If you are a regular visitor of this blog, you have probably read a thing or two about Slovenia before.
If you are still not sure why you should check it out in person, here are the top 10 reasons for visiting Slovenia. As I have mentioned many times before, Slovenia is all about diversity - there is just so much of everything packed in this little gem of a country.
Food is no exception. Being tucked among countries with pretty distinct cuisines, Slovenia draws a little bit from each one of them. Throughout history the country has been influenced by Italy, Austria, Hungary and nearby Balkan countries. This is still quite obvious when looking at many dishes popular today.
All those influences do not mean there is nothing originally Slovenian in Slovenian cuisine. On the contrary, there are quite a few dishes with a unique local signature. In fact thirteen unique Slovenian foods and food products are even protected at the European level.
For locals and tourists alike there is a great chance to taste this uniqueness once a week in Ljubljana. There is an open food market set up every Friday from 8.00 in the morning till 19.00 in the evening in the very centre of Ljubljana (Pogačarjev trg). The food market is called Odprta kuhna literary meaning Open kitchen.
The plan is to keep the market running from May till October every year.
A while ago I decided to try out how the market looks and tastes like from the first-person perspective. I went there with a group of friends and I must say we all loved it!
When we visited the market there were some of the best restaurant representatives from many parts of the country. Local dishes as well as some fine international cuisine examples were on offer. As I learned, vendors change quite a lot and even those coming for a few times in a row try to present a different signature dish each time.
There were some delicious dishes I had an opportunity to taste for the first time. If you are wondering which one was my favourite, let me tell you it was a close call. I guess the fresh, lightly smoked sea bass fillet prepared at the Gostilna Krištof stall was my favourite amongst all.
The interesting part of this dish was its preparation. Sea bass fillet was first smoked with beech smoke using a specially designed smoking device. Then it was thinly sliced, placed on a vine leaf and seasoned with pepper, ginger and olive oil. I guess we could call it a sashimi with a Mediterranean-Slovenian twist.
Their restaurant is located in Kranj and if you are looking for a taste of Slovenian fusion cuisine with an emphasis on fresh local ingredients, they are definitely worth a closer look. They might not be cheap, but offer a great food experience with an extensive selection of wines.
Some stalls dedicated their attention to drinks only. There was not a large array of wines, beers and cocktails to choose from, but almost everything on offer was really good.
I tried an interesting variation of Mojito cocktail with White Plum Rakia instead of White rum.
To spice things up a little, there was a group of belly dancers. They put on quite a show!
We succeeded in visiting the majority of stalls and tasted as many dishes our bellies could possibly hold. We all agreed we need to do it again as soon as possible. Maybe we do it even today.
If you happen to be near Ljubljana on a Friday, you should definitely plan a visit to this food market. It is an ideal opportunity for finding your new favourite Slovenian restaurant.