Although these days Top 10 lists are all the rage, I decided not to make this one since choosing just 10 of the many great Slovene foods would be difficult, not to mention what I consider the Top 10 would surely differ from what others consider the Top 10 and I could foresee controversy looming! Therefore, this list presents just some of the’ Must-Try Slovene Foods’ and some suggestions for where to try them but is far from exhaustive and comprises merely my suggestions. There are, many, many other great foods and dishes, not to mention wines, that you should also try whilst in Slovenia.
Slovenia is known for its diverse and rich culinary heritage. For such a small country it is amazing that there are 24 gastronomic regions, comprising over 170 distinguishable dishes. Each region has its own specialities and characteristics and is influenced, in part, by the surrounding countries of Austria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia. You can read plenty more about food and wine in Slovenia here – http://www.slovenia.info/en/Food-and-wine.htm?kulinarika_in_vino=0&lng=2
Carniolan sausage (Kranjska klobasa) – This humble sausage has been the subject of great debate over its originality or ownership over the years and is probably one of the best known Slovene food products worldwide. It is also one of the foods named a ‘Protected Slovene Product’. The oldest recipe for its production was found in the cookbook ‘Slovenska kuharica’ dating back to 1912. The several-time winner of the Best Carniolan Sausage is the Arvaj Butchers in Kranj. The sausages are often served with sour cabbage, as seen below, or can be cut up and added to stews, or just eaten simply with mustard (sorry but it has to be ketchup for me!) and crusty bread.
Gibanica – I’ve seen attempts to translate this as ‘Over moving Mura cake’, which is just plain ridiculous! The ‘Mura’ part refers to the cake’s origins from the Prekmurje region of Slovenia. However, I believe some things shouldn’t be translated – let the cake do the talking for itself! Gibanica comprises multiple layers of apple, curd cheese, ground walnuts, poppy seeds and pastry. I think it’s at its most delicious when served warm.
Pumpkin seed oil – Delicious, versatile and healthy! Pumpkin seed oil is most commonly used as a salad dressing, but these days you can also find it being used in a multitude of imaginative ways, such as drizzled over vanilla ice-cream – yum!
Potica – One of the most typical Slovene desserts, though actually I consider it less of a dessert, more of an afternoon tea kind of food as it is something between a bread and a cake. It’s a filled rolled loaf which can have a variety of fillings, the most common include walnuts, poppy seeds, or tarragon, but there are also many other different varieties including savoury versions containing pork crackling. Traditionally potica is a festive bread, eaten at Easter or Christmas, though these days it can be bought and enjoyed year-round.
Štruklji – I had a hand in making the štruklji in the photo below – though I must admit I had some help! These were made at a cookery workshop I attended a couple of years ago at Pekarna Mišmaš. Štruklji are a type of rolled dumpling made with a light dough. These ones are filled simply with curd cheese, which is the most common filling, though the sky’s the limit in terms of fillings and they can be either sweet or savoury e.g. walnut, tarragon, blueberry.
Žlikrofi are small boiled dumplings from the town of Idrija. As with other Slovene foods, there are a number of variations, however, žlikrofi originated in Idrija so it’s as good a place as any to find and taste them. Žlikrofi are made with a soft pasta dough and filled with a mixture of potatoes, onions and spices. They are often served as an accompaniment to meat dishes, such as hare or goulash, but can be equally enjoyed as a stand-alone dish with a light sauce.
Pršut; Karst-dried ham – from the Karst region of Slovenia where the bora winds provide the perfect conditions for drying the salted meat, resulting in a delicious tender ham which goes perfectly with some local cheese and wine, adding to the Mediterranean feeling in Slovenia’s karst region.
Bograč is a traditional dish from the Prekmurje region, on the border with Hungary, hence its similarity to goulash. Traditionally, this hearty stew is cooked in a cauldron and contains four different kinds of meat as well as onions, potatoes, pork fat, peppers and spices. The annual Bogračfest takes place in Lendava where chefs compete to have their dish crowned the ‘World’s Best Bograč!’ These days you can find bograč served in many parts of the country, however, for the real deal, head to Prekmurje. Last year’s competition featured a record 108 teams from Slovenia, Hungary, Austria and Croatia, and the winning dish was cooked by chef Jožef Činč from the Lindau Lendava Motor Club. The 2016 event will take place on 27th August.
Here you can watch a short video of last year’s bogračfest – just to get the taste buds going!
Trojane doughnuts – Everyone, and I mean everyone, in Slovenia knows about Trojane doughnuts as well as half of Europe too, it seems! The fact that they make and sell an astonishing 10-15,000 doughnuts per day, speaks for itself. I visited Trojane last year to see for myself how they are made and you can read the whole blog here, which, incidentally, was the 2nd most popular blog I wrote last year – http://wp.me/p3005k-10d
Buckwheat žganci with pork crackling – Žganci is another thing which I don’t like to see translated as it often ends up being described as ‘mush’ which, trust me, does not sound appetising! Personally, I think its ample to just write ‘buckwheat’. It is, however, a rather difficult to describe dish and, at first sight, can look somewhat unappetising but done well, it’s delicious! Alone it can be fairly bland but makes a perfect accompaniment to sausages and stews and is also often eaten with sour milk, particularly at mountain huts where the sour milk comes direct from the grazing herds.
It really was tough choosing this list, as there are so many other delicious traditional Slovene foods and dishes I could have included e.g. krapi, ričet, jota, pogača, kremšnita etc. but I’ll save them for another blog some time! Until then, Dober tek!
© AdeleinSlovenia 2016