Čiže - Culinary Enjoyment in the Heart of Istria
Birds crawl on evergreen branches, greet the spring, while deep down under a wooden fence, from which one can enjoy a view at the surrounding hills, a brook comes alive. No, we are not in Gorski Kotar, but in the centre of Istria, in a high region near Trviž. The mentioned stream was called “refrigerator” by the villagers of the nearby village Škropeti, and the children bathed here, and there was certainly something to be washed here. All this is told by Ivan Klanjac, the owner of the restaurant and restaurant Čiže, located in a beautiful natural setting on the secluded plateau between Istrian small towns of Trviž and Karojba.
At first glance, you may not feel that we are in Istria, but a glimpse at the two holiday houses, Luna and Rossa, reveals the magical rural relaxation of the Istrian peninsula, which invites numerous visitors to a specific Istrian way of life. Such a way of life, of course, always comes with a light aperitif, soft herb rakija and sweet biska, drinks that reflect the climate blessing of the Green Mediterranean. The brandies are excellent, made by Mr Renato Krulčić, the mayor of Pazin, the centre of the Istrian County. In the air, only the sound of wind is heard, which is ever present in Čiže, as well as some sighs with the comment: "What a joy!"
The old-fashioned vacation home is furnished with modern amenities, comfortable beds, beautiful terraces and a few swimming pools that serve not only the guests' houses but also the hotel and campgrounds visitors. We believe that Mr Klanjac would rather be in his "sea," as the children called the aforementioned brook, but we are astonished by beautiful and spacious pools, created for pure enjoyment.
With such enjoyment, it is even greater pleasure to try the traditional cheese and prosciutto plate with the symbol of central Istria, cheese with truffles, characterised by strong flavour and neutral smell, and excellent mixed cheese (cows and sheep), which is harmoniously linked with the threads of the Istrian violin, as the prosciutto is sometimes called. We are not far from one of the gastronomic centres: Buzet and Motovun, famous for black truffles, are only half an hour's drive away, while on the south side are prosciutto places of Sveti Petar u Šumi, Kringa, Tinjan ... Indeed, Čiže is located where it is possible to get excellent groceries from the neighbourhood.
Before, during and after the cold plate we soak bread in beautiful olive oil from Zamask, where are the highest olive trees in Istria. It is not that we are not high ... Čiže is located in the middle of the hilly passes that exceed 400 meters, which is unusual for the whole of Istria except the area around Učka and Ćićarija. Because of this, it is nice to come here in the summer as the usual summer heat is easier to bear, and the light wind blows almost constantly.
There is also an olive spread served in Ćiže, which is very refreshing and full of flavour, and we also tried tuna and truffle spread. The flavour of all spreads is distinctive and excellent with toasted bread. Seasonal dishes also bring warm appetizers, such as black truffle omelette, asparagus omelette, various risotto dishes, as well as Istrian maneštra/minestrone. Strong dishes also require stronger wines, and we drank an open red wine from Poreč winemaker Damjanić, who is the most popular wine-maker in Čiže. His collection clearly stands out on the wine shelf behind the bar, but there is also Malvasia of In Sylvis winery, as well as Benvenuti's wines.
No restaurant in central Istria can go without pasta, and in Čiže, local traditions go well with excellent ravioli with rucola and prosciutto, and pljukanci with Istrian ox/boškarin. Rucola gives a wonderful bitterness to ravioli, and it is a locally grown food: vegetables are cared for only a hundred metres away from the hotel itself! We are delighted to be able to taste the excellent pljukanci, made according to the ancient recipe, and a certainly perfect match to the meat of boškarin, the legendary Istrian ox that is also returning to the gastro-enthusiast plates not only in Istria! In addition, homemade pasta comes with truffle sauce, with game goulash, with asparagus or mushrooms in the season.
Many guests will be delighted with meat dishes in Čiža, where they can definitely pick beefsteak with truffle sauce and green pepper sauce, but there are also lamb and other meat pleasures that will perfectly blend with Damjanić's wines. A poorer supply of seafood is logical, due to the very continental position of the resort.
We were additionally delighted with desserts. Marmalade pancakes are delicious as Panna Cotta is picturesque, but you should definitely try truffles pancakes that have a totally unexpected taste! Resort Čiže has thus achieved an excellent harmony of local gastronomy and rural accommodation and is certainly a special place in the heart of Istria!
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