For me, one of the best parts about international travel is the food. Taking time to discover new flavours and dishes trumps all the well-meaning hop-on, hop-off bus tours. Boarding a flight and arriving in a new land is not possible right now, but the joy of unearthing great cuisines right here at home is.
Region Media sat down with Her Excellency Betty Bernardica Pavelich, Ambassador of Croatia, to find out more about Croatian food and where she heads locally to get a taste of home.
So, while we cannot feel the light breeze coming in from the Dalmatian Coast as we tuck into plates of fresh seafood right now, she shared that there is a thriving Croatian community here in Canberra and across Australia serving up a taste of the breathtaking Balkan nation.
From pantry staples to eating donuts, there are plenty of ways to get acquainted with the cuisine.
How would you describe your Croatian food?
Croatia’s food can be described as Mediterranean, as well as Continental. Our pristine Adriatic Sea is a source of excellent seafood, while inland there is a greater focus on meat dishes (lamb, pork, beef, poultry) and stews. We pride ourselves on the quality of our food and the fact that we are also GMO-free.
Does Croatia have an iconic national must-try dish?
There are a number of dishes that come to mind. Apart from grilled fish and a beef dish called Pašticada from the Dalmatian Coast, cabbage rolls or Sarma, roast lamb, and pork on the spit are quintessential favourites.
Most meals, wherever you find yourself in Croatia, are preceded by a broth soup with homemade noodles. It’s precisely because of this soup tradition that Vegeta, which is sold all over the world, became so iconic.
No meal is complete without fresh bread, hence why there are bakeries on virtually every corner, and we Croatians also love our desserts: crepes are known as Palacinke, strudel with apples, cherries or fresh cheese, kremšnite which are similar to a vanilla slice with a flaky pastry and krafne, donuts filled with jam or chocolate, to name a few.
When you have a craving for a taste of home, where do you eat in Canberra?
There are a number of wonderful places in Canberra that serve Croatian food. There are two Croatian Clubs, one in Deakin and the other in O’Connor, that serve traditional delights.
I am a regular at Spit Shack in Mitchell and Pialligo and absolutely love the foot-long Adriatic Lamb Sandwich.
When I’m craving seafood or grilled fish I always head to Maestral in Weston Creek and I consume my fair share of guilt-free Croatian donuts from Krofne, an inspiring Canberra-based social enterprise.
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We are now welcoming our guests to dine in our restaurant starting Saturday due to the first stage COVID-19 restrictionists easing in ACT..? Numbers will be limited to only 10 people. Every hour we will allow 10 people. We have adjusted our trading hours and the new hours will be lunch-Wednesday to Friday 12-2 and dinner-Tuesday to Saturday 5.30-8.30. We still continue as takeaway and delivery. We look forward to see you back in our restaurant ???
If you are hungry to try the Ambassador’s recommendations, head to:
Canberra Deakin Football Club located at 3 Grose St, Deakin.
Australian-Croatian Club located at 68 McCaughey St, Turner.
The Spit Shack can be found at 83 Lysaght St, Mitchell and 22A Beltana Road, Pialligo
Maestral Mediterranean Seafood Restaurant is located at 13 Trennery Circuit, in Weston Creek.
Krofne can be ordered online for delivery.