First We Eat Workshops: Istria, Croatia

 
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For two years running (and a third to look forward to this year!) we’ve had the distinct honor of cooking for guests of Eva Kosmas Flores’ First We Eat Photography and Food Styling workshops in Istria, Croatia.

Held at Villa Sancta Maria, a historic stone villa perched on a hill with lush green terraced hills and valleys unfolding endlessly below, the location is simply breathtaking. Istria is famed for its wine, cured ham and truffles and each fall, we’ve been lucky to visit during their annual truffle festival. So it’s basically heaven.

Each year, Eva assembles a group of the loveliest most talented cohosts, made up of fellow photographers, bloggers and tastemakers. We’ve had the pleasure of working alongside dream teams that have included Trisha Hughes of Go Eat Your Beets, Danielle Firle of Secret Supper, Lili Basic of Travelling Oven and Bea Lubas.

There there is the guests…oh, the guests! What a gift to be able to meet such kind, curious and adventurous souls from around the world. There have been attendees hailing from Lebanon, Poland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Dubai, Ukraine, India, the US and more. What rare and wonderful thing it is to watch friendships blossom and connect with those from vastly different cultures who are united by a love of food, travel and beauty.

During the retreat, we explore charming hilltop and seaside towns and the gorgeous countryside, but our journey always begins in the capitol, Zagreb, at its beating heart: the Dolac Market. Whenever we travel somewhere, we always seek out local farmers markets, and this is one of our absolute favorites. It positively bursts with Mediterranean bounty: figs, lemons, olive oil, tomatoes, squash, peppers, pomegranates, nuts, grapes, greens, handmade cheeses and pastas, charcuterie and so much more.

This is our favorite kind of cooking. We don’t have a menu planned before hand, but rather just load up on whatever beautiful produce that calls to us, then let the ingredients inspire us. That way, each lunch and dinner we prepare is a reflection of the landscape, what grows in the region and what’s in season, what we’re craving right then and there. It’s an absolute dream, made even more glorious by the huge open wood-burning hearth where we cook our meals, imbuing our dishes with a little smoke and old world magic.

We can’t wait to return again later this year to cook for Eva’s workshop. We love it so much, we’re also teaching our own open fire cooking workshop in Istria! Nothing would make us happier than to cook, eat, drink and explore our way through this enchanted place with you. Hope to see you at the table.

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Photos by Eva Kosmas Flores and Lili Basic