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Flavors of Istria: Foodie Influencer on the Local Gourmet Offer

  • Your Instagram profile is filled with beautiful food, restaurant, and gourmet event photos. When did you realize you could share your passion for food with others through your Instagram profile?

Considering my previous job, where I was responsible for preparing and creating itineraries for international journalists, TV crews, and influencers, and I was often in the field with them, I spent 7 years constantly visiting restaurants, taverns, wineries, olive oil producers, truffle hunters, cheesemakers, and ham producers all over Istria. My job was to showcase the best of what we have to offer and what makes our region special. So, for years, I collected food photos, and in the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020, when we couldn't leave our homes, I had the idea to create a profile with all the food photos I had on my phone. Since I love photography, I told myself, "It's a shame to keep all of this just on my phone," and that's when I opened the profile, and that's how it all began. From the name to the profile's launch, everything was so spontaneous. Until the beginning of this year, the profile was completely anonymous, and that's something I'm especially proud of because 14,000 people followed a profile that only posted food pictures without knowing who was behind it. It was my only proof and indicator that people liked what I was doing and that they liked the way I saw gastronomy. As a reward and thank you to all those followers, at the beginning of the year, I revealed my identity.
  • You've highlighted Istria as your food exploration destination. Can you tell us why you chose this region and what makes it special?

I was born and raised in Istria, so I have a genuine connection to the region where I live. Through my job, I had the opportunity to explore Istria extensively, and thanks to that, I got to know the essence of Istria - all its beauty, possibilities, flavors, scents, and everything it has to offer. I fell in love with our gastronomy, and when you know what it offers, you can't help but be proud of the region you live in. You want to show everyone how special it is and how many things there are to discover.
Istria is my main destination for food exploration, but I must mention that I'm slowly exploring other parts of Croatia and restaurants in foreign destinations that my travels take me to.
  • The Istrian cuisine is known for its specialties. What dishes do you enjoy the most and would recommend as must-try?

I think it's individual from person to person, but what I personally love are fuži and pljukanci with truffles, gnocchi with beef, Istrian prosciutto and sausages, all the way to maneštra and čripnja… I'm a big foodie :)
As a must-try, I would definitely recommend starting with some Istrian cold cuts with Istrian olive oil and homemade bread, and then definitely trying good homemade fuži with Istrian žgvacet, beef, or truffles.
  • How do you choose the restaurants and wineries you visit? Do you have any personal criteria that guide you?

Of course, the choice of restaurants and wineries often depends on personal preferences and criteria. Here are a few factors I usually consider when choosing restaurants and wineries:
  • Reviews and recommendations

  • Local food and wines: I love trying local food and wines to experience authentic culinary culture, so I choose restaurants and wineries that offer typical specialties.

  • Atmosphere and ambiance: I prefer restaurants and wineries with a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere.

  • History and tradition: Restaurants and wineries with a rich history and tradition often catch my attention.

  • Personal interests also play a role: if I'm particularly interested in a certain type of cuisine or wine, I'll try to find restaurants and wineries that focus on that.

I take all these factors into account to ensure that my experience in restaurants and wineries is as enjoyable and satisfying as possible, and of course, to be able to share it with my followers.
  • What makes Istria an exceptional destination for foodie travelers?

Certainly, the quality of ingredients, starting with truffles (both black and white), olive oil (the production of high-quality olive oils used in many dishes and the possibility to visit olive oil mills for a unique tasting experience), seafood (freshly caught fish, shrimp, mussels, and squid are just some of the seafood specialties you can taste), wines and guided wine tastings, Istrian prosciutto, native dishes, restaurants and taverns, markets and fairs where fresh local products, from fruits and vegetables to cheeses and honey, are sold. This is a great way to explore and taste local delicacies, culinary festivals where you can get acquainted with the rich Istrian food culture, and the hospitality of the people and their love for food. Meeting local people and talking to them about their cuisine and cultural heritage will undoubtedly enrich every foodie traveler's experience.
  • The Northwest Istria Cluster organizes Wine & Walk events, and you've participated in them several times. Can you tell us how you first became acquainted with these events and what inspired you to continue participating?

I had always known about this event, but I wasn't interested until I realized what wine and the whole story about our wines were all about. It didn't interest me until I started visiting wineries, hearing their stories, and that's when my enthusiasm for this unique event began. This event brings together nature lovers, wine and food enthusiasts, and provides a unique experience in the beautiful Istrian landscape, which is what inspires me to keep coming back.
Wines are also an important part of Istrian culinary heritage. Have you discovered any wines during Wine & Walk events that you particularly liked? Since the event always features good, renowned, award-winning Istrian winemakers who always have something new to offer, it's hard to mention just one wine. You always end up liking someone's Malvasia, someone's Teran, someone's Muscat, and so on… so I wouldn't single out anyone when all of our winemakers are truly exceptional, and that's another charm of Istria.
  • How would you describe the atmosphere at Wine & Walk events? Have you had the opportunity to meet local food and wine producers?

The atmosphere at Wine & Walk events is extremely pleasant and relaxed. It's an event that brings together people from different places who share the same passion: wine, food, nature, and Istrian culture. It's such a positive and inspiring event that fills the soul with a love for gastronomy. People relax, explore, enjoy conversations, and create new friendships and unforgettable memories.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I know many people thanks to the job I did, and that's one of the reasons for my anonymity for so many years. I didn't want people to look at me because of who I am or because I might be likable or dear to someone; I wanted my pictures to speak for me and convey what I carry in my soul, and I can say that I succeeded in that.
  • At the end, can you recommend a few must-visit restaurants or gourmet destinations in Istria for those who want to experience Istrian cuisine?

In conclusion, I would like to say that there are still so many restaurants I would love to visit, and I haven't visited them all in these 8 years of exploring. I can't single out just a few restaurants or gourmet destinations because every place, big or small, offers a truly wide selection of fantastic taverns and restaurants. Wherever you go, you can find one or more must-visit restaurants and taverns.
That's another reason why Istria is a rich gourmet destination and a true little paradise for all gastronomy enthusiasts.
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