Truffle Hunting in Istria


The picturesque peninsula of Istria shared between Croatia and Slovenia is a magical destination full of gorgeous beaches, beautiful natural spots, fascinating history and above all – amazing gastronomy delights! It’s a place of unique experiences and searching for “special mushrooms” is just one of them. Let us take you on a truffle hunting in Croatia – It is the adventure everybody loves.

We can add truffle hunting in Croatia or Slovenia to basically any of our pre-prepared itineraries or we can make a tailor-made one just for you. As a local tourist agency specialised in personalised trips to the Balkans, Ekorna grantees an unforgettable experience and high-end services.

Everybody falls madly in love with the magical heat-shaped peninsula of Istria and especially its distinct cuisine. This is where the influences from the Adriatic and inland Croatia mix and create new flavours.

The majority of tourists who visit Istria base themselves on one of its beaches and fail to explore its bucolic interior where the real magic is hidden. This is the kingdom of the white truffle, the most prestigious of all variations. They are a regular item on all decent menus in Istria and beyond  -alongside the more common (and equally tasty) black truffles.

 

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Truffle hunting in Croatia

WHAT IS A TRUFFLE?

truffle is an underground fungus of a particular strong smell. They look like irregularly-shaped, rough-skinned potatoes, but taste completely different. Truffles grow up to fifty centimetres and can mostly be found in broadleaved woodland on calcareous soils as they like to grow in symbiosis with the trees among their the roots. They add important nutrients to the soil and can be essential for the survival of their host plants by enhancing ability to withstand drought.

Due to thier distinctive taste, truffles are considered a culinary delicacy all over the world and are a regular ingredient in international haute cuisine. Some top chefs even call them “the diamond of the kitchen”. Truffles were very popular among Roman emperors, but got somehow forgotten during the middle ages and weren’t rediscovered until the 16th century by the nobility in France and later Austro-Hungary. In Istra they have not been discovered until the beginning of the 20th century, but have  soon become a local sensation.

Today, truffles are also cultivated, but the ones harvested from natural habitats are much more appreciated and can achieve incredible high selling price.

 

Truffles are an essential part of Istrian gastronomy

 

WHITE & BLACK TRUFFLE

There are numerous species of truffles found all over the world, but we will focus on two of them which are native to Istria – white and black truffle.

The most famous and sough-after is the white truffle (tuber magnatum). It size ranges from the size of a hazelnut up to a size of a watermelon. However, an average white truffle would grow to a size of a hen’s egg. They grow about 600 meters above sea level in symbiosis with aspens, white and black poplars, willows, oaks, hazels, lindens and hornbeams. White truffle ripens from late August until the end of December. Depending on the market and the annual produce, the selling price can reach more than two thousand euros per kilogram.

Black truffles (tuber melanosporum) are the second-most commercially valuable species and can also be found in Istria. They grow as early as spring in symbiosis with oaks, hazelnut, cherry, and other deciduous trees. In countries where truffle picking is legal, the season begins in the middle of October and usually lasts until about the end of January.

TOP GASTRONOMY EXPERIENCE

Considered a local gastronomy highlight, fresh truffles are used as a food additive as soon as they are uprooted from the ground. Black truffles are most commonly used with rice and pasta. In Istria they will probably be served with local homemade pasta called fuži. You can also add them to pork, beef or venison. On the other hand, white truffle go great with hard cheeses, salami, prosciutto, rabbit, veal or even salads.

Local wine experts will tell you that savoury truffles go well with aged wines of earthy notes, while a truffle risotto calls for lightly oaked wines like Chardonnay.

With some help of modern processing methods, top quality products are prepared from truffles and can also be bought as souvenirs. Why not taking some Istrian flavours with you in the forms of spreads, cheeses, oil or even sweets?

Truffles in Croatia

WORLD RECORD

Did you know that Istria is also home to the world’s biggest truffle ever found? Or better said – it was its home before it got eaten soon after it got excavated by a local restaurant-owner Giancarlo Zigante and his dog Diana in November of 1999.

Before consuming the 1310 grams-heavy discovery with his friends, Zigante commemorated this historic event by enlisting it into the Guinness Book of Records. A bronze replica of the giant truffle has also been made. You can check it out in the village of Livade.

 

Truffle hunting in Croatia is a unique experience that adds special value to your Balkan trip

 

Truffle hunting in Croatia

WHAT DOES TRUFFLE HUNTING LOOK LIKE?

Looking for exiting activities to add to your trip to Croatia and Slovenia? Seek no further as truffle hunting is the ultimate experience of the Istiran peninsula. When sending the inquiry, tell our friendly agents at info@ekorna.net to include truffle hunting into your tailor-made itinerary.

We will organise a pick up at the hotel and take you to the meeting place in Istria (either on Croatian or Slovenian side of the border). The tour normally starts with a short introduction where you learn all about the world’s most desired mushroom, its varieties and ways of finding them.

In the past they used pigs, but nowadays truffle hunting in Croatia & Slovenia is mostly done with specially trained dogs who can smell ripe truffles from a distance of 50 meters and more. Your experienced guide will take you on a walk through the truffle-rich forests of Istria and give you a deep insight into use of black and white truffles in local gastronomy.

Truffle pasta Istria

The next logical step after the hunting tour is of course truffle tasting. We can organise a cooking class of typical Istrian pasta called fuži, or you can order them in one of the many local restaurants. Add a glass of high-class Istrian wine and you got yourself a delicious lunch/dinner. Can you think of a better way to end your truffle hunting experience?

 

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