10 reasons to visit Istria this winter

Here are ten things to do in Istria this winter, as recommended by the locals:

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Carnivals in Istria - Most Istrian towns have a big costume promenade around mid February. Do not miss!
  2.  You like it sweet? Must visit Pazin for the Honey Days, 27-28 February.
  3. Istrian Rivietra From 28 february – 8 March This March in Umag, the Istrian Riviera, will be gathering 120 players from 12 countries. The matches will be played  in the Umag Tennis Academy Centre in Umag, with a 10 thousand Dollar prize fund.
  4. Oleum olivarum in Krasica 7-8 March Like Olive oil? This is a must visit to this small picturesque town in Nort West Istria.
  5. For all the meat lovers! Sausage days 28.02-01.03 Sv.Petar u Sumi.
  6.  Trophy Umag 04.03.2015 A one-day race on the international calendar of the World Cycling Organization UCI(Union Cycliste International), ranked as 1.2 and open for all cyclists in categories Men Elite and U-23, that is for UCI Kontinental teams, national teams, regional teams and clubs. It will be held for the third time on Wednesday, 4 March 2015.
  7.  Gran Prix Porec – International cycling race. A one-day race on the international calendar of the World Cycling Organization UCI(Union Cycliste International), open for all cyclists in categories Men Elite and U-23, that is for UCI Kontinental teams, national teams, regional teams and clubs.
  8. Seashells days 16.02-23.03.2015 You’ll have  a chance to taste  sea morsels at the Days of seashells organised by the tourist boards of Umag, Novigrad, Brtonigla and Buje on the territory of northwestern Istria.
  9. Valentine’s day Treat for your partner? Visit Brtonigla for this delicious combo of wine and chocolates!
  10. Brtonigla 21.02.2015 Turn of the Alpe Adria trekking Cup Why not taking part and burning some of those calories in this race while also discovering some of through Istrian hidden treasures of untouched nature and landscapes.

 

Read more here on what to do in Istria. Rent your holiday villas with Istrawiz

 

 

 

Ten things you didn’t know about Croatia

 

  • Dalmatian dogs (seen film: 101 Dalmatians) got their name after Dalmatia, a south coastal region in Croatia

hum istria

 

 

  • Croatian mercenaries in the French service, were wearing their traditional small, knotted neckties. This influenced the fashionable Parisians, who liked it and named the necktie  after the Croats, ‘Cravat’.tesla
  • Nikola Tesla was born in Croatia in the village Smiljan.  Rumours have it that Tesla and Edison were the original recipients of the Nobel prize. Neither was given the award because of their animosity toward each other; that each sought to minimize the other’s achievements and right to win the award; that both refused ever to accept the award if the other received it first; that both rejected any possibility of sharing it; and even that a wealthy Edison refused it to keep Tesla from getting the $20,000 prize money.
Arena

Arena

 

  • The most preserved Roman amphitheater is actually located in Pula which is the only one in the world with all 3 rows completely preserved.

 

  • The White House was built using stones from Croatia’s island of Brac.

Venice

 

  • Venice Island was built on a foundation of Croatian tree trunks. 1200 years later, those same trunks still support almost all of central Venice.
  • Over the course of two years, James Joyce taught English in the Croatian city of Pula.
  • Eduard Penkala, who developed the first solid-ink fountain pen, was born in Croatia.
  • tartuf The largest truffle in the world, which is 19.5cm long, 12.4 cm wide and 13.5 cm high, was discovered near Buje, Croatia.

Events in Istria, August 2014

Classical Summer Labin: Journey through european musical and vocal tradition

20.08.2014, 21:00 h,Labin, Župna crkva (Church)

Concert: Katja Markotić: mezzosopran/Maroje Brčić: piano

TZ Labin-Rabac, Aldo Negri 20 T.

Street Art Festival

21.08.2014 – 24.08.2014,Poreč-Parenzo

Festival of Street Performers

A well known fact is that Mediterranean life prefers the outdoors, especially streets to the indoors, houses. Streets have always been the site for conversations, courtship, arguments and singing, and although perhaps people were not aware of this, streets and squares were in fact a kind of stage. The new era has brought along new customs, but the desire for liveliness in the streets still remains. Street Art wants to bring to life once again the streets, squares and promenades of Poreč filling them with dance, street theatre, installations, film projections, video installations, music. During the month of August, on the streets and squares of Poreč you will encounter numerous artists who, inspired by this lovely town, will display their works and imagination.

Karigador Fish fest

21.08.2014,Karigador (Brtonigla-Verteneglio)

Gastro event

Taking place in the attractive sea atmosphere on the pier of Karigador, it is a real fishing experience for all guests seeking an authentic experience of local customs. Fish specialties, music and presentation of traditional products of local manufacturers.

 

Hand Made Fair

22.08.2014, 20:00 h,Medulin, Waterfront

Fair of original Istrian souvenirs

Handicrafts fair of original Istrian souvenirs that are directly sold by their producers and designers. The fair is unique because of its offer of original, traditional products and over the last few years it has regularly been held in Medulin and Premantura. The purpose of this event is to offer guests an alternative to cheap bazaar goods that are mostly sold under the name of souvenirs.

TZ Medulin, Centar 223, Medulin

 

Festival of St. Bernard

23.08.2014 – 24.08.2014,Funtana-Fontane, Rotonda (Rotonda)

St. Bernard is a patron saint of Funtana and his day is celebrated on the first weekend after the August 20th: during the whole day lots of fun, good food, music, sport and recreation games and other entertainment is guaranteed.

The food offered for this occasion is intentionally typical and a special offer of Istrian cuisine.

 

Valbandon under the baking lid

23.08.2014, 18:00 h,Valbandon beach

Competition in preparing dishes in a traditional Istrian way, under a baking lid čripnja, tasting Istrian wine and olive oil, Watermelon festival

Covered with live coals, the baking lid čripnja/peka conceals a variety of ingredients for the remarkable encounter of lovers of delicious, traditional Istrian cuisine. To be proclaimed master of preparing dishes under the baking lid is recognition of true knowledge and skill, so that each year there is an increasing number of chefs participating in this event in Valbandon. Lamb, donkey, mushroom, octopus, ray, different kinds of fish… an entire menu of creations and experiences awaits under the baking lid.

 

Music on every corner

26.08.2014,Novigrad-Cittanova, starogradska jezgra (old town)

Experience musical entertainment program that welcomes you with the performance of klapas, vocal ensemble, small acoustic instrument bands and other similar musical groups that will perform at several different locations in the old town of Novigrad (Veliki trg, Venecija Pass, Mandrač, Porporela …) during the evening and transmit by the music the atmosphere of the Mediterranean town in which music is heard “on every corner“…

Istra Gourmet

26.08.2014, 20:00 h,Medulin, riva (Waterfront)

Gastronomic event

At this event producers present typical Istrian gastronomy products such as truffles, prosciutto, cheese, olive oil, wines and different homemade brandy…

 

LAR: night tour

26.08.2014, 21:30 – 23:00 h,Labin, stari grad (old town)

LAR – night tour of the Labin old town starting at 9:30 p.m. in front of Tourist info point in old town- re-live the history of our ancient town told through myths, legends and stories.

Tourist guides will help make this tour an unforgettable experience. Your visit will end in front of the Alvona gallery at 11 p.m. with a complimentary glass of delicious homemade wine served by torchlight.

Info: Labin Art Republika, Titov trg 11, Labin

 Traditional evenings at Fažana’s waterfront

27.08.2014, 20:00 h,Fažana-Fasana waterfront

Hand Made Fair and Istria Gourmet: display of Istrian souvenirs and gourmet products

At Fažana’s waterfront, together with the beauty of folk costumes and traditional folk dances, the fair of autochthonous gourmet products and Istrian souvenirs will surely inspire you to choose anything you like from Istria and take it back home to remind you of the wonderful holiday or as a gift for a dear person, presenting a more complete picture of Istrian tradition.

Bartulja

28.08.2014 – 30.08.2014,Žminj

Bartulja in Žminj is the best known and the most popular today’s folk festivity in Istria with at least centennial tradition probably reaching back far into the past. It used to be celebrated on St. Bartholomew’s Day on 24 August, but in time people started gathering the last Saturday in August to meet in large numbers.

Nevertheless, St. Bartholomew’s Day is still celebrated with a mass held in the church of the saint right at the entrance to Žminj. The point of every Bartulja, both in the past and today, is actually the gathering of people from Žminj in their native place. It is the day when they return to their homes in order to gather around their fireplaces, meet their relatives and friends, have a talk and take a walk around the place. Older people recall that just before Bartulja they would clean their house every day after the harvest and after working in the field so that it would look nice and ready for their relatives and guests.

 

The Festivity of St.Pelagius

28.08.2014 – 30.08.2014,Novigrad-Cittanova, Veliki trg, Porporela (The Large Square, Porporela)

The celebration of the Town Day and the Novigrad Saint, the patron of st. Pelagius

The celebration of the Novigrad patron saint St. Pelagius. It is a three-day festivity that proposes a wide range of cultural, entertainment, sports and other programmes.

The central part of the festivity is the weekend, from 23 to 25 August, when major entertainment and music events take place – concerts and dancing music, sports competitions, culture programmes… all this accompanied by a rich gastronomic offer at the stands along the town’s harbour, Mandrač and Porporela.

Info: Grad Novigrad, TZ Novigrad, Mandrač 29a, T: +385 (0)52 757 075, info@istria-novigrad.com

 

5th XCO Izgubljena Ovca

31.08.2014,Grožnjan-Grisignana

Bike race class UCI C3

The 5th edition of XC Race by the interesting name ‘The Lost Sheep’ will be held by the beginning of September in Municipality of Grožnjan through which the sheeps has wandered. It passes along the route of the former railway Parenzana!

Info: Brdsko Biciklistički Klub Grožnjan, Trg Ruggiero Paladin 3, Grožnjan T: +385 (0)98 927 3443, bbk.groznjan@gmail.com

 

Rhapsody in Blue

31.08.2014, 19:00 h,Fažana-Fasana, Fažanska riva (Fažana’s Waterfront)

Event dedicated to the azure sea

The batane and sea will be transformed in a unique gallery of mobile art installations accompanied by a cocktail party, cocktail show, program for children, light show and the sounds of pop, rock, blues, evergreen and country music.

 

Ten original day trips in Istria

Venice-Venezia

The most romantic and beautiful city in the world, is located only 2 hrs away from Porec in Istria. You can reach it by boats leaving every morning form different harbours in Istria, returning in the evening.Check, Ferry for tickets.

 

 Brijuni/Brioni National Park

day trips in Istria, brijuni

 

 

 

 

 

Must day trip is Brijuni islands. Visit the spectacular flora and fauna on the Brijuni islands. There is a safari park with animals donated to the Yugoslavian president Tito. Boats trip leave frequently and it takes  15 min, from  Fazana town.

Postojna Cave

Postojna cave a day trip in Istria

 

 

 

Located in south Slovenia, This cave has a fantastic web of tunnels and passages that can be explored. See the rare, human fish or olm. One can drive to the cave from Porec in 1.30hrs.

Oprtalj or Portole

day trip in Istria, Portole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Situated in Northern Istria, this village makes for a picture perfect day trip. One can reach it from Motovun town, through narrow roads.

Ucka National Park

day trip in istria

The Ucka mountain range makes for a great escape form civilisation. Its proximity to the sea make for lush vegetation and particular climate. One can hike and take in the amazing views of  Istria. Download a map.

Visnjan Observatory

day trip istria

Višnjan Observatory  is a prolific astronomical observatory located near the village of  Visnjan in Istria. Here one can take a creative summer program in science.

Baredine Cave

day trip istria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another monument of nature, located in central Istria worth visiting. This mystical underworld has been developing for thousand of years, far away from the light of the day and the human eye.

Rabac

day trips istria

Another  day trip worth doing is visiting the charming town of  Rabac.  Rabac is surrounded by towering hills, with a lovely pebble beach, pleasant climate and view of Kvarner Bay.

Povorka mrtvaca/Danse Maccabre

_Danse_Macabre

The very small church of  Marija na Skrilinah located near Beram has this maccabre dance painting by Vincent from Kastav from 1474 worth seeing live.

Trieste

trieste

Only 1.30 hour drive away form Porec in Istria, Trieste is worth visiting for its rich cultural heritage of being  at the crossroads of Latin, Slavic, and Germanic cultures. In the 19th century, it was the most important port of one of the Great Powers of Europe 

10 things you must do in Porec

 

Croatia is now definitely “in”, with some 400,000 arrivals from the UK in 2013, up 25 per cent on 2012. ..And with its stunning coastline, unspoilt nature (including eight national parks) and beautifully-preserved centuries-old harbour towns, it offers a less commercial take on the sun, sea and sand holidays you would expect in Greece or Spain. So where exactly should you head for? Fly to Pula in the north-west to explore Istria, a green peninsula with close cultural ties to northern Italy. Popular with both Italians and Central Europeans on account of its accessibility, it’s also the most highly organised region in terms of tourism facilities and infrastructure.The region is best known for its Venetian-era port towns on the west coast, including its top seaside destinations, Porec and Rovinj. THE TELEGRAPH 

10 things to do in Porec this summerSIGHTS

Walk down the Decumanus Street in old town Porec.  These cobbled streets are almost 2000 years old. If you turn right in one of its narrow streets you’ll reach the Euphrasian Basilica, a Unesco World Heritage Site, dating from the 6th century. The basilica is a must see monument in Porec. Step inside and enjoy its well preserved mosaics.

romanicka kuca
Carry on walking on the Decumanus street and look up to see its magnificent buildings. Once you  reach Marafor Square on your left, you’ll see a magnificent Romanesque House; a beautifully preserved
Venetian Gothic palace.

bell tower viewLANDSCAPE VIEW

If you need another reason to visit the Euphrasian Basilica, then go up the  stairs of the bell tower and take in the view of Porec old town & the marina. It’s worth it!

Tower in PorecDRINK

While walking through the Decumanus street climb up on one of the Porec well preserved towers. There are two; Kula bar and Peterokutna Kula the restaurant. They both have magnificent views over Porec harbour. Perfect picture taking spots!

10 things to do in Porec this summerEAT

Restaurant Istra on the corner of ul. Marsala Tita and Vialle is a traditional family owned restaurant. Ask for the daily specials to get the freshly caught fish of the day. Porec has many Ice cream parlours, so make sure to have one while you’re sightseeing. For something less formal, try some of  Porec’s many bakeries and pick up one of those amazing cheese or spinach pastries called burek.

10 things to do in Porec this summerBEACHES

As with most beaches in Croatia, Porec beaches are rocky. Which means rocks with man built entry in the clear water. Sunbathing is usually done on the grass just  next to the rocks. Many beaches have sand playgrounds for the young ones. We like Brulo beach just south from Porec centre; it’s easy to walk to, has great bars and restaurants, many facilities, bike & diving rentals.

sv.nikolaSt. NICHOLA’S ISLAND

Take a little taxi boat that runs every half an hour to the island directly opposite Porec town centre. Enjoy the view of Porec and it’s surroundings from the island. Walk across the island and enjoy the wild rabbits jumping around the Isabella castle, located in the centre of the island. Jump in the crystal clear water from one of the rocks.

10 things to do in Porec this summerBIKE RENTAL

Renting a bike is a great way to see Porec and it’s surroundings.  A path from Porec towards Zelena Laguna is particularly easy and pleasurable, as one cycles next to the sea and in the shade. There are many bike rental places in and around town. They charge per hour or per day.

yachtsPOREC HARBOUR

Take  a stroll down the marina and enjoy the view of many luxury yachts. Sit down in one of many cocktail bars, great for people watching.

neptune's templeRUINS OF ROMAN’S TEMPLES

The Romans built in Porec two beautiful temples: Big Temple and the temple of Neptune, which was dedicated to the god of the sea. Only fragments of these remain preserved.

tequillaSUNSET WATCHING

Head over to Tequilla bar in Pical just north of Porec. Sit down in this shabby chic beach bar order a cocktail and watch the magnificent sunset with Porec in the background. It’s peaceful and magical.

Family holidays in Croatia; Visiting Istria

 

“Tone Tuscany down a notch or two – thin the tourist hordes, lower the prices, sprinkle a little mystique – and you get Istria. Shaped like a heart, this Italian-flavoured peninsula of 3600 sq km is where continental Croatia meets the Adriatic. In summer months, the sun-and-sea set storms the resort-lined coast, or so-called ‘blue Istria’. For art, food, wine and an offbeat vibe, head to the interior, nicknamed ‘green Istria’ – a bucolic dream of rolling hills, hilltop villages, rural B&Bs and farmhouse restaurants.”  Lonely Planet’s top 10 regions for 2011

Having many characteristics of Italy and south of France,great climate, fantastic  food, beautiful architecture one would think Istria is expensive; but it isn’t. With a flight time of 1.45 min from the UK Istria is a perfect place for an inexpensive family holiday. As an Croatian mother in the UK, here are my tips on where to go & stay, things to do for kids and grown ups and importantly where to eat.

Accommodation

As a mother of a small baby I know that travelling with a baby or small kids can be daunting especially when packing all the necessary entertainment and gadgets. We found that staying in privately owned apartments or if you want to splash out villas, is the easiest way.

villa rental

Some of the rental villas and apartments on www.Istrawiz.com have baby cots, high chairs, toys, and even playgrounds with swings.

In order to save money it’s better to book by weeks rather then days, booking in advance off course and travelling with another family can save you a lot of money.

 

 

Porec - old Adriatic town in Croatia, Istria region. Popular touristic destination.

The ideal location is the town of Porec or Parenzo. Porec offers enough entertainment for a week’s holiday itself, but it’s also a great hub in case you want to explore the rest of Istria.

The town itself is 2,000 years old with a 6th century basilica which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Porec is pedestrianised and safe for children.

The coastline around Porec is perfect for long walk with buggies, with plenty of great beach bars and facilities along the way. Our favourite is Tequila beach bar, with beautiful sea views and live bands playing. If you get tired of walking you can always hop on a beach train that takes you few kilometres around Porec town.

The beaches in Istria are all rocky therefore you’ll need plastic sandals. Some beaches such as Brulo have a human made sandy beach and tons of play equipement. Most of the  beaches in and around Poreč have Blue Flags, which means that the sea is very clean.

Things to do 

motovunGrown ups will enjoy taking day trips to inland Istria to picturesque towns such as Groznjan, Motovun and Hum.

One can also visit Venice for a day trip as many ferries leave from/to Porec. It takes 2.30 hrs to travel for a cost of €121 for a adult return ticket and €76 for a child ticket.

A day trip to Brioni national park (an island) might excite children and grown ups alike. Bioni used to be a summer residence of president Tito of Yugoslavia. In its heyday, the island was filled with exotic animals such as giraffes, lions and tigers. These days, however the animals are fewer. You will find zebras,peacocks, goats (a symbol of Istria) and an Istrian Boskarin (Istrian ox). There’s also one elephant, who came as a gift from Indira Gandhi in the 1970s.

Many film starts such as  Richards Burton,Elizabeth Taylor and Gina Lollobrigida visited the island. You can still see the 1950s Cadillac that transported heads of state round the island. Getting to Brioni is easy, just take a boat in Fazana (south form Porec). The tickets costs around €25 for adults and €15 for children.

Children might enjoy a day trip to Dino Park; a dinosaurs themed park whit giant T.rex replicas. Dino Park is situated in a small town south from Porec called Funtana. A magic show, children’s zoo and playground are all included in the entrance price.

One exciting new addition to Istria is three new aqua parks opening in Summer 2014. They will be the biggest water parks in South East Europe.

Food:

hranaSimilar to Italy, Istrians are very proud of its’ food and pay a lot of attention to seasonal fresh ingredients. One can sample delicious wine,truffles, olive oil and plenty of freshly grilled fish. The Italian influence means that there’s also a lot of food that kids like such as pasta, pizza and ice cream. Central Porec has plenty of ice cream shops guaranteed to keep children happy.

In central Porec we like the restaurant Istra. Istra is famous for its fresh fish, so please ask for the catch of the day when ordering. I particularly like the seafood platter as a starter with various types of pate’s, marinated fish,anchovies & fresh octopus salad.

In central Istria you’ll find plenty of ‘konoba’s’ a traditional and family owned restaurants that serve fresh and traditional dishes. You must try the Istrian ham & cheese for a starter!

If you decide to travel to Istria this summer you can get there with direct flights with Ryanair,Thomson,Jet2.com.

Don’t forget to pack your flip flops for a daytime relaxed look and some nice dresses for an evening look as Croats are pretty stylish when going out.

 

 

Our guest blogger BrixChicks – On Istrian Wine

Those canny Romans knew how to find delicious wine spots.  Istria is no exception to the rule.  But I  thought it might be nice to show you on a map exactly where it is.  You can see it circled in Teran purple.  Croatia has a ton of coastline and has felt influences from its neighbors as the flags have changed.  I felt a distinctly Italian sensibility on my Istrian excursion, along with a boldly Istrian pride and an indelible mark of terroir.  There is a special uniqueness to the flavors, a gentility to the people and a beauty in the countryside, sea and green, that is hard to match.  The Istrian Tourist board does a great job of providing tools to help you plan your vacation, but at the end of the day, I think they want you to be able to make your adventure your own.
There was a book I didn’t buy, Wine Wizards of Istria, not knowing it would be impossible to find in the US.  I might have carried it home had I known.  I remember it had detailed stories and super glam shots of the winemakers.  I thought, yes.  these guys are wizards.  After all what is the best souvenir?Wine!  First up is Meneghetti.  Romana and Miroslav Pliso renovated the stone guest house or stancija in 2001.  It’s a beautifully and comfortably done space that says “Welcome!” at every turn.  And not just because the staff is there, saying welcome and plying you with wine. It fell into decay at the fall of the Hapsburg empire, but now is fresh and elegant, the warmth of the traditional clay tiled roof with modern charm.  Fresh and elegant would describe the wine as well.  We had a delish 2003 Meneghetti Cuvee a bright , fresh sparkler made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with 10% Pinot Blanc blended in.  It had a gossamer hint of color, more warmth than pink.  My other favorite was the 2009 Meneghetti Red a rich blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  It had a spicy character with red currants and mole sauce.   We had a delicious wine soaked lunch in the beautiful space.  This luxury villa can be rented and would be a great space for an Istrian adventure with 8 of your closest friends.

 

Another of the winemakers chronicled in the book is Ivica Matosevic.  His mom was a chemist and his dad studied water, so naturally, his DNA predisposed him to become a winemaker.  He began making wine as a hobby, but was super good at it and got hooked on the history, the science and most of all (yay for us!) the flavor.  His goal is to express the  unique Istrian terroir, so you can taste it in the wine he makes.  The investments in modern wine making equipment really pay off.
2010 Alba (Malvasia) We tried an oaked barrel sample.

The oak treatment was deft, resulting in an international style: creamy with good balance.  It had both freshness an complexity . Touch of acacia blossom under citrus and vanilla aromas.2008 Alba Antiqua Using 100% Malvasia grapes from the Buje area, the wine is made only when fruit is in the ideal condition.  It is made in an ancient style using overnight skin contact then goes into acacia barrels for a year.  The result is a wine with spicy apricot like aromas, flavors and finish.  It had a clean, precise  taste that the winemaker called, “the purest expression of place” Grimalda White A blend of Chardonnay, Malvasia and Sauvignon Blanc from the Brdo Vineyard in Central Istria.  A bright pretty wine with nice minerality and lemon in aromas. Finished with nice hints of unripe white peach. Grimalda Red: Blend of Teran and Merlot.  Rich cedary aromas.  Lovely brambly flavors with black fruit finish.  And the color?  Well you can see for yourself.  Definitely worth visiting if you are in the area.  Info on making an appointment here:


Bruno Trapan seemed more bad boy than Wizard.  He puts his signs in Japanese Kanji characters because it amuses him. And has a clock facing the floor, ostensibly so if you are overserved at least you can wake up and know what time it is.  Who hasn’t needed one of those?  Our visit was super fun and the wine was amazing.  Bruno named two wines after his daughters the first, Rubi , which is an easy drinking rose of  Teran.  Also a dessert wine of intoxicating roselike flavors and aromas made from muškat ruža  after his daughter,  Rose called Dark Rose.  He believes the vineyard should take care of is itself and is working to be able to let the soil express itself.  His Malvasias were amazing.  The 2012  Malvasia came form a vineyard with a lot of limestone which gave it nice minerality.  You didn;t miss the fruity aromatic because of the complexity.  He used 50% malo and my note says it spent a year on the lees to boost the creamy finish.  the 2011 Malvasia was aged and fermented in neutral acacia barrels.  Golden color with hints of spice in the aromas.  According to them, acacia opens up the flavors and in this case it was true with apricot and smoke flavors and a lush round mouthfeel and lingering finish.  14% alcohol but balanced.  He opened a sample of a sparkling Teran—an idea whose time has come, which we loved.  Bright, fresh and bracingly brut.  2012 Nigra Virgo Revolution (Cab-Merlot-Syrah-Teran) A big bold Bordeaux blend  with tons of black fruit and a twinkle in its eye, not unlike Bruno.  He explains that the Teran speaks for itself bringing rich, spicy special flavors—and it does.  The 2012 Teran was a brawny red.  It spoke for itself in a tasty way.

While he wins multiple awards for his lovely Malvasias, he is betting on red and in particular Teran for what it does in the vineyard and what it brings to his wines in terms of expressing terroir.  More info on Trapan here:


More enchantress than wizard, Antonella Kozlovic showed us the wonderful wines of Kozlovic.  We were amazed at her tales of how she and her husband Gianfranco have modernized the winery. Kozlovic Winery has been around since 1904.  But you woudn’t know it to see the Guggenheim modern and equally artful space it has now.  Antonella completely reorganized it so that in years of bumper crops, they can handle the output or in lesser years, have the space to move efficiently.  And the space is gorgeous.  They make twelve different wines.  I was completely enchanted with the 2009 Santa Lucia White 100% Malvasia, this wine was a golden straw color with aromas of nutmeg, vanill and sunshine and a lovely apricot in the finish, Nice acidity and balance for a wine that clocked in at 14.7 % alc. It spent some time on the skins to give it structure.  30% was fermented in stainless steel.  2009 Santa Lucia Noir: A saucy blend of  Teran, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  I got spices and flowers in the aromas along with roses and cinnamon.  Red hots candy flavors in flavor along with lush, dark flavors. Delicious.  Antonella was such a gracious and informative host, I had to ignore my intense shoe envy.  When you visit maybe you will see the dancing ghosts in the logo.  Kozlovic ancestors holding watch.  Reservations recommended

From Uber Modern, to inspired by the ancients.  Kabola winery was the opposite extreme.  Steeped in the heritage of the area, Kabola uses amphora to make their Amphora Malvasia.  Basically, they take the grapes, put them into a large earthenware, well, jug (see photo).  Then they bury it, letting it all macerate with its natural yeast for seven months, bring it back up to finish in Slavonian oak barrels before bottling it, where it waits in bottle 6-12 months.  This imparts an amber color to the finished wine with fig, congnac and orange peel in the aromas.  An amazingly fresh flavor and subtle finish.  This method was used by the Greeks thousands of years ago, so it id super interesting and worth a visit.  The space is gorgeous and I felt like any minute Russell Maximus Gladiatorski was going to come running around a corner.  Their Moscat Momjanski is also noteworthy. Fresh and elegant and sweet with aromas and flavors of elderflower . More info here:

Winemaker Dmitri Brecevic is of French descent.  He graduated oeonlogy school in France, then travelled the world making wine in France and also working in Australia and New Zealand, too.  Then he settled near where his father was from in the town of Buzet.  Where he now makes wine in a converted World War II water bunker.  Thank you , Mussolini!  He named his venture Piquentum, which was the old Roman name for Buzet. He uses the three indigenous grapes, Malvasia, Teran and Refosc to create wine expressive of Croatia and its red and white soils.  And they are tasty. Good news!  You can do your own winechair travelling as Blue Danube makes it easy to order these wines.

Piquentum was the final stop on my Istrian Wine Oddessey, thanks to a recomendation from our driver extraordinare Mladen Funky Zagreb , who I cannot recommend enough.  The dog days of summer (okay Northern California’s 90+ degree “sweltering”) has still not warmed me up from that terrifying journey.  Yes, those are icicles on his hood, but we were safe and warm and are still dreaming of Istria

 

Istrian restaurant review

San Rocco- Brtonigla, 

Few days ago I had a pleasure of dinning at San Rocco restaurant.  This is a stunning boutique hotel situated in Brtonigla, central Istria.

The hotel itself is petite and welcoming. The whole building is a traditional Istrian barn renovated to high standards. The idea behind the hotel is to offer its customers a relaxing holiday with its small spa and swimming pool as well as an amazing gastronomical experience.We had a small baby with us and the hotel staff was really friendly and welcoming. They were helpful in warming up baby’s milk and preparing baby’s travel cot.

We started our dinner with a small entree offered by the restaurant, a dollop of locally sourced Istrian ‘skuta’ which is similar to ricotta, served with a home made salted bread.The presentation was clean and the dish simple yet really tasty. We ordered a starter of Istrian ham, which although doesn’t require cooking is a staple in Istrian cousine. The ham must be locally sourced and smoked to specific Istrian standards in order to have that peppery yet sweet recognisable taste. The ham served was of the highest standard, served with delicious black olives, home-made bread and home-made olive oil.

 

istrian olive oilThe olive oil itself,made by San Rocco  requires a whole new review and chapter as its absolutely delicious.

 

 

 

istrian polentaAs a first course we have polenta served in a martini glass.The polenta was soaked in delicious rich and warming sauce made with vrganji mushrooms.(ceps) At the bottom of the glass there was also a hidden scallop. Although a lover of scallops I would prefer the dish without it as I don’t think it goes well together.

As a main dish I ordered slow cooked veal, wrapped in Istrian ham and  served with mash potatoes.

 

istrian restaurant review

steak with truffles This is a perfect winter warmer dish, tasty, hearty cooking.My partner ordered steak with truffles, which was served already sliced as a ‘tagliatta’. The steak was  also cooked to perfection.


 

 

 

chocolate mousse

To finish this decadent dinner we ordered the unusual  olive oil chocolate mousse.The amazing olive oil was delicately present in the rich and smooth chocolate pudding which was a perfect ending to this amazing meal. All in all I think this is a small hotel has great ambitions which we applaud and hope it becomes renowned internationally as I think it could match any other top London restaurant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Istrian Food, Blog by Marina

2 GREEDY COUPLES, 5 DAYS, 7 MEALS

After a couple of months of rain in what is traditionally a sunny time for London, my husband and I finally booked our tickets to go to sunny Istria in Croatia. My family lives there so for us holidaying back at my parents is a mixed bag of strong emotions & lots of love! Both Mike & I are foodies,always exploring new and exciting food around London, Croatia and more! Hence the blog.

What was different about this trip to Porec in Istria is that we had two friends coming over too! So there we go; four 30 somethings on the culinary trip of Istria. They arrived from Venice on a boat to Porec on very hot & sticky Monday night. Staying in the local apartments meant it was easy to meet up. We had a well deserved drink in bar ‘Epoca’ in the marina.

We ordered aperol spritz as aperitif. Traditionally drunk in the Veneto area of Italy, this drink spread its wings in the last five years to most of Italy and abroad. For 35kn in the local currency which is equivalent of £3.60 isn’t cheap for Croatian prices, but dead cheap comparing to London prices! But if you include the crisps and olives that came with it, the quality of service and the location you’d be hard pressed to say it wasn’t value for money!

sardoni

After two of those we made our move to a very late dinner. We walked up the marina towards restaurant ‘Istra’ a family owned restaurant that has a long established reputation for good and fresh fish. We ordered cold fish platter for a starter. I had this platter several times and it never disappoints.Cold creamy tuna pate, octopus salad & selection of marinated fish. My favorite is ‘sardoni’ served with vinegar and thinly sliced onions. ‘Sardoni’ is sardines or anchovies family of fish marinated for months,to achieve the flavour to die for! This is served with tasty olive oil and crusty white bread.Jill & I opted for sharing a large seabream fish which was carefully cleaned and deboned for us. The fish flavour was delicate and nice, served with ‘blitva’ a spinach cousin usually cooked with boiled potatoes and flavored with garlic and olive oil. We washed it down with local Malvazija wine, which was of good quality.

 

seafood pasta  Chris ordered pasta with ‘sea fruits’, traditionally cooked in tomatoes sauce with shellfish. In ‘Istra’ they opted for a olive oil and plenty of octopus version of that pasta.He liked it but I would have preferred the traditional version with some more variety of shellfish and few scampi.

 

 

 

steak with truffles

Mike ordered a good old meaty steak. He is a steak and truffle connoisseur and he tried so many in Istria that he became an expert on it. We even have a ‘steakometer’, measuring the way the steak is cooked & the amount and flavour of the truffle sauce.Mike gave ‘Istra’s’ steak a good 4 out of 5, which is very generous!

The meal was finished with a spongy strawberry cake that we shared. My only reservation about restaurant ‘Istra’ is that the dessert menu’ should be updated and expanded,we wanted more sugar!

The owner Angelo was so kind to offer us a new wave grappa made with olives! It didn’t taste strongly of olives so we liked it. Good digestif. The meal costed us £16 pound per head or £62 for four people including wine and water.

Meal No.2

cevapi

We had a lazy and hot day on the Saint Nicola island, just opposite Porec town. There is a small cafe serving burgers and drinks and a beach bar serving expensive drinks (£3 for a coke?!). In the small ‘grill’ we had bear & ‘cevapcici’ for lunch.

Cevapcici is a balkan speciality, minced meat rolled into small sausages usually served with bread, onion & ajvar a red sauce made with peppers and aubergines. The lunch was tasty and good value.

Meal No.3

For dinner we headed to restaurant ‘Dali’ known by locals for its eastern Croatian meat specialities. They also serve pizzas and other dishes. Mike, Chris & Jill ordered steak with truffles (135kn or £14) I ordered pork loin with truffles. Yes, an overload of the precious fungus smell on our table!

he food was decent, Mike scored 3/5 on his steakometer. I remember my truffles shavings to be more generous in the past, maybe the new management is saving too much money?All in all a decent meal but it could improve with its service a little bit more training. We paid around £60 for four of us including drinks.

Meal No.4

We were sipping a newly discovered Lemon flavoured beer at the beach bar and lazily moved onto my parents house where we eat a delicious meat based BBQ meal. My mum is queen of salads, we had many to choose from but Mike’s favorite is the cabbage salad, grated and soaked in vinegar and olive oil.

Meal No.5

We drove to central Istria to show our guest some sights and stopped in Konoba (or trattoria) ‘Kod Kastela’’ in Svetvincenat or Saint Vincent.This old konoba serves home made traditional istrian dishes and freshly made bread which is to die for. We shared Istrian ham, olives & sheep cheese for a starter. The ham was delicious and passed my ‘Istrian ham’ test.Many places offer mass produced ham which tastes alright but nowhere near the real deal. Mike surprise surprise, ordered Steak and truffles, while I ordered veal escalope served with truffle cheese and chips.

fuziJill orderd fuzi, a type of Istrian pasta served with asparagus and Istrian ham. Chris had pork loin and chips. Chips were homemade and delicious. Mike’s steak was ok but on the steakometar it scored only 3.

My veal was a bit though and cheevy so not that impressed after all. Pljukanci looked like the safest bet. This meal costs us a 800 kuna or £83, the ham doesn’t come cheap.

Meal No.6

It was a windy day and that for Croats isnt a beach day! So we ventured into the countryside toward the beautiful hilltop village of Motovun. An absolutely magnificent town. We walked around the old town walls and had only a coffee there. We decided to take our lunch in another hilltop town called Groznjan.Famous for its arty vibe the village is absolutely stunning. The winds died down and It was getting really hot & sweaty again.

caprese We sat down on a pleasantly breezy terrace of restaurant ‘Bastia’. We ordered ham & cheese to share, wild asparagus scrambled eggs, greek salad, caprese salad, spaghetti bolognese and rocket salad.

 

The food was perfect and the ingredients very fresh. The tomatoes tasted and smelled of freshly picked tomatoes and the smell of basil was intoxicating.The gorgeous food would have been even better if the waiter attempted to smile a little! Again we paid around £14 per person.

Meal No.7

On Friday we were tired and wanted something quick & easy so we ended up in ‘Gourmet’ restaurant in the old town of Porec. They have a big terrace outdoors but if you enter the restaurant you’ll find a small garden and intimate terrace, we much preferred.We had pasta dishes; Boskarin (Istrian bull) in tomato sauce pasta, smoky pancetta,tomatoes garlic & wine pasta and a cannelloni. All dishes were tasty and the service was impeccable. £9 for a plate of pasta is tiny bit pricey in Istria but its worth it. Prices are pretty similar in most places in Istria. Few dishes are traditionally dear; istrian ham, truffles and of course bottled wines.

There are few quite expensive & exclusive restaurants around, but on average the standard is pretty high. Istria is a foodie heaven and there are many more things we will go back to try and explore in the next trip!