Tomaž Kavčič doubles his pop cuisine… Slovenian style

The chef refines his both playful and traditional offer. And opens a second, wine-focused location right on the border

06-01-2018

Two jobs for Tomaž Kavčič; on top of his gourmet restaurant Pri Lojzetu in Zemono, he’s now opened a wine bar with restaurant near Cormons, but right on the other side of the border, in Slovenia: Kruh in vino

Photogallery

Our dinner at Kavcic, portrayed by Tanio Liotta. The appetizers are dedicated to the "late harvest": Barbera brittle, then Egg, potatoes, white truffle and dried tomato, finally Foie gras on a toast with raspberries, «it is tradition to eat goose on Saint Martin’s in Slovenia»
Anchovies from Istria, oil, lemon, rosemary, squid ink, pecorino, cheese, wheatgrass, glasswort and oil and orange, «our new interpretation of the classic fishermen’s sandwich»
Fake rice: Celeriac, smoked trout, powdered vegetables (parsley, carrots, tomato). A now classic trompe-l'œil, Tokuyoshi or Tassa come to mind
Fake pasta, «summer memory»: Adriatic squid, tomatoes from the Vipava valley, tomato sauce, dried crispy basil, «a play on temperatures and textures»

For culinary juggler Tomaž Kavčič cooking is (also) about playing; like Ana Roš – the other Slovenian glory, at least culinary speaking – the chef presents his country, through its products, its recipes but above all (repeat: above all!) its humanity, which oozes from every course. This is the secret ingredient making each meal even tastier. This is also thanks to the warm friendliness of his wife, Gorizian Flavia Furios, who runs the dining room and the cellar (560 wines, half of which local) based on a now mature national production that goes beyond famous brands, the kind every enthusiast knows and appreciates, and can therefore fill glasses with selected excellent products.

Tomaž Kavčič with wife Flavia Furios in the days of Identità Expo

Tomaž Kavčič with wife Flavia Furios in the days of Identità Expo

Wine is a very good reason to cross the border, it goes without saying; and therefore while Roš recently opened her trattoria (Tania Mauri wrote about it: Hiša Polonka: frico, sausage and beer, but with Ana Roš), Tomaž took the same road, but based on his love for wine. Kruh in vino is the name of his new restaurant (which means: “Bread and wine”) and it’s in Vila Vipolže, a 35 minute drive from Zemono and Pri Lojzetu. It is only a few metres from the border with Italy, close to Cormons, in a beautiful area we recently explored after a dinner at Antonia Klugmann’s (see: The Klugmann we love is ready for Masterchef). Following the advice of Romano De Feo we discovered Klinec, in Medana, 3 km from Kruh in vino (see: Klinec in Slovenia: excellent dishes, great wines). They’re worth the trip. Plus everything is so affordable, happy, tasty and sincere you have a good time, every time.

Kruh in vino (photo from qbquantobasta.it)

Kruh in vino (photo from qbquantobasta.it)

Kavčič thus describes his new-born location: «It’s first of all a wine bar, but with the best production of Brda [that is to say Slovenian Collio]. This is why we thought of this location. We’re in the heart of the wine region, Marjan Simčič is a stone’s throw away. The building is a 17th century inn. It was used for hunting by the counts of Gorizia and it now welcomes the local tourism office too. We present important wines» and dishes that – we still haven’t paid a visit - Tomaž presented to our colleagues at qbquantobasta.it, at the opening, last November: «Local products, simple and tasty dishes, with attention to products from other regions, but always in Slovenia. The menu will always include three dishes you must eat with a spoon. I could not imagine Slovenian cuisine without a soup. Or without potatoes». Then there’s cured meats, jota, pumpkin gnocchi (with toasted pumpkin seeds and pancetta), pogača (a gluten-free focaccia, with fresh cheese, anchovies, olive paté and basil, or pumpkin purée, red cabbage, ciccioli, sausage and fresh cheese), or Brda-mi-su, a version of tiramisu with a touch of grappa in the coffee.

Kavčič portrayed at an event with Vincenzo Guarino, chef at Il Pievano al Castello in Spaltenna

Kavčič portrayed at an event with Vincenzo Guarino, chef at Il Pievano al Castello in Spaltenna

A treat. And we got an even greater one by dining at Pri Lojzetu – Kavčič’s gourmet restaurant is still running, of course – and renewing our appreciation of the dishes the chef sums up with the words “pop cuisine”, almost a trademark of Davide Oldani’s but they perfectly fit the kitchen in Zemono too.

This is the idea: Slovenia offers remarkable food; the local culinary tradition grants enough inspiration for dishes that can present this area without too many attempts at fusion. Skill and creativity, of which Kavčič has plenty, are enough to present dishes that can be straightforward on the palate (hence pop), but can also present stories and territories, like that extra complexity that characterises the chef’s style. After all, we’re speaking of fine dining. And without local-centred blinkers: «Our brigade is formed by two cooks from Montenegro, one from Moldavia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, and only one Slovenian».

It works, in the end, even in terms of marketing: it’s no coincidence that Sara, Tomaž’s 23-year-old daughter (fifth generation in the Kavčič family of restaurateurs, helps out at Pri Lojzetu where the family has reached its 20th anniversary in 2017, though they’ll celebrate in a few weeks’ time) is studying this very subject at the University of Ljubljana
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


Sections

Carlo Mangio

An outdoor trip or a journey to the other side of the planet?
One thing is for sure: the destination is delicious, by Carlo Passera


Photogallery

Our dinner at Kavcic, portrayed by Tanio Liotta. The appetizers are dedicated to the "late harvest": Barbera brittle, then Egg, potatoes, white truffle and dried tomato, finally Foie gras on a toast with raspberries, «it is tradition to eat goose on Saint Martin’s in Slovenia»
Anchovies from Istria, oil, lemon, rosemary, squid ink, pecorino, cheese, wheatgrass, glasswort and oil and orange, «our new interpretation of the classic fishermen’s sandwich»
Fake rice: Celeriac, smoked trout, powdered vegetables (parsley, carrots, tomato). A now classic trompe-l'œil, Tokuyoshi or Tassa come to mind
Fake pasta, «summer memory»: Adriatic squid, tomatoes from the Vipava valley, tomato sauce, dried crispy basil, «a play on temperatures and textures»
Oyster for all: oyster macerated in honey, then seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and cooked in its water. The pearl is made of frico
Third trompe-l'œil, fake gnocco, as it’s Octopus cooked in pancetta soup, with sauce of scampi and prawn carapace
Wild goose, purple cabbage in gel, crispy, boiled and as a sauce, and apple
Sausage in red wine, radicchio cooked with mustard, «at the Christmas market in Ljubljana it’s typical to eat sausage with ciccioli and mulled wine»
Bear cheek, jowl bacon, corn, lard and beetroot sprouts. The bear comes from the lake of Bled, its cheek is cooked at 74°C
«Slovenia is the land of juniper. So I make a gin I use to aromatise this pre-dessert»
Persimmon and chestnuts, «in Slovenia persimmons are called "golden apples", so I add gold leaves»
Soup of 5 vegetables and fruits, vanilla, basil. There’s no sugar. And it’s delicious