Winter brings colder weather but also nice things, such as Christmas time events and traditions, gathering around the fire with a nice bowl of Istrian supa, homemade sausages, delicious squid, and many other fragrant and delicious specialities. Having a sweet tooth since childhood, I’d always look forward to the traditional Istrian cakes I’d make, first with my Grandma and then with my mother during the holiday season.
They would make the dough on the kitchen table while I’d get to use my tiny hands to cut thin strips of the sweet pastry they would then shape into rosebuds and drop into hot oil. And thus – kroštule. After removing them from the oil, you’d sprinkle kroštule with powdered sugar and start on the next batch. You see, just like many other old-timey delicacies, kroštule are really a simple dish that is also an irreplaceable part of regional feasts and holiday traditions.
Mom and Grandma would also make fritule. They’d use a spoon to make little balls of the semi-liquid mix of flour, yoghurt, oil, lemon rind, sugar, egg, and a little brandy, as well as various spices or even grated apples (to make it softer and juicier) or raisins. Fritule are a staple of every Advent, and not just in Istria.
Along with fritule and kroštule, there’d be walnut cake as well, made from walnuts that Grandpa would break open and hand to Grandma for grinding in an old coffee grinder. There’d also be cukerinčići, cookies in the shape of large, flaky horns dipped into Istrian Malvasia, which are traditionally made when one of your neighbors gets married or, if the baker feels in the mood, for holidays such as Christmas. They’re best after resting for a few days, when the wine has had the chance to soften the pastry. They’ll literally melt on your tongue in a sweet, delicious sensation. Thanks to a rich December program all over Istria, you’ll surely get the chance to try some of these delicacies if you visit Istria in the upcoming days!