Truffle Hunting Exhibition, Motovun Forest, Istria
Ride the red land train from Livade, Croatia in Istria, on the outskirts of the Motovun Forest, boarding beside the Zigante Restaurant, to see a one-hour exhibition of how Truffle Hunting is done by an experienced Truffle Hunter with his trained Truffle Hunting Dogs. This is an exhibition, as actually going Truffle Hunting is impossible through the rough undergrowth in the Forest, and actually finding Truffles is always hit or miss. The exhibition costs around 6 Euro per person if joining others or for another price, a private tour can be arranged.
After boarding the train, there is a ride on the train from Livade to and into a clearing in the Motovun Forest during which your Guide provides interesting information about Truffles and Truffle Hunting. In the clearing, waiting, is the experienced local Truffle Hunter and his trained dogs. On the way, you might see Truffle Hunters in the forest hard at work. To be able to walk through the Forest and see the trained dogs at work with their Truffle Hunter Master, Truffles are planted along a cleared path. While the Truffle Hunter knows where the Truffles are planted, the dogs do not. The Truffle Hunter will guide the dogs by commands along the cleared path through the woods, along which all can follow. As the dogs do not know where the truffles are buried all can see the dogs at work finding the truffles, and then digging up the Truffles and obeying the Truffle Hunters commands for the Truffle Hunter to retrieve the Truffles.
This is an exhibition yes, however, it is an actual “reality” exhibition of trained Truffle Hunting Dogs following their Truffle Hunting Master’s commands, finding Truffles, digging up Truffles, and again while following their Master’s commands, standing back while their Master retrieves the Truffle; all of which occurs in the Motovun Forest. And in some instances, the dogs do find other Truffles. At the end the Guide is available for questions and the Truffle Hunter has fresh Truffles available for purchase at an excellent price.
Fresh Sea Urchin Roe
It is only in the cleanest of water that sea urchins grow and survive and the Croatian waters are extremely clean, fresh and beautiful. Every Croatian sailor has grown up knowledgeable about sea urchins as they have grown up sailing the clean fresh waters of Croatia. Females can be differentiated from male sea urchins by a burgundy tint to the end of each spine.
For those that love the taste of fresh sea urchin roe, this is a taste treat that is incomparable, like the fresh taste of the ocean itself. Serve with just a slice of lemon, however for most, not even a squirt of fresh lemon is needed, just a plate of freshly harvested sea urchins, cracked open with maybe a glass of chilled white dry wine. All over Croatia, in virtually every anchorage sea urchins are available to be harvested. And if sea urchins are available in an anchorage to be harvested, this is always very telling that the waters are very clean and fresh.
Zigante Truffle Festival
Happening for six weekends during White Truffle Season in Livade, Croatia in Istria near the Motovun Forest where Black and White Truffles grow, the first weekend is usually the last weekend in September. One large tent is erected next to the Zigante Restaurant in Livade with several smaller tents outside. Inside is a food court with different food offerings featuring, of course, Truffles, all cooked and provided by Zigante Restaurant, (in the Michelin Guide) including their Truffle Ice Cream with a nice covered terrace for eating and enjoying wines.
Inside the tent are different provender’s of Truffles, with Zigante having the largest booth, which has a factory nearby producing a variety of Truffle products including Black and White Truffle Oils, White Truffle Honey, Truffle slices in olive oil, Truffle Paste, and freeze dried Truffles all of which are for sale, along with fresh Black and White Truffles and the Truffle slicer. Zigante also produces olive oils and wines and both are on display and for sale. Other Istria highlighted products include Istrian dried ham very similar to Italian Prosciutto, various kinds of honey and beeswax candles and other beeswax products, dried pastas, and other farm produced olive oils.
There are samples of everything out to taste, try, smell and touch, and a gelato stand with beautiful gelatos available to purchase. In outside tents are several woodcarvers with products hand carved out of olive wood. This is a Festival focused on Truffles including the in season White Truffle, with good prices on fresh Truffles and all Truffle products, however also featured is everything Istrian including local wines, honey, olive oils, smoked ham, and hand carved wood products.
Lim Bay, Istria
Lim Bay is a 10 kilometer estuary of the Pazinčica River which is rich in fish, oysters, mussels, spiny cockles, scallops and in the sand, tiny clams due to the special conditions of the sea water in the channel where there is a lower salt content, a higher concentration of dissolved oxygen, and supportive temperature gradients for sea flora and fauna to grow. For this reason the Bay is a natural breeding ground and wintering location for many species of fish, and a natural location for shell farms for growing oysters and mussels.
Shell farms in Lim Bay are growing both oysters and black mussels that have their own flavor from the distinctive mineral and sea flora and fauna content in the water. On the shores at the head of Lim Bay, which some people call a fjord, which is incorrect as the land formation was not carved out by a glacier, are two restaurants, Viking Restaurant and Fjord Restaurant. Both serve wild caught fish, and shellfish including spiny cockles, and scallops, plus clams dug from the sand of the bay along with Lim Bay farmed oysters and black mussels cooked and served in a variety of manners along with oysters served raw. All fish and shellfish are plucked fresh out of the waters and sand of Lim Bay at the foot of both restaurants.
Dalmatian Islands and Klapa Singing
Be sure to visit the medieval walled villages of Trogir and Korcula, Croatia and explore the many little stone-paved streets inside each village’s stone walls. Klapa singing by men, unique to Dalmatia, Croatia can often be heard within the walls, especially in the mornings in Trogir near the cathedral. Klapa singing is age-old in Dalmatia and consists of a cappella singing in a group including a first tenor, a second tenor, a baritone, and a bass. Boys are identified at an early age as to their singing voice range and then learn all of their singing parts for traditional Dalmatian songs. Klapa singing has been declared a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and can break out at any time a group of men might be together drinking or eating.
Rural Homestead “Restaurants”
Located throughout Croatia, this is a unique food experience known as a Homestead “restaurant”, where, usually with reservations required, a family will prepare foods traditional to their area, cooked in a traditional way, such as under the Peka Bell for Dalmatian Homesteads. The cuisine served is comprised of their home farm raised ingredients, including free range meats, freshly caught seafood, home pressed olive oils, homemade breads, jams, and even homemade wines, and brandies. We particularly like the Gulin Farm Homestead experience.
Located on the Krka River, and now a Croatian National Park, this series of lovely natural falls, are surrounded by walking trails and boardwalks from which to enjoy the flora and fauna of the area and many indigenous species of birds and animals. Also located within the National Park are ancient and medieval ruins and Lake Visovac with a Franciscan monastery on Visovac Island. Within the National Park is a little created living museum village, with an active blacksmith, and weavers, along with a “washing machine” powered by the falls.
Hvar Town, Hvar Island Night Life
Said to be the Croatian San Tropez, Hvar Town, lovely during the day, comes alive at night, with nightlife starting at Hula Hula, and continuing around midnight to Carpe Diem nightclub and Carpe Diem Beach nightclub on a neighboring small island. This is dusk to dawn night life for those that love a lively environment, and for those that want only peace and quiet, there are many anchorages around the island of Hvar that are far from the maddening crowds.
Nostromo Restaurant, Split
Right next to Diocletian’s Palace and also right next to the daily seafood market, Nostromo with daily seafood menu additions is a great location to have lunch before or after visiting Diocletian’s Palace for terrific food, as prepared by internationally known Chef Zlatko Marinovic. Reservations required.
Olive Oil Museum
Inland on the island of Brac, is this lovely olive oil museum within over a century old olive oil manufacturing “factory”, that has been owned by the same family for several generations. Today, for a small entrance fee, a family member is available to explain the manufacturing of various levels of olive oil once produced within this building in the age old manner in which olive oil was once produced before modern technology. And also, as part of the tour is an olive oil tasting of various levels of olive oil produced from locally grown olives.
Located along the Croatian coast are shell fish farms of oysters and mussels, Croatian Mari culture at its best. For a fresh taste treat, your Chef can purchase straight from the water, as fresh as can be, oysters and mussels.
Bota Sare Restaurant
Located in one of the premier shell farm locations of Croatia, Bota Sare Restaurant in Mali Ston, has a lovely setting on Ston Bay, with tables arranged both outside in a courtyard garden and inside in a cozy interior. Fresh shells, both oysters and mussels, are offered in many different manners, including raw, grilled, gently fried, or cooked in a special Dalmatian or Bouzara style. Be sure to try the grilled oysters, grilled fresh over a wood burning fire which are outstanding. And like any other seafood restaurant Bota Sare also serves a full array of other seafood, such as fish, shrimp, crab, calamari and octopus. And if there is a non-seafood diner in your group, there are plenty of other dishes and salads on the menu from which to choose. Cruising from shell farm to shell farm on a crewed luxury yacht charter in Croatia can be as fun and enjoyable as cruising from winery to winery. In fact, consider combining the two and enjoy both shell fish tasting and wine tasting on the same cruising itinerary.