Even though the food of Zagreb was spectacular, Split made it look like McDonald’s and Spaghetti-O’s in comparison. Split’s cuisine blew our minds.
Split is on the Adriatic coast and serves as the gateway to some of Croatia’s most beautiful islands. The heart of Split is made up of Diocletian’s Palace, a two THOUSAND-year-old Roman city where people still live, drink, eat and work today.
Just out of reach beyond the touristy palace walls, some absolutely incredible food was waiting for us. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves…
Salty Dalmatian smoked ham, similar to prosciutto, served with local olives. To be clear, “Dalmatian” doesn’t mean I enjoy the taste of little spotted puppies. It is in reference to the region of Dalmatia, although that is where the dog gets its name as well. And yes, this is what they considered to be a serving. MEAT SWEATS.
Croatian meat and potatoes. On the right, “Pašticada” which is similar to pot roast but with an even longer preparation and more flavor served over mashed potatoes. On the left, beef goulash over handmade (and giant) gnocchi.
Freshly caught fish grilled whole and finished with olive oil and parsley. The red mullet was out of this world.
Then we found Konoba Hvarnin. It doesn’t look like much on the outside, which helps keep the tourists away. For this, they get extra bonus points for keeping it real. The father runs the kitchen, the son runs the bar. Definitely a hole in the wall worth a stop or two.
I dreamt about this gnocchi for days. Huge pillowy gnocchi coated in the sweetest fresh tomato sauce. Imagine the best tomato sauce you’ve ever had, then multiple it by 50. Then it will be somewhere in the neighborhood of this sauce.
Next we had grilled crawfish, or as they are called down south: “mudbugs”. Buttery and rich, they were doused with lemon juice and had the perfect amount of char.
To finish it off, we had the octopus salad. The incredibly tender octopus was marinated in vinegar and olive oil, and tossed with arugula and onion. I never thought octopus could ever melt in your mouth. I will now admit that I was wrong, and that makes me unbelievable happy. We mowed through this dish like candy at a movie theater.
And since we were in Croatia, there had to be more pizza. Pizza Galija raised the bar. We watched as the man in the chef had huddled around the wood burning oven churning out pizza after pizza after pizza, every one a perfect work of art.
To get us in the mood, we started with beef carpaccio drizzled with lemon and olive oil and buried under arugula, mushrooms, local (and incredible) olives and huge slices of parmigiana reggiano. This is my nirvana dish.
The pizza was topped with fresh tomato sauce, wild spinach, mozzarella and house made ricotta cheese. One bite made my eyes roll back in my head. I may need to go to Pizza Anonymous soon because I think I have a problem.
If you are still wondering why we chose Croatia, go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done.