Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fabulous Fuzi

I haven't talked much about Croatian food.  Mostly I ate fresh fish that was always on offer and irresistible.

 We had a wonderful dining experience for two nights in the Histria Hotel.  Our very accomplished wait person was a woman about sixty whose last name was Sugar.   We were practically the only people to dine so early and she treated us like royalty and her own kind of sweetness.

The last night in Croatia we had the chance to stop by a simple,  country restaurant in a beautiful high ceilinged room.  WE had been following the book of good restaurants that we got from the tourist center and Jeanne knew about this one.

 The building for our last find was old and the ambiance was perfect for a tinge of Autumn which suddenly suited the occasion.  It was to be our last sunset supper looking out the window at a glimpse of the sea.  In the morning we would head out early for the car trip through Slovenia and Italy and then home.

When the Istrian pasta,  fuzi, is made by hand and with care, it is a wonderful pasta and that is what we both ordered.  It was no pasta I have ever seen before...looking kind of like worms...sorry.

 I had mine in a b├ęchamel/ truffle sauce sprinkled with fresh truffle which is a renowned product of Istria.

  Jeanne ordered her fuzi with a light tomato sauce and fresh scampi.   The price was beyond reasonable.

 We finished with a lavender flavored artisanal ice cream with fig and pine nut confiture.

 This goes down as one of my top ten all time favorite desserts and that is saying a mouthful.  As Jeanne says, "that dessert was INSANE!"

  This meal was just the way we wanted to say "au revoir" we will meet again,  to Istria.

Istrian Idyll

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The cats of Rovinj

Day Eight: Brijuni Excursion

Brijuni Island

The Brijuni Archipelago's largest island called also Brijuni, is where Tito lived while dictator of Yugoslavia and received his world famous guests until his death in 1955.

 Now it is accessible by a large, comfortable boat if you buy a ticket for 30 euros at the town of Fazana  where it departs some mornings of the week in September.   We decided that we were ready to be around water on such a day of over 30 degrees centigrade....... so off we went.

Arriving at the dock we see one of three hotels on the island.  

And as you can't avoid paying for the excursion, we decided to see what that was all about.

 The walking part of the excursion takes an hour of wandering through "nature"and featuring the pine alley where many newly weds get their pictures taken in the Tito's personal Chevrolet ( 700 euros for the day)

 The "walk" also included a look at an ancient olive tree  (IV AD.)

 ....and finishes in a hall where one can see a grisly exhibition of stuffed animals, once live gifts to the dictator (said to have died of natural causes),  and  a vast photo exhibit of Tito and his guests.

After a lunch break , we are given a look inside a lovely 15 century church,  (with well done copies of ancient roman freschi found in Istria)

 And then we install ourselves inside a tiny motor train that inches along in the blazing sun.

We get a glimpse of the rare "green" golf course  where the grass is brown ( since no artificial watering system is used).   And the "greens" for putting are of  sand.  We even see a golfer pulling his irons along.


Then on we go to a underwhelming safari area, where we see very few animals and those we saw  were sheltered under a few sparse trees or lodgings in the distance.  We stop in the shade of a tree and can buy drinks or ice creams and eat them hearing opera off a boom-box.

                                                        Sad elephant who lost his mate

                                                                 Istrian    Donkey

                                                        Istrian Bullock, Istrian Sheep

We also got a train view of some Roman ruins of a country house ..... and some of the hidden palatial homes still used by the Croatian heads of state to house important guests.


NO, the excursion wasn't much although I learned a few interesting factoids......

 but the real reason to pay the 30 euros is to come by boat to a protected island where you can stay long after the train has gone and the boat has taken most visitors back to the mainland.

The real joy is to look out at the vast stillness of the sea...

And to swim and  count the many species of fish of all sizes , to see for yourself the urchins and shrimp thriving in the clean water...

And to not go home until the next to the last boat leaves at 5:30 pm and all is quiet and calm and even coolish.     It changes everything to bathe in the clearest waters of nature.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kamenjak National Park: Day Seven

The next day we decided to explore Lower Kamenjak and the Medulin Archipelago, which houses a national park of Croatia.   Having read the information about 30 species of wild orchids, 600 other plant species, dinosaur tracks, sand beaches , 50 registered diurnal butterflies, reptiles, bird fauna etc etc.... we were pretty excited to go see it.

However, it was obviously the wrong time of year to see any of the above.   The peninsula we found was scorched and dusty and as the rangers have decided against paving the road.  Our black Clio was completely dusty by the time we had inched along the first two kilometers.

Nevertheless the beaches beckoned and we had brought all of our swimming gear.  We headed for Safari Cafe and cove that Jeanne had remembered from before and swam in the clear, clean shallow waters.

    The SAfari cafe and watering hole welcomes dogs and children and has an ingenious set up.

  It is set among the reeds, with trees used for shade and lots of funny playground toys and sitting arrangements.

        It's a great idea for a drink, snack or shade as the beach has no place to stick a parasol in the rock slabs and NO SHADE.

After we took as much sun as was wise, we crept back out along the dusty road in our now white car,  and saw inlets and coves which looked inviting.

 I would love to come back in the spring when the flowers and butterflies and orchids are showing.

  Today though, we have seen at least 6 species of beautifully marked fish and perhaps the Istrian sea grass, Posidonia, which among other protected species is found in this marine environment.    We are told that it is home to a few hundred other sea organisms which spawn and reproduce in its meadows.  It is in danger from man and his anchors now and I hope the government will step in and not let the boats in so close.

Maybe next time I come I can take in the visitors center with its aquariums, and numerous displays. We couldn't even find it this trip.... but in truth we had had enough for one day.  A great shower waited for us at Hotel Histria and a good restaurant as well.