Olive oil and noble wines from the sunny hills of the green destination of Koper are well-renowned even amongst the strictest international judges, and are constantly awarded the most important world prizes. Delicious local dishes such as “fuži” with truffles, “fritaja” with wild asparagus, prosciutto, “bobiči” and other genuine Istrian dishes can be savoured in numerous restaurants, tourist farms, and local inns of the green countryside of Koper.
Culinary specialties and home-made Istrian flavours can also be discovered during various culinary events taking place in the municipality of Koper throughout the year. The international festival of desserts and sweets “Sweet Istria” which traditionally takes place in Koper in September, provides numerous opportunities to taste Istrian desserts and also savour other Slovenian and international sweets. The Farming Days of Slovenian Istria will serve you homemade treats from Slovenian farms, honey, charcuterie, and other homemade products. During the May events “Koper in the palm of your hand” and “Refosco Festival”, held in Marezige, and during the “Scents of Istria” festival held in Krkavče in September, you will also be able to taste different culinary treats, wines, and other local delicacies.
Furthermore, Koper also presents numerous other gastronomical events. They include, for example, the festival “Paninfest” celebrating sandwiches in Koper, the “Open Cuisine” (Odprta kuhna) culinary market, Viva la pasta!, “Countryside comes to town” (Podeželje v mestu), “From Winegrowers to Olive Growers” (Od vinarja do oljkarja), the traditional celebration of St Martin, and other events.
Olive oil with protected geographical indication produced in the Slovenian Istria is lauded by even the strictest international judges. Extra virgin olive oil produced by numerous olive growers from Koper prides itself in its characteristic golden-green colour, exceptional scent and magnificent taste, which makes it indispensable in Mediterranean cuisine. As a result of its numerous useful properties, the olive oil is called “liquid gold” in Istria.
The wine varieties Refosco, Malvasia and Moscatel are among the most well-known and widespread wine varieties in the wine-growing region of Slovenian Istria. Refosco has an intense, ruby-red colour and a rich flavour, while Malvasia, the queen of Istrian white wines, will astonish you with its distinct scent and bright yellow colour, intertwined with green tones. Wine-growers and wine cellars in Koper produce different varieties and styles of wine which are being awarded the highest prizes both at home and abroad.
Fish and other sea delicacies
Fish, shellfish and other sea delicacies are an important part of the Istrian culture. Traditional sea dishes which are a part of the Istrian cuisine are fish “na šavor” (fried smaller types of fish such as sardines and anchovies, marinated in a preparation of vinegar and onion), mussels “buzara”, fish stew and, of course, fish and calamari, squid or other molluscs prepared in various ways.
Istrian prosciutto is one of the most popular charcuterie products. In the Istria, prosciutto is prepared with a special process. Nowadays, it is protected and well-known throughout the world. Prosciutto is usually served with cheese, olives, and homemade bread.
In Istria, people also love to eat it lightly fried in olive oil, and accompany it with a glass of Refosco. It is also a very common addition to different dishes.
Fritaja (Istrian frittata)
Since time immemorial, eggs have been one of the elements of various dishes. Fritaja, also known as frtalja, is one of the most common and popular egg dishes. It resembles an omelette, where eggs are whipped, salted, and fried in olive oil. In Istria, fritaja is prepared with wild asparagus (also known as šparga), truffles, sausages, prosciutto, and other products.
Bakala (salt cod)
Bakala is a cold, thick spread made of dried salt cod, garlic, and olive oil. In Istria, bakala has been prepared since the Venetian Republic. Traditionally, it is prepared on the night before Christmas. There are several ways of preparing bakala: in tomato sauce (red bakala), with potatoes, in a soup, fried, marinated and, the most common manner, white bakala.
Bobiči (broad beans)
Bobiči are a typical Istrian minestrone. There are different ways of preparing bobiči, but all of them contain maize grain. The other two basic ingredients are beans and potatoes.
Rizi-bizi (rice dish)
Rizi-bizi is a simple Istrian dish made of peas and rice. In Istria, rizi-bizi is neither a minestrone nor a risotto, but a mix of both. This dish also began appearing on tables throughout the Istria during the Venetian Republic.
Kroštole or hroštule are fried pastries of a characteristic shape that has always been made in Istria during big festivities and celebrations. There are numerous different recipes for making them, but they are always made out of flour, sugar, fat or oil, and brandy or white wine.
Fritule, fritole or fancli are a typical Istrian dessert which is mostly prepared during Christmas and at carnival time. In Slovene, we call them miške (mice) due to their shape. The dish is a type of fried sweet dough, the flavour of which is reminiscent of doughnuts. Some people enrich their miške with raisins or yoghurt.