Friday, December 16, 2011

Wine, Olives: Door to door

This post doesn't really fit anywhere in order, but I wanted to be sure to post it.

Croatia is known for several things food-wise.

First of all truffles. I didn't know much about truffles before we visited. Like how ugly they are. Or that they grow underground. Or that they are more often hunted with dogs than pigs. One of the guide books we read mentioned that one of the restaurants we ate at is often visited by the family's truffle dogs. Unfortunately, there were no pups to be seen. Also, Jon doesnt think Josie would make a very good truffle dog. His loss.

Truffles are awesome. But the real thing I wanted to write about was wine (and to a lesser degree, olives, but those are gross). Croatia's climate makes a lot of the country, in particular Istria, perfect for growing grapes. This means that lots of families own vineyards and bottle their own wine. However, instead of selling it in stores, many sell out of their homes. Same goes with olives (and olive oil).

Which is awesome. And weird. You're driving down the road and there are signs with arrows pointed down little lanes and rutted tracks that just say "vino" or "oliva." To get to said wine, you just turn down the lane and hope to find it. We were nervous to do this at first. I mean, what if the shop was closed. Shop? Regular hours? What was I thinking? More often than not, you pull up to someone's home and knock on their door, hoping you don't catch them in the middle of dinner or something.

The first few places we found were closed (?) one was home. On a whim, we stopped off on our way back to Porec from Rovinj and followed a small dusty road. It looked about as open as the other places we had tried, despite the cars out front. But then a little girl (maybe 6 or 7) appeared. She kind of stared at us for a second...who am I kidding with "us"? She stared at Jon because I was too chicken to get out of the car. He shrugged and stuttered "uhh....vino?"

The girl turned and ran. From inside the house we heard her yelling "Paapppiiii!" Oh dear.

Before long a man appeared. We shook hands and he invited us into their cellar. We learned that they didn't hear us pull up because they were cleaning up the results of a failed champange bottling experiment. It was actually quite the set up. (There were another four vats on the other side)

They let us sample all of the wines, explaining the types of grapes that went into each and telling us about the family's business. As we debated which to buy, the wife appeared and set out olives for us to try. We put on our best smiles and ate a couple. You know, they weren't that bad for olives. Still not something either of us would eat willingly. The olive oil was so-so. We washed it down with more wine.

We passed as politely as we could on the olives, but bought a few...a half dozen bottles of wine. I was the perfect amount to fit in the box. How could we not?

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