Other than an incredible summer destination, Istria is renowned for its wine, truffles and most importantly its olive oil. Most Istrian olive oil makers are small, family-run businesses producing very limited quantities of what is considered the finest in the world. I had read that a small village close by, was the home to Brist- one of the most significant of the oil producers. We headed east. Destination Bale/Vale (depends- how Italian are you?) GPS says turn right. We know it’s a carpark- there is a machine to take your money. It’s a bit…temporary – dirt square with blue painted parking bays.
We’ve missed Brist by ten minutes but there just happens to be a very small ‘Olive House’ right on the carpark. Mauricio was pondering his fortune in the cool of his terrace. We passed through the tomato patch and was led into a tiny display room. There we were educated about the olive oil produced at OPG Mauricio Dandić. Using Istrian buža olives handpicked from ancient trees, some up to 600 years old, this olive oil had earned quite a few accolades. We learned that quality olive oil should be piquant, a little bitter with a definite after taste. It should always be bottled in dark glass and stored in a cool place. The high-quality oil is not for cooking. This is to eat with bread or drizzled over salads or vegetables. Delicious!
We bought a small bottle and asked where we should have lunch. He immediately checked his watch. He indicated La Grisa across the road for fine dining and then obviously sized us up and took out a map to indicate where we could get genuine local cuisine- translate – decent, not expensive, where the locals eat.
Bale is very small with a population of about one thousand, but somehow, we were able to lose ourselves. We think we eventually found the kanoba but the food was off and drinks were on. We persevered and found Restaurant Dado where the owner checked his watch and asked if we would be gone by three. We ate well.
It’s good having the car. We can explore at our own pace. The journey from Rovinj to Poreć was less than an hour and we had time to kill before check-in. We made our way along the Limski Kanal, celebrated for its quality oysters and mussels, sampling culinary delights such as the local honig (honey), olive oil, grappa and homemade limoncello. The hawkers were pretty aggressive, but we were polite and persistently refused to purchase. Learning to refuse politely is a very handy travel skill.
Talking of travel skills. Of course, it is essential to pack as lightly as you can. I still end up taking too much. John doesn’t take as much but seems to acquire quite a bit along the way. In an effort to reduce I decided that tiny containers were the go and have make-up, pawpaw cream and styling wax in them. Now while the make-up is obvious, I really ought to have labelled the other two. I did wonder what was happening to my hair until I found the wax at the bottom of my bag. Oh well! Another lesson learned.