UNEXPECTED EXPERIENCE OF ZAGREB COUNTY
Feeling of warmth of a hundred-year-old tree under your palm, truffle hunting with the help of a trained tracker dog or wine tasting that encompasses all the senses? No, we are not talking about vacationing in Istria or experiences limited to the strict center of European capitals. Zagreb County hides a series of unexpected experiences that are almost impossible to retell. That is why they need to be experienced.
Close to the capital, in whichever direction you go, it is easy to come across gentle landscapes and impressive lookouts. But this area offers so much more than expected. Each of the three wine roads hides its surprises. The Plešivica wine road will treat your palate with top-quality sparkling wines, natural wines and amphora wines, and there is also the first Croatian country gourmet restaurant that uses only natural, local ingredients. The Samobor wine road is home to bermet, and the Zelina wine road is ruled by the Kraljevina variety (kraljevina meaning kingdom). If you turn off the wine road and head towards Ivanić Grad, you will encounter the experience of tasting wine enriched with urban music and art. If you find yourself in Rude, you will have the opportunity to taste the first protected gastronomic product in Zagreb County - rudarska greblica (miner's cake).
We mentioned truffles and yes, they can really be found in the soil of Turopolje forests and no, they are no different from the famous Istrian truffles. The only difference is perhaps that the Turopolje truffles will occasionally be on the menu of one of the oldest indigenous species of pigs, in addition to the menus of local restaurants! The Turopolje pig does not tolerate typical indoor breeding, but spends a full two years running in the woods, which is why its meat, interspersed with intermuscular fat, has been declared one of the highest quality foods.
Below the surface of the earth in the vicinity of Ivanić Grad, there is another valuable rarity: naphthenic oil, from which naphthalene is obtained by distillation, a mineral oil whose benefits for human health were also written about by Marco Polo. Today, Special Hospital for Medical Rehabilitation Naftalan uses this mineral oil and healing thermal water to help treat rheumatism, joint diseases and skin diseases, and for many it is a welcome detachment from classic wellness treatments.
Although the entire Zagreb County is within easy reach from the capital and as such perfect for a one day trip, to really immerse yourself in all the experiences hidden here, it is not out of the question to spend the night in one of the traditional or very modern holiday homes in this area. Whether you want to end your day in a Turopolje wooden house, with a fireplace and a romantic dinner with truffles that you gathered earlier that day… or watch the sunset from a terrace and toast with one of the bottles of fine wine of this region, unexpected experiences of Zagreb County are waiting for you to enjoy and share them with others.
TUROPOLJE PIG - A PROTEGE OF OAK FORESTS AND A FAVORITE OF GOURMETS
Once upon a time, in the area of Turopolje, there was a real small state within a state. It was the Noble municipality of Turopolje, founded in the 13th century. It all started with the privilege of king Bela IV, by which he appointed several Turopolje nobles and thus relieved them of all duties towards the city of Zagreb. Almost eight hundred years later, freedom is still valued in Turopolje, and it is enjoyed by no more and no less than - Turopolje pigs!
You will meet these pigs with an unusual, sympathetic appearance, running freely through the forest in search of hidden snacks such as roots, acorns, and with a little luck, a few truffles. The Turopolje pig is a very old breed, that originates from the wild European pig and was first mentioned in documents in the 14th century. It is recognizable by its characteristic thick, curly and bristly cream-colored hair with a few dark spots and large, semi-floppy ears. For centuries it ruled the oak forests of this area and fed generations, but at the end of the 20th century it almost disappeared and still belongs to the category of critically endangered species. Today, thanks to revitalization programs, its number is slowly but surely growing and it is hard to believe that at one point the number of Turopolje pigs dropped to only five.
One of the reasons for their avoidance of extinction is the fact that the Turopolje pig does not tolerate industrial indoor breeding, but needs forest nutrition and a lot of exercise, and it takes a full two years to reach maturity. However, it is precisely these facts, that industrial breeders consider a disadvantage of this breed of pig, that make it highly valued - especially from a gastronomic point of view. The flesh of the Turopolje pig is of a characteristic pink color and is interspersed with intermuscular fats, which gives it a special juiciness. Not to mention that a visit to Turopolje and small family farms is an opportunity to taste the famous Turopolje bacon that melts in your mouth, prosciutto or sausages from Turopolje pig meat, and if you come across a local restaurant that offers this rare and prized food, you can be sure that in front of you is a gastronomic experience worth remembering.
TUROPOLJE TRUFFLES - UNDERGROUND NOBILITY OF THE FOREST EMPIRE
Nobles once set foot in the Turopolje region a long time ago, and with every step they put this independent small state on the historical map of Croatia. Today, Turopolje puts the nobility of a completely different variety on the gastronomic map of the world: Turopolje truffles! This inconspicuous, but magnificent in taste and smell mushroom grows hidden from view, underground, between the roots of pedunculate oak and hazel of Turopolje forests.
Until recently, Turopolje truffles were a kind of an urban myth - many suspected that Turopolje truffles existed at all, while others speculated from afar that it was just a pale copy of the much more famous Istrian truffles. However, today Turopolje truffles are an increasingly well-known food appreciated among culinary experts in local restaurants in Turopolje, in Zagreb, and even in Istria!
When we talk about Turopolje truffles, we are talking about as many as 16 different types of Turopolje truffles. Thus, Tuber uncinatum, Tuber macrosporum, Tuber mesentericum, Tuber brumale, Tuber prigmenius bos, named after the extinct Turopolje cattle, and Tuber Kolić, named after its finder, are hidden under the surface of Turopolje groves.
Truffles can be found throughout the entire year, and if you decide to go truffle hunting in Turopolje, you will not get far without the help of truffle finder's best friend - a dog. Of course, these are very special dogs capable of smelling the presence of truffles 5 cm below the surface. They are carefully bred, selected and only then do they train the best nose among them to search with their guide.
After a successful search, the taste and smell of truffles should be enjoyed. Local specialties such as melenica, Turopolje spread, goose soup and goose rolls go perfectly with freshly grated Turopolje truffles and to really experience that, you just need to head in the direction of Turopolje.
ZAGREB COUNTY WINE ROADS - AN IDYLL POURED INTO EXPERIENCE
If the chance takes you to one of the wine roads of Zagreb County, you can be sure that you will have not only the experience of top wines, but also a series of incredible adventures, regardless of whether you are traveling with a special person, larger company or family.
The Plešivica Wine Road will take you straight among the magical hills along which kilometers of vineyards stretch out. In recent years, Plešivica has established itself as a serious wine region, and is most recognizable for its top-quality sparkling wines. In addition to sparkling wines, here you will find something completely unexpected - wines from the amphora. In line with world trends, more and more Plešivica winemakers are turning to completely natural production and the same goes for food. Inspired by a long tradition of producing their own food, which has been the standard here for many generations, Žumberak restaurants will delight you with local traditional and haute cuisine. In addition to the wine road, there is also the cheese road, numerous bike paths, and if you climb to the top of Plešivica, you will round off your experience with stunning views.
The Zelina Wine Road is ruled by the Kraljevina variety (kraljevina meaning kingdom). It is an autochthonous variety of wine that you will find only here and it is characterized by lightness and freshness and is therefore traditionally used for larger gatherings and is ideal for warm summer days. In addition to the Kraljevina, there is also Kraljica (the Queen), a sparkling wine made from the same variety. Zelina is also home to a traditional knights' tournament, and if you miss this medieval event, you can visit one of the local farms where the youngest will be entertained by domestic animals and a handful of outdoor activities. The green hills and vineyards, that once belonged to the counts, will welcome you with open arms, as well as the hosts of small farms, wineries and restaurants.
Samobor is a traditional picnic spot for the people of Zagreb, immortalized even in the Croatian cult film "Tko pjeva, zlo ne misli - Who Sings, Doesn't Think Evil". Today, in Samobor, top treats await you - and we don't just mean the frothy Samobor cream cakes! There is a traditional special aromatized wine called bermet, to which carob, raisins and figs are added during the fermentation process and wormwood, which gives bermet a characteristic bitter note. Unexpected Samobor flavor combinations don't stop there; muštarda is a mustard to which red grape jam and red wine are combined. The result is a spicy and sweet side dish to meat dishes. However, not all Samobor attractions are in a glass or on a plate - some are hidden deep underground, such as Grgos' Cave, in which you can take a walk under the guidance of the finder himself.
Ivanić Grad takes you along the paths of škrlet, a wine ideal with light dishes such as fish and pasta, but it will also take you to another unexpected experience that awakens all the senses while combining authentic and modern. The idea of combining wine and music, that affects the experience of aromas, tastes and associations of individual wines, was realized in the concept of wine tasting with a DJ.
Sometimes the day is too short for all that Zagreb County wine roads can offer. That is why there are holiday homes, from modern to traditional wooden ones, that will turn a trip into an unforgettable weekend experience.