Please stay with the Vertičs when you go to Slovenia. I didn’t ask them if I could invite all my readers, but their dining table should be big enough for the ten of you. At the Vertičs if there is food for four, there is food for five, or twenty. With Barbara’s cooking you are guaranteed to enjoy meals that blend traditional Slovenian dishes with the creativity of a world class cook.
Like in my birthplace, Venezuela, in Slovenia the main meal of the day is lunch. At noon, families sit around a table protected by plate mats and a wide array of dishes that always include a leafy green salad dressed with sunflower seed oil and garlic. Sitting down to eat was always a pleasure. If the Slovenian economy has taken a hit since their independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, there is no indication that the depth of their cuisine has suffered as a result.
My favorite dish was Goveja Juha, a clear broth soup made by cooking beef on the bone for 2 to 3 hours with a basic vegetable roux. The soup is served with Žličniki, which are spoon sized dumplings made with flour and eggs. Traditionally, you can also garnish the dish with Žganci, which looks like a buckwheat flour volcano surrounded by water, salt and fat when it’s being cooked.
But the true highlight was the “Maria Cake”. It is no coincidence that Barbara named it after seeing my shameless state of bliss while eating it. This flourless cake is made out of almonds and dark chocolate, a combinations of creams, and berries (raspberries and blueberries). These ingredients are a perfect balance of texture and flavor and all layers remain impeccably in place thanks to a seal of clear gelatin. The Maria Cake is pure perfection.
The drive from Ljubljana to Croatia was about two hours long and mostly painless, even though there was a delay at the border. An immigration officer told me I wasn’t allowed to stay in Europe for over three months. After some irritating back and forth, the officer accepted the stamp I got in London, which clearly stated that I was allowed to stay for six months (*). Border control. There is always something.
Peroj is a small village fifteen minutes away from Pula. It was my home during my stay in Croatia. The beach was only five minutes away by bike and every night before going to bed, the sun waved goodnight presenting a beautiful horizon of colorful skies painted with pinks, oranges, purples and reds. I have always loved sunsets. When I describe my time in Croatia, I feel the love all over again. So, just like a star crossed lover, I will conclude this post with a poem:
This moment won’t last forever.
Don’t rush me in.
Don’t force me out.
Let the water take me at its own pace.
It’s too cold to stand still,
it’s too nice to go back.
So, not before the sun hides
will I wish I were anywhere else.
And the camera won’t do justice
to the highlights of these colors.
My words will all fall short
to the power of this sea.
Gray melted metal.
(*) It is possible that since the U.K. is not part of the Schengen Agreement their visas don’t apply to the rest of the EU.