Culture and gastronomy during your holiday in Istria
The cuisine of Istria is as diverse as its nature. It varies from a pure Mediterranean gastronomy, to the kitchen influenced by Austria and Middle Europe. But all have in common that they are based on the many natural ingredients produced in Istria. Food is taken from the sea, comes from farming and livestock, from hunting or is found in the woods.
In coastal towns there are many restaurants that offer a wide variety of fish, shellfish and squid. On the main roads you will find many places where you smell lamb or piglets roasting above open fires. And nearby Italy ensures that Italian espresso, ice cream and pizza have become an integral part of the local cuisine. Simple, good quality and relatively cheap restaurants and "konoba's" can be found everywhere. Istrians simply enjoy sitting on a terrace, talking to friends in a bar or have a meal in a local restaurant.
For those of you who want to wine and dine in style, you need to know your way around. That is what we learned over the years. There are really great places to discover. From the better known, Zigante restaurants, where whole meals are prepared using truffles (even the desert), up to "Damir and Ornelia" in Novigrad, who prepare you the most delicious "sushi-type" of meals. One can also try the top Istrian restaurants serving traditional meals. There are several such restaurants near to Oprtalj that we can recommend. There you can also visit wine cellars, where a large variety of excellent local wines can be tasted.
Crucial in the better cuisine is the quality of the natural ingredients, such as the meat, fish, olive oil, herbs and wines. We can certainly warmly recommend you a half- or full day tour, visiting some wine and olive oil producers in the direct vicinity of our holiday home. There you will learn more about the specificity of the local products, and how to recognize the various tastes and qualities. Set in a magnificent panorama, these tours are truly a pure experience.
The most precious natural gift of Istria is the truffle. Our holiday house is within 15 minutes away from Livade, the truffle centre. The type of truffle varies around the year, from the black summer truffle to the highly valued white truffle in the autumn. The best place for enjoying the real aroma and smell of the truffles is close to where they are found. Indeed more then a few days it is very difficult to keep them fresh. So while enjoying your cultural holiday in Istria, we can highly recommend you to try these wonders. If you never tasted it before, just ask for an omelette with truffles. They are not that expensive and in fact the best way to taste the very special aroma of the truffle.
If you want to take home a sense of what it was, buy some truffle oil and flavour your omelette or salad at home with it. It will surprise many.
The best we can offer is to organize for you an authentic private truffle hunt. In Istria truffles are found by dogs. Since this is a pure locally controlled affair, where outsiders are banded, one has to have privileged contacts to be able to witness the truffle hunt in the woods of the Mirna valley. We can arrange such tours for you. And after having found some truffles, what better as to use them to flavour your diner the same evening. The best known (but expensive) restaurant is Zigante (well known for its truffle dishes) in nearby Livade. Otherwise just try an omelet or pasta with truffles in any local restaurant.
These are just a small touch of what Istria has to offer. For more, we just propose you to come, and to try it yourself.