How To View Our House For Sale…

How To View Our House For Sale…

So, you want to move abroad. Istria could be the place and we’ve whetted your appetite, with our property for sale website. What now?

We could be wrong, but we’re assuming that you don’t live here already and that, like we did, you will want to view the house and the area, if you are serious about a potential purchase. We’re very aware that it’s not going to be as simple as viewing a house in the UK – or wherever you are based – but we have done it ourselves and so we hope we can help make it as simple and as stress-free as possible for you. You may be the kind of buyer who’s looked at our website and that’s it for you. In which case, we’d better start packing our bags!

However, we’re guessing that you will want to do at least one viewing and we think this can be done in a couple of ways, in normal times. See below. But these times aren’t quite normal and so we want to introduce you to our safe viewings in these days of Covid-19…

Safe Viewings

We have prepared a virtual tour of our home, where we’ll walk you through the house, room by room and the outside area. We are currently updating this virtual tour, so please email if you would like to view the original one, in the meantime. If this then whets your appetite, we can then arrange to delve deeper via phone call, Zoom or FaceTime or WhatsApp. We’ll also be able to answer any questions you have in real time.

We would still welcome serious viewings in person, but we would obviously insist on all safety measures being adhered to, including the wearing of masks and use of hand sanitiser. In a move that is just not us, because we are very much “people people”, we’d also request, sadly, no hand-shaking and no touching of anything around the house. As the visit would be relatively short, we would ask that our bathrooms not be used. We are so very sorry that we need to ask these things, but we would much prefer to be safe than sorry…

Under Your Own Steam

You might decide to incorporate a viewing of our home with a break in Istria. If so, we can advise you on flights, car hire, hotels, apartments – basically whatever you need to know. When we know that you have a definite date for coming out, we would then provide you with all the information you will need to find the house. For obvious reasons, we have not included such details on the website as we will only share this information with people who are definitely interested in taking the next step. We would give you a comprehensive tour of the house and answer all questions as honestly as we can. We would then suggest places you could visit to get a “feel” for Istria.

Under Our Steam

If we are honest, we did feel a little bit daunted when we set off from Manchester to come and view a house in a country we didn’t know. We did cope and look where we are now. But, we know that for some people it might be easier to do it with our help. Therefore, we can offer the following service:

We will have communicated with you prior to your arrival by phone and/or email and will meet you at the airport, or wherever you arrive, within reason. If your stay will be a short one, we would bring you back to the house in our car, and if previously arranged, you would be our guest in our home. If your stay was going to be longer than a couple of days, if required, we would help you to book additional accommodation by recommending places we know to be of a high standard. During your stay with us, we would provide meals and take you on a number of trips around the peninsula, so that you could get a real “feel” for Istria. Should you choose to view our home in this way, we would discuss the finer details with you prior to your trip. To cover our costs (petrol, food, drink, our time etc.), a charge of £150 (for two people) per night, would be payable, in advance. Please note we can only offer this service for a maximum of two nights. Should you subsequently purchase this house, this fee will be refunded back to you, in full.

What are you waiting for?

We’re ready to pack our bags. Are you ready to pack yours? Contact us here.

(PS – in the image above, we’d just completed strimming the grass, leaving the patches of wildflowers. It grows quickly over the summer, and needs to be taken right back, so for the first couple of days after cutting, can look a bit scorched. But the green soon returns!)

Information for Potential Travel & Viewings

TRAVEL INFORMATION FROM CROATIAN VILLA HOLIDAYS WEBSITE – UPDATED ON 4/6/21. PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU CHECK FOR TRAVEL UPDATES, FROM YOUR COUNTRY OF DEPARTURE, PRIOR TO MAKING A DEFINITE VIEWING APPOINTMENT.

Restrictions applying to tourists arriving in Croatia

Croatia accepts all foreign travellers. Croatia is open to all foreign tourists provided one of the following certificates can be shown on entry:

  • A negative PCR or rapid antigen test dated no more than 48 hours prior to arriving in Croatia.
  •  A certificate showing that you have had your second vaccine at least 14 days prior to arriving in Croatia (with Johnson and Johnson vaccine a single jab is enough).
  •  A certificate issued by a doctor confirming you have recovered from COVID not more than 180 days and not less than 11 days prior to arrival in Croatia.

Children under 7 don’t need a negative test if their parents have one of the above certificates. Quarantine or self-isolation is not required on arrival with only very limited exceptions. Currently travellers arriving from South Africa, Brazil, India and Zanzibar must comply with a 14 day period of self-isolation in the place where they are staying.
If you arrive in Croatia without one of the certificates listed above you can take a test on arrival and must then self-isolate until you get the results.

Other conditions for entry to Croatia

If you are travelling from outside the EU you must have an economic interest for wishing to come to Croatia. This includes having pre-booked holiday accommodation. Holiday accommodation includes hotels, villas and holiday homes, apartments, camp site pitches and charter yachts. You will need to be prepared to show documentation at the border that you have pre-booked accommodation. If you are travelling from within the EU you do not need to have pre-booked your accommodation. Only the COVID certificates listed above are required.

Enter Croatia Form

The Croatian authorities introduced (29/05/2020) an online form which can be completed with all your travel and accommodation details. You can complete this form in advance and submit it online. The data will be stored and matched with your passport details when you enter Croatia. This will speed your entry at the border.  The form can be found on this link: Enter Croatia form.  This takes you to a page where you can select the language in which you want to complete the form. You can select one of ten languages. These include English, German, French, Italian, Polish and Croatian.  After submitting the form you will receive an email acknowledgement. All travellers should complete this form.

Spicy Spanish Sausage Stew

Spicy Spanish Sausage Stew

I like nothing better than a one pot dish, into which I can just chuck everything and leave it to get on with cooking itself. Recipes like this one, also have the advantage of being easy on the washing up, as the stew is just turned out into big bowls. Perfect!

What You’ll Need :

  • Three or four large potatoes, cubed
  • Two quartered onions – for added sweetness, red are best
  • Sausages – for this particular stew, we used chorizo sausages, chopped into chunks. In the past I’ve used veggie sausages and these work as well, as the spices and seasonings do give the stew a kick
  • Mixed peppers – red, green & yellow for colour – cut up into large chunks
  • One can of butter beans
  • White wine
  • Vegetable stock (a mug full is enough)
  • Olive oil
  • Spicy paprika
  • Chilli flakes
  • Salt & pepper

What You’ll Need To Do :

  • Peel and cut the potatoes into cubes and put into an ovenproof dish with two onions, roughly quartered.
  • Cover with olive oil, chilli flakes, paprika and salt & pepper and mix together. Cook for about 30 mins, until the onions begin to char
  • Add the peppers and push the sausage chunks down into the mix. Add the veggie stock and enough white wine to cover everything
  • Cook for about an hour and then add the butter beans – these help to thicken the white wine juice – cooking for a further 10-15 minutes. by which time the top of the dish should be beginning to blacken & char

Served up on its own, it’s a pretty substantial meal, but crusty bread, rice and pasta are great accompaniments too. Get your bowl, a glass of wine and curl up in front of the TV – or, when the weather improves, get outside and do it al-fresco.

 

April in Istria

April in Istria

We’ve realised that there is little point in trying to predict the weather in April in Istria. This our fourth April here and previously, we’ve had fierce Bura winds coming down from Slovenia. Torrential rain. Soaring temperatures. And this year, just to be different, snow blizzards. Only one day of snow, but enough to put out the electricity on multiple occasions throughout the day and cover everything in a thick blanket of white. Including our beautiful hyacinths, which had been standing tall and proud.

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

The tallest of the hyacinths suffered the most, as the snow came so fast and thick we didn’t have time to do much apart from cover the bed with plastic sheeting – the weight of the snow crushed them and there wasn’t much chance of them recovering, so they were cut and the house now smells gorgeous. The other bulbs seem to be rallying, so we’re talking nicely to them every morning.

We knew the snow was forecast, as it has been a few times since the new year, but we thought it would be like it always – a few flurries and then nothing more. How wrong we were! Our day in photos…

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

The snow fell consistently for about seven hours, with strong winds whipping the snow flurries up against the house. Thankfully, after doing a bit of deforestation earlier in the year, we still had a lot of wood for burning and so the woodburner was cranked up. Candles also had to be lit as it was dark, and we didn’t know how long it would take until the electricity was back to normal. This was the kind of day we were wishing for in the depths of January, but not in April!

Then, as quickly as the snowy weather had arrived, it changed. The light changed and things suddenly seemed brighter in the garden.

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

The snow has all but gone now and we think that’s the excitement over for this year. However, April being April, we know there will still be some weather surprises. Rain is due over the weekend, and one thing we think we do know now, is that when rain is forecast in this spring month, it’s generally not just a shower. We will have torrential downpours over the course of a few days – it’s what we now know nature does to kick start the explosion of green that happens at this time of year. So, it might be a week or so yet before we’re sunbathing on the renovated loungers or eating al fresco, but this crazy weather is a sign that winter is over and summer is around the corner. Not long until this will be the view from the house…

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

Our (full time) home is for sale, as we have found another property, very nearby, to renovate. If you would like to find out more, we have a very comprehensive website, as well as a dedicated Twitter account and Facebook page. The renovation part of this blog also details our journey from the day we moved into the house. No white-washing, no little white lies and cover-ups – it’s all there as we believe that if you making a big purchase like a house, especially if abroad, you need ALL of the facts, not just the gloss. If you have any questions, or want any further information, I’d be happy to answer anything via email – helen@escapetoistria.com

 

 

Ca’n Llimona, Soller, Mallorca

Ca’n Llimona, Soller, Mallorca

This restaurant is probably known, and frequented by, all of our friends who’ve ever been to Sóller, but just in case you, like us, didn’t know about it, here’s the low-down on Ca’n Llimona.

Tucked away down a side street called Carrer de la Victoria, just off the main drag, Carrer de sa Lluna, it could be easy to miss. The frontage is pretty but it it’s quite a small frontage and so doesn’t really stand out, especially if you pass by when it’s closed. However, we were recommended that we eat here, by the hotel we were staying in – more about them in next blog – and so we decided to have dinner here. We stayed in Soller in mid-May so still quite early in the season, and the restaurant wasn’t busy but this gave us a much better chance to have a mooch and actually speak to Claudia, the owner and head chef. Her passion for what she does is palpable, as she explains the menu, the methods and the inspiration and design for the restaurant. Which, interiors-wise, is beautiful, with a real fusion feel of being in both Spain and Morocco.

Everything is mix & match, which when done well, is just lovely. Painted wooden chairs and tables, display crates, fresh lemons on tables, an apothecary cabinet to display the wines, Spanish tiles, candles, glass lanterns. Everything that I just love in one place.

When life gives you lemons, the place to go to is Ca’n Limona…

The menu is very small – home made pasta dishes and sauces only, and a small range of home made desserts. Do not let this put you off, as you will be missing out on an amazing gastronomic experience. The pasta is freshly made every day by Claudia, and she then cooks it and serves it. What a woman! When you make your choice, the uncooked pasta is presented to you on wooden trays, prior to cooking. A really nice touch, I think. We chose the spinach and ricotta ravioli with a rich tomato based sauce and the lemon tagliatelle with pesto and parmesan, both served with the juiciest, freshest tomato salad. Incredibly simple, but so well executed and the taste was out of this world…

The wine we chose was La Sastreria, a very Spanish palatable dry white – perfect with the pasta and with prettiest label I’ve seen…

All in all, an exceptional dining experience, which just goes to show you don’t need to be all fancy-pants. Sometimes, simple is best. Or, as we always say over at We Are Life Design, less is more

The First Sign Of Spring

The First Sign Of Spring

Without realising, until very recently that it’s actually become an annual tradition, there’s a default meal we always make when the first warm days and lighter evenings arrive. It goes back to when we lived in West Didsbury, in Manchester and those first few days of warm sunshine, after a long winter, usually meant we’d fling open the French doors, get out the garden furniture and eat outside, no matter how chilly it got later. And after a winter of carb loaded stews, soups, curries and although usually delicious, always quite heavy food, we always craved a salad. Not a summer one with delicate leaves and light dressing, as it generally wasn’t quite warm enough for that kind of salad. No, what we wanted was the kind that still was substantial enough to withstand a chill in the air, but be a cold dish, with salad ingredients. I think this started out as being made from what we had in the cupboards/fridge at the time, but it definitely wasn’t from a recipe I followed, so the ingredients do change.

Easter Monday 2021 was a lovely warm spring day and we had everything necessary to knock up our first Spring Salad of the year – with enough left over for a working lunch the next day. If you fancy giving it a try, here’s what was included :

  • New potatoes – cubed and boiled, then left to cool
  • Hard boiled eggs, quartered
  • Ripe, ready to eat avocado, chopped roughly
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Thinly sliced red onion (or sliced spring onions if you want a less intense flavour)
  • Pitted black olives
  • Tuna (I used a tin of smoked tuna, from the Greek range in Lidl) and/or chopped anchovies
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Olive oil and salt and pepper

There’s no fanciness to the way we do this salad – everything is piled into a big bowl, mixed and drizzled with olive oil. It’s very tasty on it’s own, and because it is actually quite a substantial salad, you don’t really need anything else to accompany it. It’s great as a very quick meal to make for friends and if bulked up with crusty bread or pittas and hummus, it’s a winner as it’s quick, easy and good on the washing up. It also looks very pretty as a centre piece because of the colours.

spring salad, istria

Oh, and the working lunch the next day? Yes, we did have plenty left over which had chilled over night in the fridge. Perfect to eat as an unexpected April snow blizzard raged outside…

Easter 2021

Easter 2021

It really only seems a couple of weeks ago that it was Christmas, and yet here we are, having just had Easter weekend. Sometimes we feel that we don’t seem to do much with our time, but with a quarter of the year already gone and the fruits of our labours beginning to show in the garden, I think that we must occupy ourselves quite well, despite not really – until very, very, very recently – being able to really go anywhere. However, slowly, slowly things are beginning to awaken. Although Istria is still in a kind of lock down state, restaurants and bars which have outside areas have started to re-open and tourists are beginning to return. From 1st April, people who have been vaccinated or have a negative PCR or EU-approved Antigen test, can enter Croatia. We’ve started seeing cars from different countries – definitely not as many as we’d normally see at this time of year, but there is something nice about seeing a license plate other than from Croatia.

We’re spending a fair bit of time in the garden, getting it ready for the summer. And hopefully, for new owners. The lavender plants are now bedded in and the crocus bulbs are beginning to push up through the soil. Where we’ve cleared the trees, we’ve sown wild flower seeds and these are now beginning to show. No sign of the sunflowers, yet, though. The dahlias have all been potted and have been sitting in the warm spring sunshine. Under the well room windows, we have a long raised bed which is now filled with varieties of hyacinths – the blues and purples are utterly gorgeous, and the aroma is just intoxicating.

Good Friday was glorious – very sunny and very warm, so we took the opportunity to begin the job of finishing off the shed which we built last year. When it was constructed and painted, it took quite a long time and I think we were just a bit of sick of working on it, and so a top coat was never applied inside and the door, on the inside, only had one coat of satinwood, so it was all looking a bit sorry for itself. Also, we wanted to investigate why wasps were beginning to find the shed interesting – everything was taken out as we thought there might be a nest. No nest in sight, but an empty shed, so we decided to crack on and get it finished. I didn’t want a shed in the garden to be filled with tools and be a bit of a mess – we have an external cellar that can accommodate work stuff, so the idea has always been to use it for storage of sun bed pads, seat cushions, the hammock – the kind of things we’d use throughout the summer and need easy access to. As well as sitting pretty in a garden we’re now investing a lot of time and effort into. I’ve always been taken by this photo and all along this has been my shed inspiration…

Over Easter, we made good headway with finishing the shed. All of the paint pots and tools have a new home in the cellar and now everything is easy to find. It felt good getting the cushions, pads, throws and hammock out of their winter wrapping and getting order in a little space which we think we finally come into its own over the summer. Hanging baskets, bursting with lilac and white and purple petunias have added immediate colour and our purple clematis has been repositioned against the side of the shed, and this will hopefully grow up and over.

The garden furniture has had an Easter makeover too. The table and chairs – originally brown, but spray painted in an anthracite colour by us – have been spruced up. Two years of sun and rain had weathered them and the colour was starting to fade, but they look as good as new now. Equally, the sun loungers – originally brown wood – were sprayed at the same time as the table and chairs, but were also faded and weather beaten. It’s proving to be quite a slow job, as we’re finally doing them properly – tightened, washed, sanded, two coats – but the one that is almost finished is looking so much better now that it’s been painted in the same soft blue satinwood as all of the exterior woodwork.

We could also finally actually eat outside of our own house this weekend, and after a stop off at the new renovation to begin making a plan with our builder, we had our first visit of the year to our local Konoba in Oprtalj. Overlooking hills and valleys and vineyards, with a sliver of The Adriatic in the distance, it is in the most perfect location. It was a real treat to eat some fresh pasta with local wine, sitting under the big chestnut tree on the terrace, as the sun started to set.

A gorgeous weekend, filled with sunshine, good food, hard work and the thought that summer is tantalisingly close. Fast forward to Tuesday morning. Let’s see how all of those budding bulbs and shoots of wild flowers have fared when the snow has melted away. Just as well we checked the weather, as we managed to get the potted dahlias into the warmth and cover the long raised bed of hyacinths, but we’ll have to wait and see what carnage lies beneath that very pretty snow…

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

The Adriatic Hotel is located right on the picturesque harbour of Rovinj, a Venetian town on the south western coast of the Istrian peninsula. It is in the pedestrianised old town, full of pastel coloured Venetian buildings fringing the sea. Cobbled streets, full of the most exquisite shops, bars and restaurants, wind their way up to the top of the hill and the Church of St Euphemia, who from the top of the spire, watches out across the Adriatic Sea to Italy.

It’s one of our favourite destinations – and we know that we are very, very lucky because now that we live in Istria, we can book out of season when prices are much more suited to our pockets. It is Rovinj’s oldest hotel, dating back to 1892, the most recent refurbishment being done in 2015. The original facade has been retained and in its pale grey render, it is elegant and understated. A terrace outside, with big squishy grey and white sofas, which wraps around the front and side of the hotel, is the perfect place to while away a couple of hours, people watching or just being soothed by the sound of small fishing boats coming in and out of the harbour. The wooden shutters above the grounds floor – which comprises the Adriatic Brasserie and Breakfast Room and beautiful, beautiful bar – hint at the luxury behind them.

By hotel standards, it is small – there are fourteen rooms and four suites. All are different sizes and configurations – there is absolutely no “corporate” feel here. The ensuite rooms and suites have high ceilings with the original old-fashioned cornices retained. White walls are hung with big mirrors, wooden parquet floors have that added touch of luxury with modern black-and-white rugs. The beds are huge, with crisp white bedding and lots of pillows. Lighting is subtle (but sophisticated) and individual artworks, by local artists, can be found in every room. Coffee-making facilities are available, with fresh milk delivered and every afternoon, a little treat of homemade chocolates is delivered to your room. One of my favourite touches – as well as the hand written welcome postcard – is the selection of three mood scents by the bed. Grey-marble bathrooms have black-and-white mosaic-tiled floors, rain showers with glass doors, and Molton Brown toiletries, with matte black taps and handles and radiators. Of all of the rooms we’ve stayed in, the bathrooms have been huge and spacious and light. Communal areas are stylish – black carpets (with not a speck on them) fitted onto sweeping stairs, with almost black walls and very subtle lighting. Just gorgeous.

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Hotel Adriatic, Rovinj

Although Rovinj is packed with amazing – but reasonably priced – restaurants, including Monte, awarded a Michelin star – the hotel brasserie is fabulous, and definitely recommended. If you don’t fancy eating in the restaurant itself, room service is quite something too. All off the a la carte menu (although you can order form a smaller room service menu too) and brought your room on a trolley, presented in exactly the same way as would be if you dined in the restaurant. Breakfast too, is a real treat – an extensive menu of hot dishes, plus an array of continental options. And, as you are eating it, you can watch the glitterati of Rovinj, strolling past.

We have always paid, in full, for every stay at Hotel Adriatic and have never asked for, or received, any kick-backs. This blog is based solely on our personal experiences.

 

 

Spring Wreath

Spring Wreath

The Spring Equinox weekend definitely seemed the right time to dismantle the dead and decaying winter wreath I’d made, way back in November. The vines and ivy were cut back from our green wall in the garden and I had salvaged some of the cuttings which were still a vibrant green with red and black berries. It’s been outside all winter and has withstood winds, freezing temperatures, icy rain and snow but was definitely past its best, with withered leaves and shrivelled berries. So, off came everything and I was left with a metal hoop – originally the circular bottom of a solar IKEA lantern lantern which hung in the tree, but which met its end in a particularly strong storm. All that was left of it was the hoop, which I kept, knowing that one day “it might come in useful”. And it has done. The new wreath has been made from faux sprigs of cornflowers and pink daisies and foliage. I had these already and just repurposed them, so it cost nothing to make. And, although real blooms would be even prettier, they’re not growing the garden yet and obviously have a much shorter shelf life.

MATERIALS :

  • Hoop
  • Faux flowers and foliage
  • Scissors
  • Twine
  • Hook

and about 30 minutes of your time.

The stems of the flowers and the foliage are made of quite flexible wire, so they’re easy to twist around the hoop and wrap in on themselves. For extra strength I used some very thin gold wire to keep them secure and in place. I’ve no idea what this spool of gold wire was ever bought for, but it’s proved itself to be pretty invaluable for tasks like this one.

I knew that I wanted a wreath, in soft pale colours on the front of the shed door in the garden, and the pinks and cornflower blues were perfect against the pale grey paintwork. Our potted clematis – which has big, beautiful purple flowers – has been moved into the sun, next to the shed. It’s already shooting up and it will be trained up the side and over the roof. Meaning that come the height of summer, the shed won’t just be a shed – it’ll be a gorgeous pop of colour in the garden.

 

House For Sale In Istria

House For Sale In Istria

We bought our Istrian stone house in 2016 and made the full time move out here, from Manchester, in March 2017. We bought it because we saw the potential of the house. It had benefited from some recent renovation works, including a new red slate roof, and overall was in sound condition, structurally. It had been used by the family we bought from as a place to come to in summer months, but it was far from fully renovated, and so the potential was what we bought into.

Externally, although the new roof had been done and new guttering and downpipes installed, it all looked a bit sorry for itself. Because it hadn’t been lived in full time, it needed quite a lot of TLC. The shutters needed to be painted, the patio cleaned up, the grass and vines around the house, cut back. And, life injected into it.

House for sale in Istria, renovated stonehouse for sale, prpoerty for sale in istria

Internally was where we had to really look through the current condition. It was dark – the internal walls were mostly bare stone, and in places walls had been half plastered but unpainted. Floors were mostly pine. Rooms still had furniture and furnishings, which came with the property, but which we knew would go. It felt cold and in much need of refurbishment.

But, four years on, it’s a bit of a different story. As the house has been our full time home, we’ve worked relentlessly on it and it is now a fully renovated, fully functioning, beautiful home in the most beautiful part of northern Istria…

Why are we selling then, if we love our renovated house so much?

Well, the answer is quite simple. We’ve driven past a property, very close to our house, for last four years and we always used to comment on how it would be an amazing renovation project for someone. Then, we had a light-bulb moment. Why couldn’t that “someone” be us? So, we viewed it – and that was it. We had exactly the same feeling about it, as we had when we viewed our house in 2016. This new one though is a bit of a challenge – an old industrial unit. But when you have that feeling, it won’t go away and so the decision was made to put this house on the market, and start all over again…

If we’d not seen the other property, the idea of selling here would not have entered our heads. We’ve invested so much into this house and we think it’s pretty perfect. The way we’ve decorated it may not be to everyone’s tastes, but a lick of paint will solve that. New owners can be rest assured that they will be purchasing a property which is unusual and which has been renovated to a very high standard. And which we continue to look after and upkeep.

So, if we’ve piqued your interest, do take a look at the website we’ve designed for the house or visit our blog – this details everything we’ve done since we first viewed in 2016, so nothing is hidden, no secrets. There’s a contact form on the website if you want to get in touch, or if you prefer, you can email me directly – helen@escapetoistria.com – and I’ll answer any questions you might have.

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Hail the Hasselbacks

Hail the Hasselbacks

I can eat a potato in any guise. They form a staple of our culinary output :

  • creamy mashed potatoes with coconut milk
  • cheesy mashed potatoes, usually on top of a shepherd’s pie or a fish pie
  • home made chips in the oven – always thinly sliced, cooked in olive oil and either rubbed with paprika & chilli flakes or sea salt & fresh rosemary
  • dauphinoise style
  • usually always in soup
  • sliced thinly as the topping for a bake
  • new potatoes, eaten cold in a summery salad
  • small cubes of potato with trofie pasta, pesto, broad beans and parmesan
  • sometimes baked – although quite rare, as I don’t usually find baked potatoes to be “proper” food, as in a baked potato with a toppingm however nice, wouldn’t constitute a dinner for me

And the last point is probably why we’ve never delved into Hasselback World. Although they look admittedly very pretty, with their fans of potato slices, I’ve always – and I now know VERY mistakenly – just thought of them as a kind of sliced baked potato. Well, my potato world was turned on its head this weekend, when we decided we had the time – another mistaken idea, the one that you needs loads of time, because you don’t – to make the hasselbacks.

Two quite large new potatoes – the best kind, the ones with fresh soil still attached – were sufficient. These were just washed, not peeled, as I wanted the skins to brown and crisp up. Although I’m sure it wouldn’t have been the most difficult task in the world to slice the potato and stop before slicing through, I wanted to make sure it was done successfully in one go, so a stainless steel IKEA serving spoon was utilised. The potato was just placed on the spoon, and sliced very thinly – the scooped out part of the spoon meant that it didn’t cut all the way through.

 

I’m sure that are a million different ways to cook a hasselback, and aficionados will probably scoff at what we did. But, it was super simple and we LOVED them. Nothing like a baked potato – which seriously need to up their game in the potato stakes. They were baked first for about 35 mins, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt (so it was chunky) and black pepper. They were then brushed with butter and another drizzle of olive oil & salt and pepper and back in the oven for another 35 minutes or so. Not only super tasty – and next time, it’ll be garlic butter we’ll be using – but also very photogenic. Our weekend meal was a proper spring treat – it was warm and sunny and so to accompany the potatoes, we had a mezze platter. Roll on spring…