Istrian food is similar to Italian food, but with its own identity, nurtured over the last 10 years. There are 600 restaurants in Istria, quite a feat for such a small region, hence the choice is huge. Yet quality is assured because the tourist office vets all restaurants and tavernas and recommends a fine-tuned 80 of them, ask your local tourist office for the Istria Gastro Guide. Original dishes prepared with the freshest ingredients and with a bygone level of service are what await you in these eateries.
Here is a ‘hit parade’ of Istrian food that simply must be tried:
Creamy fusi al tartufo, little pasta cylinders, with white truffle shavings; scampi alla buzzara, with tomato, garlic and lemon, serviettes in collars are a must for the delicious soup that comes with this dish!; cevapcici, herby little sausages, eaten with a side dish of onions and ivar (a red, peppery sauce); fresh wild asparagus in April, sold at the roadside by charming old ladies; Istrian ham, cut thicker than the Parma variety and very flavourful on its own or as an ingredient. Speaking of ingredients, truffles, very high quality white and black that are even exported to Italy, the white truffle is valued at 10 times more highly than the black, and abounds in Istria.
And all this washed down with wines that compare with the best French and Italian, the most notable are:
Malvasia or Malvazija, a crisp, straw-yellow, fruity wine, is the most popular white while lively Terran, a ruby coloured red is used as the prime ingredient for making supa, a red wine soup. Other notables are the Muscats of Momjan and the Muscat Rose of Porec with good Chardonnays and white and grey pinots bringing up the not inconsiderable rear. To finish, Kruskovac, a delicious pear liqueur.
Istrians are renowned as particularly hospitable people, especially in inland Istria, and you may be invited in for some locally dried ham washed down by a drink of home-made rajika, a grape or fig brandy.