Follow the Steps of Anthony Bourdain in Croatia
It took Anthony Bourdain, the famous chef and world traveler, quite a while to discover Croatia and its bounties, he admitted. But then it blew his mind and palate! When you see it all in the Croatian episode of his TV show "No Reservations" (aired on April 23, 2012), you might wish to follow his footstep around Croatia...
Since the country and its cuisine are so plentiful and diverse, for his first trip Bourdain chose the northern part of the Adriatic: Istria and northern Dalmatia. We recreated the itinerary as seen on No Reservations (stops 1 to 10), and included additional suggestions on other interesting spots nearby.
View Anthony Bourdain's itinerary in Croatia in a larger map.
st STOP: Wine Vault Restaurant
Hotel Monte Mulini in Rovinj is the realm of masterchef Tom Gretić, currently one of the most famous TV chefs in Croatia. In the hotel's Wine Vault Restaurant, Tom prepared a feast for Bourdain and his Croatian buddies. By the way, Tom's Swiss wife Priska Thuring is also a top chef, running the kitchen in Rovinj's supermodern hotel Lone.
More in the surroundings of Wine Vault:
Stancija Meneghetti This establishment is not just another luxury holiday villa for clientele with loads of money but also a place where outstanding extra virgin olive oils and innovative wines (unusual for Istria - wine blends) are produced with care.
Restaurant Masèra Something quite different from the usual konobas, Masèra offers the style of Rovinj’s top 5 restaurants but at an affordable price. If you’ve champagne tastes and a beer budget, this is a place not to be missed. To find it, head off down the road running south east from Rovinj towards Villas Rubin. Look out for the red shale tennis courts on the right.
Restaurant Giannino This seafood restaurant has a long-standing tradition and has always been managed by family Pelizzaro, indigenous Italians from Rovinj. Their cozy terrace on a small square, away from crowded streets in the center, is great for relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere of Rovinj as it once was. Cold starters are always made from the freshest ingredients and creatively presented.
nd STOP: The Lim Bay
Pazinčica River flows into the sea forming a 10 km long estuary, a protected area famous for its oysters and mussels. Avoid the tacky stands with cheap souvenirs, and especially fluorescent coloured "homemade" brandies in funny bottles. Choose one of the two restaurants – Viking or Lim Fjord – both offering fresh fish and shellfish from the bay.
More in the surroundings of Lim Bay:
Olive oil Vošten For the last eight years or so family Vošten has been winning gold medals for their monocultivar extra virgin olive oil made from buža. Pay them a visit and taste the queen of Istrian extra virgin olive oils, a pure delicacy on its own.
This itinerary was in part written by Goran, who is an Istrian born guy who offers private cooking classes and wine tours in Istria. All his programs are private experiences tailored for individuals and small groups.
If you are interested in fresh, local and traditional food or you want to taste Istrian wines on the spot and meet the winemakers contact him here.
rd STOP: Motovun
Motovun is one of the most beautiful, preserved and popular old Istrian medieval towns, with a spectacular view of Mirna River Valley. Motovun Forest is the best place for hunting the famous Istrian truffle and the nearby village of Livade is considered the truffle capital of Istria. You probably won't have your own truffle hunting guide as Anthony Bourdain did, but at least you can enjoy this precious underground jewelin local restaurants, taverns and family farms.
More in the surroundings of Motovun:
Agriturizam Tončić Homemade ingredients used to make delicacies coming from grandma's cookbook. Try their delicious fuži with shaved white truffles, which are fairly priced, too.
Benvenuti Winery You will enter Zen mode when you visit Benvenuti brothers’ vineyards with a view of the hilltop medieval town Motovun.
th STOP: Konoba Batelina
This modest family-owned tavern is one of the most exciting places to eat in Croatia and in 2014 got the title as the best restaurant in Croatia. Skoko family – father fisherman, mother and mother-in-law cooks and son manager and the coolest Croatian chef – is a perfect example of an honestly run local restaurant business. For a fair price and with no phony pretentiousness, they turn often neglected kinds of fish into magnificent dishes, celebrating pure taste and simplicity.
More in the surroundings of Batelina:
Restaurant Miramare Mira, the chef, is an expert in seafood prepared in the traditional South Istrian way (like crab salad), but she dares to invent some innovative dishes like breaded wild asparagus, cuttlefish meatballs served on dandelion and motar salad or the ultimate treat - squids stuffed with scampi (prawns).
Trapan Wine Station Postmodern architecture, concrete walls, funky billboards and photos on the walls, furniture in Scandinavian minimalist style, all this modern stuff is cleverly put together to create a nostalgic feeling of traveling that only a train station can create. Only here the wine takes the role of a steam locomotive guided by energetic Bruno Trapan, enfant terrible among Croatian winemakers.
th STOP: Boškinac Restaurant and Winery
The island of Pag boasts such goodies as the celebrated Pag cheese and lamb, and Boškinac restaurant & winery (also a boutique hotel) is something like a shrine of local gastronomy. Run by a brilliant chef and great enthusiast Boris Šuljić, Boškinac combines high-end cooking standards and the best of local ingredients and tradition. They also produce great and unique wines from forgotten local varieties like Gegić.
More in the surroundings of Boškinac:
Gligora cheese On the island of 8,000 inhabitants and 30,000 indigenous sheep you will want to visit the best and most awarded cheese maker.
Plus, don't miss visiting Lun olive groves which are considered to be among the oldest in the world. You can admire more than thousand-year-old trees with most unusual shapes and textures. These living sculptures modeled by the sea, salt and strong bura wind will take your breath away.
th STOP: Bibich Winery
Alen Bibić is a real visionary. He built a successful private winery in secluded Dalmatian hinterland, used underrated local varieties to make high-quality labels and he was one of the first exporters of Croatian wine to the USA. Yet he remained a friendly, down-to-earth and fun-loving guy. Tastings in his cellar can be spectacular when the wines are paired with imaginative dishes prepared by Alen’s wife. Check out why Eva Longoria fell in love with Bibić’s dessert wine Ambra.
Some photos courtesy of Secret Dalmatia
More in the surroundings of Bibich Winery:
Restaurant Bonaca Old school, sincere, value-for-money traditional Dalmatian cuisine respecting local ingredients.
Konoba Porat Near the local church you will find this family run place managed by Krešimir Živković since 1982. By Porat’s modest appearance you would never guess that authentic flavors of this magical landscape are hiding in the kitchen.
th STOP: Restaurant Foša
Foša is considered the best upscale seafood restaurant in Zadar, a fusion of modern culinary trends and Dalmatian tradition. It is situated in a small port called Foša, just across the town walls dating from the 16th century.
More in the surroundings of Restaurant Foša:
Restaurant Pet bunara Their originality brought them the title of the best authentic local restaurant in Zadar and surroundings.
Restaurant Šopot Being in business from 1904, they serve as a real front liner in presenting the hard-core traditional food: peka, lamb on a spit, home made bread.
th STOP: Zadar Fishmarket
When in Zadar, don't miss the opportunity to stroll around the central market, check out the last night's catch on the fish market and haggle with the old ladies selling homegrown fruit, vegetables, olive oil and cheese. Soak in the atmosphere of the place where people have been trading and socializing since ancient times.
More in the surroundings of Zadar Fishmarket:
Fig jam Babac Being surrounded with loads of ripe figs, Sandra decided to try making a fresh fig jam following her grandma’s recipe. Turns out she’s a talent.
th STOP: Kornati Islands National Park
Finish off your trip to northern Dalmatia with a tour of Kornati National Park, an amazing archipelago of 140 amazing uninhabited small islands. You won't find any fancy restaurants along the way, but most of the excursions run by local agencies include a fish picnic.
PS: In case you wish to travel (taste, eat & drink) following Anthony Bourdain's steps with an experienced local guide, feel free to contact us at goran.zgrablic[at]eatistria.com or via this web form. We'll be glad to organize it for you!
PPS: Also, don't miss our smartphone apps for Android or iOS that can be useful if you want to avoid tourist traps and find good food, wine and traditional produce on your vacation in Croatia.