Truffle Pasta in Rovinj, Croatia

Jared and I drove to Croatia on a whim. Once we decided to go to Piran, Internet research led us to a little spot known as the Istrian peninsula, a place I had been unaware of until now.

If Istria was located in Indiana, everyone would know about it. But because it’s north of Croatia’s sparkling Dalmatian coast and south of Slovenia’s famous Lake Bled, it’s somehow slipped below the radar. My radar, anyway, which admittedly is not always comprehensive.

There are a multitude of towns in Istria that looked worth a visit, but with only a night to spare we went for the big drawcard of Rovinj. Even with the rain (again with the rain) it was beautiful.

Flowers in Rovinj Croatia
These flowers!

It took only an hour to drive from Piran to Rovinj, longer with our stop in Medieval Bale on the way. Bale (also referred to as Valle) is part of an old Roman stronghold, and yes I learned that from Wikipedia. As you can see I have very little to tell you about Bale but it was a cool stop because there is a castle-like structure in its center:

Bale Croatia
Bale’s illustrious castle.

Now back to Rovinj, which is the star of the show today. We stayed in a nice apartment about 15 minutes’ walk out of town. The lovely owner and I had no common language but she kindly brought me a mocha that had the consistency of petrol. It was here that I walked into the handle of a bathroom cupboard inconveniently located at the height of my thigh. I still carry the bruise as I write this, six weeks later.

Souvenirs. They come in all forms, don’t they?

Rovinj Croatia
Apartment interior, attack cupboard not pictured. Only 35 euro per night.

The most memorable aspect of Rovinj for me was not something I could hold on to, but a meal I will remember as one of my all-time favorites. It’s not because of what I ate, but its tie-in to the experience of walking around a town that was completely new to me.

Rovinj Croatia
In true Galway Bay style, the little red one is my favorite.
Rain in Rovinj
How perfect is this??

Jared was sadly still recovering from his stomach bug, so he does not hold the same fond memories of our Rovinj lunch as I do. This is also because he was unable to eat any of it and basically watched me devour my plate of pasta. Watching someone else eat is not really a spectator sport.

When it comes to choosing places to eat, I am famously unable to make up my mind, endlessly searching for the ‘perfect’ restaurant and inevitably failing. This time was different; the Piassa Granda Rovinj appeared at the bottom of a steep cobbled street and I was instantly convinced. “Let’s eat there,” I said.

Rovinj Croatia
Part of the scenery that got me so jazzed for Rovinj.
Rovinj Croatia
The restaurant was right around the corner from here, but I didn’t manage a photo of it.

It was actually a wine bar that served food, which was even more appropriate. The waitress suggested a glass of local white, coronica malvazija, and I readily agreed. Probably I would have welcomed a glass of chilled petrol, I was so enamoured with my surroundings. Istria is known for its truffles, so my meal was another easy decision: the truffle pasta.

“This is so good,” I moaned, as poor Jared sat opposite me and forced down three bites of a Greek salad.

I’d never had truffles before Istria, but, caught up in the romance of the day I believed that they were the new gold standard of food.

Truffle pasta
Truffles + pasta. The magic combination.

It was delicious. The meal’s perfection was largely due to the setting of Rovinj; if I went back to the same place and ordered the same thing I doubt it would taste the same.

That’s the magic of travel, though – it adds a secret ingredient to everything.

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  1. I can’t believe that was your first time having truffles! We need to go to the truffle festival in Alba one year. Joe went in 2013 and saw kids fishing for bottles of wine, no joke.

    Also, thanks to this post I am now making (okay, Joe is making) pasta for dinner.

    1. I am a complete truffle convert now. There’s a little jar of truffle something (spread? jam?) in our pantry that I bought and I can’t bring myself to open it because then it’ll be gone and THEN WHAT. Alba sounds excellent though we would obviously have to divide our time between the truffles and the wine fishing.

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