I’m not one for bringing my laptop on holiday, or for nipping off to the nearest internet café to upload my holiday snaps onto my flickr account. That said I haven’t blogged in a bit as I’ve been off in sunnier, nicer and a more amazing place for a week and I’m back to dark, gloomy , what did we do wrong to deserve this poxy climate? Inspired by a feature in my favourite food magazine Delicious, I booked flights to
now call Artisan producers is very much the norm here. Fish provides the backbone of a simple but substantial Mediterranean diet and most fish is simply prepared by either grilling or frying. It is accompanied by their very typical potatoes with a type of spinach that they translate as Swiss chard except it isn’t really like that. You can almost taste the mineral content and know it’s doing you good, even through all the red wine and brandy. Europe
now call Artisan producers is very much the norm here. Fish provides the backbone of a simple but substantial Mediterranean diet and most fish is simply prepared by either grilling or frying. It is accompanied by their very typical potatoes with a type of spinach that they translate as Swiss chard except it isn’t really like that. You can almost taste the mineral content and know it’s doing you good, even through all the red wine and brandy.Pula at first seems ok. It has an amphitheatre, some gorgeous windy old streets and a fab town square. I was going to book a table at the feted Valsabbion Restaurant but was advised that it was quite far up it’s own privates so we went instead to Vela Nera, just down the harbour in an affluent spot full of moored yachts. I felt right at home. We feasted on fish Carpaccio, giant langoustines and risotto made with peaches and champagne. With a bottle of Malvasia, one of the regions many fine wines, and a view of a stunning sunset over the chiming of rigging, I was happy with our destination. Istria is hailed as an up and coming food producer in
Europe. Air cured ham; hard sheep’s cheese and excellent olive oil are all locally produced.
Rovinj (pronounced Roveen) was our port of call for five days following. This stunning coastal town sits atop a rocky outcrop and is made up of tiny, shiny, windy streets topped by a stunning cathedral and spire. It’s a popular spot for artists to set up studios, they fall in love with the town and the light, and it’s easy to see why. Our hotel, the
Rovinj comes to life at night when the waterfront plays host to lively restaurants and theatrical waiters touting their wares. We went to none of these places as; generally they are not as good as places off the main drag. The harbour is great to watch the glamorous strut by, each tanned Venus or Adonis more stunning than the next, many licking ice creams from the glut of ice cream stands. I didn’t let that stop me stuffing my face every night at a different restaurant. Restaurant Balbi served up the best fish plate for two with whole sea bass, bream, octopus, mussels and prawns. Al Gastaldo was a slightly pricier treat and I had an amazing fillet steak with truffles followed by a hazelnut semi-fredo. This place is adorably old style on the inside with white lined hanging from everything. The tables balance precariously on the cobbles in the tiny street, but it doesn’t matter, that’s where everyone wants to sit. We were charmed by the place as its head waitress, Tessa brought us a bottle of excellent local Merlot and then closed up shop telling us to simply leave the bottle and glasses on the window sill as we sat sipping in the quiet night under dreamy streetlight (sigh).
Anyway all the fish and steak and wine was great but I was on a quest to have a really good spaghetti marinara, one of my favourite dishes. Veli Jose was recommended so we sat in to the seemingly over tourist place on our last night. The atmosphere was lively and hectic and the marinara was so good. It was deep in flavour, full of baby octopus and the pasta was cooked perfectly. Another bottle of Malvasia, brandies and grappa’s tuned it into an even better night and we rolled ourselves out to enjoy a last cocktail at the too hip Zanzibar
Ropey heads made for challenging packing as we rolled my purchases of wine, olive oil and honey up in towels and crammed them into our rucksacks. Nobody told me the Ryan air limit was 15kg so my cheap buys cost a little more in excess baggage! When we got back I unpacked everything as happily as a smuggler at Christmas. I tried to replicate our Istrian feasts but our tomatoes taste nothing like theirs that are bursting with juicy sweetness. But I still have all my other goodies to get through and one more thing to do, plan my next trip back to Rovinj.