Fresh Places: Chef Patrick’s 3 Day Slovenia Travel Guide December 7, 2017
Last week, our Head Chef Patrick took a spontaneous three day trip to Slovenia and Northern Italy where the surroundings are as breathtaking as the food. In this article, he documents his travel highlights…
“I’m not gonna’ lie. Weekends are a bit samey at my house. Avo toast, a wander around the food market and catching up on some reading. It’s pretty rockstar…
As it turns out, mixing up your routine can be a lot more time consuming (and actually slightly intimidating) than you think. I could have chosen a weekend in one of my old haunts, but in the name of pioneering adventure, I decided on Slovenia. The first thoughts that went through my head were: I don’t speak Slovenian, I don’t honestly know where it is on the map and there’s always the risk I’ll get there and it won’t be as much fun as somewhere I’ve already been. But that’s the whole point about adventure… feel the fear and do it anyway!
And so I got to planning. My first port of call was a guide called Miha, who’d been recommended to me by Sarah Wilson (of I Quit Sugar fame). Miha immediately put my mind at rest and started filling in the holes that were making me hesitant about the trip (food being at the top of that list!). Within a day he’d sent me an entire hour by hour breakdown of hiking, cycling, restaurants and accommodation.
With (extremely cheap) flights booked, I took the 2 hour flight to Llubljana (you-blee-ya-na), picked up a hire car and zipped off to the cutest Air B n B log cabin I’ve ever seen.
First thing’s first: Slovenia is stunning. Imagine Italy meets Switzerland and you’re there. There’s an incredible sense of pride in everything they do. Even the way they perfectly stack their firewood outside their houses appealed to the enthusiastic OCD in me.
Following Miha’s recommendation I did this hike on my first day. The starting point was about 10 minutes drive from the log cabin and the hike is a breathtaking 5 hour round trip. I wouldn’t say it was extreme by any means, but there are a few steep bits and the way down involves some tricky steps with a rope along the side. Get yourself some bread rolls and fillings from the supermarket and make yourself a picnic at the top (see above!)
On day 2 the weather wasn’t so favourable, so I headed back to Ljubljana for a wander around the beautiful old town and came across an absolute gem of a restaurant called Pri Skofu. It’s run by an all-female team, who create the most divine local dishes from the freshest produce. Buckwheat, perfectly cooked, local caught fish with an amaretto cream sauce and a hearty salad with strips of steak and shavings of smoked cheese appeared in perfectly orchestrated succession.
The beauty of Slovenia is also its proximity to Austria and Italy. You can visit all three countries within an hour, so I zipped across the border to visit a beautiful, secret hideaway called La Subida (below).
La Subida is one of those places that’s so tranquil, I’m half tempted to keep it to myself. Nestled between vineyards, a walking distance from the sleepy town of Cormons, they’ve got cosy cottages, fireplaces and two incredible restaurants. I feasted in their Michelin star restaurant on the first night, but my heart/tastebuds were truly won over by the more simple trattoria, which serves rustic, warming dishes like chestnut soup, frittata, hearty salads with walnut, local pear and Parmesan, all accompanied by local wines if that’s what you fancy.
The staff are friendly to a fault and hooked me up with a great deal on a bright yellow Vespa so I could scoot around the local area. If wine tasting is your thing you can easily organise tastings at all the local vineyards, which is easily an entire day of bacchanalian fun in itself.
From La Subida it was an hour and a half back to the airport to drop off the car and before I knew it I was back in busy old London.
The moral of the story? It’s easy to dismiss places that are a bit more off the beaten track. There’s too many question marks over them to risk our precious holiday time. But if you can tap into a local guide (Miha was a goldmine of info but local Air B n B hosts can give you so many tips as well) you’ll unlock a hidden gem like Slovenia and never look back.”
To get Miha’s help for the perfect Slovenian trip go to http://www.slovenia-trips.com/eng/join-our-tours
To stay or eat in beautiful La Subida check out http://www.lasubida.it/