Cooking with Eat Istria
While spending 3 weeks in Istria and searching for things to do, we came across Eat Istria. Eat Istria offers a variety of tours and Croatian cooking classes focused on the unique cuisine of the region.
Each tour and class is done in small groups to ensure an intimate and personalized setting. The company is run by 3 guys that are passionate and knowledgeable about the wine and cuisine of the region.
We scheduled our cooking class for our last week in Pula and it was a perfect ending to our time there. We had such a great time learning and talking with our host Goran!
One goal we have for our travels is taking cooking classes in many places that we go. We figured an amazing souvenir of our travels in the end would be a cookbook of the meals we have made around the world. This was our first cooking class and it set a standard for the rest to come!
The Cooking Class
The cooking classes take place in a family home of one of the owners, in Medulin. Medulin is like a suburb of Pula but is often considered just part of the city. The open kitchen has everything you might need and sits next to their olive tree grove with a beautiful patio for dining.
We loved the homey feel of the kitchen, it made our class feel even more personal. Most of the cooking classes start at the Pula City Market and the hosts provide transportation to and from the kitchen in Medulin. This was helpful since we no longer had our rental car!
During our all-day cooking class with Eat Istria, we laughed, learned, and ate the tastiest Istrian dishes. It was, by far, the highlight of our time in Pula. We highly recommend them if you’re traveling to the Istria region of Croatia.
Our host, Goran, was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. From him, we learned so much about the food, wine, and Croatia in general. It was so nice to talk to him and learn about the culture while making the tastiest dishes.
Goran made our experience such a personal one. If and when we make it back to Istria we will definitely be reaching out to Eat Istria to take one of their tours or another class. We honestly can’t recommend them enough.
Our cooking class was planned to be from 9am until 4-5pm, however, it lasted a little longer either because we were moving slowly or just chatting too much but we did not mind at all! We had such an amazing time.
To the Market
We started at the Pula City Market to buy fresh ingredients for our dishes. We loved that this was the start of our cooking class. Buying from locals and supporting small family-owned farms made the experience even better. Going to the market for fresh farm grown produce is an everyday thing here in Croatia.
This is something we miss out on in the states since it’s most often only once a week that we have access to markets like this, if at all. We walked through the market in search of ingredients like mushrooms, pumpkin, beans, and herbs.
Since we had scheduled our cooking class the day after a national holiday, the market was emptier than usual. This meant that we had a hard time finding everything we needed, especially herbs. Because of this, we had to stop at a supermarket (or a few) on our way to the kitchen. This is not part of the usual experience, so if you book a class with Eat Istria, know that this doesn’t normally happen. It did, however, make for an interesting start to our day!
Croatian Food but make it Vegan
One thing that made this company stand out to us is the way they work to accommodate everyone while still giving an authentic experience. They offer a variety of cooking classes such as meat dishes and pasta dishes. They even teach different ways of cooking like their open fire class. You are bound to find one that interests you!
As we travel, we are vegetarian/vegan for the most part, although we try some local dishes once in a while since we want to experience everything we can. Since Eat Istria offered a vegan option, we chose this one so we can bring back everything we learned no matter what.
Croatian cuisine is not very vegan friendly which made Eat Istria even more special for offering this class! We didn’t feel like we missed out on trying the unique cuisine even with our vegan diet. Not only was everything plant based but also DELICIOUS!
We learned how to make the dishes below, as well as, some great cooking tips to use any time!
Back home, we cook a lot and are always trying new things. Saying this, even though the food we make is good, we are not necessarily skilled in cooking techniques. Talking about cooking, we mentioned spaghetti and breaking the pasta to fit in the pot. Goran’s response: “Blasphemy”.
Tip to pasta breakers: you should never break the pasta, that takes away from the point of having the long noodles and after a minute or two it’ll be cooked enough to fit. Hear that mom, don’t break the pasta!
Here’s what we made during our Croatian Cooking Class:
Starting off we prepped some of our vegetables to make a vegetable broth for our soup. Neither of us had ever made broth from scratch before so when Goran asked us how we normally make broth we said “…uhh from the carton/box” that was embarrassing haha. But this just meant we had more to learn that day!
While the broth was cooking we prepared our bruschetta. Garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, bread, such a simple yet amazing combination. We made our bruschetta and then sat down to enjoy it. YUM!
The next meal we prepared was our roasted pumpkin salad (pictured earlier in this post). One thing about going to a farmer’s market for your produce is that you buy what’s in season. This is something we want to do better with back home (buying in season produce).
We chopped and roasted some pumpkin then added this to red lettuce, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Funny story: We were enjoying our conversation with Goran so much that we may have forgotten about the pumpkin until we smelled something burning in the air. Luckily some pieces were salvageable so the salad was still delicious, oops!
Next on the menu, Pljukanci with mushrooms! Pljukanci is a traditional Istrian pasta that can be found throughout the region (and some other places in Croatia). Sam had ordered it at a restaurant once before so it was neat to learn how to make it! The pasta is so simple to make and a lot of fun. To dress up the pasta, we added fresh mushrooms, as well as, dried black trumpet mushrooms and sage to make a delicious pasta sauce.
We loved the meal so much that we made it at our Airbnb the next day for dinner! We went to the market to get fresh produce, including chanterelle mushrooms, and put our new skills to practice!
Our broth was finally done and it was time to finish the soup. To the broth, we added beans, corn, barley, other veggies, and some seasoning to make a Maneštra.
Maneštra is a traditional Istrian stew with Italian influences, similar to minestrone (pictured earlier in this post). By this time, we were pretty full from the previous dishes. However, we managed to eat a bowl and enjoy our homemade broth.
Last but not least, we made a fig dessert. Before this, neither of us had had a fig (outside of a fig newton) and Goran was shocked. We fried the figs in oil and Teran, a red Istrian wine, and added this to some other ingredients for a tasty finish to our day.
Enjoying the Meals
Every dish was so flavorful. After each dish was ready, we sat down to enjoy it with a glass (or two) of wine. As mentioned previously, Goran is very knowledgeable about wines, and while we ate he shared about winemaking in Istria.
We tried a Malvasija, a Teran, and were even lucky enough to try another special wine he shared with us. While we ate, we shared stories and chatted about everything from olive oil to tv shows.
Fun fact: Croatia doesn’t dub any shows in Croatian, everything is in its original language but with Croatian subtitles. This helps in learning English or other languages their tv shows are in which we thought was a cool fact.
We LOVED our cooking class with Eat Istria!
Interested in booking your own class or tour with Eat Istria? Click here to see the tours and classes they offer!
Even though we want to share everything we learned, you’ll just have to make the trip and book a class to find out more! The people that host the classes and tours of Eat Istria, like our host Goran, are passionate, knowledgeable, and oh so friendly. We enjoyed every minute of our time at our cooking class (and not just because we got to stuff our faces with food.)
Huge thank you to Goran who made this experience so memorable. We will be back one day and look forward to seeing you again!
Until next time,
Sam and Ty