Britain’s Telegraph Delighted with Food in Istria, “Europe’s Most Underrated Region for Food”

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“For one sudden, unnerving second, I have become Caligula. The victims are arranged in front of me, impressive in their armour plating – and I have to decide which of them will die tonight for my pleasure; who will survive a little longer.” This is the beginning of Chris Leadbeater’s article on Istrian cuisine, published recently in the Daily Telegraph, reports Večernji List on August 25, 2018.

Admiring the still alive shrimp served at Plavi Podrum, “among the most remarkable things I have ever tasted,” Leadbeater also commends other delicacies offered to him at the restaurant in Volosko – marinated red mullet, wild asparagus soup, and linguine with Istrian black truffles.

With a glass of Malvasia, he agreed with the restaurant owner who explained that the Kvarner shrimp are perfect because of the ideal ratio of salt in the water and the right amount of photosynthesis. And their armour is not as hard as of those coming from the North Sea.

The writer is not surprised that people eat so well in Volosko. Italy is not far away and guests often come from Italy. Still, “Croatia needs no overspill illumination from its near-neighbour on culinary matters. It shines of its own brilliance,” writes Leadbeater, convinced that the Monte in Rovinj, the first Croatian restaurant with the Michelin star, will not be the last.

Of course, he likes the Rovinj itself, “a pretty pocket-sized version of Dubrovnik, all orange rooftops and cobbled lanes.”

Leadbeater then went to Rijeka. He first visited the fish market and then came to the Fiume tavern where he enjoyed a marinated octopus and shrimp on a bed of rice blackened by cuttlefish ink. “So hearty that I fear I will not need to eat again all week.”

The journalist then went to Krk, where he visited the Volsonis, “a bar slotted into the remains of a Roman building,” as well as “House of Krk, a prosciutto specialist where hams hang from the ceiling like pink vampires.” In Nada, a restaurant and winery on the north-east shore at Vrbnik, he ate a tuna steak that came with soy sauce and hummus.

While returning from the island, he came to the Zijavica tavern in Mošćenička Draga, where chef Stiven Vunić offered a tuna tartar, so fresh that only the absence of the head and tail assured him that the fish was no longer alive.

In the Badi restaurant in Lovrečica, he enjoyed “ravioli with sea bass and black truffles, the rich aroma rearing up from the plate.” He drank glasses of Pinot Gris at the Ipša family farm and went on a truffle hunt with Višnja Prodan and her dogs.

“We find only one truffle in an hour’s search, but it is tricky to gauge who is happiest as we return: Višnja, whose job is a passion project; the dog, who has found said chunk of fine fungus; or me, who will have part of it shaved into my breakfast – further demonstration that Croatia is no longer an acquired taste.”

Translated from Večernji List.


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