Explore Istria, The Culinary Capital of Croatia
Since 2013 we have been organizing Central European food and wine vacations in partnership with Zingerman’s Food Tours. These tours are designed to take you to the source of the region’s food and wine culture, connecting you to the history of the region, the spirit of its people, and the rhythm of daily life. This tour will be guided by Gábor Bánfalvi (Taste Hungary co-founder), the Zingerman’s food tour manager, and a fantastic local Croatian guide. You can read much more about the tour—including the food, the itinerary, and the locations—on the Zingerman’s site (or you can contact us with any questions). Read more about how we got involved with Zingerman’s.
Croatia (just like the entire Central European region) has a colorful and complex history that’s reflected in its food and wine traditions. Though it is not a big country, its landscape, climate, history, cooking, and wines change dramatically from region to region. The capital, Zagreb, combines Habsburg and Ottoman heritage, while the Istrian peninsula (claimed by locals to be the gourmet capital of the country) has a cosmopolitan history, and combines Italian, Slovenian, and Croatian influences. Its emblematic dishes and ingredients rival those in neighboring Italy: truffles, Boskarin beef, oysters, Adriatic seafood (even raw fish), cheese, aged prsut, olive oil, and homemade pasta. Of course there will be plenty of the local wine —Malvazia and Terran—to accompany this amazing food.
Croatia has good reason to be proud of its culinary traditions, Croatian food is characterized by fresh and local ingredients, which can vary greatly from region to region. Up north, the cuisine is more continental, while in the southern part of the country (and the many islands), it revolves around freshly-caught seafood and fish.
In Zagreb the cuisine is a mix of continental (think Austro-Hungarian style with a touch of Croatian, and a touch of Ottoman). We’ll see and taste what seems to us like classic Middle Eastern fare as well as German style breads. It’s a city of fascinating contrasts reflecting a complicated history.
In Istria, the cuisine is a nice combination of both of these styles, combined with an Italian vibe. In many ways Istria is really the best place to visit in Croatia for the food-focused traveler. It is called Croatia’s gourmet peninsula for good reason. Many fantastic ingredients hail from here: some of the best olive oil in the world, white and black truffles that rival France’s and Italy’s, local boskarin beef, cured prsut (the local version of prosciutto), an abundance of seafood, and a bounty of fruits and vegetables. Like its neighbor, Italy, there are many types of regional pasta specialties in Croatia. In Istria the ‘fuzi’ pasta is a favorite, which we will try in a variety of ways.
One of Central Europe’s up-and-coming wine regions, Istria holds a number of world-class wineries, where we will taste the local wine specialties, the white Malvazia and red Terran, in a variety of styles.