Friday, April 5
Northwest corner of Slovenia, where Italy, Austria and Slovenia meet.
Yesterday was incredible. The scenery driving through the Julian Alps on the way to Rateče was astounding.
Upon our arrival we were greeted by Jerča Oman, 81, and Franiča Kopavnik, 63, who treated us to an herbal aperitif and some canapés made with their own ham, quark and pickled cêpes and chanterelles.
Then they gave me lessons on the making of traditional Slovenian krape which are dumplings, both savory and sweet, stuffed with a mixture of reconstituted dried tepka pears topped with either a sweetened bèchamel or ground pork. We finished with some tepka schnapps.
After dropping a baby goat in my arms, Franiča sent us on our way with gifts of fresh duck eggs, chicken eggs and beautiful dried heirloom beans of multiple varieties. While Ratece is thought to have on average one of the coldest mean temperatures in all of Slovenia and the ground was still covered in snow, the joy these women bring to their lives was so enveloping that we could have been on a beach in a tropical paradise and not felt as warm.
I carried that warmth with me as I drove to Gostilna Lecter in Radovljica. That is, until we were pulled over by the Slovenian police because the filmmakers were shooting video out the back of their van in violation of the Slovenian seat belt law. It got a little tense while I waited in my little red Fiat until the director invoked the name of the American Embassy, whereupon we were sent on our way with wishes of good luck and good tidings.
Upon arriving at Gostilna Lecter, I was treated to a lesson of traditional gingerbread cake decoration. I have to admit that I am not much of a cake decorator, and my first effort turned out to be my best.
Once filming was complete, we settled in with some large bottles of Laško beer while owner Jože Andrejas (below) serenaded us with some amazing blues harmonica. Apparently he is big Sonny Terry fan, and he can really wail!
Today is a much needed day off aside form a brief preparation meeting for tomorrow's schedule. -- Lenny Russo