I’m not the kind of a person who could settle down. Ever. But as it happens I’ve been in Ljubljana for some time now. It’s a phase. I’ve got things to finish here. I actually never imagined living here, but since I’m here I want to get the best out of it. Ljubljana has changed a lot since I first came. It has a small but lively cultural scene. And I love how close everything is around here. An hour of ride and you’ll find yourself in a completely different scenery, with completely different traditions and of course, food.
What I’ve noticed is that in recent years food culture in Slovenia has changed a lot. To better. And it was about time. It’s also thanks to the projects like Restaurant week. So, me and my girls decided to test it out and we set off to the western part of Slovenia and the coast.
Our first stop was at Goriška Brda. It’s one of my favourite regions. Really charming in the summer when all you see are hillsides covered in vines and old villages making you feel like you were in some other time and place. And in the spring, there’s nothing better to escape from Ljubljana and indulge the sun and the flowering trees.
The reason we came to Brda was the Restaurant week. We were off to see and taste what’s cookin at Kabaj’s. As I think to it now, their menu was great. Local cheese, tipical egg omlets, greens, really good quality oils. You could actually taste spring. There was something in their dishes reminding me it still gets fresh in the night, but at the same time the nature is awaking and warming up the soil. Fresh ingredients prepared in the local manner and some excellent Pinot Blanc, 2010. I couldn’t imagine anything ealse to pair with my vegetarian menu. I definitely have to return to try their other wines.
We stayed at a lovely family run estate called Kmetija Šibav. The hospitality and generosity of our host trully was unprecedented, and the experience we’ve got was really something we did not expect. They made us a really interesting presentation of their wines. The appartment was great and in the morning we were woken up by the brightes sun and the most beautiful view I could imagine. They made us a generous and delicious breakfast full of homemade goodies and we were good to set off to new adventures. We left with warmth in our hearts, smile on our faces and a car packed with gifts from our hosts. And of course, lovely homegrown lemons, that were later used for the most perfect Easter braid.
We did a tour around Brda, walking in between vines and exploring old villages. Trying to find a spot to rest and enjoy the sun, we were advised to turn to Dvor. At first it looked really, but really, fancy. But it turned out to be more peaceful and relaxed than we could ever imagine. An oasis. A small family run butique hotel that has reacently opened. As I understood, they were buying and renovationg old houses for the last three years. I really wish them all the best, because they did a great job! So, we orderd some house wine and snacks. And oh boy… they make their own olive oil and serve it with a special spice mixture. We literally devoured the bread by dipping it into olive oil and the spices. TOP!
We left in the afternoon, slowly cruising down between the hills, just as the sun, heading towards the sea. We arrived in Izola just in time to see the sun disappear on the horizon.
We had dinner at hotel Marina, as part of a Restaurant week. I must admit, there were some pretty amazing dishes, at least as starters concerned and their dessert was delicieux. The next morning we walked down the beach, went for an ice cream and headed towards home.
Before returning, there was one last stop to make. We were on our way to Kras. A world apart. We stopped at Brestovica, where every year there is an Asparagus festival. The locals pick up wild asparagus that grow in the region and than prepare typical dishes, one of the most known being frtalja. It’s basically big egg omelette with wild asparagus and pieces of pancetta or prosciutto.
We left towards home tired and happy, full of great memories and determined to start making plans for a new trip very soon.
And I’m leaving you with a recipe to make this delicious frtalja, dreaming of sun, spring and all the fun yet to come!
Frtalja with wild asparagus
- 3 eggs
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 3 Tbsp milk
- wild asparagus (don’t be stingy!)
- pancetta cubes (optioonal)
- 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
* You can also make frtalja by using eggs only, without adding flour or milk. And you can add some fresh herbs to the batter too.
- Whisk together eggs, flour, milk and salt. Set aside.
- Clean asparagus – remove the woody bottom parts. Cut into bigger pieces.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add asparagus and pancetta and stir fry for a minute or two.
- Add egg batter. You should make a big thick omelette. Bake until golden brown on both sides.
- Cut in triangles and season with pepper.