From wonderful wild asparagus in the spring, the pilchard and other kinds of blue fish in May, the scallops in June, to the incredible dishes made from shellfish, mollusks and fish in July and August – this gourmet festival truly offers up the sea on a plate. We also must not forget the events in September, which are dedicated to Istrian cuisine, or the October Mushroom Days, the closing event of the festival for the year.
Finally I get to talk about food! I love spending time in Northwest Istria, relaxing and wandering around Umag and Buje, exploring the area around Brtonigla, and spending time on the beach in one of the camps that I have written about before. But what I really love most is good food, and thanks to Gnam Gnam Festival, you can enjoy great food in Northwest Istria from April to October! Lucky, huh?
Summer with sea food
I entered July trying out the different fish and sea food delicacies. I thoroughly enjoyed, perhaps even a little too much, the grilled squid, fried pilchard, and sea food salads. I admired the local wines, which I tasted together with locally produced Istrian cheese, prosciutto and a bit of olive oil. I was sad to see the day end, but then I remembered that August was almost here and with it would continue my gourmet adventure – this time in Novigrad – which immediately brought a smile to my face and made me even hungrier.
A casual outdoor “restaurant”
The whole event is being held in a truly unique place. Forget about indoor restaurants, tents and sterile environments – to truly experience Gnam Gnam the way it was envisioned from the start you have to be outdoors, in the town port called Mandrač. The 100-meter-long table holds, as always, a great number of culinary delights, while in September we will be enjoying the main stage of the event on the main town square.
Of course it is difficult to look up from the wonders on the table in front of you, but try to at least snap out of it for a minute and look around. That is how one year, after hours and hours of enjoying Istrian food, I managed to look up from my plate and realize that Mandrač was actually gorgeous itself, offering in addition to the food a wealth of events, concerts, local artists’ exhibitions, and folklore society performances, which complement the culinary events and perfectly round off the whole story. A bit further, on the other side of Mandrač, the local fishermen were holding a true fishermen’s feast, with traditional fish and sea food dishes and a wealth of locally produced wine. It is pure fantasy, which you will have a chance to experience in August as well if you happen to come across Novigrad.
What to expect this autumn
In September, Gnam Gnam is moving from coastal cuisine to continental delicacies and local dishes, which I definitely do not plan to miss. After two September events of the Gnam Gnam Festival based on Istria cuisine, my gourmet adventure in Northwest Istria will end in mid October, with the Mushroom Days. OK, I will be honest; my gourmet adventure actually never ends considering that Northwest Istria is just a few hours away and always within reach. Thank heavens for that!