Im sure we can all tell that I have a love and respect for food by now. I was drawn toward Croatia, specifically the Istrian Peninsula after reading an article in the New York Times and just a few weeks later my buddy Anthony Bourdain was there on an episode of No Reservations.
We had our trip already scheduled for Italy and I knew we had to extend it so I could see this place for myself. I read about the “Tuscany of Croatia” and it was the way Tuscany used to be. I read about the Malvasia Wine and the freshest seafood in abundance. All words that were attractive to my ears.
We drove from Italy to Croatia through the lush green hillside, even more beautiful than the hills of Italy. Vineyards, Olive groves and forests lined both sides of the highway.
We decided to stay in the coastal town of Rovinj. The Historical town of Rovinj can only be accessed by foot (we figured that out after our GPS rerouted us over and over). The old Cobble Stone roads reminded me of Pienza but with the colorful tall buildings like the coastal town of Cinque Terre.
We rented an apartment from the sweetest woman right in the middle of town. It was perfect.
There was something about this little seaside town that was simple yet perfect. I was eager to taste the wine and seafood I had read so much about. We found a little family owned restaurant and ordered a few things;
Mussels, Grilled Calamari, and whole roasted fish with a bottle of that Malvasia that is only available in Croatia. Our waiter Darko brought us a loaf of homemade bread right out of oven along with their house made olive oil.
Darko explained that everything served is grown on their farm about 20 minutes in the hills and their seafood comes right from the fisherman that same day. To them, this wasn’t anything special; this was the way of like in Croatia. They don’t freeze their food and serve at a later date, they are not offering “farm to table” farm to table is just the way that it is.
In Italy we found this experience on the farm we stayed at but it wasn’t a practice every restaurant in Italy was doing. Croatian’s, specifically in Istria are still living the simple life; the wine, the olive oil, the truffles, local greens, porcini mushrooms, and seafood is pretty much all you find in every restaurant.
The simplicity of it is what made it so great. I find that we are always trying to hard here in America, or not trying to hard and cutting corners. Sometimes simplifying your life, even if it is just through food could provide happiness you didn’t even know existed.