For foodies, Istria (and from what we’ve experienced so far, Croatia in general), is a real treat. If you love your meat, it’s perfect for you. Boškarin, considered to be the true delicacy from traditional Istrian cattle, is usually served in a hearty stew with fresh pasta, generally fuži. Although don’t ever tell a Croatian that their fuži pasta looks like penne. Penne is rolled on the diagonal and fuži is rolled symetrically from corner to corner. The devil is in the detail, as they say. Wild boar is a staple on Istrian menus, again either served in a rich stew or as a steak.
Being a peninsula, Istria is surrounded by the clear blue waters of the Adriatic and so if fish is your fancy, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Although, get too away from the sea (as in about 5km) and you’ll find that meat is king again, on the menus. It’s generally only on the coast where you’ll find a real mix of meat and fish.
If you don’t eat meat/fish, you can still eat well, especially in this northern part of Istria where we are located. We’re almost slap bang in the middle of the Motovun Forest where truffles are highly prized – and these beauties influence a lot of the cuisine here. From September – November, over ten weekends, a festival dedicated to all things truffle, is held in the nearby town of Livade. That’s how seriously they take their truffles out here. Because we’re very close to Italy, a lot of menus/restaurants are also influenced by Italian cuisine, so you’re never too far from a pizza.
But – and it’s a big but – if you are a vegetarian or a vegan – you can struggle a bit out here, unless you know where to go. We’re trying to be a bit more healthy food-wise and have discovered that many of the supermarkets out here stock a good range of veggie/vegan/bio foodstuffs, so cooking at home is OK when we want to forgo meat or fish. Eating out has proven to be a little more tricky – in certain parts, you do get the feeling that if you request a plant based meal, you’d be viewed, at best, with enormous curiosity/suspicion. No meat? In Istria? *Madness* 😉
So, we were delighted to find an amazing restaurant in Poreč, recently. OK, so this coastal town is a lot bigger than many inland towns and caters a lot more for tourists, but still a restaurant which brands itself as completely vegetarian/vegan was always going to be worth an investigation. It has no website, but Trip Advisor reviews and Happy Cow reviews were overwhelmingly excellent.
Family run, super clean and with a very extensive menu, it was a real discovery. As well as the a la carte menu (which it what the owner called it, but it’s definitely without the a la carte prices), there are daily specials. It was actually really difficult to decide what to have as nearly everything was appealing. It was suggested that we go for the mixed veggie platter for two as this gives you a taste of a lot of the menu, but in the end, we opted for the following. For starters, massive portion of homemade houmous, with the most delicious flatbread (for anyone who remembers, reminiscent of the Cachumba koubz bread) and a broccoli soup. I think I make a mean broccoli soup, but this was better than mine 😉 For mains, I opted for the Spaghetti Aglio e Olio and would say this was up there with any I’ve had in Italy. The other main was a spicy bolognaise with perfect pasta. This dish was so good, we hot-footed it to the shop where they buy their soya mince from to stock up on. Total bill was less than £20 – and we were so full, dessert was out of the question, so incredible value for money too. (It’s also licensed, so not a *worthy* establishment that looks down on you enjoying yourself).
So, for future guests, we think can offer a very wide range of cuisine for you to try – and knowing that a lot of friends are either vegetarian or vegan, we’re delighted that we can definitely give them a real taste sensation too.