For the chronological narrative, scroll down to begin with Days 1 and 2
Slovenia is intent upon promoting its nascent wine industry, and we visited two of the most prominent makers in the regions of Vipavska Dolina and Brda. Rustic upstart Tilia Estates already exports its pinot gris and noir to many of our cities, and the Bjana label’s sparkling wine, of chardonnay and rebula (aka ribolla gialla in neighboring Italy) has won international acclaim- and mine. I sipped it in the family’s vast Brda cellars and elegant adjoining home, the wine modern, the buildings 13th Century.
All that wine was tempered with a cooking lesson preparing, then consuming, frtalja, the Slovenian take on frittata. Assisted by cooks at Brda’s San Martino Hotel, happily back in my kitchen element, I added garden-snipped herbs, milk, egg yolks and whipped whites to old bread and was soon scarfing down the golden result with a patient, starving Andrew (an expert scarfer of frtalja and all foodstuffs, I found). Major scarfing continued at dinner, a contemporary tasting menu and wine-pairing at Kabaj (ka-by-a), a restaurant and winery known for its “orange” wine (white-grape skins left on for a longer time, I’m told).
Day 6 found me happily roaming with the Zoff family’s pastured cows, sad to soon be roaming back to the airport. We were in Friuli, in Italy, where I’m always happy, sampling Zoff’s raw-milk cheeses and yogurt and wishing they’d export the delectably tangy Cormons herb-rind cheese I squirreled home and have selectively shared with my loved ones. Back in Brdna, the artsy ancient town of Smartno’s Culture House offered an olive oil tasting and lovely traditional lunch of white polenta with prosciutto and wine vinegar sauce. Dessert was a killer flourless chocolate-walnut cake drizzled with orange-infused olive oil. So sweet and filling: the appropriate finale to this intriguing, enlightening sojourn.
I say “pojdi”- that’s Slovenian for Go!