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Culinary Fairytale of Slavonski Brod

Sail into a fairy tale! The slogan of the Tourist Board of the area "Slavonski Brod - Posavina" is strongly reminiscent of two visible features of the seventh largest city in Croatia. The first is the mighty river Sava, on whose banks Brod na Sava was built, so sailing is perhaps the best word for an experience in this city. Another feature is the fact that one of the greatest Croatian writers, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, spent most of her life in Brod, and Dragutin Tadijanović, popularly known as Tadija, was born in neighbouring Rastušje. And indeed, Sava, Tadija and Ivana are unbreakable links with Slavonski Brod, which also includes the settlements of Brodsko Vinogorje and Podvinje, Bukovlje, Gornja Vrba and Podcrkavlje, from which Brod draws lasting influences.

Throughout history, the location of the city of Slavonski Brod has been well inhabited, and the first historical settlement in that place dates back to Roman times, as evidenced by archaeological finds from that era, named Marsonia. To this day, it has not been determined whether Marsonia was just a post office and a lodging place, or an entire settlement. Food was certainly eaten here, and the traces of Roman Pannonia tell us how attached these ancient Romans were to the natural environment. Therefore, we can assume that the dishes in Marsonia were related to the abundance of fish in the Sava, as well as the small game in the thickets around the river. After all, various stews and dishes made from geese and ducks were held in Brod until recently.

From time immemorial, there has been a crossing over the Sava to Bosnia here. The very name of the town, which once bore the name Brod on Sava (from Brood - improperly changed from prohod, crossing) points to this fact. It was only in 1945 that it got the name Slavonski Brod. In Slavonski Brod there is a monument of highest category Brod fortress, which is otherwise the largest and most important fortification monument in continental Croatia. It was built between 1715 and 1780 and was a crucial border fortress on the Sava River. In its centre is the baroque chapel of St. Anne, in the renovated part of the southwestern part of the Cavalier Branko Ružić Gallery and the Tambourine House, an instrument that characterises Slavonic traditional music. In the casemates on the western side, there are permanent exhibits of the Austro-Hungarian prison, a pharmacy, a wine shop with traditional cuisine, a forge, a museum of tambourine and industrial heritage.

The largest city square in Croatia, Trg Ivane Brlić-Mažuranić, is also one of the most beautiful in the country, with its southern part overlooking the Sava River, which offers an extraordinary view. And this is where you can start your gastronomic adventure through the city, because some of the most recognisable catering establishments are located on the Square. Pastry shop Aroma celebrated the hundredth anniversary of its work in Požega and Slavonski Brod last year, when Nazif Alitović arrived in Slavonia from Macedonia.

Across the street is the relatively new restaurant and bar My Way, opened in 2021, whose main hits are steaks and burgers, which captivate with their descriptions, but a touch of the local is not overlooked in the dishes called Blago Slavonije. The meat course consists of cheese, onions and some bread, pork loin with buttered ham and oven potatoes, as well as salad and dessert. There is also a fish course made of bruschetta, smoked carp with baked potatoes, salad and dessert. Slavonian brandy is recommended as an aperitif, and Apuška, a distillery with a fraught history, leads the way in Brod!

Right next to it is the Brlić House, where today the Interpretation Centre of Ivan Brlić-Mažuranić is located, and within it, on the first floor, a permanent exhibition with authentic furniture and inventory from the apartment where the writer wrote her most beautiful stories. There is an exhibition hall on the ground floor of the House, and the entire space is enriched with suitable multimedia and interactive content.

By turning into Ante Starčević Street, you will come across an abandoned beer garden where the first craft beer, aptly named Brodsko pivo, was once created. But now here is the Beer House, which offers a really great range of beers in the dark surroundings of the Beer Room. We, of course, tasted Brodsko pivo, and the daily offer of dishes that come in huge portions. The hosts are particularly proud of their beer sandwich, and for a more serious offer, there is also the Antik restaurant, which continues the rich tradition of the once iconic place of ship catering.

Continuing along this street, you pass the Museum of Brodsko Posavlje and the Franciscan monastery from the 18th century, which is still well preserved today, and is one of the most striking baroque buildings in Slavonia with the most representative cloister of monastic architecture in northern Croatia. In the immediate vicinity, there is also the largest and most well-arranged city promenade along the river in the country, known as the popular Brodska Kej. Like no other city on the Sava, Brod and its citizens live together with their river. Many flavours are evident in it, and the manager of the Moj Gastro workshops, Jozefina Birindžić, tells us about them.

However, tastes of Brod are not so much related to fish. There used to be Brodski ribnjaci, fish ponds in the area behind today's City Pools, which were started by Bela pl. Panthy Sr. Along with the ubiquitous squid, local restaurant menus also feature river fish, especially carp and perch. It seems that fish menus were rare even in the past, and today they are certainly not the most popular part of the Brod's table, which cries out for meat and vegetables. Despite this, every year at ŠRC Poloj, a fish stew championship is organised with a rich offer and remedial entertainment program, joy and pleasure that should not be missed!

In the wider city centre there are snack bars and restaurants that are part of everyday life for many people from Brod. The Uno and Onyx pizzerias are very popular places, as is the Zrinski restaurant in the Art Hotel. But the outskirts of the city are the place where culinary miracles are created and where it is a miracle to find a free place. Brod families often go to the restaurant Grozd in Brodski Varoš, while we visited two restaurants at the eastern entrance to Brod, Jelen and Šabeso.

On the north side of the highway, along the southern slopes of Dilj-gora, is Brodsko Vinogorje, an area where many families had their own vineyards and orchards, from which liquid and sweet products were made. Slavonski Brod celebrates this tradition through Vinkovo, a January event dedicated to wine, when the people gather in the "Đuro Pilar" Mountaineering Home with wine, cured meats and cheese, mountaineers visit the peaks of Dilj, and brandy and tambourines in Podvinje are accompanied by scones with jam.

In September, Podvinje hosts Pekmezijada, when the enticing scents of early autumn spread along with the local cultural-artistic association, so all of Slavonski Brod rushes to its northern suburb under the motto "Silk is rustling, slinging is spreading, and Podvinje is peaceful with brandy and jam." Those are the flavours which enchant visitors in September, just like in June, in the middle of which Podvinje celebrates St. Anthony's Day, regularly with roast pork.

Roast pork is so popular in Brod that for 15 years, the Pečenkijada has been organised at ŠRC Poloj and rafts along the Sava, where the art of processing pork meat reaches fairy-tale heights of taste and smell. Pečenka is perhaps the most famous meat specialty of Brodski Posavlje, but fewer and fewer families keep pigs. The crispy goodness of perfectly roasted pork was once displayed in windows and in front of gardens, but this custom is slowly returning to the delight of all pork lovers! And where better than pork delicacies like the ones we tried at Šabeso restaurant!


Nothing is consumed without wine, so even though the wine scene is still in its infancy, Slavonski Brod has its own events dedicated to golden drops. Already in August, a wine fair is organised in Tvrđava, and for St. Martin's Day in November you can join the rich program in Vranovci. All this is accompanied by various tambura players, the highlight of which is the Brodsko kolo, an event that celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2024, which is an anniversary worthy of praise and pride for all the inhabitants of Brodska Posavina!

The fairytale landscape of Brodsko Posavlje leaves an impression of comfort and rich history that can be read on the menus. Therefore, sailing into Slavonski Brod is extremely valuable, and particularly accessible, as this town can be easily reached from all directions. Brod is really the gate of Slavonia!

Photos: TZ područja "Slavonski Brod-Posavina" and Taste of Adriatic

The report was made with the financial assistance of the Tourist Board of the "Slavonski Brod-Posavina" area, which paid for accommodation during the preparation of this report.



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