Where: Le Petit Cafe
What: caffe latte
At first, she had a surplus of seeds, then seedlings, now crops. Darja Fišer is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Translation at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana, and a passionate gardener who has launched the Zelemenjava project: a gathering of all those with just too much seasonal produce. She loves lemon verbena and purple shiso, has little respect for fussy celebrity chefs, and Jakon?i?’s Carolina is like perfume to her.
What is Zelemenjava all about?
It’s about exchanging seeds, seedlings, seasonal crops, dried and preserved herbs, veggies and fruits, home-made jams, cakes, gardening books etc. on a purely voluntary and cost-free basis. It started as a seed exchange among my girlfriends in my living room. The next time we met there were so many of us that we no longer fit in my living room, so we met at KUD France Prešeren. Later we were invited to participate in Park Tabor’s activities as part of their garage sale Saturdays, and the rest is history. We have over a thousand fans on Facebook and the community is still growing. This shows that urban gardening has really picked up recently in Slovenia, that people really want community events in public spaces and that despite common belief how egocentric and consumer-oriented our society has become, there is a lot of solidarity among people.
Beer or wine?
This is an easy one. Wine, of course. I hate beer. I don’t like bitter, bubbly drinks in large quantities. But I love wine. Red wine. A glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with lunch. Bordeaux for dinner with friends. And a bottle of Carolina from Jakon?i? for special occasions. I adore its garnet red colour, the strong, complex taste ripe with tannins, and its fruity smell that could easily be sold as perfume if you ask me.
Coffee or tea?
A lot of both, to be honest. My boyfriend got me hooked on black tea for breakfast, after which I pour lots of caffeè lattes down my throat during the working day. In summer, I love to make ice teas from ginger, mint, lemon grass, lemon verbena and purple shiso. In the cold and dreary winter days, I keep myself warm with herbal teas made by my mum.
Where do you buy your groceries if at all? I guess this question is irrelevant …
As much as I would love to be self-sufficient, my tiny garden can only feed me and my boyfriend from May to September. What I cannot grow myself I get from my mum who has a fabulous garden and decades of experience. Nothing tastes better than home-grown food. It is also quite budget-friendly. When I need to buy veggies and fruits, I get them at the central Farmers’ Market because I really like the atmosphere there and because it’s just a short bike-ride away from my flat. I avoid the market on Saturdays because it’s too crowded for my taste. I always try to buy in-season crops from small local producers and prefer organic growers. Unfortunately, they are often too expensive for my pocket, in which case I get traditionally grown produce instead. I try to get the best food I can while keeping things practical.
Do you cook yourself? This too is probably a rhetorical question …
My boyfriend and I cook almost every day. Usually, we make lunch together, we chop and chat, which makes it faster and more enjoyable. We also love to have friends over for dinner when we try to prepare more elaborate meals that always feel like too much hassle for just the two of us, and food we fell in love with on our trips abroad. But we also like to eat out, either when we are too busy or on special occasions.
Your favourite restaurants and cafes in Ljubljana?
I’m vegetarian and I love ethnic cuisine. Many places in Ljubljana still offer very little in terms of truly inspiring vegetarian dishes or catering for the cosmopolitan palate. But I really like to have coffee at Cafetino or 13, grab lunch at Bazilika or Rimska XXI, and hang out at Bikofe or Repete in the evenings.
If you could choose, who would you like to cook with?
I’m really bad at keeping up with who’s hot and I have little respect for fussy celebrity chefs. What truly inspires me are real people who are busy with their jobs and families and still manage to come up with healthy, delicious and gorgeous meals on a daily basis, feeling content more often than frustrated. I think these are the people that could teach me the most about life in and out of the kitchen. I do love cooking classes, though. I try to find one whenever I travel abroad, be it in Sri Lanka or Madrid. In Ljubljana, I would love to attend a pie-making class by Darja Kon?arevi? from Bazilika because I adore all her pies, and a garden-to-table class by Boštjan Napotnik because his blog Kruh in vino is hilarious and I think there is just as much laughing as there is cooking in his kitchen.
Anything you miss in Ljubljana dining scene?
I miss variety. Whenever I have visitors from abroad and we eat out regularly for more than a week, Ljubljana starts feeling very small because most restaurants seem to be offering practically the same food. Curries, paellas, tajines, welcome to Ljubljana!
Thanks for reading!
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