"Simple food.. honest wine" was what our driver extraordinaire @Funky Zagreb, Mladan answered when we asked him what to expect in Istria.
He was so right. We stayed in a gorgeous hotel the first night, run by the Maistra group in Rovinj. The Hotel Lone has every modern amenity, and a kitchen that serves food that is both comforting and exciting. Convenient, plush and a great base for exploring.
From modern to ancient, we
went by foot to the town of Rovinj, where we connected with the people, the history and the land. From our awesom giude Michaela, we learned it's St. Euphemia who swings with the wind on the top of the church, letting people know if a storm is coming in or warm weather awaits them. She washed up on the shore in 800AD , 500 years after her martyrdom and has been watching over Rovinj ever since.
Rovinj has the wonderful charm of a European town and gorgeously clear water with stairs cut right into the esplanades so that in summer you can stroll, eat, swim, shop and enjoy a wonderful Istrian experience. Let me tell you, if I washed up here, I would want to stay forever too. Later we would learn more about the terroir and what makes the wine delicious. A key item is the white limestone soil. Well, in Rovinj, the pavers worn smooth by hundreds of years of footsteps, are made from that same limestone that lends its mineral character to the terroir. We could have stayed here a week, but got on the road. An amzing lunch awaited us the Konoba Puli Pineta in Zminj.
Konoba is the word for small restaurant in Croatian. From now on, my mouth will water everytime I hear the word. In the wonderful location, we were greeted with a new addiction, Rakija (RA- kee-ya) of grappa that is made from a variety of tasty items. In this case a mezmerizing fig and another of cherry that start a meal (or breakfast if you stir it into your coffee) right. Grilled cheese Istrian style was cow cheese kissed by salt and carmelized into a yummy square. There were cold cuts, an Istrian style rolled pasta, and the entree, steak salted and brushed with olive oil, then cooked in the wood fire. Then Supa, warmed red wine aith olive oil, a littel sugar and fresh housemade bread stirred into an eartherware pitcher and eaten communally with a long spoon. Fun and tasty too! You'll notice I have given you no details about the wine. It is divine! More on that later. Suffice to say the history, delicious food, warm hospitality and landscape make this a woderful travel destination. The wine is sublime. More later! But for now, our driver was so right. Simple food (of impeccable quality, beautifully prepared and expertly served) and honest (wonderful, diverse, indigenous, most importantly delicious) wine. Viva, Istria!
Many thanks to the Istrian Tourist Board and our wonderful guide Marko for making this experience so great