Top Chefs hand in hand with nature 

Slovenia is a land of top-level cuisine, where chefs with world-wide reputations swear by the seasonal ingredients which grow in the gardens and fields near their kitchens. “Without good basic ingredients you cannot create an outstanding dish,” say Janez Bratovž and Ana Roš, the most famous Slovenian chefs de cuisine, convinced of its truth. When mentioning their names, the eyes of gourmets across the globe light up. Janez Bratovž heads the cult restaurant JB Restavracija in Ljubljana, the European Green Capital 2016, which has already been ranked on the San Pellegrino World’s 100 Best Restaurants List. The first lady of top Slovenian cuisine and World's Best Female Chef, Ana Roš, creates her masterpieces near Kobarid in the Soča Valley. Hiša Franko, run by Ana and her partner, the renowned sommelier and cheese connoisseur Valter Kramar, has become a pilgrimage site for Americans, Brits and others who got to know Ana in a well-known TV series on the top chefs of the world. Janez Bratovž is convinced that Slovenia is the next great world gastronomic destination.

Ana Roš and the magic of thastes by Soča river

Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, and the Soča Valley are both defined by their rivers. These are two of the most romantic destinations in Slovenia, attracting a lot of couples. Relaxing in both the city and in nature is enriched by a top gastronomic experience. Ana Roš adores the air between the Alps and Mediterranean, which gives her cuisine a special stamp. Her dishes are an entire garden of tastes! She swears by fresh, traditional, local ingredients, by everything that grows in her garden at the back of the house, everything that is caught in the water and the forest, and everything that smells wonderful by the emerald river Soča beneath the Alps. The association Jeunes Restaurateursd´Europe awarded the Slovenian chef the title “Talent of the Year 2015”. Ana Roš is also a member of the cult collective Gelinaz! Shuffle, in which 37 exceptional chefs exchange their knowledge and combine gastronomic styles.

From fields to the plate

Janez Bratovž enjoys creating original recipes for his menus. Every morning he visits Ljubljana market with its farm producers and fishmongers. It is a great joy to visit the market with him; when the greengrocers see him, their faces immediately light up. He likes to chat with them about food and about how much time an ingredient needs to taste perfect. He is faithful to the nostalgic tradition of Slovenian cuisine, which he likes to merge with the charm of the Mediterranean and the delicacy of French cuisine. He makes delicious gnocchi from pumpkin and he seasons his favourite dish "porridge with Kobarid curd" with fresh mushrooms. The same philosophy and ingredients identify both Ana and Janež: “from the garden to the plate”, and the excellent cheese producers of the Soča Valley, who produce cheese and curd for both chefs.

Ana’s gardens of tastes

Ana Roš once wrote that she believes in a “happy kitchen with good ingredients and techniques and a happy breakthrough chef de cuisine.” Ana isexactly like this in her own restaurant, where it is a pleasure to watch her at work. Gastronomic journalists and critics from all over the world call her the queen of innovativeness in the kitchen for a reason. It is really incredible how she is able to combine so many ingredients in a harmony of tastes; mushrooms, corn, candied plums and salami look like a small organic garden on a plate.

Janez Bratovž and the slovenian tradition with a modern stamp

While creating his own dishes, Janez Bratovž thinks about traditional Slovenian cuisine, which he then dresses up with a modern approach. In his cuisine, four basic roles connect – earth, which is sweet; water, which is salty; fire, which brings bitterness; and air, which contributes sour. Regardless of the rich knowledge that the legendary Slovenian chef has gathered through decades all over Europe, today simplicity and sincerity prevail in his cuisine. He looks for a long time for a farmer who can offer him the best, the most perfect onion. This smells so good in the pot, where he roasts the whole onion and then surrounds it with veal fondue. This is layered under porridge together with a puree of sautéed aubergine.

A masterpiece inspired by Ana Roš

Ana Roš and Janez Bratovž adore pasta in a thousand and one ways. They and their assistants make it themselves, as freshly-prepared is always the best. When Ana starts to make pasta, her kitchen looks like a laboratory. She fills tortellini with Bovec sheep curd. She fries chanterelles in a veal bone marrow sauce. Finally she adds shrimp tails, and the tastes of “mare e monti”, as she calls them, or “the mountains and the sea”, are sent to be granted success and satisfaction by the guests – though, of course, not without top-quality wine, recommended for each dish by her partner Valter Kramar, an exceptional wine connoisseur.

Nothing compares to a great dish

The gourmets who spend their “city” holidays in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s gastronomic capital, love Janež Bratovž’ menu – a Top Chef Menu for slow pampering for two. He is convinced that the small size of the country is an advantage: “Not only because the taste is rich, but also the ingredients travel only a few kilometres to the plate. Smallness also provides for a personal approach.” Janez Bratovž can afford to personally greet each guest and check out how his combinations of tastes work as they melt in the mouth.

Green, active and healthy cuisine

When a dish is complete, given the highest attention, Ana in Janez also add fresh herbs from their home gardens by means of tweezers. In Janez’ porridge you may find a green four-leaf clover for luck! When he is finished, he sends a basket of his favourite herbs to Ana in return for the excellent Kobarid curd.

Ana Roš and her wild garden

For the chef de cuisine, there is nothing more beautiful than a bouquet of fresh herbs. Ana Roš has a magical garden at the back of her house. It is not tidy, since otherwise these plants could not help each other to grow and mature. It is wild and natural, like Ana’s character.

The sweetest thing

At Hiša Franko, a lot of ingredients used in the kitchen are produced in environmentally-friendly way. Her favourites are wild alpine raspberries which she picks every day during the season. They go well with goats’ cheese, butter and crunchy biscuits, which she makes herself and are the basis of an excellent dessert.

A masterpiece of JB’s imagination

When Janez Bratovž directs his own theatre of tastes, he is patient and devoted. He bakes a yellow pumpkin, bought from the market, in a foil packet, then adds it to the gnocchi dough to enrich the taste. He prepares meat slowly and patiently. He seasons the stomach of Krško Polje pork with garlic and fresh herbs, then he slowly, really slowly, roasts it. The final result on the plate is a small dice, which is real explosion of taste. Beside it, he adds beans, carrots and pasta.

Love comes through the stomach

In Slovenia, which is real gastronomic and wine-growing Europe in miniature, with its 24 gastronomic regions and 14 wine-growing areas, love comes through the stomach. Particularly, if you take your time to enjoy the Top Chef Menu. TasteSlovenia!

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