In Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, I sat outside on the gorgeous outdoor patio of Zinfandel’s Restaurant, conveniently located at the Esplanade Hotel, where I was staying for the night. I ordered a glass of light sparkling wine on the hot August day… luckily not confusing my choice with Prošek (an intense Croatian dessert wine, that’s at least 15% alcohol with a dark amber hue… Woof).
I ordered a caprese salad with a side of watermelon and mint gazpacho. The salad had delicious heirloom tomatoes, fresh arugula spritzed in lemon and vinegar with small mozzarella bites to create a fresh, creamy, and tangy salad that was both light and satisfying. After feeling like I was roasting alive in the mid-summer Croatian heat, the watermelon and mint gazpacho was exactly what I needed. Cool, sweet, zesty and refreshing. It was the perfect portion and complimented the leafy salad effortlessly.
My second course I ordered at Zinfandel's Restaurant was a true Croatian crostini. With fresh olives from Istra, Croatia, sun-dried tomatoes, Dalmatian ham and olive oil with a slice of semi-firm Croatian cheese known as Kashkaval. The combination of the crispy and warm toasted bread, savory smoked ham, and creamy Croatian cheese was enough for me to pass on to gastronomic heaven.
The cuisine in Croatia is the perfect blend between Mediterranean and Italian with fresh seafood, vegetables and pasta being their dietary staples. Their main condiment’s are similar to that of their close trans-Adriatic neighbor: Olive oil, garlic and fundamental herbs such as basil and rosemary.
One thing I loved about Croatia is that 67% of the wine made in the country is white, which is exceptionally important when dealing with the intense heat all day. After a long day in the sun, I rarely felt like a big glass of Cabernet. Instead I always chose a nice refreshing glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc. My wine choice was a bit ironic however, as Croatia is known as the birthplace of the Zinfandel.
Whether you are stuffing your face with pasta or remain carb-conscious with a seafood salad, Croatian food is delicious, fresh, and can (depending on what you order) be quite healthy. With a great history in wine-making and tons of great restaurants and menu options… Croatia was a dream to explore gastronomically.
Photos by The Blonde Vagabond. ©