When you are in love, cruising apart from your other half can be difficult. The internet on the boat cost fifty cents a minute, and took ten minutes just to open one email – Skype was a complete impossibility! That was a plus for me, since it further encouraged me to unplug, which I actually did for the first time in four years! Tatjana and Aaron on the other hand were nonplussed about it.
No doubt, Tatjana’s favorite part of stepping foot on dry land in Pula was the discovery of an internet cafe that offered free wi-fi. Lucky for me, they also offered some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. Once both the heart and tummy were satisfied we had a little wander around the sights.
The city itself boasts a 1900 year old Roman amphitheater and Forum that challenged me to imagine what life must have been like all those centuries ago. I was not alone, Michelangelo visited Pula in the 16th century and found himself drawn to the intricate reliefs within the the Triumphal Arch of the Sergians (built in 30BC by Salva Postuma Sergia) at the entrance to the old town.
Pula is the principal port of Istria, a naturally stunning region of Croatia with fertile hills and valleys, and long stretches of rocky beaches with the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic conquered and ruled by the Venetians for over 500 years (1238-1797). Tatjana and I decided to drive inland, passing race car champion Mario Andretti’s picturesque hometown of Motovun along the way. It was here in the Motovun forrest that Giancarlo Zigante and his dog Diana found the world’s largest white truffle (1.3 kilograms/ 2.14 lbs.). I long to return in the autumn to accompany the truffle hunt! One day…
The terms “organic” and “locally grown” are mute points here at the Stephanic family farm – everything we were about to consume was either grown or raised right here amongst the cherry trees, olive groves, and
vineyards. The use of pesticides or genetically modified seeds have never entered into the equation. The result? A flavor explosion in my mouth, reminding me of what food used to taste like when I was a child.
The smell of homemade bread wafting from the kitchen was soon overpowered by the pungent, mouth-watering truffles that would be stuffed into each roll. Once referred to as “the diamonds of the kitchen” by French gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat- Savarin, truffles are highly prized in Middle Eastern, French, Spanish, Italian and Greek cuisines with aficionados willing to pay as much as $1500.00 per kilo for black truffles, to a whopping $330,000.00 for a 1.3 kilo white truffle paid by Stanley Ho in auction in Macau!
We were in for a treat! The perfectly al dente curls of homemade pasta oozing a smooth creamy sauce infused with truffles between my teeth were so incredibly delicious I would have gladly bathed in it!
Followed by roast beef smothered in a truffle rich gravy with clouds of mashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli.
Thankfully, dessert was not chocolate truffles (although perhaps that play on words would have made more sense), but rather a very lite panna cotta accompanied by cherries picked from the overweighted branches just outside the window where we sat.
Absolutely stuffed to the gills full of yummy truffles, we jumped back into the van for the 80 minute drive back to the pier just in time to board the boat before taking off for the next port of call, Zadar – the historical center of the Dalmatian coastline.
This post was first published July 9, 2013