Archive for the 'Food' Category

Eating and drinking in Slovenia

We loved the food and wine in Ljubljana. Since we were in a hotel, we had to eat out all the time; which I don’t complain about, but it’s always nice to do some cooking yourself in another country, to get a better feel for the ingredients and recipes there. From the Lonely Planet site, I got the impression that horse meat is very popular in Slovenia. And indeed, most restaurants serve one or two dishes with horse in them. We never ate that though, don’t know why, it’s just not done where I come from. Still, there were enough alternatives to choose from. A lot of meat, game, saucages; fish now and then; but also enough vegetable-based dishes (I’m not vegetarian, but I love to eat veggies). There’s quite a number of Italian restaurants, serving pasta dishes, gnocchi, risotto; and again, meat.

And the wine! Great wine all around; very young red wine that we drank at lunch in Luka Gourmet’s Lunch Café; fresh and fruity white and sparkling wines; and more aged reds, it was all there, all Slovene. Someone told us Slovenia doesn’t produce enough wine to export, so it will be hard finding any abroad. And as we travelled by train, we couldn’t take any with us. Another reason to come back some time, by car.

The restaurants we liked most:

  • Sokol, serves Slovene dishes; I had a big plate with all sorts of saucages, as well as the braised cabbage we often got; a bit like sauerkraut, but less sour. Nice young house wine served at the right temperature: cold.
  • Luka Gourmet’s Lunch Café is an Italian restaurant, always crowded at lunch time, though we always managed to find a table. Good simple pasta dishes, but they also have a daily changing menu that will bring some variation when you’ve got to know the regular menu, when you come there rather often. As we did. Their young house wine comes from a tap, and I could drink this every day. As we did.
  • Špajza has a large choice of Slovene and Italian dishes as well as an extensive wine list. We ate there on our last evening in Ljubljana, and a good choice that was. We loved the venison with berries (maybe a bit too hefty for the Merlot).

2005-11-20. No responses.

Coffee from Canada

It’s surprisingly hard to find a decent cup of coffee here in Holland. The Dutch have always been a nation of filtrated coffee drinkers, but in recent years they have largely fallen for the Senseo-disease. The Senseo Crema, as it’s called, is a coffee pad system, exclusively marketed by Philips and Douwe Egberts (Holland’s biggest coffee brand). The problem is that the coffee made with these pads really tastes like… filtrated coffee. I suspect it’s a clever way of selling people something they already had, but giving them the idea that this must be better because it’s pads. Drink coffee like they do in Italy–but without the too strong taste of Italian coffee. All this at a higher price than filtrated coffee, of course. Maybe that’s what’s really wrong here: Dutch people in general don’t like their coffee too strong.

If you find a place where they serve espresso or capuccino, they usually know how to mess it up properly. The coffee is piping hot, and the foam on a capuccino is just that: a lot of air, with a layer of sweetened cocao powder dusted over it. Espresso is all about how full they can poor the smaller espresso cups, making the coffee as watery as possible. I’ve given up hope that I’ll ever drink an Italian caffè outside of Italy: at most half a centimeter of utter caffein bliss, thick, creamy, with intense flavour.

Not that I have a fancy espresso machine at home, I must admit. The time will come when I’ve saved enough money to buy the Wega Mininovaand have the time to use it. In the meantime I’m using a Nespresso machine, which gives me a nice range of flavours and a reasonable time-per-shot. It may not be a God shot, but for me it’s a Go(o)d-enough-shot. It also saves me from the eternal search for the best beans, including expeditions to obscure Italian coffee breweries like the one I accompanied my friends Chris and Vincent on, last year[1].

You’ll understand I was pleased to find a coffee house here where the coffee is actually quite good. There’s not a lot Dutch about it though; it was set up by two Canadian guys[2] near the Amersfoort train station, where I arrive for work every morning. They know how to make a cup of coffee: it’s not too hot and the milk foam is thick and creamy. Then there’s the un-Dutch service (these guys wishing you a nice day while you’re walking out holding a large beaker of latte really is a great way to start your day), as well as the relaxed ambiance they’ve created with comfy leather chairs and soothing music. I hope they’ll make it; but already they have opened new shops in Utrecht and Rotterdam. Their business name is Social Ground.
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2005-11-05. 3 responses.

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