There’s not a single dish in Istria that is made without olive oil. Olive oil may have a bitter taste; nevertheless, it is widely considered an elixir of health and a superfood. Istrian olive oil is famous in the whole world. Five years in a row, the region of Istria is acknowledged as the best extra virgin olive oil region worldwide. Superb soil, excellent climate, and centuries-old tradition, mixed with modern technology, is the secret combination for this oil. This is why Istrian olive oil growers are respected worldwide.
Several proverbs perfectly convey what Istrian wine means to the Istrian man. “Bread is for the body; wine is for the soul.” is just one of them. Due to the unique soil, proximity to the sea, and mild Mediterranean climate, Istria is known as Croatia’s best wine region. The queen of Istrian wines is Malvasia. Its scent reminiscent of acacia flower, refined aroma, and fresh taste goes perfectly with fish and seafood. The second most famous wine is Teran, both indigenous and the oldest wine in Istria, and mentioned since Roman times. It perfectly complements meat dishes and homemade stews. In addition to Malvasia and Teran, there is a rise of Muscat wine on many local restaurants’ tables. Its sweet taste makes for an ideal ending to a meal, especially with dessert.
Istrian white truffle is one of the Istria trademarks, appreciated all over the world. We can find them in almost all valleys of Istria, but most of them are in the woodlands along the river Mirna’s valley. Only with the help of trained dogs or trained domestic pigs this precious mushrooms can be found. Due to their unique aroma and taste, they are a perfect addition to various traditional and local dishes. Dishes traditionally prepared in Istria with truffles are Istrian fuži (homemade pasta), frittata, and truffle spread.
The tradition of fattening, slaughtering, then preparing, salting, and drying prosciutto is what makes Istrian prosciutto different from others. It is mostly produced in the rural parts of Istria due to more favorable climatic conditions. One of the Istrian prosciutto’s main characteristics is Istrian favorable natural conditions. Winds from the north and northeast and the east wind blowing from Učka create an ideal environment for Istrian cuisine’s traditional pearl. You will hardly find a restaurant that does not offer homemade Istrian prosciutto and is most often eaten as an appetizer.
Istrians have always been diligent people living a modest life. This is why the gastronomy of the Istrian region is modest, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. The Istrians appropriated many Italian dishes due to Italy’s significant influence on the whole of Istria. But they prepared it in their own way, following their abilities. The most famous Istrian pastas are fuži, pljukanci, and potato gnocchi.
Boškarin is a traditional Istrian cattle and one of the symbols of the Istrian region. While in other parts of Croatia, horses or donkeys were used to plow the fields, in Istria, this work was done by boškarin. Today, boškarins are grown exclusively for gastronomy. From start to finish, the meat is grown in controlled conditions, and anyone who decides to try this delicacy can expect top gourmet quality. The most famous boškarin delicacies are carpaccio, boškarin meat with homemade fuži or pljukanci, and boškarin steak.
Istrian wild asparagus
Due to its unique bitter taste, asparagus is a real delicacy not only in Istrian cuisine but also in restaurants worldwide. Wild asparagus, which can be found in Istria and the Adriatic islands in the spring, is simple and easily accessible food found on every Istrian table during ripening. The most famous delicacies are frittata with asparagus, asparagus soup, and risotto with asparagus.
Various homemade types of cheese are heaven for foodies wishing to taste traditional products. Family cheese factories produce many types of dairy products, such as liquid yogurt, sour cream, fresh cow’s lean cheese, cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s cheese, cow’s hard cheese, cheese with truffles, olives or peppers. Also, do not forget to try the most famous and “loudest” Istrian cheese, škripavac (eng.: squeaky cheese).