Central Istria is perfect place for creating superb and high-quality prosciutto (pršut). Jelenić’s prosciutto is no different. It is made in a traditional way known to the Istrian people since… well, since the memory goes back. Use of sea salt, pepper, and natural microclimate gives one of the most recognisable Croatian gastronomy product. No family gathering, friend’s visit or any other way of socialising in Istria could go without it!
Sveti Petar u Šumi is lucky to have one of the best Istrian prosciutto makers. We met Paolo Jelenić and his brother Luka while they were salting prosciutto and preparing it for drying. They kindly welcomed us in a small tasting room of a family house. Although they live in nearby Žminj (and local patriotism is vicious as anywhere else in the world), they decided to begin the family business in Sveti Petar, using the old house of their grandpa. He was a smith, and inside you can still read signs of once existing kovačija (the smithy) and lišiera (the tavern). This is where some of the most delicious Istrian prosciutto’s come from.
And when we say Istrian prosciutto, it really is. With its tradition in making prosciutto since 1999, the Jelenić manufactory has one of the first registered original Istrian prosciutto, protected by the European standards and with a complex certification of originality process. All ingrideients of this prosciutto stem from Croatia, from the stuff that pigs eat to the additions in the final process. Meat is, of course, of the biggest importance and Jelenić buys his pork from Slavonian pig farmers. Apart from the original Istrian prosciutto, Jelenićs also make ordinary prosciutto of same quality and same procedure. Both are dried in a typical Istrian way, without use of smoke, in this excellent subregion where strong bura wind intermingles with the mild Mediterranean climate.
For its work, the Jelenić family gained many awards, foremost the golden medals from the national and regional prosciutto competitions in Tinjan, Drniš, and elsewhere in the world. One of the skills necessary for a good prosciutto maker is also slicing it. This semi-magic craft is especially cherished all over Croatia and Paolo shows us how it is done. Thin slices of prosciutto come out with surgeon-price cuts and finish in front of us in all its glory. Dark-red in colour and with mild scent and aroma, Jelenić’s prosciutto is one of the best we have tried so far. It has a pepper edge which you can throw away, but for anyone into a bit stronger mix should try it whole. A sip of excellent red wine – in our case the whole bottle – blends splendidly with this Istrian brand.
We ventured also in the dry-room, where hundreds of prosciuttos wait for their ripening. Jelenić produces 1700 pieces of prosciutto annually and it makes them the third largest individual/family prosciutto maker in Istria. Also, they make ombolo, dry Istrian sausages and traditional Istrian pancetta, although in much smaller quantities. Everything about it is somewhat like a symphony, combining all the best from the nature. In fact, it is a symphony, as Paolo is frontman of a local music band Funbox, where he spends more time than in prosciutto manufactory. What a great life! Three months hard work with prosciuttos and nine months of sheer enjoyment in singing all over the region!
But prosciutto is close to the brothers’ hearts. It is one of the healthiest meat products of the Mediterranean, with customers worldwide. You can also enjoy the mild and meaty taste of the Jelenić prosciutto and other meat products by buying it in the manufactory itself or in shops on Pula and Labin markets. The owners are instructed to slice the prosciutto in its traditional way, in order to enjoy this product in a proper manner; only like that you can feel the special and recognisable taste and aroma of the Istrian premium product! But to feel the real magic, visit the place where Istrian prosciutto comes to life:
Slavčići 177, 52404 Sveti Petar u Šumi, Sveti Petar u Šumi
00385 91 420 4999, 00385 91 201 3400