The island of Pag can thank its rich gastronomic offer to the Mediteranean climate with hot summers and winters with a lot of precipitation and strong blows of bora. Bora is important because it makes up for 40% of all the wind blows and spreads salt all over the island. Bora can blow as strong as 250 km/h.
Because of these harsh conditions selfgrown plants such as rosemary, sade, fennel and immortelle grow from the rocks. They are all very important for the cattle breeders and the beekeepers. Regardless of harsh conditions it is well known that people have been involved in agriculture since the early times. They may thank that to the felds of fertile ground and springs of fresh water.
The sea around the island is rich in fsh and shell fsh because the rocky sea floor is suitable habitat for a large number of fsh which come closer to the shore during their swarm period and feed on the algae and sea weed in abundance.
The cheese of Pag is one of the trademarks of the island. Its speciality is in its frmness and saltiness, and its specifc smell and taste. What makes cheese from Pag so special is its main ingredient – the milk from the island’s sheep. Sheep on the island are bred free
range; they graze on the pastures rich in aromatic plants. With a dab of sea salt their milk becomes specifc and cannot be produced in any other artifcial way. There are two kinds
of cheese from Pag which can be purchased.
The young cheese is the cheese that has been growing for 5 months, while the old cheese is the one which has been growing for about a year and even longer. The young cheese can be bought during last winter and frst spring months and it’s signifcantly softer and lighter than the mature cheese.
The mature cheese has its characteristical palatable taste, specifc smell, mild granular structure; it crumbles and melts in the mouth.
DRY CURD Cottage Chesse (SKUTA)
It’s a delicatessen that arises as a product of spreading, and belongs to the category of soft cheeses with a 10 day expiry date. It is especially benefcial for the liver and the regulation of sugar in the blood. It contains less than 1% of milk fat, it doesn’t contain carbohydrates, and the pure protein in which skuta is rich boosts the immune system. It was branded super food thanks to the albumin and globulin which contain the entire amino acids essential in a balanced diet.
The island of Pag has a millennial tradition of salt production. Salt is a completely natural product which maintains the most valuable elements of sea water. Because of higher salinity it takes less amount of salt, which is important to the people who have to pay attention to the low intake of salt in their diet. Sea salt is especially important to humans because it contains important mineral magnesium.
Lamb from Pag is well known to many gourmets as one of the best Croatian specialties. It has a very soft and tender meat and a specifc taste which owes to the ambience in which the authentic Pag sheep is fed.
Lambs are never kept in captivity; they spend their short lifetime in the open –on rocks in which aromatic plants and small grass sprinkled with salt spread by bora grow. Also, lambs from Pag are separated from the sheep in an early stage so the sheep can be milked and the cheese can be produced.
Therefore, Pag lambs go to the market when they are 7 to 10 kilos, which is considered to be the best weight and the lambs the tastiest. The lamb is the best in January, February and March, during the milking season, and it can be prepared in a number of ways: cooked, grilled, on a skewer, baked under the baking lid or roasted in the owen.
Grape vine, along with farming, fshing and salt production, have since the early ages been one of the most important sources of existence for the inhabitants of Pag. Unfortunately, nowadays many sorts of wine have become extinct and the ground covered in grape wine has decreased. White wine of different sorts has been produces on the island of Pag for centuries now, and owing to its yellow colour it was named Paška žutica. The main sort for the production of that wine was Gegić. Nowadays the wine yards on the island are very old, and the ways of production remained traditional.
Prosecco (prošek) is the name for the dark red, sweetened alcoholic drink similar to wine, but more aromatic and produced in very small amounts. It used to be served in special occasions and at Christmas, Easter and New Year. Considering the small amount of the prošek produced, it is most commonly found in private households.
Herb brandy travarica is used as a digestive, but also as a medicine. It is a well-known fact that small amounts of travarica can heal different stomach issues. Thanks to its antibacterial effects it also used to serve to disinfect wounds and bruises.
It is considered a delicacy and a medicine. It starts to grow at the end of March, with the frst signs of spring.
That is the time when the asparagus-pickers start the search for everyone’s favourite plant. It is considered a great success if one picks even a bouquet of asparagus since that is just enough to make lunch.
April is the right time for picking asparagus since then they can be found anywhere.
The manufacture of pork on the island of Pag had a major role up until the 19th century. Nowadays prosciutto is mostly made on the southern part of the island, mainly in Dinjiška and Vlašići and is considered to be of great quality.
Home-made sea salt is used to salt it and it is dried in the strong winter bora. For a good prosciutto, besides bora, another wind is also needed, sirocco, because too dry air makes the skin too dry and the middle of the prosciutto too soft.Up until the 19th century it was common for every family to have at least one prosciutto, which was usually stored in the attic.
Prosciutto is usually served alongside some type of hard cheeses, and the host who serves the Pag cheese alongside prosciutto is especially esteemed.
For more than 3 centuries the Benedictine nuns have been preparing tasty delicacy – golden Pag toast, baškotini.
This special and tasty delicacy is still being prepared in the traditional authentic way, and can be bought only in the Saint Margarita Monastery in the centre of the town.
For the people of Pag baškotini are a part of etiquette and family prestige, they serve them to their guests alongside white coffee or tea.
On the north part of the island there is a forest unique in Croatia with the olive trees more than a thousand years old. They are picked exclusively by hand, transported in plastic cases and processed every night right after they had been picked.
The oil is thick, greenish-yellow colour, with an intensive taste that smells of a healthy and fresh olive fruit.
With a mildly poignant and palatable taste and pleasant aroma it goes well with all Mediterranean dishes: fsh, pasta, vegetables or salads, and it’s a special delicacy to pour olive on a good quality cheese.
The sea around the island has for centuries been rich in different kinds of fish. Large quantities of fish and crabs used to be caught in the waters near Lun, Šimun, Povljana and Ljubačka vrata. The Velebit channel and The Pag cove also used to be rich in fish.
The old documents state The Caska cove used to be one of the biggest spawning places for tuna in the Adriatic. People from Pag used to hunt tuna fish and prepare it fresh in 10 different ways. After the hunting season, tuna fish would be dried or salted.
The tradition of tuna salting had a big economic signifcance up until the 20th century. Salted sardines and anchovies are considered a delicacy and are mostly served as an
appetizer or a side dish.
You should defnitely try the marinated fish. In Pag it is made from smaller fish, like sea-bream, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, but it can also be made from tuna and other fish.
We also highly recommend octopus with potatoes, fish soup or brodetto from Novalja.
Honey made from sage is the most popular honey on the Croatian market mainly because of its healing powers and because it’s ecologically cleanest. It is well known that sage from the island of Pag contains more essential oils than the sage growing on neighbouring islands and the coast.
Specifc weather conditions, salt and bora, account for the high quality of honey. Since the early ages sage has been used to treat problems with the nervous system.
It stimulates the work of the adrenal gland, helps with depression, anxiety, vertigo and tremor. Sage is also used as a cure for lung diseases since it eases the cough attacks, and cures gums suffering from periodontitis.