I love the Croatian cuisine! I have travelled to Croatia to explore the land, but right now, I had no idea where I am headed. My hostess, Ivanna, with a sweet smile but devious twinkle in her eye said “Do not worry – you will love it.” My guide Stella reinforced her pronouncement with a nod and said, “For sure,1 billion percent.” I have put myself in the hands of this Croatian tall goddess from Split (where much of the people is height blessed), so off we head deep into the Istrian countryside that reminded me so much of Italy, of an uncrowned green Tuscany.
Finding Croatian Cuisine in Home Cooked Meals
We drive small villages and Stella points out the medieval town up on a hill where “a famous American” (as all Stella’s stories inform me) is from – in this case NYC mayor LaGuardia.
We travel through dense forests where the treasured white truffle is found and up a long winding road until, finally we enter a small hilltop village. I am informed that here is the destination of our Croatian cuisine journey to the best fish and wine, typical to the region “from a top top producer” says Stella.
Ancient Stone Farmhouses Serving as Restaurants
Sitting under wooden a loggia attached to an ancient stone farmhouse that is the restaurant, we enjoy scenery overlooking a gorgeous valley and the terraced hills in the opposite side.
Some lovely villas are framed by the view, but I was happy in the ancient, crumbling village with a really great home cooked menu – a cheese pizza dough flash baked with a dollop of soft cheese and a truffle shaving drizzled in olive oil, cured meats and cheese antipasti with their exceptional olive oil and hearty breads.
Veal, Polenta, Potatoes, and Homemade Pasta
Now comes the Primi course – this region having tremendous Italian influence – homemade pasta – I have to try it with pancetta and rocket, and with the famous truffles. The wine accompanying the first parts of the meal is the Malvasia so prominent in the region- and this restaurant’s own. It turns out, I am dining in the restaurant of a top wine producer!
The Secondi is veal, polenta and pan-fried and coarsely mashed potatoes.
Traditional Desert with Wine
Lastly, dessert is a rafiolo pastry drizzled with a liquor made from the dried grapes of the red Teran wine and sweet dried wine-soaked cherries.
Fully satisfied, I wander up the quiet stone streets of this tiny hamlet with its abandoned buildings alongside occupied ones. As the sun set and warm twilight envelops me, I thank the heavens for Croatian goddesses, local flavors, and hidden gems.
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