage (“sarma”) rolls, bear paw, frog legs, roasted dormouse, strudel with forest fruits and many other delights.
If you would like to try one of the many creative dishes with shellfish, fresh fish and crabs, Istrian truffles, prosciutto or wild asparagus you can find it in one of the numerous luxury restaurants or cosy taverns in this romantic, magical town.
Rovinj – inland Istria
“Everything we offer you is grown in our home” is the motto that puts this region in one of the most attractive ‘gastronomy destinations’ in Europe. Throughout history, the inner land of Istria that we will visit, Grožnjan, Hum, Motovun, Buzet, was not as developed as the coastal villages, and the peasants here produced only the essentials. Rich gastronomic heritage based on truffles, asparagus, olive oil and prosciutto made in the traditional way will delight even the most demanding connoisseur – “Fritaja” with asparagus, “Žgvacet”, “Maneštra”, “Pljukanci”, “Fuži” with truffles, “Boškarin”, “Fritule” are just some of those traditional recipes… Istrian white Malvazija and red Teran put Istria among the 10 best wine destinations in the world according to the Wine Enthusiasts Group.
“Goriška hills” – Postojna Cave – Bled
We will explore the “Goriška hills” or so called “Tuscany of Slovenia”, a small region of astonishing beauty characterised by rolling green hills, cypress trees and lush vineyards squeezed between the Julian Alpes, Dolomiti mountains and the Adriatic sea. Italian influence on the local dishes as well as on the wine production (Syriah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Grigot, Pinot Blank, Chardonnay) gives an extra charm to the famous traditional “Štruklji”, “Idrija žlikrofi dumplings”, “Bograč” or “Prekomurska gibanica cake”. Explore the ancient wonder beneath the surface – an amazing 24 km long karst cave system of Postojna Cave created by millions of years of water activity – drop by drop, year after year. Enjoy a short train ride and walk down into caves and take a look at the endemic olm, the largest troglodytic amphibian in the world. Just a 15 min ride from it are the Škocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it represent some of the most significant Karst topography phenomena, and its famous Martel hall – 16 m high, 120m wide and 300m long. Overnight in Bled in luxury houses built in trees that have all the comfort that any other luxury hotel provides but a comfortable sleep in the heart of nature.
Bled – Ljubljana
Explore enchanting Bled with its medieval castle perched upon the lake – blessed with natural hot springs regarded as having healing powers, it has been a popular fresh – air retreat since the mid 19th century.
Ljubljana – Dubrovnik flight
Enjoy this small capital city with only 300,000 people that will amaze you with its charm. Settled on the river Ljubljanica it offers historical beauty along the river embankments. See the Triple Bridge, Dragon Bridge, and amazing market squares that sprawl between them, the Cathedral of St. Nicholas and its unique architectural style that integrates the historic with modern design – the masterpiece of famous architect Jozo Plecnik. Fly to the Pearl of the Adriatic – Dubrovnik. Overnight in Dubrovnik.
No need to tell you that Dubrovnik the is No 1 destination in all the Mediterranean region because of its natural, architectonic and historical attractions, but it is also recently becoming one of the top “foodie” destination with authentic eco food and some of the most picturesque vineyards in the world. 1000 years of tradition has led to the growth of famous Croatian wines – Dingač and Postup – making “plavac mali” a world famous eno attraction. “Cook local and impress global” is a slogan of this area where you will discover perfection in autochthonic Mediterranean simplicity. Try “Šporki makaruli” or “Dubrovačka rozata” in one of the restaurants on narrow cobbled streets or circle the extraordinary walls of the Old City, walk the STRADUN to see and be seen, drink long coffees in bars with amazing views and explore how it used to be living in the most preserved old city in the world. This symphony of history, natural beauty, and gastronomic pleasures will leave you breathless.
Dubrovnik – Ston & Pelješac
Stone is famous for its medieval city walls that are the longest in Europe and second longest in the world (just behind The Great Wall of China) as well as being the oldest salt production site in the world, but to the gastronauts it is known as a town of oysters, some of the most tasty in all the world. The beauty of Stone is that you can have eat oysters in a luxury restaurant or you can try them on a small “barka” of a local fisherman who has just brought them in from the Sea. Oyster soup or autochtone stone cake from pasta, almond and nuts, needs a glass of unforgettable wine from Pelješac peninsula. In Trstenik you can visit the wine cellar of Mike Grgich who is one of the most famous wine producers of Croatian descent.
Dubrovnik – Mostar (BiH)
Gastronomy in this country is a balanced fusion of Eastern and Western influences, a true reflection of its culture and history that can perfectly be seen clearly in the town Mostar – a UNESCO protected city that was named by its beautiful bridge built across the river Neretva where “the east meets the west”. Because of its geographical position and history, Bosnian cuisine is similar to the cuisines of Turkey, Greece and other Mediterranean countries, and yet at the same time the influence of the European cuisines is strongly felt as well. Try traditional Bosnian “ćevapi”, “burek”, “cufte” or “đuvedž” that are absolutely unique.
Dubrovnik – Budva, Kotor bay
Witness the immense beauty of the “Black Mountain” (Monte Negro), small state with rugged mountains just above long sandy Adriatic beaches. Exactly that meeting of mountains and sea has a strong influence on culinary specialties – energy boosters of dairy products like homemade sour milk, kajmak, domestic cheese; meat from the mountain “lamb under sac”, “pjeskavica with cheese” or grilled fish with rosemary and other aromatic herbs or typical fish stew. The dry red wine Vranac with a pleasant fruity smell and rich in dark ruby colour, or the white rich wine Krstac will seduce even the most demanding connoisseurs. Drive along Boka Kotorska – the biggest fjord in the Adriatic – with St. George and the Lady of the Rocks islands in front of Perast. Walk through narrow streets of UNESCO’s protected site Kotor and relax in the shade with a Nikšićko beer, produced since 1896, or the aromatic Grape Brandy “Loza”. Continue towards Njeguši, hometown of the famous poet Petar Njegos, enjoy the spectacular panoramic views, traditional farms and Njeguški prosciutto, goat cheese, and kas-tradina (dried mutton and sausages). Drive further up to Lovćen at 1,749m, a grand testament to Montenegro’s beauty, from where you can practically see the entire country.
Dubrovnik – flight home
Drink your morning coffee in Stradun, enjoy the spectacular view by taking a cable car to the top of the hill Srđ just above Dubrovnik, grab some souvenirs like the tasteful “arancini”, “mjenduli”, “kostonjata”, or some traditional handmade jewellery like “rečine” or “puce”, and say goodbye to this Mediterranean Pearl, at least until your next visit!
Photos copyright: Flickr (DS Fotowelt, sbabic911, zolakoma)