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
"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
"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.
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