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Tea Truffles, Figs & Everything Nice

Mighty Travels

Two tea lovers make their way around Europe with their Mighty Leaf

Tea, Truffles, Figs and Everything Nice July 20, 2007

Like much of the Croatian coast, Istria is a real wealth of culinary delights. This little triangular peninsula sticking off the west of Croatia and the bottom of Slovenia was in the hands of the Venetians for several centuries and in the hands of Italy for most of the first half of the 20th century. Because of this, we saw a lot of Italy in the architecture, landscape, and most importantly, the food.

For instance truffles (or 'tartufi' in Croatian) are in great abundance here. They're pretty weird to look at since they look like a little mini asteroid or something that should belong near livestock. But, as anyone who has tasted them knows, they have a unique flavor that is simply divine. Looking in the jar that we bought while in Istria, we wondered, "How in the world did people think to dig these out of the ground and how did they know that they'd be so delicious?" Whoever figured this out should be canonized.

Of course, there is always the almighty question of: how to match a tea with something like truffles? They have such a strong flavor, that they verge on overpowering unless eaten in small quantities. However, after a bit of trial and error, we found that Darjeeling was a good match for these little guys. It has this nice, robust base that supports the flavor of the truffle instead of trying to overtake it, which would be a serious mistake with such a food.

Then there are the wonderful figs ('smokva' in Croatian) that seem to grow up and down the entire coast like weeds. Thankfully, they produce lots of tasty, sweet, aromatic fruit that we ate by the handful. The summer afternoons were warm in the Istrian hills near Grožnjan, this pretty little town where we stayed. Sitting outside with a cup of jasmine tea and a basket of figs to pop in the mouth, where they bathed our tongues in sweet syrup was simply heaven.

A word of warning to those heading to Istria in search of these delights, in that besides bringing your own tea, it is recommended to find all of this in the interior of the peninsula. During high tourist season in the coastal areas, the food selection is well… more than slightly lacking in the depth compared to you'll find just 15 minutes away.

Where: Istria, Croatia
Food: Whole Istrian Truffles, Fresh Figs
Tea: Darjeeling Choice Estate, Mountain Spring Jasmine