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Asparagus – the awakening of spring

With the beginning of spring and nature awakening, local cuisine at the beginning of April is characterised by a variety of asparagus dishes. Wild asparagus can be picked on the slopes of Mount Učka, but one has to be familiar with this plant and be careful when picking it. Asparagus is really special: it is low in calories and rich in minerals, vitamins and fibre; it protects the heart and blood vessels and is excellent against cholesterol. It also has a diuretic effect and stimulates body detoxification, which is why this plant is often used to keep in shape. Asparagus has been regarded as a natural aphrodisiac since ancient times due to its high amount of vitamin E, which is often called the vitamin of fertility. This was known by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Cultivated asparagus can be found all year round, but for real gourmets it doesn't come even close to the wild asparagus that grows in Kvarner and nearby Istria. Wild asparagus is rather bitter in taste, which is why it is usually prepared in dishes that balance its bitterness such as fritaja (omelette with asparagus and dried pork) or with various types of pasta: fuži or pljukanci, which are typical Istrian dishes. Asparagus can also often be excellently combined with Kvarner scampi or beefsteak.

Kvarner scampi – the tastiest Adriatic speciality

At the beginning of May, very soon after the start of the asparagus season, the Kvarner scampi season commences. These are the tastiest scampi that can be found in the Adriatic Sea. The specific natural characteristics of Kvarner Bay make this soft pink sea creature a true culinary delight. Kvarner scampi can be prepared in many ways: grilled, in a risotto with or without wild asparagus, or à la buzara: an aromatic thick soup with olive oil, white wine and seasoning for an excellent taste.

Cherries announce summer

The beginning of June is the ripening period for cherries, and the Lovran cherries that thrive around the small town of Lovran are a speciality of this area. Lovran cherries are distinguished by their larger size compared to other cherry species, and also by their full, sweet taste. During the traditional Lovran Cherry Festival, visitors can taste a variety of sweet and savoury dishes prepared with cherries: various cakes, pies and strudels, but also dishes with mushrooms and cherries.

Sweet chestnuts come with the arrival of autumn

Autumn on the Opatija Riviera is fragrant with the rich aroma of sweet chestnuts, locally known as maruni. Late September and the beginning of October is the time of the Marunada, a traditional food festival dedicated to the sweet chestnuts that grow in the region and whose size and taste is superior to other varieties. Many European food guides have listed the Marunada as a food festival not to be missed. Sweet chestnuts are used to prepare traditional cakes but also various savoury dishes such as risottos or soups, and can also be combined with a variety of fish and meat specialities.

The year ends with truffles

Save the best for last – the end of the year is the time for truffles, a true gourmet delight and highlight of modern gastronomy. The forest around the small hilltop town of Motovun in northern central Istria is home to several truffle species, two of which are particularly highly prized: the noble white truffle, and the noble black truffle. The noble white truffle is one of the most sought-after truffle species in the world and is hunted with the help of specially trained dogs from September to December. During this period, it can be savoured in a variety of dishes: omelettes, risottos, pasta (fuži, pljukanci or tagliatelle), fish dishes and beefsteak. The noble black truffle is hunted throughout winter. This is the most precious and most expensive type of black truffle and is served with various pasta, meat and fish dishes.

Visit Opatija at any time of the year

Given the wide variety of dishes prepared with ingredients that are highly appreciated among gourmets, it can be said that the Opatija Riviera is rightly known as one of the best gourmet destinations in Croatia. It is also obvious why restaurants in Opatija have been receiving excellent reviews for many years now. We invite you to come and see for yourself – treat your palate to the best!

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