On the day of Martinmas
" Delicious homemade cookies arrived to accompany the coffee and Slovenian brandy "
This dinner at Oštarija Herbelier had a special meaning because it was held on Saint Martin’s Day (or Martinmas, sometimes historically called Old Halloween or Old Hallowmas Eve). Once a key medieval autumn feast, a custom of eating goose on the day spread from France where it was primarily observed by the craftsmen and noblemen of the towns. The less well-off would eat duck or capon instead.
With its focus on herbs, Oštarija Herbelier isn't just an inn nor just a hotel and isn't just a restaurant either, it’s a story!
A small group of members gathered in an intimate courtyard next to an old stove which over the years has become a mascot of the establishment. The pre-dinner appetisers that were served outside to welcome us in the rather cold weather were excellent.
Once at table indoors we started on the special menu created for us by Chef Robert Gregorčič, Officier Maître Restaurateur.
First up was thinly sliced venison carpaccio, with lamb’s lettuce garnish, egg foam and horseradish crumble. This was followed by a cream of orange pumpkin soup with cinnamon, tangerine and mint. A signature soup for the time of year offering sweet and sour flavours.
The transition to hot dishes was announced by a raviolo stuffed with porcini with a sauce created from more porcini, morels and chestnuts. The raviolo was garnished with cubes of sheep's cheese and a slice of grilled bacon.
As the rules dictate before the main hot dish, a sorbet was served. It was prepared with dried Tsarjevic apples and juniper berries from the Berryshka distillery.
Coming back to Saint Martin, duck was chosen for the main course. Slices of duck fillet, accompanied by roasted pear, red cabbage foam and several other delights, were an excellent example of a modern Martin's plate, both in terms of appearance and above all, in taste.
Concluding the menu, a dessert featuring quince was another outstanding dish.
However, the culinary offer was not yet finished. Delicious homemade cookies arrived to accompany the coffee and Slovenian brandy rounding off a fantastic evening.
Based on a detailed report written in Slovenian by Prof Dr Janez Bogataj, Conseiller Gastronomique