Ana Roš’ insider guide to Slovenia
One of the most beautiful landscapes from the Alpine region to the seaside, Slovenia has become a food and wine mecca for those in the know.
Ana Roš grew up skiing the Alpine regions of Slovenia before becoming the world’s best female chef with her restaurant of Hiša Franko. Here is her guide to the best places to eat and drink in Slovenia and (just) beyond its borders.
Spend at least one day in Ljubljana, the city is very small, it is hobbit-size but it is the capital and so it has it all and developing a wonderful bistronomie scene which is a slow process but a sure one. Take your running shoes, because it has incredible areas and you are constantly moving from green parks to city areas all the time and the city centre is a walking area and spend some time there sitting by the Ljubljana river at places like Slovenian tapas bar, TaBar where you can sip on some great natural wines. Of course, there is our new pop-up bistro Ana in Slon and I really believe in the food there as well as our bakery Pekarna Ana where our baker makes breads and laminated doughs.
On the outskirts of Llubijana is a small town called Horjul and a restaurant worth visiting, called Grič (pronounced greech). It is run by Slovenian chef Luka Košir who serves local Slovenian cuisine with a Scandinavian edge to it which is based on the amazing produce they farm themselves, such as ducks and vegetables from the gardens.
Chef preparing fish at Topli Val at Hotel Hvala in Kobarid; Lake Jasna in the Julian Alpine region of Slovenia and home to Milka restaurant and hotel.
Karst is the area that says how multicultural Slovenia is, andis the country that is divided between Italy and Slovenia which leads to Trieste. Trieste is a castle capital in Northern Italy and is Italian today but has been under the Yugoslav flag for some time. It has super multi ethnical communities. There is a Slovenian minority and Austrians living there, as it was once Austro-Hungarian, and of course Italians and Istrians. This is like ‘Vienna on the sea’ and with the Miramare castle is so beautiful lit up at night.
Karst is also near where I live in the region of Istria, which is on the Croatian side – Istria is like Tuscany, but more beautiful as it has managed to preserve a lot of its charming country life. This is the place where the best products like truffles and olive trees grow, it has amazing cheese and whatever grows on its red soil - tomatoes, cucumber, whatever. It is where the seaside meets wildlife. Really anywhere you go here, and you are connected with food and the best way to explore is to just try simple restaurants where you can try donkey, ham or home-grown chicken with fuži, a local handmade Istrian pasta that is like a small spindle.
Josko Gravner of Gravner wine with his underground amphora in Collio; Grič restaurant and chef Luka Košir.
Collio Goriziano just across the border is the wine region that is split into two parts – one part is Slovenia, the other Italy. Here they produce Friuliano and Ribolla Gialla wines which are some of the most famous white wines from the area, as well as Malvasia. Oslavia is the home of Josko Gravner wines, also the Radikon and Prinčič family wines, who were pioneers of biodynamic wine production. You need to book ahead for a private tasting with any of these vineyards. Also in this area is Klinec Inn where you can eat house-made prosciutto and cheese, and local dishes that are incredibly good.
Head on a train trip through the Soča Valley, this is the very first one to put on the bucket list – it is spectacular Alpine country. Travel north through Bled to Kranjska Gora where you can have a beautiful meal and stay at the hotel and restaurant Milka on the Jasna lake, one of the top three Slovenian restaurants. Over the Vršič Pass is a prime destination in Slovenia because it has preserved the wild beauty of the forest. This area can be overwhelming in summertime, but for the rest of the year is one of the most beautiful Alpine valleys in the world. About 1 1/2 hours drive from here in Kobarid is Hotel Hvala and its restaurant Topli Val, where you can eat better fish than any regional coast. Here also at Hiša Polonka, you’ll find traditional dishes like frika and local štruklji which are called Kobariški štruklji (the štruklji from Kobarid) pronounced [kobareeshki shtrookli) as well as local cheese and natural wines. Hiša Franko, our fine dining restaurant is just on the outskirts of town too.