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The late Anthony Bourdain recognised how much food defines a nation, so to understand a new culture the best thing is to pull up a chair at the dining table. Fortunately, Eat With allows you to become a part of the family in the home of a local.
It’s encouraging to find people around the globe so passionate about their food, local ingredients and culture that they can’t wait to share it with visitors and impart some local wisdom. It’s the first thing I book on a trip, always at the start to pick up some tidbits of advice and recommendations straight from the horse’s mouth. It also helps to have a local contact should you ever run into any trouble during your stay.
After making a quick dash across a railway line and through a gap in the fence, we found our way to the home of Vesna and her young daughter Lucija. On first glance, we assumed the apartment resided in a converted three-storey house, but our curiosity uncovered that the building is actually family-owned meaning Lucija’s extended family were just a floor above and below. In fact, Vesna’s mother-in-law resided on the bottom floor and her sister-in-law in the middle.
Imagine having your in-laws separated by a ceiling? Vesna seemed to make it work, although she does run away to the country often enough to manage her herbal homestay!
A fellow blogger, Vesna contributes to Slocally and manages a herbal homestay in the luscious Soča Valley. Born amongst the emerald coloured Soča river and a garden full of growing vegetables and blooming flowers, Vesna adores her home country and is keen to share its treasures. Her parent’s herbal rooms are perfect for active travellers, solo travellers, couples and families.
Upon entering the apartment, we slipped on a pair of slippers as is customary and took a seat in the kitchen. Whilst we made the introductions, we were serenaded by little Lucija and her wooden pull-along duck.
Words aren’t the only language as we shared giggles and laughs with the ever-curious, rosy-cheeked Lucija sharing her toys with strangers speaking in another tongue.
Passionate about eating with the seasons, Vesna tends to her own herb and vegetable garden that she combines into dishes heralded from the Primorska and Dolenjska regions.
Glistening on the dining room table were rosy red cherries picked from Vesna's garden. These ruby fruits were juicy and ripe, we loved them so much Vesna parted ways with some Tupperware and we enjoyed them the next day during a walking tour.
Complimenting the cherries were slices of locally made Tolmin cheese and homemade bread. Tolmin Cheese is produced exclusively in - you guessed it - Tolmin and only two surrounding municipalities. It's made from raw milk obtained only from cows pastured in the mountainous landscape of the Upper Soča Valley.
Alongside the cheese and cherries, we grazed on herbal omelettes seasoned with balm, mint and fennel. We dipped sourdough bread into homemade pumpkin seed oil and olive oil and sipped lightly at a Pelinkovac - a homemade herbal Jägermeister infused with more than 50 herbs.
The main course consisted of homemade meatballs and sautee potatoes. It sounds simple but it was a tasty staple that I was very glad to have a taste of.
All good things must come to an end
Not wanting to outstay our welcome, and to allow little Lucija to be put to bed, we said our goodbyes and trudged back to our apartment – avoiding the railway line – with a full belly and a happy heart.
The best part of the experience? Besides making new friends and literal a taste of local culture, we got to enjoy this for the meagre price of £22 per person.