Holidays in Slovenia
East is Eats: A Culinary Tour of Eastern Slovenia
Some of Europe's finest cuisine can be found in eastern Slovenia, if you know where to look... and we do. So come and dine at some of our favourite restaurants - and learn some new cookery skills.
Use the buttons for a glimpse of your gastronomic journey through Eastern Slovenia...
- Cookery course
- The Sun House
- Gostišče Denk
- San Rocco
- Gostilna As
Hold on to your hats, as your first stop is away from the usual tourist attractions to the west - but is probably one of the prettiest destinations in all of Europe. Raduha is a quirky little place nestled in the little village of Luče at the foot of Logarska Dolina (Logar Valley). Owned and run by Martina and Matjaž Breznak, the hotel consists of 'normal' guest rooms in the main house... and a couple of beautifully designed tree houses and a barn for those who want something special.
While you're here you'll have time to investigate the stunning surroundings and take in a cookery course with Martina.
Here's what Martina says about herself:
My credo: I am a lover of shapes, colours, scents and flavours. It is no coincidence that the expression “good taste” has spread into all branches of art and life. I do my best to make the dishes speak for themselves and for me. Through well-made dishes I try in my own way to convey nature to my guests (with a little spice of course). Constant imagination and inventiveness are in the nature of the chefs. As I want to combine my culinary knowledge, tradition and innovation, I am in constant search for new ideas and flavours. Tradition is a kind of wealth, for which I feel deep respect and try to pass on to the next generation.
Perhaps you'll bring home some of Martina's passion for cooking local and natural ingredients.
Following your first three nights of getting used to the relaxed gorgeousness of it all, it's away to the east of the country and the village of Banovci, home of The Sun House (Sončna Hiša). Here you'll find quirk of a different kind, as the house consists of just five super-modern suites, the internal walls of which are all glass (so you'll need to know your partner quite well!).
From here you can feast at three very fine restaurants indeed: Rajh, Tramšek and Gostišče Denk (transfers will be arranged for all, ensuring you can indulge in a little of the local wines), while spending your days mooching around the beautiful countryside, taking in some wine tastings... and taking advantage of the spa facilities at the hotel.
Our first experience of Tramšek (needless to say, we've been back since!):
Truth be told, our only dining experience at Tramšek was as guests of the owners of Sončna Hiša - and this after two wine tastings earlier in the day!
So they kind of knew we were coming - but then, all you need to do to duplicate the experience is call ahead and say you're with us. Anyway, as usual, I took a few good views around the dining room, to check that our co-diners were as cock-a-hoop as we were.
Yes, you've got it: yet another fab restaurant in Slovenia. The chicken stuffed with pumpkin seeds (see picture) was a riot of flavour, as was the deliciously unctuous slow-roasted wild boar. As we were discussing hotel stuff (and our wine adventures), I didn't take any notes at the time - all the better to relax with some of the nicest cuisine in the region.
Dessert at Gostišče Denk: one of the best-kept secrets in Slovenia... not least because if you don't tell them you're coming for the 'serious' menu, you'll get the 'normal' menu instead.
Don't worry, we'll ensure they have plenty of notice about your arrival!
A couple of hours south takes you to the fairy tale region of Dolenjska, where you'll find forests, rivers and castles. Your accommodation will be at Šeruga, an idyllic tourist farm that has been a firm favourite of our customers over the years. Lili and her daughter Eva will be cooking for you on the first night, while another will be in that fairy tale castle we were talking about: Otočec. There will also be plenty of opportunity to feast on the local 'delicacy', odojek (suckling pig).
Nearby there are plenty of things to take in: Galerija Božidar Jakac is one of the finest art galleries in Europe; Pleterje Monastery produces some very fine spirits and ice wines; and a canoe along the Krka is the stuff of Dream holidays.
A true fairy-tale castle, Otočec sits on a verdant island in the middle of the clear waters of the river Krka, where swans and other water fowl add to the dreamy, picturesque surroundings. Before dinner, take a stroll around the flower-strewn grounds and sit under the shade of the wind-rustled trees, breathing in the air of another time.
The restaurant serves cuisine that is probably far superior to that consumed by the dukes of its illustrious past... no, that's not true at all: it's definitely much better than anything a previous tennant could have imagined. After all, the staff make no secret of the fact that they intend to get themselves a Michelin star - so ya boo sucks to the dukes of old.
Relais and Chateaux.
Next we dip outside of Slovenia and visit the Croatian town of Brtonigla, a couple of kilometres inland on the Istrian peninsula - the Land of Truffles!. Here you'll be staying in the Dream hotel of San Rocco. A family-owned hotel, San Rocco manages to encapsulate just about everything you want from a holiday destination: elegant accommodation, a wellness centre (including saunas, plunge pool, massage facilities etc.), an outdoor swimming pool, a dining terrace... and a restaurant run by one of the country's best chefs, Zoran Čobanov.
Honestly: one of the best hotels we've ever stayed in.
We found San Rocco almost by accident. A friend knew that we were considering an invasion of Croatia, so he sent us to eat here as a birthday treat. Given the distance from Ljubljana, we booked a room too... and then met the waiter... who introduced us to his mum... and Slovene Dream suddenly became Slovene Dream (With a Bit of Croatia... and Italy).
In all of our travels, our meal at San Rocco stands out as one of the very best. Seven courses of utter bliss begged the question that we so often ask on our travels east of Italy: how come Michelin doesn't come here?
And last... back to Ljubljana and a couple of nights at the excellent Cubo Hotel.
One of Ljubljana's latest hotels (summer 2011) is the accommodating offspring of the rather excellent Cubo restaurant. It does have a special advantage over it's yummy parent, in that it is located right in the middle of town: within walking distance of all the galleries, the old town, two very good concert venues, lots of restaurants, shops... like I said - it's in the middle of town. If you are lucky enough to have dined in the restaurant, you would know that the cuisine belies the rather sleek design: you know that you have eaten food that has been prepared by people who care about you, as well as what they're doing. Same here: this is a hotel that has its priorities in the right order, the top of which is the customer.
Your last night's meal will be at Ljubljana's most famous restaurant, Gostilna As: a fitting end to a gourmet holiday.
Long established as one of Slovenia's finest restaurants, As continues to serve world-class cuisine, specialising in seafood. While dining, you might like to consider why it is the Slovenia has a coastline of just 47 kilometres, but has a seafood market second to none... as you'll figure when you tuck into your perfectly cooked catch of the day!
What you get...
- 14 nights in some of Slovenia's finest hotels
- Seven tasting menus
- Transfers for dining (where applicable)
- One cookery lesson
- Price per person (based on two sharing)
Prices are the best estimate, depending on availability, season, exchange rate and personal preferences.
Does not include flights or car hire.