Istria is a specific region of Croatia by many means. Second official language is Italian (together with Croatian), it has most of the preserved Roman historical monuments, small charming cities, and crazy good food, different than rest of the country. While visiting Istria, you should not miss some of the delicacies. To help you a bit, we bring you a short guide what to eat in Istria. This ten amazing products you just must try!
Istrian cattle (boškarin)
Istrian cattle, named boškarin, is a specific white-grey cattle with long horns which can be found only in the region of Istria. It served as a help in farming and construction works, as its meat and milk were used as food for the families. With come of modernization, their number and role started to decline and they almost died out. Luckily, people became aware of its value and boškarin is bred for gourmet purposes. It is known as an exceptional delicacy and only some restaurants are able to serve its meat following the best gastronomical standards.
Traditional homemade pasta (fuži)
Fuži, traditional Istrian pasta, are specific in shape and ways of serving. The authentic one is still produced by the hand, in the way that dough is cut into squares and two opposite corners are stuck together, leaving an empty space in the middle. To get a better shape, you can help yourself with a wooden cooking spoon or thick knitting needle. It is usually served with different goulashes or sauces with truffles, prosciutto, and other specialties.
Istrian Wild Asparagus
When the spring comes, “asparagus hunt” becomes the main activity within Istrian families. Almost every family hurries to the woods to search for this exceptional dark green delight. It is one of the favorite recreational activities, especially because it ends with a tasty meal. Istrians usually prepare them in the most simple, yet the tastiest way – scrambled eggs with asparagus. To prepare it, just wash the asparagus and break them into pieces. Simmer asparagus in oil (use only soft parts) until they soften, add the scrambled eggs and fry for a couple of minutes. I also love asparagus cream soup like an excellent intro into tasty lunch.
I already wrote my ode to truffles 😀 but they definitely deserve few more sentences. Approximately 80 years go truffles were found in Motovun forest and since that day, truffles do not stop to be in the top of Istrian gastronomy. This known aphrodisiac is served in chosen restaurants and konobas only and it can be used to produce different fancy products like cheese with truffles, oil, desserts and more. Motovun forest is known for white and black truffles of excellent quality. They are found by specially trained dogs (or sometimes pigs), 10 – 30 cm underground. When in Istria, you should try at least one meal with truffles, like traditional pasta fuži with truffles or some dessert. I went for pannacotta and I was not so delighted, I must say.
Istrian wine Malvazija and Teran
Wine is an inseparable part of Istrian identity and viticulture is in people’s blood. Istria has several different soils and climates so it is possible to grow various sorts of grapes in a small area. It is always fun to explore Istrian wine roads and discover small wine cellars and konobas where you can try the local wine. You will reveal what real Istria is about and which secrets its hills and stone houses hide. The most popular wine types probably are white Malvazija and red Teran. Malvazija is full body wine, well balanced and with lots of fruity aromas. It smells like acacia and apples and it just calls for more. Teran was once the most spread variety in Istria. They say it is a wine “with character”, fully body and with lots of tannins and specific purplish color. Smells like raspberry and it would be a great choice if you want to try something new, authentic and yet undiscovered. Serve it with Istrian prosciutto and cheese.
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Everybody knows olive oil is the symbol of Mediterranean and it is much more than only an ingredient. Oils produced in Istria are extra virgin ones with special taste. Small family farms produce it through generations and they are the reason why these oils are known as one of the bests in the world. If you find yourself in Istria, do not forget to visit at least one farm. They are going to show you how it is produced and tell you a lot about the oil and their lives. Do not forget to taste as well, you can eat it only with a piece of bread – that is something we call “točati” or dip in the oil.
Fresh fish and seafood, especially St Jacob’s Shells in Novigrad
The Istrian way of life is closely connected with the sea as well. In coastal cities almost every morning you can have a chit chat with local fishermen and buy fresh fish. There is no better than that, right? Well, maybe it is – if you go to Novigrad and try St Jacob Shells which are considered to be extremely tasty. There is even a festival organized to praise that fabulous shells!
To finish this post in style, I left my favorite Croatian product, prosciutto, for the end. Istrian prosciutto, as well as others, are produced in families over the generations. Quality pig farming is essential, together with all the steps of production: processing of pork leg, seasoning and drying. Drying is extremely important because of bura, cold northern wind. It takes about a year to be dried perfectly, after which you can cut it by hand and serve in various ways. Yum-yummy!
Which is your favorite product of Istria?
Read more about Istria in our other posts:
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