Grande cuisine - Under the earth and in the air

Slovenians are well known for their fondness for good cuisine. Now the challenge is to tempt diners into the most unusual of settings. Dinner in a coal mine or in gondola, anyone?

A dinner with the miners

Photo: Restaurant Hiša Franko

Ana Roš, co-owner of Restaurant Hiša Franko, is a chef and one of the world's top-profiled cooks. She recently put forward a special challenge for all lovers of culinary delicacies. Her daring invitation was: "How about a dinner in a mine shaft? Would you go for it?" She thus organised a dinner at the Mining Museum in Velenje, the only underground mining museum in this part of Europe, where visitors can descend 160 metres below the earth into mine shafts.

"Our desire was to take our guests on a culinary journey through traditional Slovenian dishes. Both Ana's kitchen and the Mining Museum remind us how important it is to be aware of one's roots and to preserve one's heritage", she commented on the experience.

Photo: Restaurant Hiša Franko

For this purpose, Ana designed a special and highly inventive menu, which gracefully integrated traditional local dishes with a whiff of avante-garde cooking. In preparing the dishes, she followed the philosophy of miners' wives: make it simple, tasty, and homely.

Upon arrival, guests were treated to a slice of bread and a pinch of salt – once a frequent miners' meal and also a sign of welcome. As a starter, guests were served steak tartare with sour cream mousse, anchovies, and oysters, followed by a more classical combination of crusted asparagus with sweet prosciutto, black truffle, and egg. The main meal included lamb in combination with starflower and celery.

Guests found the event delightful and Hiša Franko certainly intends to organise it again in future. There are many challenges, as they say at Hiša Franko. Currently, the restaurant is working on a project entitled Street Food, which in July and August is already taking place in Bled as well as in Portorož and Koper.

Feeling dizzy

Photo: Anže Furlan

Two top-notch restaurants of the Upper Carniolan region joined forces and launched a project which serves as an excellent promotion for the region: dinner in a gondola lift.

It is a unique culinary experience high above the ground. The experience can best be enjoyed as a romantic dinner for a couple, but is intended for a maximum of four people. While riding in a Krvavec gondola and savouring the treats of restaurants Dvor Jezeršek from Cerklje na Gorenjskem, and Gostilna Krištof from Predoslje, guests can enjoy panoramic views of Kranj and the Ljubljana basin, embraced by the Kamnik-Savinja Alps.

Three meals are offered alternately between two routes upwards and back. On the first route, guests are served sparkling wine and an appetiser. The second route comprises the main meal, while the third route includes a stopover on the panoramic terrace of the upper gondola station and something sweet for dessert.

Those who favour organic food can choose the so-called "eco-dessert" where the ingredients are 100% biodegradable and natural, including a tree twig instead of the ice-cream spoon, the ice-cream cup, and a tree leaf as the guest's "napkin". The ingredients are largely of local origin and are the primarily characteristic of Upper Carniolan cuisine.

Photo: Uroš Podlogar

Text by Tanja Glogovčan