Friday, 1 November 2019

Decision on Tender for Construction on Idyllic Istrian Bay Awaited

As Novac writes on the 31st of October, 2019, exactly two months have passed since the offers of interested investors arrived for the construction of a luxury camp in one of the most attractive parts of Barbariga, Istria. The 14.2 hectares of construction land in the immediate vicinity would have to see the creation of a three-star hotel with a total capacity of 1,400 beds, which, according to seasonal estimates, would not only boost Istrian tourism but also provide 130 jobs.

According to a report from the local portal Glas Istre, there are currently three offers in the game - from ENNA tourism (turizam) d.o.o., Punta Cissana d.o.o. from Vodnjan, and Renovo from Poreč.

Although offers from potential investors have been on the table for a long time and the tender has been announced within an express deadline, it is not yet known who will get the job even two whole months after the opening of the tender. The one who wins will be given the right to build for a period of 66 years on the land where a new Istrian complex should be built in three years.

Of the three interested investors, the highest annual construction fee of 1.6 million kuna was given by the company belonging to the well-known Croatian entrepreneur Pavao Vujnovac, ENNA Tourism, which is a component of the ENNA Group, whose core is the PPD group that deals with the import, sale, supply and distribution of gas. They are ready to invest about twenty million euros in building the new Istrian complex.

In addition to ENNA group, an offer was also submitted by the Vodnjan-based company belonging to Kristijan Davidović, Punta Cissana d.o.o., which offered an annual amount of 945,437 kuna for the right to build. The third interested investor, Renovo Poreč d.o.o., offered an annual compensation of 893,900 kuna. The company is owned by Zoran Brčić, who, since 2018, has been the owner of Mondo Carmarket with annual revenues of 20.4 million kuna.

Investors interested in contributing to Istrian tourism with this project had an unusually short time of just eight days, in which one day was written off due to a holiday, to produce and submit very extensive documentation. Within that deadline, they had to submit a power of attorney and prove that they had no debts to the City of Vodnjan, attach two debentures to 500 thousand kuna and pay at least 655 thousand kuna in total guarantees.

The Mayor of Vodnjan, Klaudio Vitasović, clarified that the decision will first be made by an expert commission that scores the bids received.

''The competent committee is still analysing what has been received, as it's all very complex and demanding documentation. There are three valid offers that are quite extensive and time consuming. It isn't a custom to provide information before the materials come to the Council. We need to wait a little while longer and we'll announce it and everything will be clear at the next City Council meeting,'' explained the mayor of Vodnjan.

He pointed out that the tender did not define a deadline for selecting investors, and the only condition is that a contract with the selected investor be concluded within fifteen days of being selected or confirmed by the City Council. He also said that the bid for the right to build was not crucial, because that was only one of the criteria involved.

Aside from the question of why the City didn't call for tenders in the long run, thereby allowing for more competitive bidders and more diverse bids, the undefined condition of the quality of the business plan raises doubts that the City may already have an investor up its sleeve.

However, the mayor of Vodnjan, Klaudio Vitasović, said earlier that in this case "the price is not important, but the quality of construction and the way it functions is".

The President of ENNA tourism, Zvonimir Tudorević, said that he and the company were looking forward to the decision of the City of Vodnjan. He also said that they had sent a request to the City themselves, since the tender had been so delayed.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more on investments in Croatian tourism, the Croatian economy, and Croatian entrpreneurs.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Brtonigla Mushroom Days Attract Domestic and Foreign Guests

As Glas Istre/Luka Jelavic writes on the 28th of October, 2019 twelve mushroom associations with more than two hundred mushrooms, mostly from Istria and other parts of Croatia (Karlovac, Rijeka, Sesvete), Slovenia (Sežana) and Italy (Muggia, Vicenza, Trieste), participated in the competition in search and collection of mushrooms and in other contents of this year's manifestation "Mushroom Days" held in Brtonigla.

Everyone agrees that this is the largest such event, not only in Brtonigla and Istria, but also in Croatia, both in terms of the sheer number of participants and in terms of the number of visitors. The nice weather also made things run smoothly, which delighted all those present.

At the official opening of the 17th edition of the Brtonigla event, the participants were greeted by the heads of the Tourism and Agriculture Departments of Istria County.

On the first day of the manifestation, after the official opening, those there in a professional capacity went in search of mushrooms. The areas were chosen by the participants themselves as the primary aim was to find the most beautiful and largest mushroom and to prepare the most beautiful basket filled with mushrooms and other decorations nature brings during autumn.

Upon the return of all the participants, after hours of searching and collecting "forest meat", a special committee decided that the most beautiful mushroom was brought by the Bresadol mushroom team from Trieste, while the biggest mushroom, a 12 kg specimen, brought by the team from Vicenze (Italy). Members of the mushroom association from Sežana arranged the most beautiful basket full of mushrooms, and they also received the same recognition last year.

A large exhibition of mushrooms with 230 specimens of edible, inedible and poisonous mushrooms, collected mainly in the Bujština area, was prepared in a large tent, where  the scent of mushroom scents spread quickly. Visitors were interested in getting better acquainted with the mushrooms that were described, with their names and characteristics, and this was an opportunity to learn something new and to get to know a part of the world of above-ground mushrooms.

The picking season has been good and there have been plenty of mushrooms, as seen in the exhibition which was prepared by certain members. Along with mushrooms, art and other works of elementary school students and kindergarten students from Brtonigla on the topic of mushrooms were also showcased.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Could Uniline Attract Rich American Tourists to Istria?

Could Uniline create the right conditions to attract American tourists with a high purchasing power to Istria? Maybe.

''I believe such offerings and facilities could be of interest to American tourists and that over time we could make greater use of the potential that this market has. In any case, contacts have been established, we're currently in the process of defining the program and I believe that next year, we'll be able to boast of our first guests as well, and we'll start to conquer this new market more strongly,'' claims Lia Fioranti.

As Glas Istre/Milan Pavlovic writes on the 27th of October, 2019, what is the best way to try and attract rich tourists from the US market to the tourist experience of Istria and Croatia? The question, but also the task, has been raised for some time within Uniline, a leading destination management company in Croatia and the region of Southeast Europe.

In order to strengthen its presence in the US and better present Istria, Croatia and the region on this major tourism market, Uniline's manager for major partners in the area, Lia Fioranti, visited some of American cities such as New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Los Angeles this year, and established significant contacts and initiated collaboration.

The aim of the collaboration Uniline seeks is to bring wealthier Americans to Istria and Croatia, to offer them carefully tailored lifestyle-oriented, cultural and historical itineraries that will allow them to enjoy their vacation and discover the magic of this destination.

Truffle hunting in the Motovun forest, a luxury honeymoon in Rovinj, cycling trips, specially tailored tours of the national parks of Plitvice and Brijuni, luxury gastronomic excursions to the islands like Hvar, special cooking classes with an emphasis placed primarily on local gastronomy is the real trump card of this lifestyle program designed for American tourists.

The cultural part of the program will include a visit to the most important and famous sites and cultural and historical sites from Dubrovnik to Istria.

"I believe that such offerings and facilities could be of interest to American guests and that over time we could make greater use of the potential that this market has. In any case, contacts have been established," says Lia Fioranti.

The USA is a market where Croatia has positioned itself as an attractive and safe tourist destination in recent years. In the context of the authenticity of the offer and the experience and the hospitality of the locals, Americans can be heard comparing it to Greece or Italy from fifteen years ago. This is the main reason why Croatia was among the top five new destinations on the US market earlier this year. This is also confirmed by the strong growth in US tourist traffic in recent years.

This is definitely a very potent market for Croatia, as evidenced by the turnover, which has been achieving double-digit growth rates for several years. Thus, in 2019, the number of arrivals and overnight stays increased by over 11 percent. The most popular European destinations for American tourists are France, Spain and Italy, and thanks to a quality blend of natural and cultural attractions, rich historical heritage and sumptuous eco-gastronomy, it can position itself and find its place as an interesting alternative to these traditional destinations.

An additional trump card in this story is certainly the airline, which for the first time in 28 years directly connected Croatia with the US, and for American Airlines, whose planes operated three times a week between Dubrovnik and Philadelphia during the season, according to Dubrovnik Airport, there was great interest.

Recognising the positive trends and signals coming from across the Atlantic, Uniline set out to open that market with the goal of accessing and connecting with smaller luxury agencies in the US that organise luxury, personalised travel."

Make sure to follow ou dedicated travel page for much more.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Celebrating All Things Autumnal in Oprtalj With Kestenijada

Eleven years ago, Oprtalj in Istria started a new story with which it wanted to present a natural resource that has since become not only valuable, but a recognisable symbol of the town itself.

''I'm grateful to everyone who participates in the organisation because we're one small municipality, count that we have six employees here and over fifty people turned up to make sure the event succeeded,'' said Oprtalj's Alexander Krt.

As Glas Istre/Gordana Calic Sverko writes on the 14th of October, 2019, when it comes to the noble chestnut from the chestnut forests dotted around in the vicinity of the picturesque Istrian town of Oprtalj, Kestenijada's hosts will say, with quite some bias, that they're admittedly smaller in size, but therefore much sweeter than usual.

Seen as a valuable indigenous resource, in recent years, the chestnut has experienced a gastronomic ''rebirth''. Owing to that, a truly unique Istrian event centered on the chestnut, a favourite autumn treat in all variants, both roasted and cooked and savory, began. While in Lovran they celebrate Marunada, in Oprtalj they hold Kestenijada. The native forest chestnut belonging to the European chestnut genus of the Latin name Castanea sativa has thus become a trademark of Oprtalj.

For this year's eleventh edition of Kestenijada in Oprtalj, the hosts prepared about a ton and a half to two tonnes of chestnuts, of which about 500 kilograms were being sold at two stands of the Oprtalj municipality, where a kilogram of chestnuts was sold for 30 kuna each, and a measure of roasted chestnuts at 15 kuna.

The chestnut season in the Istrian north is late this year, and weather conditions have caused it. The chestnuts themselves, though, have begun to mature, and the right season, as Edo Vizintin from Oprtalj explained, is expected next week. The heavily forested areas of the northwestern part of the Oprtalj municipality are mostly private and the locals are concerned that they are being overrun. The trees are drying out and they will need to find a way to protect them as efficiently as possible.

''With the aim of valorising the natural resources of the Oprtalj area, Kestenijada was initially started by the Oprtalj Tourist Board, which, with this year's sponsorship of the Municipality of Oprtalj and Istria County, provided plenty of entertainment and events surrounding gastronomy. It is the only manifestation in Istria that celebrates only chestnuts,'' says Prodan Mraković.

''For a number of years now, Istria County has been encouraging, organising and co-financing events, generally pre-season and post-season events such as Kestenijada in Oprtalj to motivate guests to come in the post-season when Istria has something to offer. The results from even as far as a decade or so back, confirm that we're heading in the right direction, since both before and after the main tourist season they have increased numerically from 20 to 25 percent in arrivals and overnight stays, which means that we're shifting our focus slightly from the sun and the sea to Istria as a lifestyle and gourmet destination,'' added Prodan Mraković.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Key Q - Quality Istrian Cuisine at Gortanov Brijeg, Pazin

As we previously reported, the Istrian cooking workshops are being held from October the 15th to November the 28th, with Chef Jeffrey Vela leading first, and this year for the first time, the youngest Michelin-starred chef, Danny Srdoč will be featured, as well as pastry chef Petra Jelenic, and Norwegians Daniel Rosvold and Robert Elias Rydland.

As Glas Istre/Mirjana Vermezovic Ivanovic writes on the 11th of October, 2019, the first in the cycle of culinary workshops starts at the Educational and Gastronomic Centre of Istria on Gortanov Brijeg on Tuesday, October the 15th, for which more than 150 participants have applied so far, and more are still expected since the applications are open until the end cycle on November the 28th.

The workshops are organised by the Agency for Rural Development of Istria (AZRRI), with the assistance of IZ, OKIŽ and the County Chamber of Commerce.

The first will be led by Chef Jeffrey Vela, known in the world of gastronomy and culinary art as a ''food designer'' who uses local foods to create innovative and interesting dishes. The workshops were announced at yesterday's press conference by AZRRI Director Igor Merlić, President of the Chamber of Trades of Istria (OKIŽ) Robert Momić, his deputy Andi Vitasović, Secretary Eros Sorić and Edmondo Šuran, Head of the Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship Development at AZRRI.

The workshops have been united under the name Key Q - the key to the quality of Istrian gastronomy, and they've been attended by about one thousand chefs over the last four years. Merlić recalled that they are now running for the fifth year in cooperation with Istria County and OKIŽ, and the intention is to bring indigenous Istrian cuisine, as well as its more modern version, closer to the hotel and catering sector, as well as to restaurateurs and regular citizens.

In this way, the aim is to encourage the development of indigenous products, as well as local breeds, such as Istrian Boškarin (type of cattle), which was once sadly on the verge of extinction. It also wants to preserve the Istrian donkey, the sheep, and also the goat, which is also only just hanging onto survival.

''We're the only example of good practice in Croatia. The emphasis is placed on the valorisation of the local products, thus opening up the possibility for farmers to live off their labour. The workshops are filling up well, and if there's a lot of interest, we will repeat them,'' Šuran said.

He announced some new names among workshop leaders: in addition to Vela, there will be the youngest Michelin-starred chef, Deni Srdoč, from the Draga di Lovrana Restaurant, who will hold a workshop on October the 29th.

For the first time on November the 14th, Petra Jelenić, the owner of Mak na konac in Zagreb, will present her creative desserts. There will also be two Norwegian chefs present, Daniel Rosvold and Robert Elias Rydland, who will show how to bring Norwegian culinary ideas into the preparation of Adriatic fish and meat of Istrian cattle on October the 21st.

Among the presenters is Robert Perić, who will take a look at Istrian mozzarella in modern gastronomy on October the 17th, and will present six innovative desserts of Istrian curd on October the 24th. On November the 21st, he will talk about Istrian red garlic as a new brand and its multiple uses in both traditional and modern cuisine.

David Skoko will show participants how to prepare blue fish. Fabrizio Vežnaver from the Pergola restaurant and sommelier Filip Savić will be introduced on November the 11th. Interestingly, according to Šuran, the best-selling dish in Istria is - pizza. That is why a workshop will be held on November the 27th to the 28th, where pizza from Naples will be shown.

''Research shows that adventure and gastronomy are the third motive for guests to come to Istria. Guests want to try local, indigenous Istrian cuisine, which we're proud of, and that's reason enough for these workshops. We aspire to become a bio region, side by side with gastronomic regions like Tuscany and the Basque Country,'' said Merlić.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Weekend Bike & Gourmet Tour for Lovers of Recreation and Istrian Delicacies

As Glas Istre writes on the 8th of October, 2019, the eighth edition of the Istrian Weekend Bike & Gourmet Tour will bring together all those who enjoy cycling and tasting Istrian delicacies in Rovinj on October the 12th and 13th this year.

This recreational cycling experience is intended for all recreational cyclists, whether they be on MTB bikes, trekking or electric bikes, created in collaboration with the Maistra hotel company, the Rovinj Tourist Board and the Rovinj Craftsmen's Association.

To cater to all participants, the organisers have provided two itineraries - "Mare", which is 49.6 kilometres long and "Monti", which is 54 kilometres in length. On the first day on the "Mare" trail, participants will enjoy Istrian seafood delicacies, while on the second day, on the "Monti" trail, they will be greeted with the possibility of trying out various delicacies from the beautiful Istrian hinterland.

Thus, gourmet breaks will take place along the Mare Trail at the Albachiara, Istria and Feral restaurants, and along the Monti Trail, more Istrian gourmet delicacies will be served at the Pizzeria Max and Mofardin restaurants, as well as at the San Tommaso winery.

Departure is scheduled on both days at 10:00 in front of the Hotel Eden Sports Centre, where electric bikes can be rented for an extra charge, and the same place, the bike and gourmet tour will come to an end. The bike ride will take place along dirt roads and marked cycle paths around the picturesque Istrian locations of Rovinj and Bale.

The entry fee of 250 kuna per day or 450 kuna for a two-day package includes meals and drinks at the aforementioned gourmet points, a ride accompanied by a professional guide, an accompanying vehicle, a bicycle ticket and a gift. Registration is possible through the Maistra Travel Agency or on the day of the event at the starting location.

Make sure to follow our dedicated travel page for much more.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Istrian Destinations in European Cultural Tourism Destination Final

As Glas Istre/Gordana Calic Sverko writes on the 7th of October, 2019, the Batana Eco-museum is one of the finalists in the category of intangible heritage, while another Istrian destination, Motovun, is a finalist in the wine tourism category along with the other two renowned European wine destinations, namely the French wine destinations - Pays d´Armagnac and the Loire Valley. 

In a competition of 55 destinations from 19 European countries, Motovun, Krk and the Batana Ecomuseum from Rovinj, are among the finalists of the selection of the European Network of Cultural Tourism and partners for the best European destinations of sustainable cultural tourism.

The winners (by category) will be announced on October the 24th in Granada, Spain, but the very entry of these destinations into the finals is a huge feat in itself, at least according to the county's tourism department.

''Being in the finals is great recognition and a great promotion for the finalists, but also for Istrian destinations themselves, which have been developing wine tourism for the last 25 years. I'm even more pleased that these are the awards for the best European destinations of sustainable cultural tourism that we're strongly committed to, and I consider it to be the only correct path - to encourage and develop local values, customs and traditions and build on them with new trends,'' said county tourism chief Nada Prodan Mraković.

The Motovun Municipal Tourist Board pointed out that this positioning increases the visibility of European cultural tourism destinations, creates a platform for sharing experience and knowledge, and promotes the networking of destinations. The competition was opened to tourist destinations across Europe to present their results in sustainable cultural tourism across seven different categories. Motovun has registered in the category of culinary heritage, wine, food and gastronomic tourism, and the exact name of the application is "Motovun - cultural, historical and gastro-enological centre of the interior of Istria".

''Motovun can boast of some top winemakers - Benvenuti, Bertoša, Fakin, Facchin, Novak, Roxanich, Tomaz, Valenta - who make the best use of Motovun's natural benefits to produce quality grapes and therefore top quality wines, in the form of an optimal combination of white soil which gives minerality, fantastic exposures, significant temperature differences and sufficient amounts of wind.

Motovun's winemakers also recognise the potential of wine tourism and are continuously investing in expanding production capacities and equipping wineries, especially tasting rooms and accommodation. In addition, they realised that only together could they create Motovun's wine story, and this is one of the primary reasons why Motovun as a wine destination is in a good swing.

The fact that Motovun has opened the specialised Wine & Heritage Hotel Roxanich this year certainly helped the further establishment of Motovun as a top wine destination.

The application was formally submitted by the Tourist Board, but several other partners joined in, making an important contribution to a successful Istrian application. Extensive application documentation, in addition to a thorough application form in English, consisted of quality photo and video material, which best showcase the combination of cultural and wine tourism in the Istrian destination of Motovun.

The applications were evaluated by a jury of experts from several European countries.

''We're proud, of course, that the Batana Eco-museum is among the finalists for a sustainable destination in the category of intangible cultural heritage, given that we're also on UNESCO's register of best practices for the preservation of the intangible cultural heritage of the world.

Entering the finals is another testament to what UNESCO has confirmed, that we have been able to somehow activate the community in terms of heritage conservation in an active way that contributes to sustainable development,'' said Tamara Nikolić Đerić.

The Batana Eco-museum, unique in the Adriatic and Mediterranean, is dedicated to the traditional Batana wooden craft and the community that has chosen it as its symbol. Batana, as the most widespread traditional vessel in Rovinj, another gorgeous Istrian town, reflects the continuity of local maritime heritage, as well as the everyday life of the local population.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle and travel pages for much more.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

October in Istria: Celebrate Autumn with Wine, Truffles and More

We have now entered October, the leaves are falling, the temperatures have dropped significantly, the long queues of cars along the roads and at border crossings are much smaller, everything seems calmer and more comfortable. How can you best enjoy this wonderful time of year in beautiful Istria? Read on.

As Glas Istre/Luka Jelavic writes on the 6th of October, 2019, let's have a look at some of the events taking place across Istria that the organisers would like to invite both locals and guests to. These autumn events incorporate everything this time of year offers, including mushrooms, chestnuts, truffles, grapes, wine, all the fruits of human labour and nature's generosity.

From Oprtalj to Motovun

Kestenijada, which celebrates all things ''chestnut'' takes place in Oprtalj on October the 13th, 2019. This fair which throws the spotlight on chestnuts and chestnut products, is the first event of its kind in Istria.

The Oprtalj area is full of chestnut forests, and this year, the producers of pastries and other food items which are based on or include chestnuts will be introduced. Pastry workshops can also be visited, and hunting trophies and numerous types of edible and inedible mushrooms will be presented.

Visitors will be able to taste chestnut-based salty dishes as well as mushroom stew cooked in a tranditional way. Of course, there are cooked and baked chestnuts that pair well with young wine and can be bought on their raw form. There will also be fun available for the youngest among us, so if you're in Istria, be sure to visit Oprtalj next Sunday.

On the same Sunday, you can also go down to Livade for Zigante Truffle Days, which take place every weekend until mid-November. Truffles are a special item indeed for both Croatian and foreign guests, and during autumn, weekends spent in Livade have become normal, where tasting, buying or just getting better acquainted with Istria's famous truffles takes place. In addition, guests can also taste other local products.

This great fair is also joined by the Tuber (food) fest on October the 19th and 20th, also organised by the Oprtalj Municipality. During those two days, visitors will be offered delicious gourmet meals, gastro workshops, a program for children, and various sport-oriented content.

From Livade, we go through Mirna to the town of Veli Joze, once again for the sake of Istria's truffles, as well as an excellent Teran.

On October the 19th (Saturday), the 10th Teran and Truffle Festival will be held in Motovun, a one-day exhibition with tasting of red (black) teran and truffles from nearby forests. Teran (sometimes referred to as Terrano) is an old variety from Istria that dominated the Peninsula a hundred years ago, and was first mentioned more than 600 years ago.

This festival brings together Istria's numerous winemakers, Teran's producers who want to give it the significance it deserves, and the gastronomic experience is complemented by truffle dishes, with the emphasis, of course, placed on the truffles that are best associated with Teran.

Gljivarski kotlići

Istria's mushroom pickers will host several educational exhibitions. One of the more important and richer ones is certainly the Mushroom Exhibition in Pazin on October the 11th and 12th, which is being prepared by the members of the Istrian Mycological-Mushroom Association. The second yet no less important event takes place in Brtonigla on the 26th and the 27th of October and will bring together a dozen mushroom-oriented companies from Croatia and neighbouring Slovenia over those two days.

Mushroom exhibitions, competitions in mushroom picking and the preparation of gljivarski kotlić, and a children's play are all organised. Local producers of wine, olive oil, honey and other local products will also be presented.

Istria's vineyards are now full of pickers, and the grapes are quickly being transformed into quality wine. This is an extremely important business in Istria, therefore various wine festivals are devoted to young wine and to harvesting itself.

One such celebration is Bela Nedelja in Plomin on October the 6th. It used to be a fair day, when coming to Plomin from Rijeka, but also from Trieste (Italy) to present and sell their own products. On the same day, Bela ned(i)lja is celebrated in Borut (Cerovlje), and if you have the opportunity to do so, try to visit Kastav, just across Učka, where on the first Sunday and Monday in October, the autochthonous white wine of the Kastav region is celebrated. The festival brings together a young wine fair, a presentation of old Kastav crafts, a rich catering offer and interesting cultural events.

Rakija in Hum

The Festival of Young Wine in Svetvinčenat on October the 26th is also recommended, it involves the coming together of wine producers from Istria, all of Croatia, and abroad, and it has been taking place for 40 years. It is also worth mentioning the Istrian Rakija Festival in Hum on October the 27th, where the largest number of rakija producers gather in the traditional way and offer their produce to visitors for tasting.

Istria Granfondo (from the 18th to the 20th) of October

One of the most important sporting and recreational events is Istria Granfondo in Umag and Novigrad from the 18th to the 20th of October. 

It is an international cycling marathon of which part passes through the central parts of the gorgeous Istrian peninsula and goes back to the coasts of northwestern Istria. Sunday, October the 20th is reserved for recreational family cycling. Last year, this event brought together around 800 cyclists from as many as sixteen countries.

Make sure to follow our dedicated travel and lifestyle pages for much more.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Foreign Chefs Attend Autumn Culinary Workshops in Istria

As Glas Istre/Andjelo Dagostin writes on the 30th of September, 2019, the tourists Istria wants to attract typically want to eat locally, authentically, they want the experience and not just the food, because they can get international food everywhere in the world.

Although the Educational Gastronomic Centre of Istria, located near Pazin, has so far been less widely known, the fact remains that their numerous cooking workshops (115 of them) have been attended by more than 1,200 students over the past four years, mainly by local chefs from Istria, as well as hospitality workers and hoteliers.

Glas Istre sat down and talked to Edmond Šuran, head of the Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship Development, who had a lot to say.

Everything starts from the point of agriculture and the task of our agency was to put a spring back in the step of Istria's agriculture workers. We used this to use gastronomy as a superior tool for the additional valorisation of local products, because from the experience we had with Istrian cattle, the biggest shift happened when the meat ended up in the hands of the chef.

At the first moment, it was mostly agritourism and taverns, and very soon after, restaurants and hotels with 4 or 5 stars, and now these are already Michelin-starred restaurants that want to have Boškarin (type of cattle) on offer, which is great.

All of this was created at AZRRI, and through gastronomy it was then placed on the market. That was a trend at the time, but today, that's almost a type of gastronomic brand, says Šuran, adding that 80 to 90 hospitality establishments currently offer Istrian beef, and restaurants in Primorje, Zagreb, Slovenia and even across the Adriatic in Italy also offer it. They want to achieve the same with the meat of the Istrian donkey, which is currently being offered in a dozen restaurants across Istria.

''At the moment, the demand for Istrian donkey meat is growing, and quite quickly, even those who raise it aren't managing to meet the needs of the market,'' continued Šuran, adding that the goal is to achieve such an impressive level of valorisation with other Istrian products, including media promotion.

At AZRRI, they listen to the needs of Istria's chefs and others, but also the mentor-lecturers who are constantly interacting with the chefs. Due to the relative limitations of the top culinary staff in the peninsula, AZRRI has not limited itself solely to Istria, so they invite excellent chefs with new ideas from all over Croatia and even from abroad. The cooking workshops are attended by established chefs with experience who are looking for inspiration, but also younger chefs with whom much work is being done to accelerate culinary techniques.

''We must not forget that in the best restaurants, the dish is presented not only by the waiter, but very often by the chef, precisely because he's familiar with the primary food, whether it's boar meat, blue fish or mozzarella, so the chef gives that dish its contents, its value, and he can tell the guest the story of the meal and he appreciates what goes into it,'' explained Šuran, adding that not all those on Istria's hospitality scene are expected to position themselves in high gastronomy, but those who do want that will have to interact with the guest.

''We're especially pleased that many young chefs and caterers are implementing the knowledge they've acquired here, using new details and culinary tricks. We see this when we go around the field,'' said Šuran, adding that after four years, it's difficult to maintain the level of innovation in the cooking workshops, but he believes that they still succeed in inviting new chefs every year. So, they are still attracting students who mostly come from Istria, then from many other parts of Croatia, but also from Italy, Slovenia and from down south in Montenegro.

''These chefs also come back to attend new workshops every year, The majority of attendees come from the private hospitality sector, but over the last two years, hoteliers from Istria have also become active, often booking the entire workshop for their employees.

I know that it may be a little harder for hotel companies to implement the knowledge they acquire here, because they have certain business templates and integrated public procurement, but it's commendable that these chefs still do come and acquire new knowledge, experience, and skills here that can then influence managers to adopt at least a bit of it. And that does happen!'' he noted.

He cited the fact that the largest amount of Istrian cattle meat was consumed in one restaurant within a hotel house in Istria, as an example of influence. However, when the head chef left that restaurant, larger quantities of meat were no longer ordered there, but they were then made available in restaurant where that chef had moved.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Slovenian Company to Build "Floating Houses" in Marina Veruda

Something new for Marina Veruda in beautiful Istria as a brand new concept comes from Croatia's neighbour to the north, Slovenia. Fancy staying in a floating house?

As Glas Istre/Milan Pavlovic writes on the 17th of September, 2019, meet the Slovenian company which wants to enrich Istria's tourist offer with something remarkably different to anything else on the entire Croatian coast.

''Before entering entrepreneurial waters, I was the director of a marina in Portorož for seven years, and it was in that marina that we completed our first project, that is, back in 2016, we installed the first floating houses. Today, there are a total of 41 such houses and their occupancy is 95 percent during the summer months, or about 65 percent all-year-round, as the climate allows,'' says the CEO and one of the founders of the Slovenian 3Maran company, Sebastian Selan.

The ''fleet'' of floating houses allow their visitors to holiday on the surface of the Adriatic sea with the comfort and convenience of also staying in solid facilities. This is a brand new type of tourist offer that will soon be available to the guests of Marina Veruda in the City of Pula, Istria.

The project is from the Slovenian company 3maran, which, after Portorož, Rimini and Marina Punat on the Croatian island of Krk, found a new ideal location in the area of ​​Pula's Marina Veruda, where the first four out of ten planned such floating objects were erected over the past few days.

"Croatia has one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, and our idea was to allow guests arriving on that coast to stay not only along the ''first row'' to the sea, as they could before, but also in the first row in the sea.

For quite a long time now, these floating houses have provided a pleasant stay on the sea all over the world, so we're not discovering something entirely new, but just opening up the possibility to enjoy the same type of stay in the Adriatic,'' said Sebastian Selan.

In much of the world, this trend, as he says, is already recognised and people stay in floating houses when on holiday. People even live in such floating homes in some places, meaning that this idea in itself is no revolutionary novelty.

"In the canals of Amsterdam, along the Danube in Vienna or on the river Seine in the middle of Paris, this has been a common thing for a very long time, and it was actually very simple to imagine a similar story on the Adriatic coast,'' the director noted.

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