Istria was the first Croatian region that began to be visited long ago by a special kind of guest, and it is gastronomy which was the first and very important motive for travelling there. The consequence of this is the process in which guests who have visited the coast of Istria began to “discover” its interior, totally spared from the large tourist complexes and other similar urban interventions.
In this sense, the interior of Istria was virginal, so today in monographs it is called Terra Incognita, as old cartographers used to mark unknown, unexplored land. The coast and interior of Istria were not only complemented in the fantastic landscape and the variation of ambience, they also made up a unique gastronomic whole of the Mediterranean marine offer and its hinterland. The extraordinary seafood was complemented by the fruits of the gardens, orchards, vineyards and the forests of the interior of Istria.
The gastronomy of the whole of Istria is represented in complete balance: it is principally characterised by traditional rural and bourgeois cuisine, presented in numerous traditional taverns and pubs.
At the same time in Istria the first real luxury restaurants in Croatia were established, and the well-organised Istrian winemakers were the first to set the clear criteria for wine roads and immediately afterwards Istria was networked by them.
As a gastronomic whole, Istria today is a phenomenon on a global level. For centuries rural cuisine was on the one hand actually the response to economic shortage, and on the other to the bountiful nature and great culinary standards of the nearby Italian provinces. Today simple rural dishes once again seem very modern: the omelettes, the so-called “fritajas”, the symbol of Istrian cuisine, clearly show that. They are principally based on good local eggs, precisely fried – a gastronomic dictionary would say “to a point”.
Rural, bourgeois cuisine and luxury hospitality in Istria overlap and intertwine, which is no wonder when they are based on such gastronomic icons such at the authentic forms of pasta made from high quality flour, then oysters, spider crabs, first choice white fish, white and black truffles and numerous other mushrooms, wild asparagus, Istrian prosciutto ham, pancetta, sausages and pork loin, large and small wild game…
The excellent selection of simple home wines is the pillar of Istrian hospitality and good atmosphere: for centuries wine has been the medium of socialising.