Commonly referred to as the "Tuscany of Croatia", the remote Istrian Peninsula (across the Adriatic from Italy) is the perfect place for a Croatian culinary adventure. Once chosen by ancient Romans as the most important territory in the empire for wine and olive oil
In the small village of Štancija Kumparička near the town of Pula, is a 14th Century family homestead resurrected by Ale and Sasha, husband and wife, lawyer and psychologist, who abandoned the big city of Zabgreb to share a better life with their daughter, puppies, and 250 goats. Grazing on 200 hectares of natural pastures full of aromatic herbs, the goats produce enough milk to supply regional restaurants, such as the nearby Stancija Meneghetti Wine Hotel in the village of Bale, with racks of goat cheese truckles aged in harmony with nature, respecting the true essence of Istrian cheesemaking. We visited late morning so we could enjoy a farmhouse lunch under the blue sky, dining on old wooden tables, sharing a hearty family recipie tomato-based bean soup, fresh-baked rounds of traditional bread, mixed goat cheese trays, and luscious wines of the region.
A short drive to the coast, the enchanting seaside Venetian town of Rovinj is a perfect base to enjoy the sea and to explore the picturesque hill towns of Grožnjan and Motovun. Among the fortified settlements rebuilt in the Middle Ages and strengthened by Austrian and Venetian expansion, agrotourism thrives and local kitchens open their doors to share the techniques and talents of traditional Istrian cuisine. On the edge of a small village, hostess Davorka i Vjeran Saina and her family, including her lazy Newfoundland Ole, invited us into her kitchen at her award-winning Katun Lindarski Agrotourism Ograde to make Štruclji pasta with cheese, flour and eggs and an apple strudel desert.
One of the most delicious and entertaining agrotourism experiences was truffle hunting with the Karlić family in the forests around the village of Paladini, near Buzet in the hills above the Adriatic coast. Here they train their enthusiastically eager dogs to track down the otherwise elusive black and white truffles hidden under the surface of the soil. The tuberous fungus is a buried treasure of Istria and to watch the dogs work is a comedic