We arrived in the village to find a fireside dinner awaiting us at Stancija 1904, the 104-year-old villa owned by Draženka (“Dada”) and Rolf Moll. The couple turned out to be the perfect hosts, and learning to cook Istrian food with Dada was so comfortable that it felt like gearing up for a family feast, as if every day was Thanksgiving. One afternoon, she showed us how to shape the local pasta, fuži, rolling up the squares of dough around a very small dowel to produce penne-like tubes. Dada made it look easy. It wasn’t, but she laughed and told us to keep going. Tagging along with her to the provisioners in nearby Pula, my fellow student and I repeatedly helped make all the decisions about what to have for dinner, gleefully loading up at the fishmonger’s, the bakery, and the produce market. On the trip back to the estate, we stopped by a farm where Dada buys her goat cheese and eggs and had a quick look at the black-and-white-splotched goats that provide the milk for the cheese. The owner offered us a glass of her homemade wine and sent us away with the last of the season’s peaches. On other day trips, we visited lovely villages like Grožnjan, which has become something of an art colony. Dinners were accompanied by wines made from the local grapes Malvazia and Teran, which perfectly matched the rustic cuisine. (011-44-118-961-1554; mycroatia.co.uk; $3,102, double occupancy, for seven nights, including most meals)
What I Learned
In addition to rolling out fuži (which took a couple of tries), how to make delicious bread with rosemary sprigs rolled inside, to be discarded before eating.
Black truffles grow everywhere in the fall and are used in everything. Pairing them with cream or butter really draws out their flavor.
Before You Go
Dada’s classes are tailor-made. Once you know the size of your group (maximum ten), discuss your preferences in detail with My Croatia, her U.K. booking agent.