It wasn’t really eating. It felt more like shameless gluttony. After 5 days in Istria, I had reached my limit. I just couldn’t take anymore. Olive oil. Handmade pastas. Cheeses. Truffles. Wine. Risottos. Grappas. Truffles. Soups. Steaks. Fish. Salumi. Truffles. So many truffles. An avalanche of truffles, if you will. It was if every chef in Istria was thinking, “I just can’t seem to get rid of these pesky truffles. They’re cluttering up my kitchen. Let’s just put them on EVERYTHING”.
Let’s start at the end with the most extravagant and decadent truffled meal of them all. Konoba Stari Podrum is a family-run restaurant nestled amongst vineyards and hills in the tiny town of Momjan in northern Istria, not too far from the Slovenian border. All of the dishes are traditional to the region of Istria. The pastas are homemade. Much of the produce comes from their own garden that dominates the perimeter of restaurant.
We didn’t look at a menu. By this point in our trip, it had become clear that we are always better off if we put our culinary future in the hands of the restaurant. And so it came. Course after course of their absolute best dishes until our stomachs cried uncle (but our eyes screamed for more). This was our last meal in Istria, from beginning to glorious end. Let’s begin with the setting.
Now for the food. First, toast spread with truffles, then topped with soft cheese and grated black truffles.
Second, an antipasto platter of cured meats, olives, sheep cheeses, tomatoes (from their garden), grilled mushrooms with parsley, all of it drizzled with local olive oil.
Third, tomatoes and basil (also from their garden) salted and bathing in olive oil.
Fourth, a heavenly Istrian minestrone with corn, pork, potato and beans. Even though it was hot as hades that day, I could have gone for another bowl of this comforting brew.
It was time to get serious. Fifth course was handmade Istrian pasta with white truffle sauce and topped with shaved white truffles. The pasta is so-called Istrian because of the shape and how it is shaped.
As if that wasn’t enough. Sixth course. Truffle omelette topped with more shaved truffles. The eggs alone were exquisite enough without the truffle punch-to-the-face. If there ever was a time when I felt like royalty, this was it. There seemed to be a serious risk of someone jumping out of the bushes to behead me a la Marie Antoinette for enjoying such extravagance.
But wait, there’s more. Our last course of the evening was almost a challenge. ALMOST. A perfect filet of beef doused in a truffle jus, then topped with more f***ing truffles.
By this time, we were desperately in need of a digestif, or a stomach pump. Out came a couple of local rakijas in the biggest shot glasses I’ve ever seen outside of Senor Frogs. I’ve never been to Senor Frogs, because I’m a lady. But I assume.
We had to be taken to the car in wheel barrows. It was quite a sorry sight, but that is what true culinary pleasure looks like. And what did we pay for this 3-hour, 7-course meal with wine and rakija for two? About 80 USD. I’m not even going to estimate how much this meal would have been in New York. I tried, but I blacked out and started convulsing.
A trip to Istria is incomplete without a visit to this cozy konoba for a heaping spoonful of home cooking.
Konoba Stari Podrum, Most 52, Momjan 52462, Croatia