Crni rizot – black risotto
The Romans who left so many marks on Croatia’s landscape probably weren’t the first visitors from Italy. When you open any Croat menu you’re sure to see tasty influences from over the Adriatic Sea, and this risotto crafted with the super-fresh seafood that’s such a joy in Dalmatia, Istria and the islands, would make any Venetian jealous.
Squid or cuttlefish ink turns arborio rice a deep black to serve as a base for shellfish – clams, mussels, and scallops are all local favourites – with tomatoes, parsley and garlic. You’ll know that you’ve eaten well after this dish. Not only is it a deeply rich and satisfying dish that’s perfect after a hard day’s surfing or sailing, it can also leave a (temporary!) mark on your teeth and lips.
When you order a crni rizot you’re asking for a genuine national classic that everyone cooks – think a British roast, or coq a vin in France - so it’s a good gauge of a restaurant’s skill and quality of ingredients. Make sure you stay in Croatia for the wine you enjoy with it, a Pošip from anywhere in Dalmatia should give you a robust white with which to toast your chef.