Idrija Food Walk Experience
Idrija Food Walk Experience is a perfect combo after exploring Idrija’s underground. Idrija, the oldest mining town in Slovenia with more than 500 years old mining tradition, is a charming little town and since 2012 it has been on the UNESCO world heritage list together with the Spanish mercury mine in Almadén. Before attending Idrija Food Walk I suggest visiting other Idrija attractions.
I met Urban who is running Idrija Food Walk or in local dialect “Frudl špancir” on a sunny Wednesday morning on Idrija main square. He is also a local guide, a foodie and pretty much in love with fly fishing. “Have you already had a breakfast?” he asked politely and we walked into the coffee and patisserie shop which got its name after Napoleon Bonaparte lover. Sipping coffee from local coffee roaster and indulging my taste buds in freshly baked toast bread, homemade soya mayonnaise, roasted pumpkin (now is the season for pumpkins!) and handmade granola with yogurt while listening to centuries old mining stories. This is the only coffee and patisserie shop that offers breakfast in Idrija. Seasonal, local and very delicious. After the food walk I visited the shop again because I couldn’t resist tasting cottage cheese cake with forest fruit and ice herbal tea (herbs are coming from a local herb picker). Yummy.
We needed to hit the road because there was more food to taste. You could easily miss that tiny bakery shop close to the main square. “This is one of Idrija shops where you can get habanca, cracklings “bread”.” Urban told me and a bakery saleswoman add that we were fortunate to get one because due to the bad weather everyone is cooking cabbage today and eat habanca on a side. The bakery is a popular spot among the locals and I like the atmosphere a lot.
We were passing by the town hall, Idrija lace school, the church of Holy Trinity, the oldest church in Idrija situated on the spot where a bucket maker first noticed the native mercury in 1490 and we arrived to very well kept Idrija municipal apiary, built by Pavel Lapajne, a well-known Idrija lace tradesman. The apiary bee panels are painted with Idrija themes.
Idrija is very small town, easy to navigate with a walk. A nice “Instagram spot” can be found in the middle of typical Idrija garden with a view over I-can-almost-break-my-tongue Gewerkenegg Castle which hosts great exhibitions about Idrija. Keep in mind, if you are planning to visit other Idrija attractions (Kamšt water wheel, Francis’ shaft, Idrija miner’s house), that you should buy tickets here at Gewerkenegg Castle.
“Now we are going to visit the tiniest shop in a range from Vic to Vrsic.” The shop lies opposite to the large one-store building that was used as a granary. Very talkative owner of the shop works hand in hand with local providers and you can buy dairy products, salamis, pates, lard, eggs. Dried stomach salami (želodec) was very delicious. I could stay here for ages listening to his stories but it was time to shake hands and to visit a local butcher.
“If you want to taste the best Kranjska sausage, you should visit Idrija.” explained Urban. Well stocked shop offers a wide range of meat products (Ceplez stomach, 8 types of salami, matured meat, sausages, and more).
It was already time for lunch so our culinary journey of typical Idrija food continued in local inn where we got a proper portion of traditional cabbage soup smukavc (only the dark green leaves from the outside of cabbage are used in the soup!) and ocvirkovca. I love thick vegetable soups and I adore rolled salty pastries. “Na zdravje!” and we made a toast with Vrtovcan wine from Vipava valley which is a blend of Zelen, Pinela, Laski Riesling, Malvasia, Rebula, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Muscat). Vrtovcan is very drinkable wine and Idrija was always connected with Vipava valley which is why the locals love wines from Vipava valley.
After such a heavy meal we stretched our legs a bit and we walked to Rudarska ulica, another UNESCO heritage site. It was a perfect spot to taste very popular miners’ drink Gerus made from wormwood tea and alcohol. It is very strong drink perfect for digestion so thanks to Urban’s ingenuity, I tasted Gerus cocktail instead of pure absinthe spirit.
We ended our perfect Idrija Food walk in the traditional Idrija inn where we tasted festive dish of zlikrofi with bakalca sauce and zeljsevka dessert, made of mint, chives and raisins. “You always eat zlikrofi from the outside plate in order to taste them without the sauce. One zlikrof in the mouth, second is already on the fork and you are already looking for a third one. You come to Idrija to eat zlikrofi and bakalca.” explained Urban while the big portion of zlikrofi was already gone. They were so delicious.
One thing is sure. Visiting Idrija without tasting its local delights it is like climbing Triglav without hiking shoes. Idrija Food Walk was truly unique and unforgettable gastronomic experience and very informative insight into centuries long mining and lace making tradition that put a big impact on everyday’s food and festive dishes.