FT Meets Anthony Bourdain: Croatia Next Big Foodie Destination

Total Croatia News

July 12, 2019 – A meeting of minds between the Financial Times and the late, great Anthony Bourdain, who concluded the same thing 8 years apart – Croatia is the next big foodie destination

“This is world-class food, world-class wine, world-class cheese. The next big thing is Croatia,” enthused the late chef Anthony Bourdain when he first visited the country in late 2011. “If you haven’t been here, you’re an idiot.” Bourdain’s surprise at the gastronomic riches of Croatia was perhaps understandable. For thousands of years, the region had it all: salt production along the coast, started by the Liburnians well before the 1st century BC, plentiful fish from the clear waters of the Adriatic, a climate ideal for wine production, and olive oil that was prized above all others. In the 1st century AD the Greek epicure Apicius suggested adding bay leaves, cypress root and salt to Spanish oil so that it tasted more like the Liburnian version.

And so begins an excellent and in-depth piece by the FT, which came to exactly the same conclusion as Bourdain after his infamous visit to Croatia in 2011. You can read the full article here.

Whereas Bourdain travelled the whole coast for his No Reservations programme, the FT focused on one small region – the area around Zadar. Highlights included a visit to iconic winemaker Alen Bibic, the tuna farms of Ugljan, the cheese, olive and lamb heaven that is the island of Pag. On Pag, leading boutique hotel and restaurant Boskinac even held a foodie event in honour of Bourdain. 

So many different high-quality gourmet experiences in one tiny part of Croatia. And yet enough to get the Financial Times waxing lyrical. 

Croatia’s gourmet tourism potential is huge. With 130 indigenous grape varieties, including the original Zinfandel, several very distinct regional cuisines, and the Mediterranean Diet inscribed as intangible UNESCO heritage on Brac and Hvar, gourmet tourism and income should be somewhere in the region of that in of France, Germany, Italy or Spain. And indeed, the small private agencies, such as Culinary Croatia, which are offering high-quality gourmet tours, are doing great business. 

And yet… 

Despite being proud of the original Zinfandel hailing from Dalmatia, one of the most important wine regions in this part of Europe, there is no wine road for Dalmatia. An example of how seriously the authorities are taking the potential of this great 12-month tourism opportunity. 

I heartily agree with Bourdain and the FT, and sincerely hope that the tourism chiefs wake up to the opportunity. 

Learn more about Croatian food in the dedicated Total Croatia food guide

To get a flavour of the diversity and celebration of food in Croatia, check out 25 natural gourmet festivals around the country.




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