Our hungry and curious team visited the Lungomare restaurant in Novigrad to get a sense of the scents and flavours of Istria in spring…
Novigrad (Cittanova), a wonderful little town nestled between Umag and the mouth of river Mirna, is simply a magnet for tourists, and our little team, who didn’t come here for a swim, but to consume several courses of asparagus-based dishes at the Days of the Istrian asparagus.
Since the excellent location of our host restaurant Lungomare confirmed that it really does deserve its name (it is reminiscent of the ingenious Gusar in Tučepi, by its proximity to the sea at least), after the welcome Teranino, we took the time to dip our hands in the sea. Yes, we should have brought our swimming suits, the sea certainly was good for swimming, but better than vice versa (if we had the suits, took a swim and had fever till Monday), and we were in a hurry to arrive on time for the opening of Vinistra in nearby Poreč.
The asparagus is an ancient guardian of good health, rich in vitamin E, wonderful when thin and wild, although the fat home-grown kind isn’t that bad either, on the contrary. And today we enjoyed the wild asparagus, for starters in the form of a classic asparagus soup with baked baby cuttlefish. Devoid of flour and sour cream, the excellent asparagus essence, endearingly termed “šparogin”, upped my energy levels like in a game, and the tiny cuttlefish pieces refused to surrender so well that I instantly fell in love. However, that was just the beginning. The soup was followed by a three pasta combo, pljukanci, gnocchi and tortellini, each in its own sauce.
The tortellini should have been eaten last, because due to their Gorgonzola filling they were much stronger and more explosive than the other two, the gnocchi were the poorest, but still in a wonderful prosciutto sauce, while pljukanci certainly took the day. Although we know how they are made, those thin chewy pieces of pasta just beg you to eat and eat and eat and enjoy them for a long long time. The asparagus gives a kind of noble gild to prosciutto in sauce, I don’t know how to phrase it differently, but it wags its tail….
The main course consisted of two types of pork, fillet and cured pork tenderloin, the latter of which was cured by the employees of Lungomare. I can still feel the scent, all that wonderfulness at work. The longer I ate potato, cheese and asparagus muffin, the better it got, although I personally would have baked it a little more. I washed down the asparagus with bitter dark beer San Servolo, which is slowly capturing Croatia, although its selling price is something to be discussed with its manufacturer. No matter, I love bitter and am sooo satisfied with this combo, although Malvasia was as good as a pupil after a test.
Women at the table gobbled down huge quantities of, naturally, asparagus semifreddo, while I enjoyed my beer, the strolling female tourists, the nearby sea and the view of the open water. Novigrad, we’ll be back, if not sooner, than for the next asparagus days, because they are really extraordinary here!