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Food and drink in Istria

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The Istrian peninsula is a cornucopia of culinary riches, with the seafood of the coast melding with the hearty meat-based fare of Central Europe. Whether you’re looking for a haute-cuisine restaurant or an informal village inn, culinary standards are high and ingredients first class. Regional delicacies include oysters (oštrige) from the Limski kanal, and cured ham (pršut), wild asparagus (šparoga) and truffles (tartufi) from the hills inland. Istrian meats, such as kobasice (succulent, fatty sausages) and ombolo (smoked pork loin), are often cooked on the kamin or open hearth. Fuži (pasta twists) and njoki (gnocchi) are very much local staples, and are often freshly made by hand in the more traditional country inns. Istrian olive oil, as elsewhere in Croatia, is largely produced by individual farmers or regional cooperatives, ensuring a high degree of quality and recognizably individual flavours.

Best known of Istria’s wines is the crisp white Malvazija that is produced all over the peninsula; mass-market brands like De Mar are perfectly palatable, although family winery Radovan and the craft winemaker Clai offer more in terms of quality. The slightly acidic but eminently drinkable Teran is a characterful indigenous red. A typical Istrian spirit is biska, the aphrodisiac mistletoe brandy associated with the region around Buzet and Hum. One Istrian concoction you should definitely try at least once is supa, an earthenware jug of red wine mulled with sugar, olive oil and pepper, served with a slice of toast for dipping purposes.

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