Lenny Russo and Mega Hoehn at Sarajevo 84 in Slovenia. Photos by Christopher Wurst.

Lenny Russo and Mega Hoehn at Sarajevo 84 in Slovenia. Photos by Christopher Wurst.


Last week Lenny Russo, chef-owner of Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market, was named to the American Chef Corps. He's in Slovenia for the next two weeks bringing American food to the Slovenians -- and traveling around the country to learn about traditional Slovenian foods. Check in for his frequent updates.


Friday, March 29
Ljubljana, Slovenia

"We arrived safely and we are taking the first two days to finalize the plans, which at this point include truffle hunting, turbot fishing, sea salt harvesting, wine tasting, cheesemaking, prosciutto curing, a wine dinner in collaboration with Igor Jagodic, who is the young up and coming Slovenian chef of Strelec Restaurant in Ljubljana Castle and another dinner at the U.S. Embassy here." -- Lenny Russo

Saturday, March 30
Ljubljana, Slovenia


"Last night's dinner was at Sarajevo 84 , which is a traditional Bosnian restaurant, where we dined on cevapcici. We also had some fantastic spicy sausages, red bell pepper puree, grilled peppers, fresh farmer's cheese and some cheese and ground spiced meats wrapped in phyllo, which were reminiscent of dolamades.  Also, we had some great beer. The red label beer, Union, is the beer of the east while the green label beer, Lasko, is the beer of the west.  A Slovenian saying goes like this, "I drink Lasko, but I piss Union."  Guess which one I preferred?


Mega and I met with Chef Igor Jagodic of Strelec today. He will be cooking with me at the Wednesday dinner at his restaurant. He's a very interesting guy who spent time in Paris and at Nomo in Denmark.  We had to hike up a mountainside in pouring rain to get there (to the castle where the restaurant is, which sits above the city at the highest point).  Of course, once we arrived, we discovered the tram that would have carried us there.  Even so, the calorie burn was good for us given the meat extravaganza we are celebrating daily.  This morning, breakfast was accompanied by mortadella, panna cotto, prosciutto and sopressa.

The menu outline is currently five courses with a vegetarian first course of sunchokes, celeriac and wild garlic.  We haven't decided yet if it's a soup or a salad.  The next course will be sea bass with fish fumet followed by young venison loin with either carrot or parsnip puree, fried sage and a venison glace scented with juniper. Then we will have a course of aged Slovenian cheeses followed by a tiny pear poached in Movia's dessert wine made from Malvasia and Picolit accompanied by a light ice cream flavored with orange essence.  The key to finalizing the menu will be the wine tasting at Movia on Monday where Mega will help us dissect the wines. Then Igor and I will begin prepping for the Wednesday dinner at Strelec, which is hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia and the Kaval Group of retaurants, among others. It looks there will be about 60 VIP guests chosen by the embassy, the chamber and Kaval. They are primarily business people, diplomats, chefs, restaurateurs and the winemakers. 

We will remain in the capitol of Ljubljana until Monday when we head to the wine growing region (Brda). We will be traveling back and forth since the country is only the size of New Jersey, and we are concentrating on only the western half. 

Tonight we dined at a fish restaurant called Taverna Tatjana. It is just across the river about a 20-minute walk from where we are staying in the old town. We had whole sea bream. It was cooked plancha style and served tableside very simply with lemon and some good Slovenian olive oil. We also had mangel (beet greens) with potatoes and a cold plate of octopus salad with fish pate and white anchovies served with a hearty blond bread. 

We enjoyed a bottle of dry Slovenian Malvasia from Istra which is on the coast and where we will go turbot fishing. We ended the meal with vodka infused with blueberries and a traditional black walnut sweet bread known as potica, which is a yeast dough rolled out and filled with sweet black walnut paste. It is then rolled and wrapped before being cooked." -- Lenny Russo





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Lenny Russo named to American Chef Corps

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