In the context of food, the Dubrovnik county is a kind of an endemic occurrence. Having in mind it is a world popular tourist destination – there are no fast food chains in the vicinity. Regardless of the place, you chose to spend your vacation at, you should take your time in exploring what the gastronomy has to offer – you won’t be disappointed. From the taverns of the Neretva valley to the vineyards of Konavle, and across the wine island surprises, one must simply fall in love with the food. The culinary tradition and recipes are very old and have been transferred from generation to generation, creating along the way, excellent new fusion dishes.
Every dish begins with good oil, and the dishes in the Dubrovnik- Neretva county begin with some of the best olive oils you will ever taste. Considered and used as a medicine throughout centuries, the olive oil making process is now not a very hard one and it pays of respectively. Extra virgin olive oil is obtained from the first pressing of healthy olives. This oil is the healthiest one. For an oil to be classified as an extra virgin it must not have any smell not characteristic of it. Olive oil is made in various places throughout the county and they are all great. After tasting some of them, and you just have to, you can pick out your favorite one and take it with you. Consider it a healthy souvenier.
Since Roman times oyster have been considered a delicacy. The European oyster grown in Croatia is almost extinct and can only be found in some places in the Mediterranean, the east Atlantic and the Black sea. Because of the specific conditions oysters need to grow in, the Mali Ston Bay is an ideal place to grow them. Each year, traditionally marking the annual feast of St. Joseph in Ston and Mali Ston the Festival of Oysters is organized. You can dig into the most renowned aphrodisiac and enjoy a glass of supreme wines of the Pelješac region.
Seaman’s Cod went through a big transformation over the decades, from being a «poor man’s dish» to a traditional delicacy prepared for big holidays. Cod is very healthy, nutritious and because of the characteristic flavour, not a lot is needed to prepare the dish. The Cod which is used in this dish is not fresh fish but dried, which is traditionally made only for the Mediterranean market. Traditionally it is prepared for Christmas Eve and Holy Friday. In past times, a bit of Cod with a couple of kilos of potatoes would feed and satisfy a large family.
Black risotto is a must, must try. Cuttlefish and squid with various shells and shrimp is just the perfect combination for seafood lovers. Don’t let the real, fresh squid ink scare you – it really does add to the taste.
The non-stir stew served with cooked cornmeal and with so many hot peppers as there are fish? Eel and frog stew – a speciality from the Neretva valley.
«Dubrovačka Rozata» is an original Dubrovnik desert and is similar to a flan. It is part of the gastronomic heritage of Croatia. The recipe has been transferred through generations and has been preserved in its original state. «Rozata» is named after its special ingredient «Ruzolin», a rose pettal liqueur. It is a very popular desert in summer times because of its lightness and fluffy texture.
Have you found yourself wanting a particular fruit out of season? How about oranges or lemons? When thinking of candy you wouldn’t probably think about lemons but, here is a special, sweet and healthy treat made out of something you wouldn’t normally use. Arancini are made out of orange and lemon peel which is cut into long, thin strips and soaked in water for six days. The water is to be changed every day. After the bitterness has been soaked out, the strips are boiled in water. When softened, sugar is added. The mixture is then cooked until the liquid thickens. Then you remove the stripes and while hot, roll them in crystal sugar. The Arancini have to dry for several days. Aside from lemon and orange peel, you can use for example mango.
There are many more recipes characteristic for the Dubrovnik- Neretva county and if you feel up for it, pick out a recipe or two and try it at home.
Wine region of the Dubrovnik- Neretva County – an indispensable part of the gastronomic offer
To start with something different is always a pleasure. Dalmatia is mostly known for its red wine varieties but Korčula for just the opposite. Aside from its natural beauty, Korčula is world known for the quality of its white wines, made almost exclusively from native grapevine varieties. Lumbarda is is located in the central region of the island and known for producing excellent wines that include «Pošip» and «Rukatac«. The eastern tip of the island makes the perfect location for vineyards of «Grk«. Red wine is not forgotten if you even dared to think that; the most popular choice is «Plavac Mali«.The thing that makes the Korčula wines so special, aside from their complexity, accentuated varietal aromas and high alcohol content is their exceptionally fine acidity which is unusual among the southern wines. They truly do reflect Mediterranean sunshine, scents and tastes.
Pelješac may as well become the synonym for good wine- that’s how great the wine is. It is the place of the indisputable reign of «Plavac Mali». This peninsula is directly associated with «Dingač» and «Postup«. The slopes of the vineyards, the most spectacular of which are at «Dingač«, provide a unique view, as do the other scenic overlooks. Crystal clear sea, dense vegetation, amazing views and excellent wines – the perfect vacation.
The Konavle wine region is a rebuilt and regrown one. The bounce back of this region is just amazing. Having been made aware of the importance of wine and the natural predispositions of Konavle has for winegrowing, the people of Konavle have done an amazing job in regrowing wine varieties. Today, over forty quality wines, indigenous as well as international are being produced in Konavle. The undeniable princess, which has in style overran the former prejudice about the poor wine quality of Konavle is most certainly «Malvasija dubrovačka«. Grown exclusively in Konavle, it has no genealogical connection to the similarly named varieties of Istra and has a long-running tradition from the times of the Dubrovnik Republic. This wine has been exported since 1383, to which documents of the Dubrovnik archive testify. It was one of the gifts the Republic gave to high-ranking visitors and when visiting as well as a sign of – prestige; a feeling you will surely get when tasting this excellent wine.
The finishing touch which makes a difference
The Mediterranean climate of the Dubrovnik- Neretva county has numerous benefits. Among them is the perfect predisposition for growing aromatic herbs. Rosemary, lavender, laurel, marjoram, mint, basil, thyme, parsley and much more is grown here. These plants and aromatic herbs are used as spices in dishes but also to give special aromas to indigenous drinks and olive oil. You will be able to find a variety of «rakija» with one or a combination of herbs and olive oil aromatized with lavender or rosemary. A treat for the taste buds which will make the gastronomic experience come to a full circle.