Has Murska Sobota got some hidden gems? A resounding yes, yet more accurately, overlooked gems.
Should you make the effort to visit Prekmurje? Well if you are interested in food and drink then you should!
Šunkarna Kodila or “ham house” is a visual and culinary treat. A thatched building houses a restaurant, delicatessen and cafe. Prekmurje specialities like ham, salami and sausages as well as gibanica and other local organic produce are made and sold. Janko and Helena warmly welcome you and take you on a fascinating and informative tour. Working with nature and the seasons the meat is carefully and painstakingly matured into ham, the natural way using traditional methods.
Marof winery is a modern complex designed to represent an inverted ship as this was once the Pannonian sea. Dejan gave us a tour of the cellars full of oak barrels aging wine, which can also be seen through round portholes. What makes Marof wine special is the grapes which grow in three areas with different soils and climates, it has more sunshine per year than the coast! We tasted five fine wines culminating with the exceptional Modra Frankinja, whilst looking out over the beautiful surroundings, which with Dejan’s enthusiasm, added to the enjoyment.
Gostilna Rajh’s understated exterior belies its tastefully decorated interior and the gourmet delight within. Tanja Pintarič described each of the four courses as she served them. All made using local ingredients which were modern adaptations of traditional local dishes. Beetroot soup with pumpkin oil, red brook trout and of course a light layered gibanica, all accompanied with Ranina wine from the Steyer winery. Highly recommended!
Firbas is a large and beautiful traditional tourist farm. Everything was made from pine, walls and ceilings, tables and chairs, only the floor was flagstone tiles. Bojan, the owner son, greeted us warmly in excellent English and treated us to a glass of their own special sweet pear juice. After a welcome rest in the warm comfortable apartment, supper was vegetable soup; štruklji, kaša and polpeti with salad, all homemade and grown; traditional flat gibanica and some award winning hiša vino.
Breakfast too was a feast of homemade goodness’s, sour milk, jams, butter, cheese spreads and young cheese. Then a tour of the farm to see the vines, pear trees, vegetable garden and animals that provide the food. Also, a new stable, Glamping chalet, hot tub and hay loft. Despite the traditional history, time doesn’t stand still, so new ways to improve are always being tried. Children are particularly well catered for and you can do the tour on its own.
Steyer winery has an imposing entrance which leads to an immaculate, light and attractive interior. Danilo and Magda showed us their beautifully presented art gallery, family museum and rooms filled with artefacts and photographs. Passing a stage with a white grand piano on the way to the tasting room, we learn that it a musical family, Danilo also plays the trumpet. There we taste five of their special wines all influenced by the Pohorje winds and Pannonian soils, finishing with a unique oak aged Gewürztraminer. All accompanied with home- made spreads made of quark and pumpkin oil. We’ve definitely going back here in the summer!
Bevog brewery our final stop, is owned and run by Vasjar Golar. A young enthusiastic brewer who is involved with every part of the process, buying malts, hops and yeasts and the ultra- modern equipment. He creates unique ales using his encyclopaedic knowledge and enthusiasm! We couldn’t wait to try the results in the stylish bar. You can taste in 1dcl glasses or in litres!
All these “Gems” are family run, priding themselves on continuing tradition yet moving forwards into the future. We were both surprised and delighted by this little visited region and are sure you would be too!
PS. Did you spot we are not meat eaters? Well we aren’t, and pleased to say it wasn’t a problem at all and we were well looked after everywhere.
Spike and Karen Thorne
Photos: Spike & Karen