Post image for In search of home-produced food – from Motovun, via Oprtalj to Zrenj

In search of home-produced food – from Motovun, via Oprtalj to Zrenj

by Gogo on March 18, 2010

in Tasty adventures

I received a recommendation from a close friend Iva: “You should visit an agritourism in Zrenj, they serve only the food they produce” – she said. Well, if I am well informed, agritourism facilities in Croatia are allowed to serve ONLY the food they produce otherwise they must register a restaurant (and consequently pay more taxes). But this often works only in theory. Not every agritourism is a real agritourism.

Zrenj is far away from my hometown Pula, up in the hills near Buzet (North Istria), that means it’s more than 1 and 1/2 hour drive. One Sunday in last November I decided to test Iva’s recommendation. It was a real Indian summer day, perfect for an adventure where hidden Istrian enogastronomic delights need to be discovered.

Motovun in November

Motovun in November

Arriving in Zrenj is not straightforward, you need to be equiped with a good map or GPS. We pass Motovun, a beautiful medieval town in Central Istria – its houses and city walls have embraced the hill in a spiral way. We proceed to Livade where there is traditional truffle festival “Tuber fest” (here – a poetic HD video about the event). Imagine, 1 kg of extra class white truffles costs 3500 euros! A bit of mathematics – for a portion of white truffles tagliatelle you need 5-10 g of this precious mushroom, therefore a single dish would cost 17-35 euros. The vendors keep the truffles under the glass bell, and with a good reason.

Istrian white truffles

Istrian white truffles

Lifting the bell for a second or two is enough to fill up the whole exposition tent with an intense truffle aroma. If you love it you feel like in heaven, otherwise you might get sick. Some irritating folk music, too crowded atmosphere and our hunger puts us again on the road.

We go up in the hills toward Oprtalj. The roads is becoming steep and curvy, but the view on the Mirna River valley and its oak forest, home of the famous Istrian white truffles, is breathtaking. Soon, we arrive on the plateau of Oprtalj and the road becomes nicer. A slow drive along vineyards, olive groves and green meadows is relaxing, it starts raining but only for a while. The Sun reappears and projects a double rainbow on the clouds.

Oak forest in the Mirna River ValleyOn the way to Zrenj

Finally we arrive in Zrenj, a small village settled at the end of a dead end road – we have come at the edge of a plateau. The view is outstanding, green impenetrable woods below us, white stony mountains on the horizon. So much open space all around me that I almost feel the air is touching me, it feels like being stoned but in a good way. And I wasn’t drink anything today, I swear! (yet)

These chickens live like in a five star hotel

Chicken coop of agritourism "Tončić" Zrenj

One last turn left, and we arrive in front of the destination – Agritourism “Tončić”. It’s an old stone house with terrace, a large yard and 150 years old mulberry tree. At the opposite end of the yard I spot a large and well maintained chicken coop where big and healthy chickens, and few roosters, were having a relaxing afternoon walk. Here, I’m pretty sure of it, the cook use this beautiful, almost wild animals to make a delicious chicken ragu.

My stomach growls. Let’s go inside and see what’s on the menu.

Follow up: Agritourism “Tončić” Zrenj: home-produced ingredients and white truffles pasta

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