On our recent visit to Istria, the northernmost province of Croatia we tore ourselves away from the sunlounger to explore the coastline at Limski Kanal (also known as Lim Fjord or Limski Channel). This deep sea channel cuts inland with steeply sloping wooded sides and caves cutting into the limestone cliffs.
Due to the purity of the water here, the channel has been designated a Marine Reserve and is known for the mussels and oysters that are farmed here. There’s a little hut where you can buy the fresh shellfish and naturally a couple of restaurants that specialise in seafood.
We had visited the town of Rovinj that morning, passed many restaurants along the roadside specialising in spit roast pork which looked tempting, but I was determined that this was the place to enjoy some seafood of the region. As the day was thundery and the rain broke just as we drove down to the channel, it seemed quite appropriate to retire for a couple of hours to the restaurant and enjoy our seafood until the showers passed over.
Of the two restaurants we could see I headed for the one called Viking, a little set back from the water, as I had noticed it recommended on a food website. The restaurant, though unassuming from the outside was a ‘proper’ restaurant, by which I mean that it was packed with local and visiting families and not at all the sort of place where the waiter sizes you up as a tourist and treats you accordingly.
We found a table and watched piles of shellfish and platters of grilled fish passing by, all being enjoyed by large family groups and couples alike. This was obviously the place to taste ultra fresh oysters since they literally had metres to come from the channel and I just ordered three for a little taster. The first time I tasted oysters was as an impressionable exchange student eating out with my French host family at a restaurant in Arcachon, near Bordeaux where platters of seafood were brought out as a Sunday treat. This must be proof that travel broadens the taste buds as well as the mind. I don’t think I’d eaten them again since.
Those oysters slipped down with a salty taste of the sea with a twist of lemon. My husband had some mussels cooked in a wine sauce which he mopped up with bread and my daughter adventurously tried the octopus which was familiar from our Greek holidays. Unfortunately my son couldn’t be persuaded and stuck to the lasagne. Then we shared a plate of mixed grilled fish which was also delicious, all washed down with some chilled white Istrian wine – the wine in this region is excellent.
When the meal was over we strolled along a little by the channel where there are some jetties and a small beach for swimming. Although the rain had stopped, it was still overcast so we didn’t swim, although it looked inviting. Perhaps the best way to see the channel is on a boat trip, either from one of the towns further up the coast, such as Porec, where you spend half a day in the channel, swimming off the boat, or alternatively you can take a boat trip from near the car park, souvenir stalls and restaurants, to go out and see the panorama of the channel from the water. I think the latter option is better if you want to also have time to enjoy a seafood meal like we did.
Although on this part of our holiday in Croatia we spent more time eating than seeing the channel, it was a really beautiful place to get out and enjoy a few hours.