Friday 4 October 2013

Autumn in Istria

In Istria the last days of summer have turned into the first days of autumn. The days are bright and sunny but are getting shorter, and nights are noticeably cooler. I can still pick end-of-summer fruits like figs and blackberries, but not for much longer.

My Belgian husband and South Indian cat finally arrived just as the seasons changed. The husband was tired and the cat stressed-out after the 22-hour journey but both have recovered since. A future blog post is planned as an informational note on taking pets to Croatia and the EU and the export procedure from India. Both steps of the process were complex, with the end result being that neither the Indian nor Croatian authorities bothered to verify kitty’s papers… but more on that another time…

Ste trgali?” is a common question these days as locals ask each other if they’ve finished harvesting their grapes. Autumn is also the grape-picking season in Istria, a wine-making region well-known for its home-grown Malvazija (Malvasia) wine. Other popular grape varietals grown here are Chardonnay, Muscat, Pinot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Teran.

My uncle who is a small wine-producer decided it was time to pick his grapes last weekend. Unfortunately the harvest this year was a poor one. Perhaps it was the long and wet spring, or the hot days of summer or some kind of pest, but his Malvasia grapes did not do well. The Teran grapes have fared better and will be harvested this coming weekend. Grape harvesting is a community affair here with family members and neighbours coming to help each other out and share a meal (and some wine!) afterwards.

Autumn is also truffle season. For my Indian friends who may not know – a truffle is a type of mushroom which looks like a potato and grows underground. Since they’re difficult to find (only trained dogs or pigs can sniff them out!) they’re extremely expensive and highly prized as a culinary delicacy. Truffles grow here in the forests of central Istria. During one of my evening walks in the woods recently I came across a man carrying a small spade and accompanied by three dogs – he was surely looking for truffles. Our neighbour is also a ‘truffle hunter’ and has two dogs he has trained to sniff out and find truffles. Yesterday I saw him coming back from the forest with his dogs and asked if he had had any luck – not yet!

The elusive and expensive truffle even has its own festival happening this weekend in a small town called Livade. We may go have a look and even have the chance to taste this mysterious mushroom-potato-like gourmet delicacy… perhaps the subject of another future blog post!


  1. So close to paradise :-)
    What about chestnut and cheese?
    Hugs from the Korean autumn, missing mediterranian food and wine!

  2. Replies
    1. Sure, When I got some leisure time, I will try my best to come here.

  3. c'est tres beau: hate de venir vous voir. sarah


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