Maribor and Kapustnica Recipe

We only had one day in Maribor. We didn’t really know what to do there but we have been trying to reduce the amount of time traveling. We could’ve taken a train directly from Vienna to Ljubljana but why do that if it goes through Maribor? We could stop, spend the night and enjoy ourselves rather than having super long travel days.

Turns out Maribor is super pretty and has great wine so we’re happy we went.

Our apartment/room was, get this, part of a Bosnian restaurant. The Bosnian owners went out of their way to decorate the restaurant and the rooms to represent Bosnian hospitality, take. After entering the bar area we followed the waiter through the back rooms of the restaurant, and out into the dark and rainy alley. We settled in for a Bosnian dinner at the restaurant and tried cevapi with lepinja, aka little grilled sausages with grilled pita bread, served with raw onions and ajvar.

The next day we walked up a small hill just outside of town called Pyramid Hill. There used to be a castle up here, but it was torn down a long time ago. Then locals built a stone pyramid to mark the castle’s resting place, but it was hit by lightning and completely destroyed. It’s still a great overlook and it has the archaeological ruins of the castle that have recently been uncovered. In the summer the vineyards would be lush but for now there was only evidence of where grape vines would be.

The fog/smoke from fireplaces settled in the valley and made the whole place look a little like Blue Ridge Parkway or just mysterious misty mountains. We spent a long time taking in the views up here, mostly just happy to be within viewing distance of proper snow capped mountains for the first time in a long time.

We really wanted to go out to eat but we’d spent so long up there that every restaurant in town was busy. It’s a college town and was one of the last days of class so I think everyone was going out with friends. We were starving so we decided to take advantage of our apartment’s kitchen and headed to a grocery store to get what we needed to make the sauerkraut soup we’d loved in Bratislava.

Renting apartments while on vacation is difficult because, while you have the ability to cook for yourself, you probably don’t want to buy oil, salt, pepper, etc. So you end up cooking with what you got. Some of our best recipes have come from adaptive-apartment-rental-cooking and this was no change. We didn’t have any spices or oil at the apartment-rental. So we made do. We bought garlic powder and paprika since it was cheap but we bargained on the apartment having salt. These kinds of places usually have a big bag of courtesy salt.

This apartment didn’t.

But, and this is crazy, I have been carrying around a packet of salt since Ireland. The Irish fast food chain, Super Macs, gave us a packet of salt with our fries. I put it in a very safe place in my backpack and have taken it everywhere since. Even the catastrophic rain in Northern Spain didn’t get to it. It was totally fine. And it saved the day. Also we bought pretzels and knocked some of the salt off of them into the stew. Pro-tip if you ever need salt, just buy pretzels! Or keep packages of salt for 9 months in your backpack!

kapustina
The soup took most of the sauerkraut, and the extra was used as a garnish. We didn’t want to waste it, so this was a very sauerkraut-y dish.

We have a recipe below if you’re ever in a rental kitchen and want to throw it together real fast. For now, the rest of our day.

We forgot the sun sets at around 3:30, by 4:20 it was basically pitch black. It was the day after solstice so the days don’t really get much shorter than this. We ventured out, not really sure what to see but we had heard about “Old Vine House.” We caught a gorgeous sunset and enjoyed the Christmas lights en route.

The Old Vine House has the world’s oldest grape vine. It is, according to Guinness Book of World Records, at least 375 years old, possibly 400 years old. The vine house says it is for sure over 400 years (possibly 450 years old). The picture has Chris for scale. We went inside just to see what was up, and they directed us to into their free museum about wine cultivation in Slovenia. We learned that there is the Maribor Wine Queen, every two years they elect a new young woman who is passionate about wine (and also has family in the business). There is also the Slovenian Wine Queen which is the same thing for the whole country. We walked around looking at old pictures and reading it all and thinking “okay cool, but this is really niche museum.” And then one of the employees suggested we taste wine. We knew we couldn’t taste anything from the vine- it produces 35 to 55 kgs (77 to 121 lbs) of grapes a year which they turn into 100 ceremonial bottles. They gift them to only the most important people in the world (the Emperor of Japan, The Pope, and Arnold Schwarzenegger). So, no, don’t even ask if you can taste something from the vine.

The tasting is far better. You can choose:

Wine tasting »BASIC 3« – 3 wine samples …………………………………………………………………………..4,90 EUR/person
Wine tasting »SILVER 3« – 3 wine samples …………………………………………………………………………..6,90 EUR/person
Wine tasting »GOLD 3« – 3 wine samples …………………………………………………………………………..8,90 EUR/person
Wine tasting »GREEN 3« – 3 organic wine samples …………………………………………………………………………..6,90 EUR/person
Wine tasting »BASIC 5« – 5 wine samples …………………………………………………………………………..6,90 EUR/person
Wine tasting »SILVER 5« – 5 wine samples …………………………………………………………………………..8,90 EUR/person
Wine tasting »GOLD 5« – 5 wine samples …………………………………………………………………………15,90 EUR/person

For example the Basic tasting would include bottles of wine under 10 euros while Gold would be tastings from expensive bottles (Silver was around 25 euro bottles so I don’t even know what Gold is). We went for the basic tasting of 5 samples (only 6,90). And we got more than five and she gave us some really good wines that were not in the basic range because everyone in Slovenia is awesome like that. We had a great time. She was insanely friendly and her English was insane-good. I could never talk so much about wine growing (soil quality), wine tasting, or grape type in my second (or third) language. Almost every Slovenian  speaks crazy good English, we soon learned.

Our tasting ended up going like this….

  1. She accidentally brought us a flat sparkling rose wine so…
  2. Then she brought another sparkling dry.
  3. She brought 2 dry white wines, one was a purely Slovenian type, and the other was an “Italian riesling” that was more “acidic and mineraly.”
  4. She then brought out 2 white wines, both were the same but one had been aged in an oak barrel and the other had not.
  5. She then brought out a red wine for Chris and a semi sweet for me. These are the best wines either of us have ever had, ever. All of the wine she brought us was the best but these two were probably the best.
  6. Finally she brought Chris another fantastic red and  “Furmint – Straw wine” for me. They dry grapes on straw until they are like raisins then press them for their liquid and make a wine out of that. It pours like syrup and was absolutely insane.

We had to buy some bottles because, holy shit, best wine in my life. But some of the bottles were 36 euros (!!!) She apologized with a laugh saying she didn’t bring us stuff from the basic tasting we had paid for. We bought the Steyer Traminer at 12 euros which is still far more than we ever spend on wine. If you’re out there thinking “sure you thought it was good in a tasting.” Well let me tell you, we went to a restaurant and ordered a house white wine. And we were both ranting and raving “no this is the best wine I’ve ever had. It’s nearly as good as the Steyer one we bought but this one’s a bit better.” We check with the restaurant – same damn wine. So it passed a blind taste test as the best.

Finally, here is a recipe if you’re ever in a rental kitchen and need some food. Obviously you can make this at home, too.

Kapustnica Made-With-A-Rental-Kitchen-and-limited-spices

Makes enough for 4 people, 2 people having leftovers, or 2 people who didn’t have breakfast.

You will need:

  • 1 container sauerkraut (in Western Europe they sell it in refrigerated bags, elsewhere it may be in cans or jars). This is not an exact science so put as much sauerkraut as you want.
  • 1 can of tomatoes – diced, whole, whatever you can get. See how easy this recipe is, you could even use fresh tomatoes or tomato frito.
  • 1 package of smoked sausage – if you don’t have any spices in your apartment get the best, most spiced sausages as you can. Hot dogs are not going to cut it, you need some high quality good, smoked sausages. Kielbasa is pretty much perfect.
  • Bacon – some ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . If you are worried about having too much consider making carbonara another night or bacon and eggs the next day.
  • Garlic powder – fortunately we made this soup a lot so we didn’t mind buying a whole container.
  • Paprika – paprika from Hungary/Slovakia/Slovenia is soooo good so bring this home with you.
  • Salt – alternatively buy pretzels and use the salt that comes off of them.
  • Sour cream (kisla smetana in Slovenian, had to look that bad boy up in the grocery store and almost accidentally bought curds).
  • Bread/pretzel/something delicious to sop up broth with.
  1. Since your rental apartment doesn’t have oil don’t fry anything. So don’t bother
  2. Chop the bacon and sausages up
  3. Dump everything except the sour cream into a pot and simmer it. Garlic powder is about 1.5 teaspoons but everyone likes different amounts of garlic so whatever ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
  4. When it seems like it has simmered enough (around an hour since you’re not using spices, you want all the good smokey flavor to leave the bacon and sausages) put into bowls.
  5. Serve with fresh dollop of sour cream and bread.

This is the most bare bones recipe you can make. Another night we had leftover ajvar and that went well inside of it. If you’re not in a rented apartment and actually have oil and spices you can take this up to the next level. For example Black pepper, mushrooms, a ham hock, bay leaf, and/or caraway seeds technically can go in it. But for something very simple we thought this was one of the best things we had had. It helps if you didn’t have breakfast and were hiking all day.

 


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