Foodie Frenzy in Slovenia
(Click here to read this article in Slovene)
Exploring the tasty side of the Soča valley
Visiting the Soča Valley for the first time is mesmerizing! First, you notice the picturesque alpine peaks, too big to hide. Then undulating, green plateaus, where the dark shades of the spruce merge with vivid linden leaves. Everything looks lush, soaked and green. Wild rivers flow down the valley, with the most turquoise among them – the Soča river. Your day is filled to the brim with adventures and activities, but suddenly a strained jazz chant is heard from the depths of your stomach – foooood. This time, we are taking you on a local treat. What are the region’s specialities, what is the story behind them, and where best to taste them? Answers will be served slowly, in good company and with mouthwatering adjectives.Visiting the Soča Valley for the first time is mesmerizing! First, you notice the picturesque alpine peaks, too big to hide. Then undulating, green plateaus, where the dark shades of the spruce merge with vivid linden leaves. Everything looks lush, soaked and green. Wild rivers flow down the valley, with the most turquoise among them – the Soča river. Your day is filled to the brim with adventures and activities, but suddenly a strained jazz chant is heard from the depths of your stomach – foooood. This time, we are taking you on a local treat. What are the region’s specialities, what is the story behind them, and where best to taste them? Answers will be served slowly, in good company and with mouthwatering adjectives.
Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword in the Soča valley
To understand the culinary story of the Soča Valley, put your hiking boots on and head for the mountains. The smell of earth, forest, mowed meadows, milk, cottage cheese and cheese permeates the air. The cookbook of local recipes has always been written according to the dictates of a wonderfully wild but witty nature. In addition to the demanding natural terrain, there was constant tension on this tiny piece of land! Wars, clashes of cultures, and regular border shifts strengthened the unique local character and seasoned the local cuisine.
Secrets from the local kitchen
Hats off. To whom? To grandmothers, nonnas, those sweet old women in colorful aprons who use their fingers to conjure delicious dishes from modest ingredients. Frika, a crispy Alpine pizza made from potatoes and Tolmin cheese, fermented curd that sizzles and mmmm, those sweet, warm dumplings that melt in your mouth. The feeling? Homely, honest, generous and heartfelt – just like that good old granny’s hug that comforts even the most bitter soul out there.
These old recipes were whispered from one ear to another, all the way till now. Still today, every house preserves and protects its kitchen secrets with exceptional sensitivity and pride. Due to this sparkling recipe rivalry, the culinary tradition in the Soča valley is still very much alive! Once shepherd dishes are served in almost every restaurant, bistro, on tourist farms, in mountain huts, and at festivals. Our advice? Come hungry.
In the Soča valley, every cow has a name
Cheese is integrated deep into the hearts of the Soča valley locals. But as Anka Lipušček Miklavič, a farmer and former CEO of the local Planika dairy industry, says, the path to a wheel of cheese begins at the cow’s muzzle. The Soča valley is the land of brown cow – cika, the strong, rugged and mountaineer type of cow. Every spring, the brown cikas and shepherds roam up to the mountain meadows, up to 1400 m high. Cows graze around the pristine mountain meadows for months. Far from the hustle and bustle of the valley, they happily munch on the fresh spring grass strewn with flowers and seasoned with herbs.
Just like nature and people, the animals in Posočje have their own personas and even their own names. Spend the day in the wonderful company of Cikas, Šekas and Pikas at the Bogata organic estate in Bovec. Experience the millennial tradition and heritage of milk and cheese making in the Posočje region and enjoy the Alpine views with that lovely piece of cheese in your mouth.
Drežnica, where are the goats?
“Cin, cin, cin Drežnica, where are the goats” is the first line of a well-known Slovenian children’s song dedicated to the fairytale mountain village of Drežnica and its goats. These upright, temperamental, even a bit micaceous goats are the only true Slovenian autochthonous breed. Drežnica goats are mountain acclimatized, have long hooked horns, bushy fur, a challenging look and a dramatic story. The goat was a thorn in the side of various political systems. For example, in Yugoslavia, a decree was issued in which the authorities demanded the shooting of Drežnica goats. These gluttons were accused of causing too much damage to the forests. To save them from a cruel fate, the people of Drežnica crammed all their goats into the village church (Roš, 2020, p. 125).
Today only about 600 of them are left, and 40 goats are jumping around Berginc Farm. At the Berginc farm, you can try young or mature goat cheese, goat yoghurt and cottage cheese. Before leaving, the Kobarid part of the valley, don’t forget to try a local dessert – Kobariški štruklji (Kobarid dumplings).
Sheep, mushrooms, trout and sweet pockets
Bovec is home to autochthonous, or indigenous, Bovec sheep. Also these sheep are proper climbers and are well adjusted to pasture on steep surfaces, where the most succulent grass grows. Therefore, their milk has a unique taste and is an excellent base for spicy cottage cheese. Its sharp taste is best combined with boiled potatoes. This extremely simple shepherd’s dish, also known as čompe an skuta, is a Bovec’s favorite. If you want to try it, get in line in front of the little wooden house on the Bovec’s main square.
Father Bojan and daughter Anja are head chefs in Bovška Kuhnca stand. They serve you the Alps, the river, pastures and forests. Frika with sheep’s cheese, mushroom stew, trout from the surrounding rivers, potatoes with cottage cheese, lamb…
Everything is made from local ingredients and according to a traditional recipe. For dessert, try Buški krafi, little dough pockets stuffed with pear filling. Paula, the witty Paulačinka owner from the neighboring stand, is the best krafi maker in town.
Modern twists on local ingredients
Times are changing, and so is the cuisine. You can visit the valley’s best Michelin-starred Hiša Franko, the eco-tourist farms and mountain huts, or enjoy your time in atmosphere-filled osterias. The choice is broad, so we have another delicious surprise to make it easier. In the picturesque village Log pod Mangartom lays an old wooden cabin, Brunarica.
Summer is around the corner, and it smells like barbecue. Slovenia does not hold a big BBQ tradition. Yes, we have grills. There are also those special grill talents who proudly and passionately take responsibility for preparing čevapčiči at all family picnics. Cooking over fire seems simple. But bringing the meat to perfection takes long hours of sizzling, and that, let’s be honest, is not in our Slovene grill DNA.
The modernized romance of the barbecue and the inevitable socializing that goes with it has become a part of the Posočje region. In Brunarica, Robin Hill and his team serve you slowly smoked local meat, rich salads full of seasonal treats, burgers, and homemade desserts. In this small kitchen, local ingredients collide with the modern world. The house, the atmosphere, and the menu – everything sounds and looks extremely simple. Simple are the expectations, but once a plate is placed under your nose, you are amazed. Presentation – perfect. Taste – amazing. Don’t worry; not everything is about meat. Brunarica also prepares delicious vegan options.
At this point, we better put down our utensils, as we could go on and on. These are just a few crumbs from Soča valley’s delights, just enough to tickle your taste buds and turn you into a local culinary explorer.
See you in Slovenia!
Slovenia is a destination that truly satisfies all needs, wishes and whims. Whether you’re heading for a rest and reboot, an active adventure, a cultural excursion, or a solid mix of everything, Slovenia is the right choice for you.
An adventure, wellness and cultural immersion trip through Slovenia is unique precisely because of its balance. Join us on an unforgettable AdZENture Retreat in the Soča Valley. Get to know Slovenia and the Soča Valley through unforgettable and authentic adventures!