Culinary Events in Slovenia

Passionate cooks by nature, Slovenian women have always known that hunger can be a source of wonderful ideas when and that the way to one’s heart is through their stomach. Drawing inspiration from the rich culinary tradition and the love for local ingredients, the top Slovenian chefs will gladly confirm this as they enjoy preparing traditional Slovenian dishes with a modern touch and a dash of personal creativity. Welcome to family-owned restaurants, village inns offering home-made wine and food, as well as city restaurants and culinary events. Discover the flavours of Slovenia!

The Gostilna Slovenija brand unites as many as 40 restaurants offering typical Slovenian menus. Slovenian specialities are usually accompanied by premium Slovenian wines that complement the diverse food and create a beautiful harmony of flavours. The Flavours of Central Slovenia and the Gorenjska Region A journey through Slovenian cuisine can be started in Ljubljana, the nation’s capital, which was listed among the top eight global culinary destinations of 2015 by the Fine Dining Lovers gourmet magazine. A number of restaurants in Ljubljana which carry the Taste Ljubljana (Okusi Ljubljane) label invite visitors to taste dishes typical of the city. Try the delicious Vodnik’s corn salad named by the author of the first cookbook in Slovenia. Or enjoy the scrumptious crepes with cottage cheese and tarragon filling topped with egg gratin. Every Friday from March to October, the diverse Slovenian and international cuisine can be experienced at the Open kitchen (Odprta kuhna) event at the Pogačarjev trg square. The unique outdoor marketplace is a special event where top chefs serve local and international food at affordable prices. Those who would like to get more familiar with the Flavours of Central Slovenia can take a Culinary walk across Ljubljana and its surroundings. One of the most interesting Slovenian delicacies is trnič; originating from the plateau of Velika planina near Kamnik. It is the “cheese of love” that shepherds used to give to their sweethearts as a token of love. Driving west of Ljubljana, you can taste the Flavours of Gorenjska. The popular town of Bled is home to the cream cake (kremšnita) – an absolute culinary icon. The Potičnica shop on the island of the alpine Lake Bled tells the story about the the potica roll – a classic Slovenian dessert. The fact that the roll dough can be filled with as many as 80 different fillings attests to the creativity demonstrated by Slovenian housewives. The nearby town of Radovljica featuring an appealing medieval historic centre hosts the Flavours of Radol’ca festival in spring and autumn. There, another typical delicacy – the traditional rolls called štruklji can be sampled in many varieties. From Ljubljana, it takes only 30minutes to get to restaurants in Radovljica, which are renowned for their authentic home-made cuisine using local ingredients from nearby gardens and fields.

Wine-growing Regions of Slovenia

In terms of wine, Slovenia can definitely compete with the rest of Europe. In the nine wine-growing regions, numerous top-quality international varieties are produced, and Slovenians are particularly proud of the indigenous varieties such as zelen, vitovska, rebula, pinela and teran from the wine-growing regions of Primorska, while žametovka and ranfol are indigenous to the Podravje region, and rumeni plavec, kraljevina and šentlovrenka come from the wine-growing region of Posavje. The EU- protected cviček wine is quite unique as it combines red and white grape varieties. Throughout the year, many Saturdays in the centre of Ljubljana are dedicated to Slovenian winegrowers, winemakers and wine in general. The Ljubljana Wine Route promotes Slovenia as a traditionally culinary and wine-growing country as is also evidenced by world’s oldest grapevine which has been growing for more than 400 years in Slovenian second largest city of Maribor. The festive old-vine grape harvest is the highlight of the Old Vine Festival, the most important wine-related event in Slovenia symbolising the country’s rich wine culture.

The grape harvest in Lendava is another Slovenian wine-related tradition. The playful clapping of wind-rattles brings back memories of folk customs established in the surrounding area and vineyards. Saint Martin’s Day is a wine- celebrating event held in autumn, marking the day when the must turns to young wine. This is a special holiday celebrated in all wine-growing regions throughout Slovenia, and its influence can also be felt in urban areas. Connoisseurs and tasters of wine and autumn delicacies gather at one of the largest festivals at the heart of the picturesque Brda hills in the west of Slovenia. The unison of flavours produced by the teran wine and prosciutto is another special feature that can be experienced in Slovenia, namely in the Kras region, not far from Brda. Enjoy a romantic combination of flavours at the Festival of Teran and Prosciutto.

Beer and Meat Delicacies

The kranjska klobasa sausage is a world-famous Slovenian meat delicacy with the protected designation of origin, which was even taken into space by an American astronaut of Slovenian descent. According to the tradition, the sausage should be served either warm with (sautéed) sauerkraut or sour turnips, or cold with a bread roll or bun, accompanied by mustard, grated horseradish and a mug of beer. In late August, you can try savoury sausages at the Kranjska klobasa Sausage Festival in Gorenjska. Every July, the Beer and Flowers Festival is organized in Laško, the town with longest-standing brewery tradition, where summer parties with beer and live music have been held for more than 50 years. The festival is visited by party-lovers from Slovenia and abroad. Beer goes well with the bograč stew cooked in a copper kettle on an open fire. In the Prekmurjeregion, the far north-eastern part of Slovenia, the local culinary tradition is intertwined with Hungarian cuisine. At the Bogračfest culinary festival, visitors can have the typical goulash stew made of three meat varieties, and other culinary delicacies of Prekmurje.

A Harmony of Sweet and Salty Flavours

The secrets of prominent chefs often lie in spices. Life without salt is difficult to imagine. The Salt pans Feast brings memories of the past as, in April, many families used to move from Piran to the saltpans and stay there for six months in their stone houses by the salt pools. The medieval town of Piran was able to flourish supported by the salt production. Today, the Sečovlje salt pans workers produce salt manually, following the traditional, 700-year old methods. The successors of the salt works tradition create original products and souvenirs. These include chocolate with fleur de sel, which can also be sampled at Koper’s Sweet Istria international dessert festival that promotes sweet delicacies by local and international producers. Gorenjska hosts the popular Chocolate Festival held in the medieval town of Radovljica. As the region is known for its long-standing bee-keeping tradition and the breeding of the Carniolan bee (known as sivka), the chocolate delicacies are usually enhanced by adding a touch of honey.

An Abundance of Fruit

The Cherry Festival held at the Brda hills, where more than 50 cherry varieties are grown, is one of the most colourful culinary events in Slovenia. The big, crunchy varieties have interesting local names such asčrnica, prvačn ́ca or trcinka. In early summer, cherries glow at the heart of the picturesque Brda hills featuring nine well-kept hiking Cherry Blossom Trails. In the past, the locals used to export cherries to major European cities. Today, the region is globally known for its top winemakers, since the Brda hills are home to one of the most renowned wine cellars in Slovenia. In autumn, the hills of western Slovenia are abundant in ripe grapes and persimmons. In November, visit the traditional Persimmon Festival in Strunjan and taste a range of fresh persimmons and other culinary delicacies. Why not have a go at persimmon ice cream, slice, pie or marmalade? In late autumn, the warm orange colour creates a pleasing contrast to the shades of aromatic evergreen Mediterranean plants. The town of Izola attracts visitors with yet another Mediterranean fruit: olives. In spring, visitors can attend the Fish, Olive Tree and Wine Festival in Izola and taste the rich flavours of Slovenian olive oils. Take a stroll among the colorful stalls selling Istrian food and experience the medieval town of Izola which nurtures its ancient fishing tradition. It would be a pity to miss the rich culinary events held across Slovenia. Tasting the delicacies, you will be able to truly “feel” Slovenia and probably grow fond of it for good. Visitors are welcomed by a hospitable nation who are proud of the local gifts of nature and fresh, home-made produce.

By Bryan Pocius, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34675419

Culinary events are taking place throughout the calendar year.

March
Open kitchen (Odprta Kuhna), Ljubljana, March–October
Salami Festival, Sevnica, March

April
Brda & Wine, Šmartno, April
Chocolate Festival, Radovljica, April
Saltpans Feast, Piran, April
Festival of Istrian Asparagus Omelette (fritaja), Pomjan, April

May
Vinska vigred wine festival, Metlika, May
Delicacies of Slovenian Farms, Ptuj, May
Rebula and Olive Oil Festival, Višnjevik, May
Refošk Wine Festival, Marezige, May
Vino Ljubljana Wine Competition, Ljubljana, May

June
Cherry Festival, Dobrovo, June
Ljubljana Wine Route, Ljubljana, June
Days of Olives (Wine, Fish and Olive Oil Festival), Izola, June
Traditional Olive Festival, Dekani, June
Cviček Wine Festival, Čatež, June
Open Wine Cellars Day, Brda, June

July
Traditional tourist event “Beer and Flowers Festival”, Laško, July
Polenta Festival, Šempas, July

August
Bogračfest, Lendava, August
Kranjska klobasa Sausage Festival, Sora pri Medvodah, August
Festival of Teran and Prosciutto, Dutovlje, August
Saltpans Feast, Piran, August (2 nd part of the Saltpans Feast)
Peach Festival, Prvačina, August
Days of Honey, Polhov Gradec, August
Fishermen’s Festival, Izola, August

September
Old Vine Festival, Maribor, September
Lendava Grape Harvest, Lendava, September
Sweet Istria, Koper, September
Idrijski žlikrofi Festival, Idrija, SeptemberPumpkin Festival, Bodonci, September
Day of Pristava Festive Breads, Ljutomer, September
Cabbage Festival, Ljubljana, September

October
Chestnut Sunday, Ljubljana, October
Kozjansko Apple Festival, Podsreda, October
Traditional Chestnut Festival in the Lig village, Kanal ob Soči,

November
St Martin’s Day celebrations, across Slovenia, November
Persimmon Festival, Strunjan, November
Vipava Valley Wine Cellars, Vipava, November
Moštna gavda must festival, Prevalje, November

December
Christmas markets with gastronomic offer, across Slovenia,