Go Gourmet

Three words describe authentic Brač cuisine: local, organic and seasonal. We urge you to track down restaurants that serve good quality food using the freshest local ingredients - natural, healthy and delicious. See our Restaurants section for our recommendations for the best and most authentic Brač restaurants, and turn to the Culture and Events pages to find out about gastronomy festivals where you’ll have the chance to sample all kinds of local specialities. Here are a few pointers for things to look out for…

Ask any Croatian person what springs to mind when they think of Dalmatian food and they’ll also throw three words right back at you “riba i blitva” (“fish and chard”). Of course, what better to eat than fresh, locally-caught fish from the clear waters of the Adriatic? On Brač there is no shortage of restaurants with a hotline to a good local fisherman, or where the proprietors themselves are fishermen as well as restaurateurs.

Brač also has two commercial fish factories: one in Postira, which was established in 1906 and specialises in canning oily fish such as sardines, tuna and mackerel, and one in Milna which opened for business in 2005 on the basis of a long tradition of processing fish in the village, and which has an interesting range of products such as smoked and marinated fish and seafood. Several restaurants now offer their smoked tuna as an appetiser – try it drizzled with olive oil.

Of course, there are a million ways of preparing fish but it’s hard to beat the most simple: grilled over charcoal, smothered with olive oil, parsley and garlic and served with a side dish of chard – a leafy green vegetable not unlike spinach but without the odd feeling on your teeth. At certain times of the year you may be offered wild greens – do try if you get the chance. Other seasonal vegetables which are rather special are asparagus – usually the slim, potent, wild variety (divlja šparoga), and broad beans (bob), both of which can be prepared in myriad ways.

Brač is known as the “inland island” since for centuries its interior was far more populated than the coast. The inland culture of raising stock can still be discerned through the island’s cuisine, in which fish is balanced by meat dishes, traditionally lamb and goat. The inhabitants of these inland communities also lived from the production of olive oil and wine. You can buy both commercially-produced and home-made Brač extra virgin olive oil, which has a delightfully strong, fruity flavour.

Don’t be shy to try home-produced wine either, it can be very good. The local variety is Plavac Mali, which thrives best on the south-facing slopes on the southern shore of the island. Plavac Bol and Plavac Baković (from Murvica) are two labels you might come across. A new local vineyard is  Bosso, with a 2008 Plavac Mali matured for one year in French barrique barrels, and cellared for a further six months in the bottle. As for white wine, you’ll find a Chardonnay and a Dalmatian variety called Pošip in the traditional konobas in Gornji Humac.
Another excellent Brač product is cheese, which is made from sheep’s milk. It’s quite hard, and has a delicious nutty flavour but is not overpowering. Unfortunately, good local cheese is in short supply, it’s made in spring and you’ll only find it in the better restaurants while stocks last. Such restaurants might also offer škuta on the dessert menu. This is a very soft, fresh, young cheese, neutral in flavour and most often served with pancakes, caramelised or with honey.

Speaking of desserts, naturally the local sweets are made from ingredients indigenous to the island such as figs, honey, carob, nuts, grapes and cherries. Hrapačuša is a cake made primarily of almonds, walnuts and lemon: its spiritual home is the village of Dol. Bračka torta (Brač cake) is a traditional cake from the village of Škrip made with almonds and chocolate. Sweet specialities common all through Dalmatia which you’ll also find here include rožata, similar to crème caramel, light and crispy fritters called hroštule and mendule u cukru, almonds rolled in caramelised sugar.

We like meeces to pieces!

A culinary speciality of which the Bračans are very proud is Myoxus glis or Glis glis – otherwise known as the edible or fat dormouse. Oh no! When we saw these fat, bushy tailed little creatures, reminiscent of grey squirrels but with chubby faces and great beady eyes, eating them was the last thing that sprang to mind. But the tradition of eating this animal, known as a “puh” in Croatian (and pronounced to rhyme with “woof”), goes back to Roman times.

In countries where the puh is common it may be considered a pest due to its penchant for nibbling through useful things like electric cables. Interestingly, there is a colony of 10 000 around the English town of Tring following a great escape of the intrepid animals from the private collection of the 2nd Baron Rothschild in 1902. In the UK they enjoy some degree of protection. In Slovenia, however, not only is their eating a part of the folk culture but their fat has been prized as a medicament since the Middle Ages.

On Brač, the puh is considered an exceptionally healthy animal to eat since its diet primarily consists of clean stuff like acorns and grapeseeds. For the full puh experience you're supposed to catch the animal yourself by setting a trap in a tree. It should be roasted over an open fire and it has to be fat! If you intend to try this unusual delicacy, ask your host in one of the island’s more traditional restaurants who may be able to source it for you. But we say: leave da liddle bebbehs alone! Pooh to eating the puh!

The village of Dol has its very own living legend – a lady named Barica who is proud holder of the title of World Champion in the making of Hrapačuša cake. Some may point out that Hrapačuša is only made on Brač and in particular in Dol and that this is therefore no achievement at all, but we defy anyone to taste the cake of Barica and tell us that she is not among the greats of this planet, or even neighbouring galaxies, in the art of making cake. Her Hrapačuša is a crescendo of nuts, lemon, caramelised sugar and egg yolk, a calorific atom bomb that induces an intense sugar rush and has been named “Dol Viagra” with good reason. Try Barica’s award-winning cake in Konoba Toni or at island gastronomy festivals.

Fans of offal will be overjoyed to learn that one of Brač’s culinary specialities is made from those idiosyncratic segments of a goat or a lamb. Not only is it a delicay that is raved about by afficionados, but the tradition of making it is so old and so unique that Vitalac is listed as an item of non-material cultural heritage in Croatia. A skewer is threaded with small pieces of kidney, lung or what have you, salted and wrapped in soft piece of muscle tissue, gently barbecued, then wrapped in a piece of intestine and roasted for a further hour until crispy on the outside. For best results, the victim should be a little baby lamb not even weaned from its mother’s milk… sniff! The resulting sausage-shaped delicacy is removed from the skewer, salted, sliced and served warm. The administration of lashings of extra virgin olive oil makes the ingestion of this almost bearable for those who are not fans of offal.

An unusual ingredient called Varenik is thought to have been made on Brač for 2000 years – it was mentioned during Roman times. It’s made by boiling red wine down to a concentrate, which is then stored in bottles and added to all sorts of foods, sweet and savoury, to impart a unique and rich flavour. During the time of the Varenik festival at the end of September, dishes are prepared showcasing the use of this ingredient, and the island’s restaurants have a range of specials on the menu.

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