Hvar is a healthy gourmet delight. Forget all that you are used to, with supermarkets selling bland vegetables 24/7, 12 months of the year. On Hvar, everything is about the season, the freshness and the taste.
Come in Spring and enjoy the delights of the wild asparagus season. Come in November, and the fruit of the abundant mandarin trees will find their way into your diet. And some of the finest olive oil in the world, world-class wines made from indigenous Hvar grape varieties, and a host of other fruits, vegetables and herbs throughout the year, and it is no wonder, perhaps, that Hvar’s Mediterranean Diet was inscribed as intangible UNESCO heritage back in 2013.
Some key ingredients to quality Dalmatian cuisine are the simplicity of the dishes, fresh and seasonal products, and traditions and recipes handed down through family generations by grandmothers who devoted their lives to feeding the family.
It is said that a fish swims three times in Dalmatia. Once in the sea, then in local olive oil during preparation, and finally in white wine as it is consumed during the meal. And that journey personifies much of the quality and simplicity of Dalmatian food – fresh seafood, high-quality olive oil and exceptional wine.
Almost every family on Hvar grows its own food in a family field, and this bond to the land and insistence on the freshest seasonal produce is at the heart of the island’s approach to gastronomy.
Hvar has its own specialities, of course, and Hvarska gregada, a type of fish stew, is perhaps its most famous dish. But for those with a sweet tooth and an eye for a traditional souvenir, don’t miss Starogrojski paprenjak, a honey-flavoured biscuit which was produced for Hvar sailors by their womenfolk some 800 years ago.
Looking to learn more about a few popular Dalmatian dishes? Check out the recipes below.
A word on the wines from Hvar, which date back more than 2,000 years to the arrival of the Ancient Greeks from Paros. Croatia is blessed with some 130 indigenous varieties, of which Hvar has several which are indigenous to the island. These include Bogdanusa, Darnekusa, Prc, Mekuja and Palarusa. Add to this the varying terroir on the island, coupled with the diverse personalities and approach of its winemakers, and the Hvar wine story is a fascinating one. No wonder wine tours are increasing in popularity, as Hvar wines are exported around the world – they can now be found on sale as far away as Japan, China, California and Australia.