Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ljubljana Dinner at Julija: Pasta Truffle and my discovery of Pumpkin Seed Oil

I have to admit that I did researched restaurants in advance, however when you are there at the destination and it is evening and dark, and well I am of course alone, logistics can take the upper hand of things.

There were a few restaurants that I wanted to try but they were all not walking distance from my hotel. None of them were in the core centre really, and although I have a rental car with me I do not fancy driving around the city in the dark. I have to let them go and search for an alternative.


One of the very good pastas I have tasted, here with mushrooms, spices and truffles, and then garnished a bit with parmesan cheese.

Julija Restaurant: Pasta Truffle and Pumpkin Seed Oil
(Julija is by the way #11 on TripAdvisor)

So what I did first was to get my bearings around town by taking a little stroll in the old centre whilst surveying the restaurant scene. I was then able to shortlist two restaurants and eventually picked Julija Restaurant on busy street, Stari Trg mainly because it has a very homey ambiance and there were lots of people dining. A busy restaurant is always a good sign, and luckily, they have a table available for me.

I knew what I wanted to order, which has been hanging on my tastebuds for days already: PASTA

Slovenia has been historically under Venetian rule and later Italian territory for a long time, so the country has many Italian influences in their culture such as in their cuisine which surprisingly is pasta based. Pasta is a popular food on its own, Slovenian way of course, but a great accompaniment as well for meat dishes. So I ordered pasta and the wait staff said their pastas are specially handmade. I also asked him to add some truffle to it. The truffle was not on the pasta menu but a personal request which they gladly tweaked into my order. I ordered as well a small salad to go with my pasta.

When my dinner arrived, I could smell the strong flavour of the truffle and could not wait to dig in to the bowl. Then the wait staff placed the salad side dish and a bottle of oil on my table. He said the bottle of oil is Slovenia’s culinary oil—the Pumpkin Seed Oil (bucno olje) and I must try this with my salad. And so I did, adding the rich and thick oil to my salad with a pinch of salt and pepper, and oh wow, the pumpkin seed oil has definitely opened a new angle of culinary experience for me!

The pumpkin’s oil taste haunted me after that dinner so before I left the country I bought two bottles, one big pumpkin seed oil for gourmet-garnishing purposes and a small one for cooking try out.

At the restaurant I also met four Dutch ladies. They were in their 40s and they flew in to Ljubljana via Germany. They were in the city for an all girl’s long weekend trip. They loved the idea that I am travelling on my own and going on a road trip across two nations: Croatia and Slovenia. They talked about going to Jordan and Cuba as well, which I have been to and was able to give valuable tips such as—do rent your own car to maximise holiday enjoyment if you are into sightseeing and culture.


The restaurant was full, luckily they have a table for me.


My dinner: Pasta mushroom truffle and a side salad garnished with pumpkin seed oil (see the bottle beside the salad, the colour of the oil is dark olive green to almost black).


The four Dutch ladies I met. The one in black with her back to the camera smiled and began a conversation with me in English when to her surprise I responded in Dutch =)

This is the yummy pumpkin seed oil. They are great to garnish on any dish on the table.


However, Slovenians claim that they are best as topping for vanilla ice cream. And yes, I can confirm indeed that the pumpkin seed oil is the best pairing for vanilla ice cream. There is something with the pumpkin seed's nutty and rich flavour that go well with vanilla and ice. The picky Dutchman for example does not like the oil in his salad but love it with his vanilla ice cream. You have got to try this when in Slovenia.

Travel Period: March 2014
Destination: Ljubljana, Slovenia

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