Slovenia. The little country in South East Europe that is home to one of the worlds most beautiful lakes. Nestled between Italy to it’s West, and Austria to its East, it is an ideal destination for a European break. A visit to Lake Bled, (Slovenia’s world famous lake), has always appealed to me. A Slovenia holiday would certainly satisfy my love of nature as it looks beautiful! However, I did not too many details about Slovenia, other than the well known, generic details. So, I was both intrigued and so very excited to be invited to attend a Zoom webinar, showcasing Slovenia’s culinary diversity. Slovenia has been named European region of Gastronomy for 2021, so it really does know its food! I mean, they had me at food but should you need any further encouragement to visit Slovenia, then read on….
Although I was invited to the zoom webinar, I was under no obligation what so ever to write a post. I decided to though as I was so blown away by what I learnt, I was excited to share and cast a little light on Slovenia.
Let me set the scene for you a little. Picture a beautiful balmy day. The clear blue skies, the warmth of the sun carried on the breeze. Your view in the distance is a backdrop of awe inspiring mountains. Their rugged tops clear in the beauty of the day. Closer to your viewpoint, lush meadows with wild growing herbs, flowers and gentle swaying trees. This was my first view of Slovenia. As the webinar began, I was blown away with how beautiful Slovenia looked. Not a word had been spoken, yet I was already certain I wanted a Slovenia holiday.
Slovenia has actually been the first European country to declare an official end to its coronavirus pandemic. This has understandably, created ripples of happiness and hope throughout Slovenia, and the whole of Europe. When Slovenia re-opened its restaurants on the 18th May, it felt like a huge, positive step towards the end of these world wide, challenging times. It feels exciting and incredibly welcomed to see real, tangible changes. The excitement was clear to see in the three successful chef’s that were the guest speakers at the webinar. Each of the three chefs, were from a specific, different region in Slovenia. Each was going to talk us through how they are excitedly preparing for the guests they would soon be creating wonderful dishes for at their respective hotels and restaurants. Let me share some of what we learnt, and give you a glimpse of this beautiful country.
Delicious reasons to consider a Slovenia holiday
Slovenia is a small country. This means that it can easily share the fruits of each region. It also has the official accolade as one of the Worlds most environmentally friendly nations. Sustainable travel is something I am passionate about, so this was music to my ears. Seasonal produce, locally grown and harvested from natures larder are of course, a priority. Despite the fact that traditionally, this area of Europe tends to be a little meat heavy in its cuisine, my vegan self did not need to worry. The abundance of seasonal produce means that vegetarian and vegan diets can be easily provided for. Could this country be any more perfect for me!
The beautiful Alps region provide an abundance of fresh herbs and wild fruits. The water running from the mountains provides the purest water. Other regions have a more mediterranean flavour with olives and organic wines. This diverse mix results in adventurous and creative hotel and restaurant menus. It was such a pleasure to hear the genuine excitement and pride in the three chefs, as they discussed the diverse cuisine of Slovenia.
Three beautiful choices for your Slovenia holiday
Hotel – Villa Planinka
Address – Zgornje Jezersko 67, 4206 Zgornje Jezersko, Slovenia
Chef – Jacob Jerala
This beautiful boutique hotel is my dream hotel. It could have almost been built with me in mind, so perfect is it for me. Nestled in the shadow of the mountains, and in a valley that was once a glacial lake. The natural beauty of the surrounding area is breathtaking! The hotel itself, says this;
Step into a world where time goes by at a different pace. Slowly, calmly, and in harmony with nature
Where do I sign up…..? Their passion for you to switch off is such that the rooms were designed with no wifi, huge windows to enjoy the mountain view and a wellness centre to look after your total wellbeing. Bliss
The food at Villa Planinka
Local and organic natural ingredients are the base of Chef Jacob Jerala’s menu. In fact, dandelions feature in many of his dishes! Traditional food but with a creative and inventive twist. I suppose the fact that Jacob Jerala has worked alongside Hesten Blumenthal gives you some idea of his inventiveness. With a constantly changing menu in line with the seasons, there is also an impressive 125 variations of wine to choose from! I will just leave that fact hanging there…….
Restaurant – Gostilna Mahorcic
Address – Rodik 51, Kozina 6240 Slovenia
Chef – Ksenija Mahorčič
Ksenija Mahorcic has a passion for food. Her restaurant is located in a beautiful, peaceful village of Rodik, in the Karst region. Set at the edge of a forest, you again have the beauty of nature surrounding you. Ksenija recreates traditional food from her childhood, but with her modern interpretation. The chef is keen to keep the tales of her ancestors alive. She likes to take you on a journey of retreading the path that her grandmother and great grandmother would have taken, through her tasting menu. The women of times past would carry supplies many miles, often in baskets on their head or back. Her inspiration for the tasting menu is following this well trodden route, and “from the sea, over the Karst edge, and homewards” is her story.
Following a lengthy stay in Italy perfecting her craft, Ksenija was crowned “confectioner of the year 2020”. Although not something I would eat, the restaurant has smoked bear prosciutto on offer if you are adventurous (and not vegan…). This, along with local cheeses, and home grown herbs and vegetables in the restaurants dishes make it a popular restaurant in a serene environment.
Restaurant – Osterija Debeluh
Address – Trg izgnancev 7 Brezice
Chef – Jure Tomic
Chef Jure has created his restaurant, inspired by the French countryside restaurants he loves. The atmosphere is all about chic ambience and a relaxed experience. Situated in the Brezice region, near the Croatian border.
This family run restaurant wanted to retain and respect the tradition of Slovenia dishes, but bring them up to date. As you would expect from this country passionate about sustainability, the majority of the ingredients used are home grown or local.
The signature dish here is pasta. After all, Jure was crowned the world pasta champion in 2016! Many of the reviews I read on this restaurant said tasting the pasta here, in whatever form, is an absolute must. The presentation of these dishes are like works of art too! some look way to pretty to eat!
More reasons for a Slovenia holiday!
12 Facts about Slovenia
So, I have given you a little taste of the reason for Slovenia being Europes Region of Gastronomy. They have a passion for food and ensuring their visitors are well fed.
I now have a few fun, but interesting facts to share with you, should you need tempting further…
- They are passionate about bee keeping in Slovenia. Despite a population of around two million, there are approximately 90,000 bee keepers!
- Slovenia is ranked as the 7th most peaceful nation out of 163 that were in the line up.
- Slovenia celebrates the end of Winter with a 50 year old tradition of dressing up and “scaring away” the end of Winter. This ritual is called Kurentovanje.
- It is home to Europes least expensive ski resort. The resort, Kranjska Gora came out the least expensive resort for a family of four.
- Due to the thermal springs, you can actually swim in Lake Bled right up until early Autumn without running the risk of freezing!
- Over half of Slovenia is protected land, (see, I told you it is a country made for me) With around 53% of it’s land covered in protected forest, it is a million percent the land for us tree huggers.
- Slovenia has a lot of underground caves, (over 10,000) and waterfalls. It’s most famous cave, Postojna, has stalagmite and stalactite formations said to be unrivalled anywhere else.
- This little country has over 27,000 km of lakes, rivers and waterways! That is a whole lotta water!
- Slovenia has a huge wine industry. The country has been growing grape vines for over 2,600 years! I think you are beginning to understand why I could not be more of a fan of Slovenia right……..
- The capital city, Ljubljana was awarded the accolade of Europes Greenest Capital in 2016.
- Slovenia has been instrumental in the survival and growth of the one time decreasing, brown bear population. Its huge areas of forest mean it is an ideal environment for the bears to thrive.
- The Solkan bridge is the worlds longest, stone arch bridge railway. Not bad for a little country!
So there we have it! My whistle stop taster tour of Slovenia. It has been amazing to learn about a country that I knew very little about. This has been one of the great things about lockdown. The way that tourist boards, travel companies etc have all pivoted. Us as travel writers have had to do the same, so it really is an all in this together mentality. These companies etc are managing to introduce us to countries without us leaving the arm chair! A Slovenia holiday is now well and truly at the top of my to be visited list! In fact, I think I am mildly obsessed….
I would love to know what you think of this introduction to Slovenia. Have you been? Is it a country you knew much about? Have I surprised you with any of the information? Does the fact that it is the European Region of Gastronomy tempt you to visit? Is food an important part of what persuades you to visit a country? Do you research the food scene before you make your mind up about a place to organise a trip to? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I am so excited to hear if you love the sound of Slovenia as much as me!