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Al Fresco on the Adriatic


Dining in the Paljesac Peninsula

Across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, Croatia has long been a favorite holiday for Europeans looking to escape the typical tourist haunts and cruise ports of the Mediterranean. More relaxed and less expensive than its neighbors to the west, the Dalmatian Coast features a pleasant mix of sunny islets and seaside towns, sprawling vineyards and Medieval villages. And amidst all the love from sophisticated world travelers, no one is more pleased to see Croatia having its moment in the sun than foodies. Those in the know are heading to the southern tip of the country to a slice of land known as the Paljesac Peninsula to enjoy its bounty of seafood and some pretty spectacular wines as well. Here are our top five food finds in Croatia -- giving you ample flavors to savor and plenty of reasons why this European destination should be on your travel radar:

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Image: Crni rižot, a squid ink risotto; Jenny Gu, Flickr

Fish -- Most of the fish recipes of Croatia have appeared on local tables for generations. The distinction of these dishes comes from a combination of grilling methods, Dalmatian olive oil, and the old grapevines and olive wood that the fish is grilled over. Since many seafood restaurants have their own boats, you are virtually guaranteed of the freshness of the catch. And while it’s not uncommon for diners to chose their own fish from a selection of impressive species on display, you shouldn’t rule out the simple sardines prepared in a way you’ll never forget.

Oysters -- On the southern tip of the Paljesac Peninsula, Ston is known for the oysters plucked from its bay. While you’ll find them served fried, baked, and pan seared, the traditional way to enjoy them is raw with lemon juice and a hearty slice of bread.

Ispod peke -- More of a cooking method than a description of the dish, ispod peke is famous throughout Croatia. The seafood version features octopus with seasoned potatoes that are placed in a stone oven underneath a heavy metal covering. The entire pot is covered with hot coals so the octopus is cooked long and slow in its own juices.

Crni rižot -- This black risotto is made with cuttlefish and squid. The name and color are the result of the squids’ ink which gives the dish its Mediterranean flavor.

Wine -- The Paljesac Peninsula is home to some of the most stellar wines in all of Europe thanks to the fertile soil and warm climate. While the region produces a fine white Rukatac, the velvety red Plavac Mali is the most famous of the area’s vintages.

You can visit Croatia with luxury travel company Travcoa. Its Dine Around Program lets you dine when and where you want throughout the region. And since gratuities are always prepaid, tipping at group meals is never a hassle. Travcoa is known worldwide for its small-group Escorted Journeys, Private Tours and Custom Travel in Europe and other exotic travel destinations. To learn more, call your travel agent or a Travcoa Journey Consultant at 1-800-992-2003, or email info@travcoa.com.

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Topics: Croatia