Interview: Artisan Food Tours in Slovenia

I first read about Sylvia Onusic on her internet blog where she was talking about Slovenian food and her food tour in Slovenia. An American with Slovenian roots, she first visited Slovenia in 1989, but discovered the country in greater details when she came to Slovenia on a Fulbright scholarship and later worked in Ljubljana for six years. As a researcher, Sylvia specialises in traditional foods, and she has been lecturing on Slovenian Traditional Foods across the USA.

We met on a rainy day in Ljubljana, where Sylvia is working on her next tour for 2014. Talking about traditional foods, restaurants and local experiences, I learned about Sylvia’s passion for good food and for Slovenia. Her tours are big success because she shares this passion with everybody that joins her group and because her tours are based on her own experience.

Where did the idea to organise a food tour in Slovenia come from?
I have been researching and lecturing on Slovenian traditional foods at national conferences for several years. At the same time I have been writing for the Weston A. Price Foundations journal, Wise Tradition in Food, Farming and the Healthy Arts. My lecture and blogs on raw milk vending machines in Slovenia were such a big hit because selling raw milk in America can be illegal in some states and here it is available to the public in an automatic vending machine. After hearing my talks people started to ask me to organise a food tour to Slovenia.

Taste of Slovenia at milk vending machine, S. Onusic
Taste of Slovenia at milk vending machine, S. Onusic

How do you prepare your tour? What is the most important?
I want my guests to taste traditional Slovenian food, to enjoy the countryside and to meet the locals. I never take them to mass tourist sites where you usually take tourists. I tell them about them, and sometimes they visit these places on their own. I spend a lot of time in Slovenia preparing the tour, checking the hotels and restaurants, looking for new local inns, traditional craftsmen, wine cellars etc. I always look for the best.

Who are your clients?
Mostly people that love real-food, local food and travelling, people that enjoy discovering new places, new cultures and traditional foods. People that have travelled a lot and know good food and wine.

Where do you take your clients?
My first tour covers the Western part of Slovenia: Ljubljana, Julian Alps region, Kras, Vipava Valley, Goriška Brda and the Adriatic Coast. People that have seen the Western part are already asking to see more, so at the moment I am working on a tour that will showcase the foods and wines of the Eastern Slovenia: Štajerska, Prekmurje, Prlekija, Dolenjska and Bela Krajina.

Taste of Slovenia group on Velika Planina, S. Onusic
Taste of Slovenia group on Velika Planina, S. Onusic

Can you give us a few examples what and who you visit in Slovenia?
We visited Blaž Ambrožič, a beekeeper in Bled to taste his honey. We had several wine tastings in Goriška Brda. We go to the local farms to see how they make traditional home foods. Our tour includes a guided tour of the Ljubljana main market. We meet the local producers, eat home-grown foods and our meals are accompanied by selected regional wines.

What do your guests think of Slovenia and Slovenian food?
They absolutely love it. They are impressed with the hospitality of their hosts and appreciate how proud Slovenians are of their country and cuisine which is reflected in the quality of their experiences in Slovenia. And that is why I look for the best providers I can find. Slovenia offers great value for money.

What is your favorite place in Slovenia? 
I know parts of Slovenia very well, but I would say my favorite place is Loška dolina and the village Kozarišče, near Snežnik castle, where my grandparents were born.

What is your favorite dish and restaurant? 
I really enjoy Gostilna Pri Lojzetu at Zemono Castle. As for my favorite dish Slovenian soups and stews are the best in the world. I recently published an article about Slovenian Soups and Stews in the journal Wise Tradition in Food, Farming and the Healthy Arts.

Taste of Slovenia group at Zemono Castle, S. Onusic
Taste of Slovenia group at Zemono Castle, S. Onusic

Details about Sylvia’s Taste of Slovenia 2014 Food Tour will be released soon. If you want to experience Slovenia, its food and its locals up close, do not hesitate to join. Tour is available for individuals and groups.
Contact us for more details.


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