This year we adapt the expo to COVID-19 situation
Over the years, the annual event Days of Zigante Truffles has become a trademark of central Istria in the autumn. Ever since the beginning, we have done our best to celebrate the white truffle season and bring it closer to every guest. Even though our lives have been gravely affected by the current situation and the limitations we live by, Zigante Truffles’ mission is to continue to enjoy each day by savoring good food and good wine.
It is said that these precious nuggets used to reach gods and witches, while today most of them end up in gourmet specialities for ‘ordinary mortals’.
Truffles are a variety of edible fungi growing underground, mostly besides roots of trees such as oak, beech, poplar, willow and elm. They are shaped like tubers and they are often compared with potatoes when it comes to their appearance. They usually grow from the size of a cherry up to the size of an apple, but sometimes significantly bigger specimens are found (like the famous Zigante Millenium weighing 1310 g). In the culinary world the most popular are the two basic varieties: black and white truffle.
Truffles are picked solely after they are ripe. The search or the so called hunting is led by a professional truffle hunter, while the truffles are found by trained dogs with a subtle sense of smell. In the past this was done by pigs, but nowadays this is rare. Namely, even though pigs are very skilled in finding truffles, all they find they often eat by themselves.
Truffles can also be described as gourmet fungi because their fragrance is tart, intensive, earthy securing the food a unique flavour. They are used in small quantities which are still sufficient to turn every dish into a gourmet experience. It is not easy do describe the truffles aroma, and thus associations vary from “forest floor” and “chocolate and soil mix” to “old socks” and they are often accompanied with the epithet of eroticism. Regardless of the varying comments, the pursuit for truffles is always multiply higher than the demand, and thus the price can reach incredible 2000 Euro per kilogram
The Istrian white truffle is one of the most renowned in the world, and gourmets and culinary connoisseurs are increasingly attracted by black truffles as well.
The discovery of the Istrian white truffle occurred some 80 years ago with the development of Parezana (narrow-gauge railway) which connected Poreč and Trieste. At that time a private company, located around the very centre of vintage – Livade, started to exploit and sell truffles. Namely, the white Istrian truffle can be found in almost all valleys of the region, but most truffles can be found in the forests stretching in the river Mirna valley.
Due to the continuous work on improving their status, Istrian truffles are increasingly strengthening their position in the preparation of premium culinary specialties arising from traditional local dishes.
After picking, every fresh truffle must be thoroughly cleansed from dirt with a soft brush (like a soft toothbrush) and with running cold water. Truffles are sensitive organisms which are dehydrating and losing their scent so it is best to consume them as soon as possible. Since moisture is the biggest enemy of truffles, before and between uses, it is best to wrap the dry truffle in a clean paper towel, close it tightly in a jar and store it in the refrigerator door. With daily changes of the paper towel, this storage method guarantees a high quality of the esteemed white truffle for approximately one week, and of the black truffle for approximately two weeks. When the truffle becomes soft, it must be consumed right away because that is a sign that it reaches its final ripeness.
In these circumstances, the health of our guests, associates and employees must come first, so we reorganized Days of Zigante truffles to be completely in accordance with epidemiological measures. The event will be oriented towards the Restaurant Zigante, where our guests can taste a specially prepared menu based on fresh white and black truffle, and towards the specialized Zigante store, where you will find fresh white and black truffle and our wide range of products. This will allow our visitors to enjoy dishes painstakingly planned and prepared just for them, as well as to try their hand at preparing truffle-based delicacies on their own.
Although visitors will not see a large white tent upon their arrival this year, the town of Livade and our staff will welcome them with open arms and offer them plenty of things to enjoy. We believe and hope that the Days of Zigante Truffles will soon return to the form we’ve become accustomed to over the years, with our partner exhibitors and visitors from all over the world.
ZIGANTE TARTUFI almost a quarter of a century with truffles
Giancarlo Zigante has spent his life with truffles, but during the past 25 years he was dedicated to a mission – to familiarize with truffles all those who don’t have the luck to live in the Centre of the truffles world as he does.
The discovery of the biggest truffle marked the beginning of the business success of the Zigante company, today the leading name in the world of Croatian truffles
The headquarters of Zigante tartufi d.o.o., the leading name in processing and selling truffles in Croatia, is located in Plovanija near Buje. The business building and the plant for processing and packaging products from truffles was formally opened by the President of the Republic of Croatia Mr Stjepan Mesić in June 2008.
The production in the Zigante plant is fully automated and the overall technological equipment and the employees’ expertise are the guarantee for the production of unique products on the basis of truffles which the buyers can enjoy the whole year long.
The production portfolio contains in total approximately 50 truffle-based products and it is a confirmation of continuous work along with best raw materials. There is the white autumn truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico) and the black summer truffle (Tuber AestivumVitt) from forest areas of the Istrian region. Truffles are canned whole, minced or sliced, as individual products or with added ingredients such as mushrooms, olives, honey, olive oil and the like. Products processed in this manner make it possible for a wide range of buyers to prepare top quality dishes on the basis of truffles in a short period of time and at affordable prices.
The Zigante Delice assortment is also produced on the same production line. Delice is a product range produced solely from the best and 100 % natural ingredients, but without truffles. It includes edible boletus, olive and rosemary creams, fresh tomato sauces with mushrooms and aromatic Mediterranean herbs, olive oil with rosemary, basil, hot pepper and lemon flavour and sweets such as apricot and fig jam as well as acacia honey with added dried fruits and nut fruits.
In addition to truffles and products based on truffles, the company is also producing five types of extra virgin olive oil from indigenous Istrian varieties (Istarska bjelica, lecciono, frantoio, buža and blend) as well as six labels of premium wines (Malvazija Istarska, Rose Castagna, Cabernet Sauvignon, S.Stefano, Terano S.Stefano Gran Riserva and sparkling wine Brut). In total more than 50 various products with or without truffles are produced in five production lines: Standard, Premium, Gastro, Delice and Private label.
There are many excellent restaurants but solely Zigante is fully dedicated to creating unique dishes with truffles rising the Istrian tuber to the position it deserves
The Zigante Restaurant was opened with the goal of presenting guests with the possibility of using truffles in culinary art and it is the first Croatian restaurant specialized for dishes with truffles. Located in the very centre of Livade, in a close proximity to one of the most fertile natural habitat of truffles, Zigante has a location like not many restaurants worldwide.
Throughout the year the restaurant is offering a carefully designed menu based on fresh truffles, created primarily in accordance with the harvest season of Istrian truffles. Thus dishes with fresh black truffles are offered throughout the year while the one with the rare white truffle are prepared solely between October and December. The unique meals are accompanied by a well-stocked wine shop with many domestic and foreign wines.
The restaurant chefs and sommeliers are holders of many international awards for their work, and amongst others, in 2005 Zigante won the first place in the “Good Croatian restaurants” category. Therefore it is no wonder that this restaurant located in a small Istrian village is visited by guests from all over the world.
In addition to the unique menu, the Zigante Restaurant also offers the organization of business and family lunches and dinners as well as tastings.
Adjoining to the restaurant, in a renovated Istrian stone house, are the modern equipped four-star Zigante rooms for a comfortable vacation in a typical Istrian rural place. There are also package offers including various specialties on the basis of fresh truffles and many other surprises for a complete experience of the world of Istrian truffles in addition to accommodation.
CHEF DAMIR MODRUŠAN
Chef Damir Modrušan has made with the Zigante Restaurant to the TOP restaurant in Croatia, which has become well-known in the neighbouring countries as well. The selection of fresh ingredients Damir uses in his everyday cuisine is always diverse. Keeping in touch with truffle seasons and seasonal ingredients, he creates the menu which true experience is gained when paired with premium wines.
Phone: +385 (0)52 664 302