Truffle hunting has been on Bridgette’s bucket list for some time. I had always thought truffle hunting was only done in Italy, but when I began researching on Croatia, I realized that there’s a whole region in this country that’s known for its amazing truffle!
Istria is the largest peninsula within the Adriatic Sea and is shared by 3 countries–Slovenia, Italy and Croatia. We picked a small village name Motovun in this region for our truffle hunting experience, which was about a 3 hour drive from Zagreb to Motovun. We booked our truffle hunting with the Kotiga family, who also happened to have a few apartments for rent that sits atop the stunning village. We snagged one of them for our 1-night in Motovun and loved everything about it except this one giant bug that we found in our room because the windows were opened. Since I have the worst and more serious phobia of insects, I had to do my usual pleading and begging for Bridge to help get rid of the bug before I was willing to settle into the room. Luckily, we found a vacuum cleaner in one of the closets which Bridge use for our rescue mission!
We ventured out for the afternoon to explore the village, and because tourism really doesn’t begin until May in Croatia, a lot of the shops remained closed. We still loved wandering through all the small streets and alleyways though, because we’d often be rewarded with spectacular views around every corner!
For our mid-day snack, we found a restaurant that overlooked the mountains. Because we were in a truffle region, nearly everything on the menu had truffle on it, including ice cream. Did we order truffle ice cream, you ask? Why, ofcourse!!!!
We realize that while truffle makes nearly everything taste better, we’d prefer to have our ice cream the traditional truffle-less way. That evening, we indulged in yet another truffle-filled meal for dinner at a place call Konoba Mondo, right around the corner from our apartment.
We slept pretty well that night, though I was still a bit fearful of potential bugs in the room. The next morning, we packed up and drove back down the mountain to the Kotiga family home, where we were first greeted by some strong liquor to start the day. 😅 We then met the other couple that would be joining the tour as well and then drove to the nearby forest for the truffle hunting.
Truffle hunting was traditionally done by pigs, but because pigs are harder to train and often end up eating the truffle, it is more common nowadays to use specially trained dogs for the job. The Kotiga family had 2 of them, Lila and Bella, who took off running like crazy as soon as stepped foot into the forest. They ran and sniffed and circled round and round the different trees. We followed their lead as our host, Miro, taught us all there is to know about truffle hunting. Finally, after about an hour, one of the dogs seemed to have located a potential truffle, so our host began digging deep into the dirt. We watched eagerly were so excited when we spotted the “treasure” being uncovered!
Honestly, if I had found this truffle on my own, I would’ve easily discarded it as just another rock. The smell of the truffle does not come through until it’s been cleaned and treated, and it was so small it really did look like a dirt covered rock! We ended up foraging a second truffle shortly after the first one, and then took our prized possession back to the Kotiga family estate, where Miro’s wife Mirjana was waiting for us with the most AHHHHH-MAZING spread of truffle-filled food for our lunch. There was truffle in EVERYTHING except the wine, from the salad to the spreads to the olive oil to the cheese. She took the 2 additional truffle we brought back, showed us to how properly wash and prepare it, before shaving it onto some scrambled eggs to add to our meal!
We even ended with a delicious truffle-filled cake for dessert. It was a delicious, decadent meal and we had so much fun getting to know Mirjana through her passion for cooking. It was definitely one of our favorite travel experiences!
One night was a little short for sure, so we’d love to return to the Istria region one day and visit more of its charming villages!