Meditations

Mort Subité


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On Easter Sunday night, I found myself hunting the near-barren streets of Ljubljana (pronounced loob-lee-anna), the pretty capital city of former Yugoslavian State, Slovenia. I wandered across most of the city center, poking my head into and rejecting one after another trendy cafe, tourist eatery and fast-food chain. I was hungry. And with hunger, comes desperation. I don’t like to admit it, but there was a brief moment when even the golden arches looked inviting. I needed a miracle.

My saviour came to me on Trubarjeva Cesta – a narrow cobbled road that runs a half-block away the Ljubljanica River, leading east away from city center. It’s a mish-mash of boutiques, burek joints and outdoor cafes, and, I thought, a culinary wasteland. Halfway along the street, feeling defeated and wondering if my hotel offered room service, I walked headlong into a wall of delightful smells. My stomach wouldn’t let me take another step, so I turned into the cozy confines of Mort Subité.

Mort Subité is a family-run restaurant specializing in Slovenian cuisine from the North – towards the Julian Alps, and a stone’s throw away from Austria. The gregarious owner, cook, and host explained to me as I sat down that everything on the menu was grown, raised or brewed in Slovina, and that all of the recipes were family hand-downs. Macrobiotic eating at it’s best.

I fended off the inevitable admission that I didn’t understand Slovenian by ordering a Pivo and set my mind to deciphering the menu. Luckily, with my beer came assistance, and the offering were explained. I could choose from one of three side dishes – compe (potatoes), njoki (gnocci), or polenta, and compbine that with one of nine main dishes, including goulash, roasted zucchini, pancetta or beef. On the advice of my server I chose the plansar (beef), and a starting bowl of vegetable soup.

Let me take a minute here to talk about beer. Most restaurants and cafes in Slovenia serve one or both of the national brews: Zlatorog and Union. After just four days in the country, I was already tired of both, so it was an easy choice when I saw something new at Mort Subité. Domace ‘Thurnniger’ is a slightly cloudy pilsner-style beer with surprising complexity. It has just the right amount of graininess and is balanced by honey notes on the finish. To take that out of beer nerdese, it’s really, really good. I’ll go even further to say that it is one of the best beers I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. Before you go running to the store to look for a bottle, though, I should warn you that I’m fairly sure it’s only available at Mort Subité. It just might be worth the trip.

My beer-induced stupor was broken by the arrival of food. Lots, and lots and lots of food. The beef that I had ordered turned out to be a 300g steak. Where there was room on the sides of the plate, roasted vegetables and onions were crowed on top of baked potatoes. The steak was slathered in herbed butter and the whole plate looked liked heaven. I dug in with gusto, and after an extended period of happy shovelling, I am proud to say I finished the whole plate.

Typically, we ended the meal with a small glass of fortified homemade wine and I sat for a few minutes to digest. I left feeling ressurected.

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