Day 2 in Photos, Raw and Unfiltered:

Day 2 started with a road trip to Golas where San Tommaso is located. The mission here was to forage for wild asparagus, which is in season for about a month in the spring, and cook them into a soft scramble and risotto for lunch. 

The wild asparagus in Istria range from dark purple to green in color and are much skinnier than regular asparagus. To pick them, you snap, rather than pull, so that new ones can grow from the root.

Shouts to my pals at Fjallraven and Dela Cruz PR for setting me up with this sweet foraging gear.

Goran, our Croatian tourism rep, collecting the fruits of our labor. It costs about 6 bucks for a healthy handful of wild asparagus. We've got maybe around $3.00 here.

Nature for miles.

Endless beauty on this forage session.

V. cool tree with these hard shelled balls. Anyone know what these are called?

The farm fresh eggs in Croatia are top notch. Mix in-season wild asparagus and more Malvasia wine? Done. Janja, our host at the San Tommaso winery did an amazing job leading our forage session and cooking up our incredible lunch of wild asparagus scramble and risotto.

The road trip continued on to Histria Aromatica near the town of Bale.  Acres of lavender, sage and rosemary fields, olive groves and vineyards.

There are more than 300 varieties of herbs and spices grown here. 

Inside the Aromatica lab- these are a special breed of Spanish insects that are supposed to act like a natural Viagra when ingested.

I always try to bring home some local products wherever I travel. At the shop, I snagged some dried lavender (to be used in tea or in herbs de provence), lavender honey, sage honey, and Adriatic bath salts.

Boris from Histria Aromatica was a stellar host, making sure we left filled with lots of grappa and... you guessed it, Malvasia wine!

It was about time for an afternoon post-Malvasia nap but we powered on and continued to the largest city in Istria, Pula.

Being all touristy in the Amphitheatre. A UNESCO site, this is one of six coliseums in the world. Back when it was a functioning arena, it sat 23,000 people, now it seats 5000 concertgoers. Must be eerie watching a concert in a space where thousands were slaughtered.

In the basement of the amphitheatre, there's a fascinating museum. This is an olive grinder that was used to make olive oil.

A mound of canisters recovered from a ship, looking a lot like something else...

The ancient Roman Arch of Sergii (approx 27-29 BC) in Pula.

Up and over to Sisan, we stopped at Trapan for a wine-tasting.

A line-up of the Trapan wines tasted. My favorite was the Urobros Malvasia. It has a soft smokiness that I've never had in a wine before. I'm not a wine connoisseur, so I'd describe the wine as tasting like a delicious campfire. I regret not buying a case to bring home.

Earlier I had inquired about the Chinese population in Croatia and whether there were any Chinese restaurants in Istria and was told there was one called Peking in Pula. Dinner was in Pula, so I had to stop over and take a look. 

First course at Milan. Fresh anchovies and sardines in olive oil and lemon. So fresh and silky smooth, they just melt in your mouth. I could eat these everyday.

Grilled octopus with eggplant. Drizzled with that lovely, spicy Istrian olive oil.

Sepia ink risotto with sliced squid and parmesan.

The white fish reigns supreme in Croatia.

Another reason to love Istria- it's never just one dessert here. Strawberry mousse, orange, and coconut olive oil cake.

For more information on Istria, Croatia: