A UNESCO Mediterranean Diet
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.
Fish marinated with lemon
0.5 kg of fillets of any fish, 2 domestic lemons, 1 dl of olive extra virgin oil, 10 dg of capers or pickled agrimony, 1 spoon of oregano, salt and roughly ground pepper.
Chop the fillets into thin slices or cubes. Season with salt and pepper, squeeze lemon juice and pour with oil and sprinkle with oregano and capers or agrimony.
This dish is served in two versions:
1. Marinate for several hours so that the lemon does its part.
2. Consume immediately without marinating.
Suggestion version 2 – the taste of fish itself is more pronounced.
Risotto from lupari (barnacles)
1 kg of lupari, 2 red onions, 1 garlic head, bouquet of parsley, 1 tomato, 2 dl of white wine, 1 dl of olive oil, 20 dg of arborio rice, salt and pepper by taste
Separate the meat of lupari from the shell. Boil shells for the stock without any supplements. Stew onion, garlic and tomato on oil. Add meat of lumpari, season with salt and pepper and pour wine. Add rice and pour stock until rice is not cooked “al dente”. Mix chopped parsley and dribble some more olive oil.
Around 2kg od fish (few crabs are also fine), 1 kg of potato, 2 bigger white onion heads, several cloves of garlic, bouquet of parsley, 1 tomato, 1 dl of white wine, 1 dl of olive oil, salt, pepper in grain
The quantities depend on the size of the pot but make sure to put potatoes and onions to cover the bottom of the pot and potatoes the cover the fish. Cut onions on thin slices. Also slice the potatoes. Cut the bigger fish into pieces. Oil the bowl, put onions, potatoes, and fish and pour water only to cover the ingredients. Spice only with salt and pepper in the grain. Cook the gregada on strong flame until the potatoes are cooked. Add chopped tomato and sprinkle with wine. At the end spice it with garlic and parsley. Any kind of mixing of gregada during cooking is considered as sacrilege.
Polpette from octopus
2 kg of octopus, 2 eggs, 1 red onion, 1 garlic head, bouquet of parsley, 2 dl of white wine, 1 tomato, teaspoon of oregano, salt and pepper, 20 dg of rice.
Cook the octopus in cold salted water. Chop it by hand or machine, mix it with chopped red onions, eggs, salt and pepper. Form the polpette by hand and fry in deep oil. On a little bit of olive oil abruptly roast chopped garlic, parsley and tomato, pour wine and lay fried polpette. Stew until the wine is reduced. Sprinkle with origano and serve on rice cooked “bianco“.
Beef fricandeau of about 2 kg, 10 dg of dry bacon, 1 kg of red onion, 6-8 garlic cloves, bottle of Plavac mali, a few cloves, salt and pepper by taste, 2 dl of oil, 20 dg of celery root, 1 dl of prosecco; for soup: meat remnants with some bone, two carrots, onions, celery, salt, black pepper in grain
Prick the mean with garlic, cloves and pancetta. Cook beef soup from fricandeau remnants and some bones. You will pour pašticada with soup during your cooking. On olive oil roast beef leg on each side to develop a crust. Remove the meat and stew onion and garlic in the same bowl. Add pepper in the grain and then put the meat back in.
Pour it with wine and beef soup. When blood does not come out of the meat anymore, add a little bit of prosecco. Remove the meat and slice it to finger thick steaks. Remove from the bowl all that has been cooking in it and then mash it. Then mix everything together again. Put the meat in the sauce, season it and cook while adding soup until the meat softens.
Barbecued lamb or goat leg
1 whole leg, 1 red onion, 2 small zucchini, 2 peppers, a few cherry tomatoes, 2 potatoes, 0.5 dl of olive oil, a little dry rosemary and sage, salt and pepper.
Season boneless and thinned leg with salt, pepper, rosemary and sage and leave it to marinate for at least 1 day. Grill in a one piece together with vegetables. Serve leg steaks mixed with vegetables on a plate.
Pečica na tečicu (fresh goat cheese fried with sugar)
1 fresh goat cheese (cca 20 dg), 6 spoons of sugars or 1,5 dl of flower honey. A bit little cinnamon, for those who like it.
Place the cheese in the bowl which is minimally wider than cheese, cover it with sugar or honey and keep covered on fire or in the oven until the sugar is dissolved. Leave until serving time to saturate the flavours.