A flavour of the Mediterranean

With more than 20 countries or principalities bordering the Mediterranean Sea, it’s not hard to find great places to eat out and enjoy local food while on holiday. Whether you stumble on a great street food event, dine at the finest A La Carte restaurant or eat fresh fish from market traders, you’re bound to enjoy the culinary delights of the Mediterranean and its nations.

We’ve put a spotlight on just a handful of countries, including Croatia, Montenegro, Morocco, Cyprus and Malta to inspire your food and drink choices. After all, food and travel go hand in hand so it’s worth getting clued up about what you can expect in each location, what the local delicacies are, plus our recommendations for café’s, bars and restaurants to explore. Bon appetit!

Croatia

Influenced by countries including Turkey, Hungary, Greece and Italy, Croatian cuisine is a cultural mix of flavours and ingredients. From the popular Crni Rizot – a jet black risotto stained with cuttlefish ink – to luxurious truffle on homemade Fuži pasta, Croatian food is rich and always fresh.

As well as hearty soups and stews like Brodet and Pasticada, Croatia is well known for its seafood and fresh fish. Plenty of local fish restaurants throughout the islands and small towns serve it simply grilled with vegetables, polenta or rice. The nation’s well loved dish Gregada comes from Hvar and contains seafood cooked in white wine and garlic. Delicious!

When it comes to preparing food, a popular method of cooking is Peka. This dome shaped terracotta or steel lid is heated and used to cover food to cook it. This is often done with meat, octopus and potatoes for a truly authentic recipe.

Morocco

Aromatic spices such as cinnamon and saffron, fragrant herbs such as Moroccan mint, and colourful vegetables are typical of Moroccan dishes. Accompaniments like olives, dates and preserved lemons are common additions too. Slow cooking, grilling and stewing are the usual methods of cooking with the popular Tagine being a national dish. Did you know that Tagine is actually the clay pot used to slow cook meat, vegetables and cous cous?

Positioned on two coasts – the Atlantic and Mediterranean – Morocco has abundant seafood and fresh fish, especially in the beautiful port city of Essaouira. In Marrakech, you can sample street food in abundance and enjoy the lively café culture. Be sure to try the sweet and savoury B’stilla (chicken and almond pie) Rfissa (stewed chicken and lentils), and stuffed sardines.

Cyprus

Cypriot cuisine incorporates many mild flavours of cheeses, meats, legumes and grains. With a strong Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern influence, you can expect a fusion of dishes in Cyprus.

Noted for ingredients such as halloumi cheese, lentils, beans, citrus fruits and lamb, common dishes include Koupepia (stuffed vine leaves), Bamies (okra in tomato sauce) and Crépinette (a small, flattened sausage parcel made with lamb or pork).

Meze is often the desired way to eat – a large selection of hot and cold small dishes for sharing. Anything from olives to hummus to fried calamari can be included in a meze feast. Souvlakia (barbecued meat on skewers) is another staple Cypriot dish.

Montenegro

This relatively small country is largely influenced by Turkish and Hungarian cuisine, while Italy’s influence is clear from the many pizza and pasta restaurants in tourist locations. The coastal towns have a diet high in seafood, while inland meat plays a key component in traditional dishes. These include čevapčići (grilled kebabs), Burek (meat filled pastry) and Sarma (stuffed vine leaves).

Vegetarians are well catered for with plenty of fresh salads and cheeses to choose from. Dessert lovers will appreciate the many sweets and cakes Montenegro has to offer. From Palačinke (a thin pancake filled with cream, fruits and honey) to Krempita (crispy puff pastry filled with thick set custard and cream). And don’t forget your coffee – a strong espresso or served Turkish style.

Malta

Marrying the flavours of Italy (Sicily), Greece, North Africa and Spain, Maltese cuisine caters for many palettes. From the readily available seafood (thanks to the numerous fishing harbours), to the cakes and Kannoli (ricotta filled pastry cones) found in local café’s, Malta is a key destination for food lovers.

One of the national dishes is Tuffat tal-fenek (stewed rabbit in red wine) which has been cooked and eaten since the 18th century! Other popular meats include pork and beef. Traditional dishes are rustic and focus on one hero ingredient. Look out for Lampuki (fish pie), Kapunata (ratatouille) and Timpana (baked shaped pasta, cheese, tomato and minced meat wrapped in short crust pastry).