Slovenia has a very diverse cuisine with strong influence from the neighbouring countries - Austria, Hungary, and Italy. It's difficult to find a dish representing the whole country since it comes from 24 gastronomic areas. The saying "the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach" is especially true in Slovenia.
What is Gostlina?
One of the trademarks of Slovenia is gostilna, a special category of restaurants. A gostilna is not an ordinary restaurant serving delicious food but an integral part of Slovenian culture and gastronomic heritage. Recently, “Gostilna Slovenija” has emerged as a protected concept in the Slovenian catering industry.
Gostilna Slovenija is a high-quality, regulated product that explores the possibility of development while respecting gastronomic traditions so that Slovenian cuisine can become internationally known and recognized.
Through Slovenian cuisine, you can learn not only about food but also about the country's history. The gastronomic features of the Alps, the Mediterranean region and the Pannonian Plain return. The inns here have a history of several centuries and have been run by families for generations.
The restaurants, which specifically offer Slovenian food and drinks, work mainly with local ingredients and try to preserve the traditional taste, with a high chance of receiving the title of gostilna.
More about gostlina...
Since September 2011, restaurants wishing to use the word gostilna on their behalf have had to meet strict conditions.
To be awarded the trademark, external and internal criteria must be met, such as the proper layout of the rooms, the use of quality raw materials and their sourcing from local producers, the use of organic vegetables and fruits, but also the way the service is served and the music on offer.
The trademark can only be obtained by anyone who meets all the conditions. So far, more than 30 Slovenian restaurants can proudly say they are operating as gostilna.
The idea that gostilna should be a protected name in Slovenia is primarily intended to restore the country’s chaotic catering system.
It was often the case that a restaurant's menu included several different dishes. Still, none of them were Slovenian specialties, although the environment and the equipment suggested a homely atmosphere and a character to the guests. In recent decades, Slovenian restaurants have slowly lost their character, wanting to stop this process with the gostilna project.
If they are awarded this prestigious title, they will be regularly checked by a security officer. They will also access many promotional opportunities to make their name more widely known.
The employees of the restaurants take part in further training, where they can learn how to reach an even higher standard and develop both the offer and the services further. So after winning the title of gostilna, restaurants can’t “sit back” and have some additional tasks ahead of them.
And why is this good for guests? When we go to a Michelin-starred restaurant, we know the quality of service we’ll have. However, this is not the case for Slovenian restaurants.
However, the Gostilna brand has changed this, as the name already indicates to the guest that this restaurant's best Slovenian cuisine is on the plates.
Whether in a modern or traditional style restaurant, the restrictions apply equally to them in terms of drinks and ingredients as well as furnishings or architectural elements.
The concept of Gostilna Slovenija is still unknown to foreigners, so the goal is to spread its reputation across borders. The Slovenian Tourist Association is also actively involved.
In the long run, the goal is for Gostilna Slovenija to become an internationally known brand, a concept just like an English pub or a Chinese restaurant.
To do this, Slovenian caterers must also recognize the importance of the project. It is useless for foreigners to know the meaning of gostilna if there is hardly a restaurant on their Slovenian journey that truly serves Slovenian specialties by this title.
The effort to base the offer of Slovenian restaurants on the specifics of national gastronomy and to combine and further develop this heritage with modern procedures and technologies seems to be on track.
#1 Kranjska Klobasa (Carniolan sausage)
This is probably the best-known Slovenian food in the world. The name "Kranjska" was first mentioned in 1986, and in 2015 Slovenia entered it into the register of Protected Geographical Indications.
The sausage is smoked and must contain at least 68% pork, 12% beef, and a maximum of 20% of bacon. It's typical of Alpine Slovenia, the region of Gorenjska.
Potica is the most traditional Slovenian cake, usually served around Easter and Christmas. The cake is made of dough filled with various fillings, and then rolled to create a spiral inside the pastry.
Originally it was filled with walnuts, tarragon, honey, and poppy seeds, but now you can try it with more than 80 different flavours (like chocolate, cheese, or coconut).
#3 Prekmurska gibanica (Prekmurian Layer Cake)
This delicious dessert has layers of a poppy seed, apple, walnut, and cottage cheese fillings - and it's also a calorie bomb. The Traditional Specialty Guaranteed label also protects the cake, which means that it can only be sold if it's made according to the traditional recipe. This cake is typical in Pannonian Slovenia, in the Prekmurje region.
#4 Kraški Pršut (Karst Prosciutto)
The Karst Prosciutto is another famous Slovenian food, it's typical mainly of the coastal area and the Karst region. The Prosciutto has a centuries-old tradition of salting and drying the pork thigh. It's more of an appetizer than an actual dish, and it goes very well with a glass of Kras Teran (a well-known red wine from the Karst region).
Štruklji is a traditional meal made of wheat or buckwheat dough. It has a lot of varieties, it can be served as an individual or a side dish, cooked or baked and stuffed with sweet or savoury fillings. The most typical ones are filled with cottage cheese, tarragon, walnuts, and poppy seeds.
A simple and very popular Slovenian farm dish made with buckwheat or cornflour topped with cracknels. It goes well with milk, sour cream, sausages, cabbage, and stews. It's similar to polenta and can be served as an individual or a side dish, based on the toppings.
#7 Jota (Yota)
Jota was a typical winter dish, and it's now available in basically every mountain cottage. The Karst Jota is made from sauerkraut or sour turnips and always includes potatoes. There is also a Sweet Karst Jota version with mashed potatoes, beans, carrots, spices, and vinegar. The Istrian Jota is made with sauerkraut and beans but doesn't include potatoes.
Močnik is a type of Slovenian porridge. They are made from different types of flour, like buckwheat, corn, wheat, millet, rye, or oats and can be cooked in milk, cream, or sour cream. In some regions, they stir it into a clear soup.
#9 Prežganka (Prežgana župa)
The brown colour of the Prežganka soup comes from browning the flour in oil or butter. After that, you have to add water and season the soup. Once it boils, beaten eggs are added to the soup. It's a typical dish of the coastal areas around Trieste.
#10 Štefani Pečenka
Štefani Pečenka is a classical Slovenian food, which is especially popular around certain holidays (like Easter). It's meatloaf with hard-boiled eggs inside.
#11 Bled cream cake
The Bled cream cake is the symbol of Bled's cuisine. The cake has a delicious vanilla cream layer, topped with whipped cream and a crispy puff pastry. Last but not least, it's covered in a thick layer of icing sugar. With amazing harmony of the flavours, it's a must-try delicacy if you are in Bled.
#12 Trojane doughnut
The village Trojane became famous thanks to Gostilna Trojane. It's a restaurant, café, and cake shop, but it's mostly known for its Trojane doughnuts. The classic doughnut is filled with apricot jam, but you can also try other variations (e.g. chocolate or vanilla). The doughnuts are huge, so make sure you arrive hungrily. And of course: they are best when they are still warm!
Bograč is influenced by neighbouring Hungary's famous dish, goulash. The soup combines meat (pork, beef, and game) mixed with potatoes, paprika, and wine. There is even a festival held annually called Bogračijada, where professional and amateur cooks compete to see who can make the best Bograč.
#14 Idrijski žlikrofi
Idrijski žlikrofi is a traditional dumpling that originates from the town of Idrija. The small dough pockets are filled with potatoes, ham, spices, and zaseka (minced and seasoned pork fat). They can be served as an individual dish with butter and cheese or with different types of stews.
#15 Soška postrv
The Soča river offers a great place for various water sports, but it's also home to the Soča trout. Even though the fish is a local delicacy, it's endangered and protected because of it.
Fishing for trout is strictly restricted, so it's better to leave it to the professionals. Head to any restaurant near the river and try the trout roasted, grilled, or fried in buckwheat or corn coat.
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