The king of Istrian gastronomy/cuisine, its majesty the Truffle
is a true delicacy and a true gem for connaisseurs. This peculiar mushroom with a specific flavor and aroma can be perfectly
intertwined with many dishes, enriching them with a special taste. Ancient Egyptians enjoyed truffles. Throughout history
they were the subject of many legends explaining how they were created by a magic lightning bolt, while Cicero considered
them the true children of the Earth. Istrians have known the allure of the truffle since ancient times and throughout history
many kings enjoyed Istrian truffles.
Truffles represent a kind of a treasure hunt. They grow below the ground and
therefore are found only with the help of specially trained dogs or pigs. The two most important species are the white
truffle (Tuber magnatum) and the black truffle (Tuber melanosporum). The white truffle is one of
the best kinds; it has the penetrating smell of garlic and aged cheese while the black truffle features a sophisticated fragrance
that is reminiscent of garlic and fresh ground.
The place richest in truffles
can be found in the Mediterranean climate, which in Croatia is the magical
Istria. Its white soils (bijele zemlje), the particularly beautiful valley of the Mirna River and the
mystical Motovun forest hide many secret places which the experts carefully hide, sharing them only with their trusty truffle-seeking
animals. During the truffle hunting season, from September to December, in the sleepy dawn before sunrise, the seekers go
out, loyally following their animal friends in search of the Istrian gold which can be really impressive. The largest truffle
ever found was found near Buje and it weighed 1.31 kg, which was famously
recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. The Istrian white truffle is among the most respected
in the world; due to the specific soil and symbiotic plants, it has a truly distinctive aroma and taste.
Experts say that the best truffle is the fresh one. Thin slices of it on meat, pasta or sauce are
seductive notes that leave no one indifferent. Special delicacies are the achievements of creative cuisine, where you can
taste truffles in cake, ice cream, creams and chocolate. Gastronomic combinations with truffles
are almost endless, although in traditional Istrian cuisine you can find them lovingly grated on fuži, gnocchi,
polenta and omelets.
Where to taste truffles
The town of Buzet
proudly carries the title of City Truffles, while the little place of Livade is called the truffle center of the world. You
can taste the most famous mushroom in the world in many restaurants, taverns and
agritourisms, though its home is considered to be the Mirna valley, whose inhabitants are
considered the greatest experts in the preparation of truffles. In many restaurants, taverns and shops, you will find fresh
and canned truffles and products which are finely blended with this fungus, such as olive oil flavored with white or black
truffle, honey with truffles, paté, cheese, butter, or various sauces with this delicacy that represent to the peak
of the Istrian culinary offer.