Meanwhile, back in Istria, we were exploring the countryside and small wineries that are producing some amazing wines, that are holding fast to traditional styles, such as at Konoba Batelina. While there are certainly international varieties creeping in, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, the vast majority of production includes Malvasia and Teran.
Along the same note, Istria plays host to some of the most amazing food I’ve had travelling in many years. After the lunch at Konoba Pineto, I could have died happily, but we were in for more treats at Konoba Batelina.
Arriving at this small tavern in a village outside of Pula, there is no menu. Instead, the offerings are given to you verbally by your extremely enthusiastic waiter, who describes each dish with a lust that made my mouth water. Hey, if Konoba Batelina is good enough for Bordain it’s good enough for me!
I was a little worried as we were told that we would not be getting a selection of dishes, but rather…ALL of them, but my worry turned to a fight for the last bite as they brought dish after dish of hot and cold appetizers from the Adriatic nearby. I love fish, and I order it a lot when I’m travelling because a) I can’t cook it worth a #$(*& and b) coastal countries know what they are doing.
Chef David Skoko presented us with our menu (I undoubtedly forgot some dishes but there were something in the neighbor of 8 colds, 6 hots, pasta, and dessert):
- Shark liver pate
Red Mullet in lemon
Boiled spotted Dog-fish
- Crab salad (yes, this one I avoided but BrixChick Liza got my share so she’s happy!)
- Grey mullet
- fish soup with a corn meal “scallop”, basically polenta that was cooked in a scallop shell which was a beautiful presentation
- pasta with dried fish roe, a house specialty and famous. The salty brininess of the fish roe was so subtle, and entirely amazing
- Dessert. Oh I can’t even go in to dessert. There were 7 of them! Each one was a
- different taste sensation.
More than the food, the conversation with the chef enthralled me. David’s stories of his life growing up in Istria, and his father’s adventures as a fisherman, which inspired him to open the restaurant, as well as our conversations about how Croatia joining the EU on July 1st will impact the local economy were inspiring. From the local fish to the politics of a region that has been influenced by a dozen cultures, Konoba Batelina is a stop you need to go out of your way to visit.
Special thanks to the Istrian Tourist Board, our guide Marko, and Chef David for a truly unique and wonderful experience.