In July Bill and I noticed an interesting tidbit in the New York Times about agri-tourism in Slovenia. After one glance at the slide show, we knew we had to go. We were looking for a destination for a short trip in August, and so we immediately made plans to visit the Skerlj family farm in Tomaj, Slovenia.
My mental picture of a farm is a white house surrounded by corn fields, and my expectations for a secluded farmhouse had been reinforced by the farm where we stayed in Tuscany, reached via a long, curvy drive. So I expected the Skerlj farm to be very remote, but in fact it is perched in the midst of Tomaj village. The area is hilly and the farm is terraced. The buildings are centered around a courtyard. The sloping hill below is covered with steps of grapes and fruit trees. Across the road behind the pool are more grapes, and vegetables and figs. Every available spot on the property grows some beautiful, delicious plant. In addition to the fruits and vegetables, the family keeps bees, rabbits and pigs. Our room was right above the pigs. Very farm-like!
Dinner at the farm is an unbelievable €10.00 per person. We planned to partake of the dinner offering the first night, but then thought we might try other restaurants on the subsequent evenings. But after that first night we were so taken but the fresh, beautiful food and dining under the grapes in the cool breeze that we had dinner at Skerlj every night.
Our starter on the first evening was a lasagna made with crespelle instead of lasagna noodles. Crespelle are crepe-like and make a wonderfully light lasagna. Each dinner featured a salad fresh from the garden dressed with a simple vinaigrette. Chicory, cucumber and cabbage were included almost every night, with a variation of tomatoes, apples, and beans. Yes, beans are common on Slovenian salads. I was happy to see that Slovenians love the mandolin slicer, as I love wafer-thin cucumber and salad veggies. We had several preparations of pork during our stay, and fried rabbit one night. We’re not skilled at eating rabbit; I seemed to encounter a lot of bones, but it was delicious with the plum sauce. We had just visited the rabbit hutch that afternoon, so I was wondering if I would recognize my dinner. The vegetables with dinner were all terrific. We particularly liked the zucchini the first night that was cooked with garlic and pumpkin seeds. We had several delicious soups–a veggie soup drizzled with bučno olje (pumpkin seed oil), a classic Slovenian ingredient, and a wonderful mushroom soup. Dessert was homemade ice cream on two nights–honey flavored, with their own aromatic honey, and peach. It was wonderful to eat tomatoes and peaches grown in actual sunshine! We also had a wonderful panna cotta and a plum dumpling.
We drank Skerlj wine with dinner every evening, and in the end the wine tab was about €7.00. That with the €20 a night total for dinner is so affordable my mind is still spinning.
Take a look at the slide show below for pics of these amazing meals.