The art historian, food writer and Slovenologist Noah Charney – best-selling author of, among other works, Slovenology and Eternal Architect: The life and art of Jože Plečnik, modernist mystic – is now partnering with Atlas Obscura and Airbnb to offer a unique experience of the country he calls the best in the world. A 6-day tour with a focus on gastronomy, high and low, that takes you from the forest to the table, with foraging, farmers and fine dining, all lead by Dr Charney and drawing on his years of experience and local contacts.
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The first tour isn’t set to run until October 2020, but bookings are now open for a trip that’ll set you in good stead when 2021 rolls around and Slovenia becomes an official European Region of Gastronomy. It’s then that the culinary delights of this small but varied country will be presented on a wider stage, and we can thus expect dozens of articles that find new ways to use “hidden gem”.
While foraging in connection with fine dining may only have entered the mainstream with the arrival of the Danish chef Rene Redzepi and Noma – voted the best restaurant in the world in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 – it’s long been a way of life in Slovenia. Few trips to visit friends or relatives in the country will be complete without a bottle of homemade schnapps being produced, or a salad of greens found while exploring the wilds.
It’s this world the tour plans to open up, offering an experience of Slovenia that goes beyond the ordinary and takes you deeper into the heart of the country – it’s forests, markets and kitchens.
Based on Kamnik, an outline of the schedule is shown below:
Day 1: Welcome to Kamnik, Gateway to the Alps
After settling into your accommodation you’ll tour the town of Kamnik, visit a museum and have dinner in a castle.
Day 2: Alpine Foraging & Cheese-Making 101
You’ll gather plants under the watchful eye of an expert forager, learn how to make cheese and then enjoy dinner in a local inn.
Day 3: Mushrooms & Local Brews
Dr Charney’s mother-in-law will guide you through the forest and teach you how to find porcini mushrooms. You’ll then sample homemade schnapps and continue what sounds like a relaxing day at a microbrewery.
Day 4: Lake Bled, Pears & Schnapps
No visit to Slovenia would be complete without a trip to Lake Bled, and on your visit you’ll also learn about dried tepka pears and flavour your own schnapps.
Day 5: Fresh Honey & A Foraged Feast
Janez Bratovž is the man behind the name on one of Ljubljana’s finest restaurant’s – JB – and is known as “the godfather of Slovenian fine dining”. Dr Charney helped Bratovž write his recent cookbook, and the chef will be on hand to prepare a feast using ingredients that you’ve managed to forage from the local environment.
Day 6: Farewell & Departure
All things must pass, and after breakfast it’s time to say goodbye and head off to your next adventure, having gained a personal and memorable look at the flourishing but still somewhat underappreciated Slovenian culinary scene, from the forest to the table.
The 6-day package is all inclusive – bar the trip to Ljubljana – with food, drinks, accommodation and transportation. The price is €2,699 per person, with a maximum of 12 guests to ensure personal attention. You can find more details here, while Noah Charney’s website is here.