The best food in Istria, Croatia

You guys, I’ve been looking SO much forward to eating my way through this post and sharing it with you. Last year, I wrote a post about how much I love Croatian food, but it included both Istrian and Dalmatian food. This guide is dedicated to the gourmet food of Istria, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite cuisines in the world.

Istria is best known for its olive oil, wine and truffles. Before visiting Istria last summer I had never tasted truffles or quality olive oil and now that I’ve had it, it’s difficult to go back. I spent all last week indulging in 4-5 course meals twice a day. No wonder I gained 3 kg 

Are you hungry for Istrian food? Here’s your guide to the most delightful dishes.

MORE CROATIA TRAVEL TIPS: GET MAPS, ITINERARIES AND CROATIAN PHRASES

– SEAFOOD –

The peninsula of Istria is nestled in the Adriatic Sea so it’s no wonder that seafood features so prominently in its cuisine.

The best seafood I’ve had in Istria is fresh oysters (from Lim Fjord), crab claws, grilled fish, sardines and octopus. Some of these delights are seasonal, but if you visit in the spring (April or May) you can have all of the above. The quality and freshness of Istrian seafood is top-notch.

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Bacalao cooked with potatoes and vegetables

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Octopus salad with potato, bacalao, raw scampi and raw sea bass

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Crab claw – one of my favorite dishes!

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Adriatic sea bass with baked polenta and fried vegetables

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Octopus salad with wild asparagus and cherry tomatoes

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Octopus, crab, bacalar, sardines, smoked salmon and cod patée

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Brancin (Adriatic sea bass) and breaded orata (sea bram)

Where to find great seafood

– WILD ASPARAGUS –

I visited Istria in the spring, just in time for the wild asparagus season. That means many of the dishes contained asparagus, including soup, octopus salad and purée. I’m not an asparagus fan in general, and the sort we have in Denmark both tastes and looks different.

But Istrian asparagus? Keep them coming.

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Wild asparagus soup with parmesan topping and olive oil

– TRUFFLES –

My favorite Istrian delight is truffles and I can’t get over how exquisite they taste. Croatians add truffles to almost any dish and so far I’ve tasted cheese with truffle, pasta with truffle, scrambled eggs with truffle, chocolate, wine, beer, patée and sausage with truffle.

You name it, they add truffle.

Istria is truffle heaven and its capital is Buzet, which is the countryside. I’ve had the best truffle meals in this area (I’m looking at you, Motovun and Hum), probably because those dishes were home cooked and local.

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Black truffles

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Chicken liver pate and cod pate with truffles

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Cookies, honey and chocolate – all with truffles

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Cheese, sausage and patée with truffles

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Home cooked pasta and creamy polenta with truffles in a cheese basket

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Pork medallions with truffle, gnocchi with cottage cheese, zucchini and sesame ball, cauliflower purée and truffle sauce

Where to find truffles

– PRSUT –

Prsut is another essential part of traditional Istrian cuisine. This home-cured, salted ham is cut in thin slices and served as an hors d’oeuvre. It usually comes with cheese, sausages, wine and olive oil.

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Pancetta, carpaccio sea bass, octopus salad, cod patée, anchovies, pork and porklion

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Fried prsut

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Salty, dried prsut

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Prsut with truffle cheese, olives and pickles

Where to find great prsut

– CHEESE & POLENTA –

On my first trip to Croatia, I noticed that cheese plays a major role in the cuisine. Just like truffles, cheese is added to most Istrian dishes. My favorite Istrian cheese is truffle cheese (obviously) and sheep’s cheese.

Another interesting Croatian side dish that I have discovered is polenta. It’s made from cornmeal and is used in many local Istrian dishes. I’m particularly taken with grilled polenta.

The best food in Istria, Croatia

From the left: young cow cheese, zminjski sir cheese, Istrian cheese, truffle cheese and full fat cheese

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Nadeva with wild asparagus and prosciutto

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Octopus stew with polenta

Where to get great cheese dishes

– FRESH PASTA –

Ah, home cooked Adriatic pasta. Forget about calories and the low-nutritious stuff you buy at the store, because this pasta is amazing. It has a different consistency than the dry variety, and it’s more filling and substantial thanks to the texture.

Istrian home cooked pasta has a life of its own and you can easily eat it with just truffles or herbs, although it does taste heavenly with Istrian ox or shell-fish.

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Pasta with meat and cheese

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Vegetarian pasta with garlic and parsley

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Pasta with Istrian ox, cheese and rucola

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Pasta with shrimp and scampi

Where to find great homemade pasta

– GNOCCHI & RISOTTO –

Food in Istria is inspired by Italian cuisine so you’ll see plenty of gnocchi and risotto on the menu. A local variation of gnocchi is stew with meat, which I highly recommend.

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Gnocchi with wild asparagus and cheese

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Tortellini with bacon and cheese sauce

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Meat stew with gnocchi (and probably cheese)

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Risotto with clams

Where to find great gnocchi and risotto

– LOCAL MEATS –

Although seafood is the star of Istrian meat, there are some great alternatives, especially further inland. While poultry isn’t a major hit in Istria, there’s a wide range of pork, sausages and Istrian ox, also known as boskarin.

The sausages (the non-fried) are fat, well seasoned and flavored – they go well with wine and cheese!

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Boskarin – it tastes like roast beef and is SO delicious

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Pork sausage and pork chop with wild ridiccio

Where to find local meet dishes

– DESSERTS & SWEETS –

Somehow after four dishes, there was always room for desert. Can you blame me? ↓

Aside from a great variety of classic Western desserts such as millefoglie and chocolate cake, Istria has it going on in the sweets department! You know how I said that olive oil is a big part of their cuisine? Well, in Istria they serve ice cream…. with olive oil. Naturally, I was skeptic, but seriously guys, it turned out to be a major foodgasm!

Also, Croatians like to add cheese (no surprise there) to ice cream and cakes. Again, I was reserved, but quickly turned over. What a treat.

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Chocolate lava cake with pistachio

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Krostule (deep fried pastry)

The best food in Istria, Croatia

The best tiramisu I’ve ever had

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Chocolate fudge cake

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Cute Istrian cookies

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Ice cream with polenta and local honey

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Cottage cheese cake, dark chocolate with apple, creme brulee with caramel and honey with nuts

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Millefoglie cake (a million layers)

Where to get the best dessert

– ISTRIAN OLIVE OIL –

Did you know that Istrian olive oil is often awarded as being one of the best olive oils in the world? I can honestly say that after tasting it, I bought three bottles. There’s something about the taste; it tastes like freshly cut grass and has a peppery finish.

Istrian food and wine

Olive oil tasting at Brist

The best olive oil producers in Istria

  • Brist is my favorite. I’ve visited Paul and Lena’s shop in Vodnjan twice already and their extra virgin olive oil is top quality
  • Olea BB

– WINE AND DRINKS –

When in Istria, wine is a must. And the perfect way to discover new wines is to visit one of the many wineries. The local wine is high quality, particularly Malvasia, a white wine in both an aged version and a fruity style, and Teran, a rich, earthy red. I prefer sweet white wine and was pleased to discover muscat wine, which has a sweet floral aroma.

Wine, olive oil and amazing food – this week has been absolutely amazing and I’m not one bit upset about the extra weight I put on during my stay. In Istria, food equals relaxation, comfort and enjoyment. It’s a gourmet getaway, and I’m already excited to return.

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Wine tasting at Trapan

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Cheers – Salute – Skål – Zivjeli!

The best food in Istria, Croatia

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Liquor tastings at Aura Distillery

The best food in Istria, Croatia

Liquor with truffle

Many thanks to Visit Istria for hosting me in Croatia. Whenever I travel, there will always be full disclosure about whether my stay was hosted by a tourism board. And even if I’m on a press trip, my view will never be swayed one way or the other.

Great Wineries and Distilleries

 

Now over to you. Is this your kind of food?

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Istria is best known for its olive oil, wine and truffles, but it has much more to offer! From deliciously fresh seafood, wild asparagus, homemade pasta and prsut to the tastiest and most mouth-watering desserts: Here's a guide to the best gourmet food in Istria, Croatia.

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Miriam

Travel blogger at Adventurous Miriam
I’m Miriam Risager, and this site has been my scrap-book, playground and home since 2013. I launched this blog as a way to share my journey, as well as share the hows, whys and wheres for other travelers.