Pictures: 1) Rojac winery, Slovenian Istria, 2) Dining out, 3) Sveti Martin winery, Vipava Valley, 4) Dining out, 5) Ščurek winery, Goriška Brda.
Food & drink
Whilst Italy and Austria can already boast well established reputations for their fabulous local wines and cuisine, the diversity and quality of food in Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina is often a pleasant surprise for first time visitors. The various regions proudly serve their own local specialities which means that wherever you travel here, there is always something new and tempting to sample.
The different styles of cuisine in Slovenia and Croatia reflect the influences of neighbouring Austria, Italy and the Balkans where history has left its mark over the centuries. In the north of the region, traditional alpine style dishes are typically comprised of roasted red meats, sausages, root vegetables and potatoes. Turkey or chicken breasts baked in rich sauces and fresh water fish also feature highly. In the central and southern regions where the Adriatic influence is most evident, seafood, grilled meats, olive oil, truffles, homemade breads and many varieties of prosciutto, salami and cheese are available in abundance. Side dishes of seasonal vegetables and mixed salads are popular throughout. Naturally, the Italian influences in western Slovenia and coastal Croatia means that different fresh pasta varieties feature significantly on many menus and there are some fabulous pizzerias right across the region.
Those with a sweet tooth will also not be disappointed. There is a wide range speciality desserts and cakes on offer, including in the north the delicious apple strudel, pancakes, chocolate cakes, fruit cakes including the spectacular ‘Gibanica’ cake and of course the infamous Bled cream slice ‘kremna rezina’. On the coast various cakes and pastries, ice cream, sorbet and fresh fruit are most popular.
There are many different dining out experiences available, from simple country inns where an extensive range of traditional fayre dominates the menus, through to the most sophisticated of fine dining restaurants which preserve the local and seasonal themes but with some modern twists and creativity.
Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina remain relatively undiscovered as wine producing havens but their reputations are growing and gaining momentum. Due largely to the diversity of landscape and climate in these countries, wine is produced from over fifty different grape varieties. You will be able to sample a good range of red and white wines, from grape varieties you will be familiar with such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah, Pinot Grigot, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon. Furthermore the region offers lesser known grape varieties for your discovery and enjoyment, including Zelen, Rebula, Pinela, Malvasia, Pošip, Krstač and Žilavka (whites) and Barbera, Teran, Refošk, Plavac Mali, Dingač, Vranac and Blatina (reds). In Slovenia perhaps the most versatile region is Primorska in the south-west, adjacent to the Italian border, where the areas of the Vipava Valley and Goriška Brda are located, producing a wide range of red, white, rose and sparkling wines. The north-east of the country produces predominantly white wines including Riesling, Muscat Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon, and the lesser known Traminec, Šipon (Furmint) and Kerner varieties. Croatia’s best known wine producers are located in Istria and on the Dalmatian coast where the wine making tradition goes all the way back to the 5th century BC when the ancient Greeks settled in the region. In both of these Adriatic regions a good range of red and white wines are produced. Whilst just like Slovenia, the inland northern part of Croatia, most notably around the region of Slavonia, produces some fine white wines. Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina produce a wide range of red and white wines from familiar international grape varieties and these countries are also well known for the indigenous red Vranac, Prokupac and Blatina varieties and the white Krstač and Žilavka varieties.
All of these countries produce some excellent beers and almost every region seems to produce its own speciality liqueurs including many different versions of schnapps, grappa, and other fruity or herbal concoctions. In Sarajevo and Ljubljana for example, the city centre located breweries offer guided tours and an opportunity to sample their rather excellent beers.
For more information about our private 1-day wine tours and our private wine & sightseeing tour packages, please refer to the main menu above.