Food and Drink in Slovenia

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Food and Drink in Slovenia

People from Slovenian northern neighbour Austria come to Slovenia just for the food, cause with Subalpine, Italian, Hungarian and Balkan mixture most people will find something to their liking - unless they're strict vegetarians. Many say that the pizza here is as good or even better as in neighboring Italy.

Slovenian Cuisine

Generally speaking, Slovenian food is heavy, meaty and plain. A typical three-course meal starts with a soup (juha), often just beef ( goveja) or chicken (piščančja) broth with egg noodles (rezanci), and then a meat dish served with potatoes (krompir) and a vinegary fresh salad (solata). Fresh bread (kruh) is often served on the side and is uniformly delicious.

Common mains include cutlets (zrezek), sausage (klobasa) and goulash (golaž), all usually prepared from pork (svinjina ), lamb (jagnjetina) and game (divjačina), but there is a large choice of fish (ribe) and seafood even further away from the coast. Popular Italian imports include all sorts of pasta (testenine), pizza (pica), ravioli (ravioli) and risotto (rižota). A major event in the countryside still today is the slaughtering of a pig from which many various products are made: blood sausage ( krvavica), roasts (pečenka), stuffed tripe (polnjeni vampi), smoked sausage (prekajena salama), salami (salama ), ham (šunka) and bacon (slanina). Recipes for the preparation of poultry (perutnina), especially turkey (puran), goose (gos), duck (raca) and capon (kopun), have been preserved for many centuries. Chicken (piščanec) is also common. Squid is fairly common and reasonably priced.

Uniquely Slovenian dishes are available, but you won't find them on every menu, so here are some to look out for:

  • Kraški pršut - air-dried ham, similar to but not the same as Italian prosciutto
  • štruklji - dumplings which Slovenians prepare in 70 different ways stuffed with sweet fillings, meat or vegetables
  • žganci - a type of polenta (ajdovi žganci are made of buckwheat)
  • žlikrofi - potato dumplings similar to gnocchi, specialty of the Idrija region
  • jota - a type of soup made of beans, sauerkraut, potatoes, bacon, spare ribs, and the main seasoning is garlic.

Some Slovenian desserts can also be found:

  • potica - a type of nut roll for holiday occasions also prepared with the widest variety of fillings.
  • gibanica - a very heavy cakelike pastry of poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins, cheese etc, topped with cream

Places to Eat

At the top of the food chain is the restavracija (restaurant), which could be a fancy restaurant with waiters and tablecloths or just a typical Chinese restaurant. More common in the countryside are the gostilna and gostišče, rustic inns serving hearty Slovene fare. Lunch sets ( dnevno kosilo) cost around €7 for three courses (soup, salad and main) and are usually good value.

Fast food, invariably cheap, greasy and (more often than not) terrible — it's best to steer clear of the local mutation of the hamburger — is served up in grills and snack bars known as okrepčevalnica, where trying to pronounce the name alone can cause indigestion. There is no real Slovenian fast food, but Slovenians have adopted greasy Balkan grills like pleskavica (a spiced-up hamburger patty) and čevapčiči (spicy meatballs) are ubiquitous, but one of the more tasty if not healthy options is the Bosnian speciality burek, a large, flaky pastry stuffed with either meat (mesni), cheese (sirni) or apple (jabolčni), often sold for as little as €2. In recent years many fast food places started making döner kebabs, and they are now among the most popular fast foods in Slovenia, and can be found virtually everywhere.

Dietary Restrictions

Slovenia is not the easiest of places for a vegetarian, although even the smokiest inn can usually whip up a decent fresh salad (solata) and fried vegetables on request. Lacto-ovo vegetarians will have it easy in Slovenia, while strict vegans won't find more than a handful of vegan restaurants in the country (most of them in Ljubljana). It is wise to know that even the smallest store has its healthy food shelves with many non-animal alternatives. In the cities the Mediterranean chick-pea staple falafel and its cousin the vegiburger have made some inroads on fast-food menus. Many restaurants offer a "vegetarian plate", which includes potatoes, fresh or boiled vegetables and soya "steak".

In coastal cities, there is a paradise for pescetarians and seafood lovers. Local specialities are fish, squids, mussels, and octopus.

Drinks and Drinking in Slovenia

In proper Slovene style, all bases are covered for drinks and you can get very good Slovenian beers, wines and spirits. Tap water is generally drinkable.

Coffee and Tea

In Slovenia, coffee (kava) usually means a tiny cup of strong Turkish coffee, and cafes (kavarna) are a common sight with a basic cup costing €1.00-€1.50. One can also order coffee with milk (kava z mlekom) or whipped cream (kava s smetano). Coffee culture is wide-spread in Slovenia, and one can see Slovenes with friends sitting in the same café for hours. Tea (čaj) is nowhere near as popular, and if they do drink it (mostly in the winter), Slovenes prefer all sorts of fruit-flavored and herbal teas over a basic black cup. Tea is served with honey and lemon by request.

Beer

Beer (pivo) is the most popular tipple and the main brands are Laško and Union. Adam Ravbar beer is good quality and is usually hard to find anywhere except in their small brewery (located in Domžale, a town about 10 km north of Ljubljana). A bottle or jug will cost you €2.50 in a pub (pivnica). Ask for veliko (large) for 0.5L and malo (small) for 0.3L. Also try "Union Radler Grapefruit".

Wine

Despite what you might think if you've ever sampled an exported sickly sweet Riesling, Slovenian wine (vino) can be quite good — they keep the best stuff for themselves. Generally, the Goriška brda region produces the best reds and the drier whites (in a more Italian/French style), while the Štajerska region produces the best semi-dry to sweet whites, which cater more to the German/Austrian-type of palate. Other local specialities worth sampling are Teran, a very dry red from the Kras region, and Cviček, a red so dry and light it's almost a rosé. Wine is usually priced and ordered by the decilitre (deci, pronounced "de-tsee"), with a deci around one euro and a normal glass containing about two deci.

Spirits

A Slovene brandy known as žganje or (colloquially) šnops, not unlike the Hungarian palinka, can be distilled from almost any fruit. Medeno žganje also known as medica has been sweetened with honey. Vodka is, as in most of Slavic nations, also very popular, especially among the younger generation.

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