Updated: Feb 19, 2019
A sunny February day shines upon crystal white snow that covered Sveti Petar u Šumi, a small place in the very centre of the Istrian peninsula. We’re exploring the area before the annual sausage festival starts here. Town’s local pride is the family farm Franjul, situated in the part of the place called Dolinci. A warm welcome immediately transferred us to the traditional Istrian hospitality. Mrs Ljubica Franjul greets us with a bright smile, as do her children, hard-learning finance student Morena and hard-working son Loris. There’s no leisure here. They have just finished putting firewood in the house, before venturing to do some other farm work on the field or among the pigs. We steal few minutes of their time, just to take photos with the proud centrepiece of their family business: making magnificent sausages!
Ljubica is originally from Strošinci in the Županja region of Slavonia, also known for dry meat products. Her husband Branko is a local and they both once worked in the Istrian meat industry Puris, but had customarily some pigs at home. They produced some sausages, neighbours and family were satisfied with their taste, and soon the idea of producing and selling as a family farm came true. It was not long before first awards came to Sveti Petar u Šumi.
A sip of excellent rakija and we are off for a short tour of the production facilities. Familiar smell of the dry meat hits us while our eyes enjoy in the scene of Istrian dry and fresh sausages, pancetta, bacon, ribs, salami and other products the family is proud of. Franjul’s Istrian sausage is known regionally and nationwide. Mrs Ljubica tells us they have customers from all over Croatia, and this particular sausage won champion award on the sausage festival “With sausage in Europe” in 2013, the same year when they’ve started the business. Istrian sausage is particular product of the Istrian region, as it contains cooked white wine Malvasia, garlic and bay leaf. There’s no pepper nor smoke in this sausage and it makes a unique flavour.
Few sausages and bacon soon went on our dining table. With another few shots of rakija and homemade red wine, life gets beautiful. White and red strips of bacon give remarkable taste of pure meat and fat, while the difference between fresh and dried Istrian sausage is worth exploring as much as possible. The taste is mild and enjoyable, just as Istria itself. We also tried excellent ombolo and salami with four kinds of pepper. Croats usually think of sausage as something spicy and indeed Ljubica cuts few pieces of Slavonian kulen and sausage, spiced with red peppers, just to enrich the experience. Six or seven pieces of neighbour’s homemade cheese and we have a lunch for champions!
A truly positive atmosphere is felt on this family farm, thus it is no wonder that Franjul’s been recommended as a best Croatian family farm. The family goes on various gastronomy events, and holds awards for the best decorated table, best village woman, but especially interesting is that a Slavonian woman makes excellent Istrian supa (the red Teran wine with olive oil, sugar, pepper and olive oil, warmed in the fireplace) and Istrian cakes.
The Franjuls have some 50 pigs, so we went to visit them all. They live just across the family house in two separated compartments. German landras and durok pigs are smiling while sunbathing, blissfully unaware of their short-term future. In the neighbouring pighouse a huge sow takes care of several small piglets. Her capacity seems to be big, so the family never really knows exact number of pigs they have. Almost every part of the animal is used for meat processing and while Ljubica and Branko make great effort for sausages, son Loris expects glorious career in prosciutto making. He proudly shows several of 80 pieces of prosciutto that he salted and laid to rest. Loris is also among the youngest prosciutto cutter. This precision-based skill was presented to the public when he was only 15 years old. We find out that Morena likes more to sell the products to the tourists than visiting the pigs, so the family work distribution is made largely fairly and according to everyone’s desires.
At last we met Mr Branko himself. He had to help to clean the local roads from the snow. In this municipality everyone is working and many do additional volunteer work for Sveti Petar u Šumi. It is a showcase of a healthy community and with a sustainable farm business. The products are telling about the quality itself, and the family earns fair from their work. Indeed, a beautiful success story from the heart of Istria!
You can also enjoy the meat products from the family Franjul if you use any of contact infos:
OPG Franjul Dolinci, 52000 Sveti Petar u Šumi Tel. 00385 52 686 411; Mob. 00385 91 574 4312 firstname.lastname@example.org