Thanks to its azure Adriatic Sea and the historical charm of cities like Dubrovnik, Split and Zagreb, Croatia has long been a destination for yachts and jet sets. And autumn is the main season to eat and drink your way around the country, far after the hordes of visitors looking for cheap beach bars and restaurants game of Thrones Tours have gone.
The West Virginia nation of just 4 million people has certainly caught the attention of the Michelin Guide, which has awarded seven starred restaurants, including Restaurant 360, in Dubrovnik, which has a breathtaking view of the city’s famous walls and has a menu made with ingredients from all over the Dalmatian region. Sea bass is accompanied by pastry bags full of squid, called fagotini– an allusion to crni riÅ¾ot, the black risotto that can be found all over the coast – while lamb is paired with a cheese cream from the island of Pag, a rocky and mostly barren strip of land that is nonetheless known for its lamb and sheep cheese.
Noel, in the capital city of Zagreb, offers two tasting menus with contemporary interpretations of dishes from around the country. An updated version of the traditional is boiling Fish stew still features eel and frog legs here from the nearby Neretva Valley, while a dish from Jadransko More – literally Adriatic Sea – combines the best of the Croatian coast in a single dish of octopus, prawns, stone fish and olives. In the town of KorÄula on the island of the same name, LD restaurant, at the Relais & ChÃ¢teaux Hotel LeÅ¡iÄ Dimitri Palace, offers a menu inspired by the surrounding waters as well as KorÄula’s famous vineyards and olive oils, which brings to life the old Croatian adage that âfish should swim three times: in the sea, in olives Oil and wine. âAdriatic tuna is served sashimi-style, while prawns are served gyoza are topped with mousseline sauce, chillies, daikon radish and sesame.
Speaking of wine, the local winemaking history dates back more than a thousand years, and a new line of wine hotels attracts traveling wine lovers. On the Italian-influenced northern peninsula of Istria, Meneghetti winery and Roxanich winery Both run boutique accommodations: the former is built around an old stone courtyard, with suites and villas that lead along lavender-lined gravel paths to the main restaurant, while Roxanich in the historic mountain village of Motovun offers a versatile, modern design alongside traditional wellness amenities – choose between a Turkish hammam or Finnish spas – and a restaurant that celebrates Istrian cuisine with ingredients such as homemade pasta and black truffles. Combine your meal with one of the aromatic, mineral red wines from Meneghetti, a product of the rocky red earth of the region, or a bottle from Roxanich’s selection of long-aged natural wines, including rosÃ© and oranges.
Further south, in Dalmatia, the PeljeÅ¡ac peninsula is Croatia’s most famous wine-growing region, known for its steep mountain slopes that merge into the sea. The grape Plavac Mali, a direct relative of Zinfandel, rules here; Grown on limestone soil under the intense sun of the Adriatic, it produces a spicy, full-bodied red wine that is valued throughout the region. Enjoy it while staying at the Korta Katarina Winery, owned by American entrepreneurs Peggy and Lee Anderson, who recently opened an elegant eight key inn in a sprawling stone villa with sweeping views of the Adriatic Sea – or book a stay right on the water using the Anderson’s six cabins charter. 20 foot mega yacht that M / Y Katharina.
And there are other culinary adventures to experience. Back in Motovun, travelers can start their daily truffle hunt with Miro Kotiga, of Miro Tartufi Restaurantfollowed by lunch topped off with a history lesson on Croatian truffles from his wife Mirjana. Just a short drive away, winemaker Marko Fakin offers excellent vintages in his homonymous winery, including examples of the dry local red wines made from the Teran grape, which have been made in the region for centuries, or the flowery and sour Malvazija white wine. (He’s also recently invested in huge clay qvevri Pots so that happy visitors will soon have the chance to try some of his orange wines.) Eating Istria and Dubrovniks Captivating Croatia, owned by Croatian-American chef Richard Gruica, which can range from a few hours to a full week. Given the dazzling beauty of the country and the far-reaching culinary traditions stemming from a wide variety of regions, from the Istrian peninsula to inland Slavonia and the hills surrounding Zagreb, even the latter option doesn’t seem like enough time.