Treasured tubers

Truffle hunting in Croatia’s forests of Istria

To many gastronomes, the truffle is the ultimate indulgence and the pinnacle of culinary delights. The scarcity of truffles makes them so expensive that the best specimens are worth more than their weight in gold, and can sell for tens of thousands of dollars on international markets.

There are just a few locations where truffles grow wild, including parts of France, Italy and Croatia. The epicentre of the truffle world in Croatia is Istria, and more specifically the medieval town of Motovun, just an hour’s drive inland from the coastal port town of Rovinj in the north of the country.

If you find yourself on a yacht charter in Croatia towards the end of the high season, in September and October, then you will be striking gold in truffle terms, as this is when the rare tubers make their appearance each year. Starting in September, Motovun hosts a festival in celebration of the truffle, both black and white varieties of which grow in the protected forest of the valley of the river Mirna nearby.

A fantastic day trip ashore during your yacht charter in Croatia will take you to the forest near Motovun, where an expert guide accompanied by specially trained dogs will lead you on a hunt for your very own truffles. After an hour or so of searching, hopefully with your spoils in tow, you will be taken to a beautiful spot for a forest picnic by the river, where your guide will demonstrate how to prepare a meal with truffles in the rustic setting. Locally produced wine will complement the truffle-themed meal, including cheeses, pâtés and truffle flavoured honey.

After lunch, head up to fortified hilltop town for a guided tour of the historical landmarks of Motovun. Should your visit coincide with the local truffle festival, you will be able to tour the demonstrations and displays of prized truffle treasures, perhaps purchasing your own to take home after your yacht charter in Croatia.