Truffles

Truffles

It is quite usual that mystery stories are spun about truffles before they are accepted as a part of local cuisine. Istria was no different. It was only at the beginning of the last century that Istrians realized what a gastronomic jewel they had at their disposal. Several excellent types of truffles grow in Istria almost the year round, while the most treasured one, the white truffle or Tuber magnatum pico, a kilo of which can fetch more than 3000 euro, come to the market in the autumn. The truffle season lasts up to the end of the year.

 

The main site of this undoubtedly most expensive foodstuff is the famous Motovun forest, located alongside the Mirna River, at the foot of the mount upon which rises the magnificent little town of Motovun. World experts have still not decided how the famous truffle from Alba came to have a twin of equal quality in Motovun and several other smaller habitats through Istria. But the international gatherings of experts and thematic gastronomic presentations entitled Golden truffle held in Kremelje, near Momjan, arrived at a clear conclusion: the white truffle of Istria is in no way inferior to those from Alba! Indeed, an American journalist discovered that many “truffles from Alba” actually originate in Istria.

 

At the special presentation of haute cuisine held in the Valsabbion restaurant not far from Pula, Bruno Clement, the renowned French culinary wizard, also known as the King of Truffles, publicly confirmed that conclusion in the autumn of 2003. The largest white truffle ever found, weighing almost a kilogram-and-a-half, was found in the Motovun forest.

 

Until recently the Istrian white truffle was unknown on the world stage of luxury gastronomy. It was reaching fine restaurants of the world through smuggling, and was served either without its origin being given, or was being falsely presented as Italian. Today, Istrians no longer wish to smuggle, or even export their truffles. But neither do they want to save them for themselves. It’s not that they don’t like them, they want even more to be able to offer them to those true connoisseurs of this magical fungus who come to visit the small corner of the world from which this delicacy originates.

Boris Štajduhar

Traditional Istrian dishes prepared with truffles are very simple, particularly when the best, the white truffle is being used. Nothing should be allowed to impair its majestic gastronomic presence. Right at table, right before the guest, a small amount of truffle is grated over freshly cooked pasta, Istrian fuži (somewhat similar in shape to Italian garganeli) or gnocchi, and there you have it! Omelette, or fritaja with truffles is served in a similar way.