It’s been over a decade since I last tasted a meat dish and, I must admit, I do not miss it in the least. The richness of irresistible tastes my palate is always looking forward to during my visits to Northwestern Istria can hardly be replaced.
Despite years of not eating meat and the plentiful daily offer in various restaurants, I still occasionally come across a restaurant where they didn’t think to place at least one dish without any ingredients of animal origin. This then means I need to make do with various combinations of vegetables and sauces which, unfortunately, hardly ever sate my appetite. It can certainly be a drag, especially if I’m traveling and cannot rely on my own cooking.
Summers however, are a delight because I spend them in Northwestern Istria where I know I will not be disappointed by the local restaurant offer. Starting with dipping my favorite, freshly baked cornbread into Istrian olive oil. This is an appetizer I love spicing up with some hot zucchini or pumpkin soup with homemade gnocchi. After that – there’s no stopping me! Bruschetti with cherry tomatoes, olives and tasty mushrooms, grilled potatoes and vegetables, champignons in a wok, pasta with Istrian Malvasia sauce, filled mushrooms…
For months now I haven’t been able to tear myself away from vegetable salads that I often combine with risotto and zucchini to stave off hunger. Although I’m not a fan of stews, a stewed combo of mushrooms and potatoes is one of my favorite Istrian dishes. I especially love it when penny bun bolete mushrooms get into the mix because of their irresistible, amazing aroma. I’m also a huge fan of pasta and combining it with truffles.
The first days of spring are the start of the asparagus season in Istria, traditionally celebrated by Days of Istrian Asparagus and Asparagus festival. Whether there or not, the season very much reminds me of all the local culinary specialties made from the nutritious and healthy plant. Asparagus is probably the only food I find tasty no matter how it’s prepared – soups, risottos, filled tortellinis… each combo delights me the same! Adding to that the superb Istrian wines or a glass of fruit brandy makes me already start planning my vacation so I could get to all the culinary events northwestern Istria abounds with. Another culinary delight I repeatedly return to small Istrian taverns for are desserts, including chocolate desserts, my favorite pistachio ice cream and pears in red wine with vanilla ice cream.