The downside about going on a cruise is that you are on always on a tight itinerary. It’s generally only 24 hours here, 24 hours there, with a few ‘days at sea‘ thrown in ~ which is when the entire ship makes a bee line to the day spa or collects poolside, cocktail in hand.
However, the upside to this type of travel (particularly if you’re visiting somewhere for the first time) is that it can be the perfect way of getting a snapshot of a region, city or town. The “thinking” of travel is taken out of your hands. And sometimes that can be so lovely. Not having to worry about finding a good restaurant, making a travel connection, satisfying others or living out of a suitcase can be grand indeed.
And so I was really looking forward to visiting Slovenia via the Celebrity Constellation. I had no clue what to expect of this small country. I did know it had been part of former Yugoslavia. It sits nestled between Italy, Croatia and Hungary. I knew it had been occupied during the 2nd world war and also suffered during the civil war after the disbanding of Yugoslavia. Cultural tensions are still clearly evident if you dig a little. It is not a particularly wealthy country. It has a population of just over 2 million in an area of roughly 21,000 square kilometres which is 40 times smaller than New South Wales. Tourism forms a huge part of the economy. Thereupon my knowledge stopped. Totally. What I wasn’t expecting was the truly stunning food.*
We left the ship early and took a private car out to Lake Bled. Everyone should visit this beautiful spring-fed lake, which sits below a number of Slovenia’s most popular ski slopes. It is picture postcard stuff, indeed a photo of it is part of Apple computers’ “nature” slide show. But back to the food.
The sausage above is a local specialty. Stuffed with herbs, garlic and chunky bits of pork, it was simply delicious. The fresh horseradish blew the hairs out of your nose…
Described as “Flavours of the Karst bora, meat smokers, gardens, fields and forests”, this second antipasti plate had two types of local salami, prosciutto, pancetta, olives, quail eggs and pickled white asparagus. Sprinkled with fresh thyme and rosemary it was again, simple and delicious.
Gorenjska is a part of Upper Carniola which in turn is part of the northern mountainous region of Slovenia. This salad, described simply as Gorenjska Salad, whilst maybe not the sexiest looking of salads, was a fresh and irresistible mix of baby lettuce and rocket, shredded carrot, sliced fennel and green apple, buckwheat porridge (toasted and puffed), walnuts, red cabbage and witlof. The dressing was incredibly light ~ I’d say a mix of creme fraiche, lemon juice, S&P and quality EVOO. Not rocket science to make, but so morish, I could eat it each and everyday.
And therein my visit to Slovenia came to an end. I will return one day. With my family in tow. We will find a house by the beach, drink dingache and I will make Gorenjska Salad.
Until next time…
* We ate at Castle Bled.