This spring 2016, The Travel Mob were invited to take part in the #MustSeeMenorca marketing campaign initiated by the Menorcan Tourist Board and the Spanish Tourist Office in London.
The month of May was chosen deliberately to help us discover a side of the island beyond its beaches (although we saw plenty of them too… and they are absolutely gorgeous!). And so instead of topping up our tans on the island’s pristine sands, we sought out more active leisure pursuits, like hiking, sailing and sea kayaking. After overindulging on the excellent Menorquin cuisine two or three times a day, we had to burn some calories somehow!
The name Taste Ljubljana is not just the name of our blogtrip, but the name of an initiative by the Ljubljana Tourism Board to invite locals and visitors alike to enjoy the traditional delicacies of the region, prepared according to authentic recipes, at restaurants all around the city.
The project’s launch day was the 26th June and of course we were on hand to witness this fun – and filling – event on Ljubljana’s Novi trg (New Square). As a traditional band regaled us with folk music, and speakers from the world of tourism and gastronomy introduced the concepts behind the initiative, some of the city’s best chefs were busy in the background preparing dishes like cottage cheese pancakes, boiled beef tongue, Ljubljana egg dish and fried chicken drumsticks all for the delectation of the audience.
Once the talking was over it was time to queue up for these snacks (they were free for all!) and sample some of the classic Slovenian fare that has been enjoyed for decades, or even centuries, right where we were standing! I myself made a beeline for kiosk serving cottage cheese pancakes with tarragon, which were light and fluffy in texture, sweet and tasty, and were once served both as a main dish or as a dessert. Next I jostled in line for the Ljubljana egg dish, a savoury pie of egg, breadcrumbs, mushrooms, herbs and lemon peel, that originated here in the Slovene capital and whose recipe was recorded by Magdalena Knafelj-Pleiweis in one of the country’s first ever cookbooks. Sadly I was too busy socialising to get my hands on the “Flying zganci”, the fried chicken wings, that were apparently much loved by the city’s hard-working dockers, who ate them in the Pri Zlati Ladji tavern by the port. Adam from Travels of Adam, however, assured me they were delicious.
The good news is that not only I, but anyone visiting Ljubljana, can sample all of these dishes – and many more – in scores of restaurants around the city any time we like. As part of the Taste Ljubljana gastronomic initiative 28 traditional dishes and drinks have been researched and recorded by leading expert Dr. Janez Bogataj, and currently 49 bars and restaurants are offering one or more of these very dishes/drinks as part of their everyday menu. When you get to Ljubljana just head to the tourist office and ask for the Taste Ljubljana book or magazine entitled “Long for Its Dishes, Ljubljana’s Been Known” (the title is a play on words of the opening lines of the poet Preseren’s famous ballad “Urska and The Water Man”), which details all of the plates you can expect to try – and in which restaurants you can find them. Just to get your mouth watering I’ll mention Kranjska sausage, Vodnik’s lamb lettuce salad, potica cake and Preseren fig pralines… but these are just for starters!
With its rich culinary heritage influenced by the Mediterranean, Austria, Hungary, Italy and even Turkey, and the abundance of great locally-sourced ingredients, every traveller should aim to sample some of these traditional recipes, now prepared in a modern way by the city’s best chefs. The Visit Ljubljana website has more information. Dober tek!