The sweetest Istrian celebration, the event “Sweet Istria” in Vižinada, marked its silver jubilee in a worthy manner on Monday, August 14th.
The 25th edition of this all-Istrian showcase of traditional Istrian cakes featured an impressive collection of 241 homemade cakes. It were not just ladies baking the cakes, with 120 of the cakes baked by men.
The skill of crafting traditional Istrian cakes is being successfully passed down to younger generations, as among the competitors was an 11-year-old girl from Krasica, a 12-year-old girl from Oskoruša in the Bujština region, and even a 15-year-old boy.
The day before the grand celebration, an expert jury consisting of Sandra Živolić, Franjo Milotić (both culinary professors at the Eugen Kumičić Vocational School in Rovinj), Istra County Deputy Prefect Jessica Acquavita, gastro-journalist Davor Šišović, and Klaudija Pilato from the Concettino bakery-pastry shop evaluated all the cakes.
The judging took place in nine categories, and the champions in each category were announced as follows: Renata Gašparini from Višnjan for fritters, Marija Pastorčić from Pazin for sugar-coated almonds, Mileva Pastorčić from Vela Traba near Pazin for pastries, Nevija Gardoš from Krasica for bucolaj (traditional Istrian pastry), Danijela Koraca from the village of Vejaki near Višnjan for pincu (Easter bread), Dorjana Tončić from Livade for kroštule (crispy pastry), Jolanda Hrastić from Vela Traba near Pazin for povetica (nut roll), Nevija Lukšić from Pazin for pandešpanja (sponge cake), and Brigit Ferenac from the village of Ferenci near Vižinada for breskvice (peach-shaped cookies).
In the school sports hall in Vižinada, all the cakes were displayed and offered for tasting and charitable sale, with the funds collected going towards an outdoor classroom for the Vižinada Branch School.
The Sweet Istria event also showcased a sweet Istrian and world record: Alida Vadanjel from the pastry shop Antica in Pazin kneaded and baked the largest sugar-coated almond (cukerančić) in the world.
This mega cukerančić had dimensions of 60×40 cm, weighed 3.30 kg, and its preparation required 2 kg of flour, 0.7 kg of sugar, half a kilogram of butter, 2.5 dl of oil, and 10 eggs. The zest of 2 oranges and 4 lemons, as well as 5 dkg of ammonia, were also used. The largest cukerančić in the world was offered for tasting to the visitors of Sweet Istria after its presentation.
Guests from Barban presented the “barbanski kolač za na pir” (Barban cake for the “pir” holiday), prepared by Mirjana Prgomet, another traditional dessert that has been successfully revitalized and saved from obscurity.
During the evening, at the Maraston House, hostesses Davorka Ritoša and Laura Kešac demonstrated the preparation of pandešpanja, one of the most esteemed Istrian desserts made from just three ingredients. In the park near the old school, premium wines and oils from the Vižinada area were offered for tasting.
The sweet evening in Vižinada concluded with cultural and entertainment programs, featuring performances by the ZT Vižinada Brass Band, Replay band, and Mladen Grdović.
Today (Tuesday), the festivities in Vižinada continue with the celebration of the feast of Saint Mary the Great, accompanied by an evening concert by the Laguna band and Gustafi.