Above the legendary Lim Channel, olive groves have been lined up for centuries. Among them, you can still find the olive rosinjola, an indigenous olive sort in Istria that is still grown today around Vrsar, Rovinj and Vodnjan. Its oil has an intense aroma, a pronounced spicy taste and moderate bitterness, and the Radovčić family from Vrsar considers rosinjola to be their best olive oil, despite the fact that it is a small olive and difficult to harvest.
In order to show others why this is so, the married couple Paola and Hrvoje Radovčić opened an olive oil tasting bar called Rosinjola. The tasting bar is located in the heart of old Vrsar, across the square from the municipality, in the medieval Mediterranean beauty that inspired the Casanova’s breaking of hearts. While drinking the phenomenal sweet-spicy citrus and hot pepper brandy, the work of Patrik Maras from Vrsar, we get acquainted with the line of Ursaria oil, which is the old name of Vrsar, and with the success of ten years of olive growing, which resulted in thirty awards. It is not at all surprising, therefore, that the Radovčićs entered Flos Olei 2020, the most prestigious yearbook of olive oils in the world.
The romantic Lim Channel offers great opportunities for olive growing, including 22 hectares of olive groves that Radovčić family cultivates with bio-methods. Hrvoje immediately stops us in thoughts that envision olive growing without pesticides and other chemical "helpers". We learn a great story that should inspire many olive growers. "Bio-production is working with nature, not against nature," says Hrvoje Radovčić, who uses natural fertilizers in the olive grove and uses fig trees, herbs and other natural methods that help produce pure oil. "Our oil is pure because it comes from the natural environment, and not just because of the lack of pesticides," says Hrvoje as he pours the first samples we will taste into blue tasting glasses.
All oils in Rosiniola are extra virgin, and they offer rosinjola, Istrian bjelica, leccino and blend of these varieties. In addition, they make spicy olive oil with chili. There are also local producers in the oil presentation area, of which we mostly appreciated Pilato wines, while many will give preference to great new craft beers from Istrian towns. We start the journey with olive flavours with leccino, a "sweeter" oil that delights with its almond and floral scent and bitter and almond flavour. "The human brain knows what is good in the sense of smell, and the sense of smell tells us that the oil must smell like green olives, nature, cut grass", explains Hrvoje and adds that different oils go well with different dishes, and the basic rule is - the milder the oil, milder the food. Leccino, for example, is a great oil for fish dishes.
Istrian bjelica is the queen of bitterness and piquancy. This is a green oil, which has the smell of cut grass and even coastal pines, and the taste is bitter almond, rocket and green pepper. While trying these oils, Paola Radovčić brings to our table bruschetta made from local products. In addition to juicy summer vegetables, there are also bruschetta with blue fish and Istrian prosciutto, all with the addition of fresh figs and almonds.
The rounded and bitter blend of bjelica, buža, rosinjola and leccino is also a great oil for Istrian stronger dinners, and Hrvoje, an agronomy engineer who confirms such mixtures that reach the levels of oenological blends in olive growing, confirms that we are not mistaken. This success of bio-olive growing was recognized by the guide Flos Olei for 2020 who recommends this oil with appetizers based on beans, fish carpaccio, chicken salads, baked potatoes, vegetable soups, pasta with asparagus, brodetto, grilled cuttlefish, rabbit, barbecue, and with goat cheese.
As we talk, Izabela Janković, Paola's mother, who prepares sweets for visitors, peeks out of the open kitchen. Beautiful cakes come from her hands, which we saw for ourselves while enjoying a beautiful fig cake with dates and walnuts. A harmonious family story thus connects all the local tastes that everyone can enjoy when visiting Vrsar.
Trg Degrassi 14, 52450 Vrsar