December 11, 2020 – First we discovered that there are truffles near Zagreb, then we tasted truffle strukli (delicious), and now… meet the Zagreb truffle praline.
One of the things I love most about this ‘job’ is that every day is different, and things rarely turn out the way I envisage, quite often opening the doors to new discoveries and hidden gems. A recent trip as guests of Sveta Nedelja is a case in point – previously I had thought of it as just an industrial town near Zagreb, which was the home of Rimac – how wrong I was.
I had a similar experience a couple of weeks later when Zagreb County Tourist Board director Ivana Alilovic invited me to go on a spot of truffle hunting near Veika Gorica in a region called Turopolje, which I confess I had never heard of.
Ivana was very persuasive, deeply committed to unlocking new avenues of tourism in her county, with a focus on local produce and local traditions.
I was more than a little dubious, but set off on a rainy overcast Saturday morning with my daughter in search of truffles. And what a day of discovery it was! Not only a bone fide truffle hunting experience (with Turoploje triufles which for years have been making their way to Istria for sale), but also a quite outstanding truffle-themed lunch at a Michelin-recommended Dalmatian restaurant in Velika Gorica, would you believe. You can read all about it in Move Over Istria: the Rise of Zagreb Truffle Hunt Tourism.
Having the truffle hunting was one thing, explained Ivana, but there needed to be a range of supporting activities and products to give the experience more authenticity and depth. If local producers could integrate truffles into some of their products, and local restaurants offer dishes with the Turopolje truffle, this would help build a brand and make it more attractive for tourism.
Ivana enlisted the help of local producers with her truffle plan. First up was another Ivana – Belosevic – who runs the Cipov bakery in the village of Busevac near Velika Gorica. She had bought into the other Ivana’s vision and come up with a fabulous strukli with truffles, which was DELICIOUS. You can learn more in Strukli with Truffles, the Latest Authentic Gourmet Hit in Zagreb County. She plans to expand her range shortly with truffle-infused bread.
But there would be more to come, promised Ivana 1. And so it has proved, as a little addition from her in my Facebook feed a couple of hours ago introduced the latest gourmet innovation – the Zagreb truffle praline.
They are fresh off the press and – as one would expect from the recent Zagreb County campaign to buy local products from local producers – they are produced within the county, at the Nautilus chocolate factory in Zapresic. Ivana went to visit them with some freshly unearthed truffles and suggested they might like to come up with a new product powered by local ingredients. Nautilus liked the idea, and the rest is history.
I have yet to taste them, but initial feedback is pretty positive. Why not find out for yourself by ordering your own in time for Christmas directly from the Nautilus factory?
If you would like to keep track of the Zagreb truffle story, you can do so on the dedicated TCN section. I have a feeling that we will be reporting on new gourmet innovations very soon.