The King of Truffles (Le Roi de la Truffe), Bruno Clement, owner of legendary restaurant chez Bruno in Lorgues, Provence, takes a trip to the heart of Istria, a province of Croatia known for its magnificent food, fish market, olives, olive oil, and wine. Chef Clement visits the Istrian coast, the fish market and the Marina and explains the simplicity of Istrian food such as barbecue, dried meat, and roasted fish. He also visits the kitchen of some of the finest chefs and cooks in Istria.
Italian and Mediterranean cooking heavily influences Istrian cuisine but Istrian dishes have its own unique flavors and distinctive methods of preparation. There is a wide array of delicious fish and seafood like mussels, scallops, oysters, langoustines, and sea bream in the Istrian sea and the land is rich with tasty truffles, meats and wild asparagus.
Truffle grows in inland Istria and hunters usually search for the expensive fungus at night with their dogs. Most restaurants feature the precious ingredients shaved on pasta or steak. Truffle is also combined with cheese to make truffle cheese and made into oil for use as seasoning.
Another popular food and ingredient in Istria is the Istrian ham, very similar Serrano ham with its own distinctive flavor from the local meat. The ham is wind-dried, a process called ‘bura,’ and flavored with salt from the Adriatic. Locals treat the ham and the process of making it with respect. Istrian ham is often served with bread and cheese and makes a scrumptious starter or main dish.
Istria has been producing olive oil since the Roman times and most of the Istria is covered with old olive trees. Some of the best-quality olive oils in the world are produced here. Istrian wine is also quite excellent and there are many small producers in the region.