There are some excellent culinary destinations such as Italy, France and Spain, where every self-professed foodie has savoured and instagramed its delicacies. As has every other tourist. These obvious choices are bound to satisfy as they are safe if a tad predictable. But are they exciting? Every respectable Facebook or Instagram account has its fair share of Italian cappuccinos or French baguettes with Ponte Vecchio and Eiffel tower proudly adorning the background. But a true foodie is always looking for new things to discover, exciting dishes to try. Preferably somewhere, where mass tourism has not yet spoiled an authentic dining experience. The frequent occurrence of tourist menus should raise a red flag if you want to avoid a tourist trap. And there’s plenty of those in every popular travel destination. The thought of ordering food from a plastic menu sends shivers down the spine of every self-proclaimed gourmand.
The BBC has just put Ljubljana high on top of its list of ten culinary destinations for foodies to visit this year. Slovenia’s culinary scene has really flourished in the past few years, especially in the capital – Ljubljana. The general enthusiasm for food culture and the steep rise of tourism propelled the city to up its culinary game. There’s a number of restaurants and bistros serving locally influenced cuisine, often with a contemporary twist. Traditional Slovenian dishes have once again found a spot on most accomplished restaurants’ menus. Having faded into the background some time ago, they’re now firmly back and here to stay.
A number of famous chefs and winemakers have shone a light on this boutique destination, famous for its picturesque scenery and quality of life. Having the world’s best female chef – Ana Roš or numerous winemakers whose awarded wine sell in top restaurants from New York to Tokyo, certainly helps. Then there’s a young generation of chefs eagerly waiting to put their print on the country’s culinary development.
Ljubljana’s food market is the liveliest part of the city, especially on Saturdays when there’s an organic market. The advantage of Slovenia being small is that it’s not so globalised. Which means the farmers can produce readily available, high-quality ingredients. Organic farming and urban gardening are on the rise, with people putting more emphasis on quality than quantity. On Fridays (March – October) the market of Ljubljana transforms into an open-air food court “Odprta kuh’na” with every culinary option imaginable, from local to international. The party goes late into the evening, with people mingling, enjoying great food, quality wine and generally just celebrating the upcoming weekend.
Ljubljana, a vivacious capital of Slovenia, makes for an unforgettable culinary destination. Rising in popularity, but not yet mass tourism infested, which means unspoiled quality food and acceptable prices. Traditional and contemporary cuisine awaits food lovers, prepared to go a step further. And not a single tourist menu in sight! Now go on, take that Insta photo, you know you want to.