One of the highlights of my trip in Slovenia was participating in a walking culinary tour of Ljubljana with Ljubljananjam. I was eager to work with this organization since they deal with little businesses rather than usual tourist attractions. The firm was founded in 2013 and is a modest one. The owner is the company’s founder, leader, and manager!
I had no preconceived notions or expectations regarding Slovenian food before arriving, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover about the incredible and diverse cuisine available in the nation.
As we approached the first stop on the trip, our guide, Iva, explained that the nation had 24 unique gourmet districts. In addition, we learnt that a Slovenian, Ana Ros, had been named the 2017 World’s Best Female Chef by the famous San Pellegrino competition. Her win had heightened interest in Slovenian food, and I was anxious to learn more.
Our first visit was at one of the city’s most prominent restaurants, where we tasted a small meal to prepare our stomachs for the day’s dining.
This meal was as tasty as gorgeous- the crisp veggies and fresh herbs, paired with a raspberry sauce and sage syrup, wonderfully complimented the red fish. I could have eaten much more, but I didn’t want to start the day by overeating and losing out on the remainder of the day’s chances.
While we went, Iva told us about the history of not just the city, but also the nation. For example, did you know that Slovenia is home to the world’s oldest wheel and the world’s oldest musical instrument, a sort of flute?
Fascinating facts like this are one of the many reasons I appreciate seeing a city by taking a walking food tour. I like the chance to learn about a city’s history while sampling true local cuisine and avoiding tourist traps.
We next went to the local farmers market and enjoyed local meats, cheeses, and pastries.
Several of the options were completely new to me!
We also had a cheese from the nearbyPustotnik farm.
Although this cheese may not seem to be unique, it was a creamy, just-salty-enough combination of sheep and goat milk. It’s no surprise it earned silver in the Basque Food Festival.
Friendly sellers were selling fruits and vegetables outside the indoor market.
We were fortunate to arrive when we did since everything appeared to be in season.
When we proceeded to the next station, Iva picked a little sample of various fruits for us to eat on. Everything we sampled was crisp, tasty, and fresh from the farm.
We saw a milk vending machine on the way and I inquired about it. Raw milk is a popular local beverage, and machines pouring it can be found practically anyplace!
Searching for a good place to eat in Ljubljana? Check out my guide to the top restaurants in Ljubljana here!
Our second destination was at a stunning location that doubled as an art gallery, workplace, and studio. They sold their work by the pound, which I thought was really unique.
We were served a deconstructed sandwich matched with local wines and artisan brews by the business owner.
While the sandwich seems basic, it was packed with high-quality ingredients that were savory and excellent.
The sandwich was also accompanied with pumpkin seed oil. Even though it wasn’t an ingredient I was acquainted with, it tasted great. I almost dunked my sandwich in it.
The oil has a deep, nutty taste and may be used in a variety of applications, including dips, salad dressings, and even desserts!
The wines and beers we drank with the sandwich were equally delectable. Slovenian wines have long been renowned (the nation shares a border with Italy! ), but the country has only lately been acknowledged for its beer manufacturing.
Slovenia is the world’s fifth-largest producer of hops, with majority of its output sent to Belgium.
We departed the fish market after finishing our drinks and admiring the artwork in the exhibition.
The market smelled heavily of fish, but the variety of fresh catches was intriguing. That reminded me of going to my favorite fish market when I was little. I questioned one of the merchants how he could work all day in such scent. That smells like money, he informed me.
Then, we went for a classic Slovenian lunch- a selection of stews combined with home-style sausage.
We were given riet, a barley stew, and jota, a sauerkraut soup, for this supper. These were both great, but the barley stew was my favorite.
These were served with a side of handmade sausage that could be added to the stews. The sausage was a nice addition in my opinion.
After the hefty meal, we drank additional local wines and artisan brews, including an IPA that, strangely, I didn’t detest. It also has a unique name: Human Fish.
We wandered through the ancient town of Ljubljana, becoming hungry as we went.
We learnt more about the city’s history as we traveled past the main plaza. People used to sell vinegar in this region, noisily proclaiming their wares. To this day, a local phrase goes, “You’re shouting as loud as a vinegar salesperson!”
Our next (and fortunately last) trip was for genuine meals. That was maybe my favorite tour stop.
The chef at this renowned local restaurant brought us numerous platters of dishes to eat.
The first course was pork tenderloin with freshly grilled anchovies and a fresh squeeze of lemon, followed by a lovely charcuterie board and one of the finest potato salads I’ve ever eaten (sorry Mom!).
I was also shocked by how much I loved the sardines.
I usually eat them in recipes that emphasize the fishy taste, but grilled and with lemon, they’re delicious- a little salty and sour. The ideal meal to accompany a drink!
We were also allowed to sample the wine made by a couple of the eateries. I had mostly tasted local whites, but this eatery also had a wonderful red wine.
We finished on a pleasant note by visiting the neighborhood gelato store.
This business featured various taste combinations and flavor selections that I had never seen before. They also used the same pumpkin seed oil I described before to take use of some of the unique local alternatives.
There were also Baileys Irish coffee, chocolate with coffee, Earl Grey, and more possibilities!
The company takes pride in using classic Italian methods while incorporating fresh, local products and Slovenian tastes.
Even though I am not a big fan of sweets, I discovered numerous flavors that I really liked, particularly this salted chocolate scoop.
A gathering place for tea and coffee. I was pleased by Ziferblat’s integration with the community and the amazing job they’re doing. While you’re in town, definitely swing by and look at their schedule; they’re usually putting on some kind of event. If you work while traveling (like me), this is a great spot to spend the day. Our last destination before leaving for the day was Ziferblat, a co-working space.
We said our goodbyes and parted ways, exhausted to the point of wanting a sleep. That night, no one required food!
I was so delighted with this trip that I sent three others on it simply by bragging about it to them the next several days I was in town. If you only have a short amount of time in town, I recommend combining this trip with Open Kitchen, a once-weekly gourmet street food festival that takes place every Friday.
Practical Information: To book this trip, go to the Ljubljananjams website by clicking here.
Disclaimer: I’d like to thank Ljubljananjam for inviting me to be a part of their tour. As usual, all views are mine.