Full disclosure: I am a wine nut. My recent trip to Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro combined delicious vino with truly world-class cuisine, and I found myself in heaven. The Balkans has a wine history dating back thousands of years, however, modern times, two World Wars, as well as a civil war which tore apart Yugoslavia and created countless rifts, interrupted the development and promotion of not only wines but incredible food. Thankfully, agro-tourism is a rising power in the Balkans, and farm-to-table is not just a cliché for these people.
In the lovely town of Kobarid, Slovenia, Ana Roš has put her charming restaurant, Hiša Franko, on the world culinary map. Named the Best Woman Chef in 2017 by the Diner's Club World's 50 Best Restaurants, Ana and her wine connoisseur husband, Valter, are gracious hosts for perennially sold-out dinners night after night. While dining, I was delighted to be joined at the table by their cat, who seemed to think it ran the place. While some may not see that as compatible to high dining, I found it to be part of the charm and genuine atmosphere of Slovenia. If you want to dine at Hiša Franko make sure to plan far in advance and don't miss their segment on Netflix's "Chef's Table".
Gourmet eaters will also find much to love about the Croatia's Istrian Peninsula, where specially trained dogs of no discernible breed joyfully bound off into the woods in search of truffles! Both black and extremely coveted white are found on the Karlić family plantation, and after a fun afternoon spent hunting with these enthusiastic canines, the treasures we found were shaved into scrambled eggs and fritattas with delicious sharp cheeses and plenty of fresh-baked bread. Be sure to try the farm cheese drizzled with truffle honey! And wine.Truffles taste fabulous with the native Malvasia white wine! (Read more about Istria)
I also got to try my hand at pasta making in rustic farmhouses as well as enjoying many elegant end-of-evening sips in stately hotels throughout this lovely, vibrant region. It was a trip that will not soon be forgotten.
For more information about travel to the Balkans, give me a call at 800-345-4453 and I'd love to talk about how we can make your experience in the Balkans even better than mine.
Keeping it wild,