Tag Archives: Buzet

Luxury Istria, 2010

Buzet in the region of Istria, is not a place that springs to mind when you think of a honeymoon destination. For a few weeks of the year during truffle hunting season, it’s the place to go for the finding of both the black and white varieties of the fungus, but for the remainder of the year it appears to be largely deserted.

My husband and I visited the local tourist office where they were amazed that we had not hired a car, as buses were not frequent in the area. They gave us the number of a local man who could give us a lift if it was on the way to where he was heading for a small fee and a plan to find some sulphur springs that were not in the guide book while we were in the region.

The main reason we had come to Buzet was for a truffle degustation at Stara Ostarija. So we booked for dinner, hoping that our journey into the middle of nowhere was not for nothing. We returned to the restaurant at twilight for our six course slow meal and were the only ones in the restaurant. Now this was more like it, I thought to myself.

First course was soft cheese with white truffles on bread. Kind of like cream cheese with a nutty twist. The second course was hard cheese with black truffles, prosciutto and olives. Not unlike a mezze plate and very tasty.

With both black and white truffles, the signature dish was the third course of soup and it was most definitely the best course. Course number four was ribbons of flat fettuccine pasta with lashings of truffle shavings. I had had this dish once before in Rome, but not with quite as many truffles. I guess they don’t exactly have a shortage of them in Buzet.

By course five, meat with larger truffle shavings, I was beginning to get a bit truffled out. So by the time the desert course of cake with truffles arrived, I really could not stomach more than one bite. So that’s what truffles taste like, I thought, as we rolled ourselves down the hill and back to the hotel.

By the next day, we had forgotten our gluttony and headed to the Zigante Tartufi truffle shop to stock up on various truffle pastes and oils to take home.

We called our local man with a spa who drove us to Istarske Toplice mineral spa. We planned to spend the day here, as there was only one bus back into town that afternoon. The outdoor sulphur pool was closed, so we headed to the indoor pool, only to discover that no more than a thirty-minute soak is recommended for the sulphur pools.

After our short dip, we had lunch as the one hotel on site and wandered around the grounds. There was a mini golf course that was not in operation and some truffle hunting dogs in cages. I would have loved to have been here in truffle hunting season so that we could get a glimpse of these clever dogs in action. As is always the way, our procrastination almost caused us to miss our bus back to town and we had to run to catch it on the main road.

Of course, Buzet will always have a special place in my heart because it was my honeymoon. The town was beautiful and the truffle degustation was also the most romantic meal that we had on our trip that sparked a lust for degustation dining that continued when we returned home to Sydney.

Related posts: Pag and Buzet, 2010, Split and Zadar, 2010, Dubrovnik, 2010, Destination Thailand, 2010

Pag and Buzet, 2010

Pag town was small and all white stones. There was a pretty harbour and a great gift shop where I bought a bracelet that goes with everything. My husband and I found St Mary’s church, Kralja Kresimiro square and the statue of Juraj Damatinac. We saw Ducal Palace, a ruined tower and the statue of Basic in the main square.

The main square was actually used by the locals who made Pag lace and Pag cheese, but we could never find the famous Pag lamb. Even though we were on the right island, there was sheep everywhere and every restaurant we went to had it on the menu; we were told it was out of season.

We headed to the summer beach resort town of Novalja the next day in the hopes of finally catching a boat. The town was mainly nightclubs and restaurants which were closed for the off season.

That night, bad weather threatened to cancel our boat trip. But the weather cleared and we finally caught a car ferry to Rijeka the next day.

We had to wait half a day for the bus in Rijeka with our bags, which meant that we couldn’t take off and explore the nearby castles. Instead we took turns sitting in a local bar and wandering down the main street past the Gradski Toranja city tower. I found a stone wheel fountain in Ivana Koblera square and a roman gate. I also saw the Jardrolinja office and thought about going in to complain about the lack of boats during the off season, but decided against it.

Our bus to Buzet left from the Florence-like Chuch of Our Lady of Lourdes. The bus was busy with school children and other locals, so we had to stand the whole way. I read in the guidebook that Istria is in the centre of the slow food movement region which means eating lots of tasty food over a long period of time. So after being denied the delicacies of Pag lamb, our interest in Buzet truffles, was peaked.

We stayed in Buzet new town where most of the locals live, that had one hotel, the Hotel Fontana, which was being renovated during the off-season. After an hour or so of walking down an empty road to a recommended restaurant, we gave up and headed back to the old town. The views from the top of the hill were beautiful. Being isolated, there were green hills, white cliffs, a few red roofed houses and not much else. The town was cute and it was nice to be the only tourists in a small place.

The old town itself was tiny, mostly deserted and it didn’t take us long to see the sights. We entered through the Mala Varta gate and headed for the bell tower in the main square of Titov Trg Zvonik, which is the landmark structure that gives the town it’s aesthetic appeal.

We walked around to the Mala Sterna baroque well, saw a baroque house, the Bembo Palace and the old bell tower of St George’s church which had one of its two bells missing. Heading for Vela Sterna well square, we finally found some people in a family of four playing near the fountain.

Related posts: Split and Zadar, 2010, Dubrovnik, 2010, Destination Thailand, 2010