Outstanding experience of dining in the Restaurant Majerija is a fine example of local and traditional recipes turned into culinary masterpieces with a special twist. At the first glance, one would assume it is yet another hipster story of refurbishing an old house and inventing unusual gastronomy styles with Asian spices and tropical fruits. Not at Majerija, as almost everything you can get on the table is produces in the Vipava Valley.
The Majerija is in fact an old estate nestled right in the centre of the Vipava vineyards. It was built around the year 1700 for the maintenance of the property owned by the family Lanthieri. This family was kind of local mafia bosses in the old times, owning everything and everyone in the valley, but at the same time these counts were crucial for the development and agriculture of Vipava.
Today is Majerija home of Matej and NatašaTomažič but others can stay here as well. The house has guest rooms, ideal for all those who seek quietness, nature, and a pristine rustic environment. Every room is unique in colour and name of plants and herbs growing in the garden which is exactly above the rooms. The garden is quite spacious and brings fresh ingredients to the chef.
Refreshed with sparkling wine made from the local sorts, we have entered the dining hall full of old details. Though the stone vault visitors can admire the wine cellar, where all the local favourite wines found its place.
As it turned out, Mr Tomažič excellently combined the Vipava wine scene with the imagination of his own kitchen staff. They’ve greeted us with the asparagus cigars, a dough with asparagus and few drops of Hrvatin olive oil. Another item on the plate is stone brought from the Croatian island of Hvar – a testimony that Tomažič family likes to spend holidays on another gastronomy spot in the Adriatic!
Another appetizer was a solid proof that meal in Majerija is a sort of culinary adventure. Take a dandelion, crystallise it with salt, and eat with yoghurt mixed with honey and you will have a pleasant and inspiring starter. Crunchy dandelion is bitter in its body and excellent balance to the yoghurt. And while we were knocking our head how would one think of mixing dandelion with yoghurt in a fascinating combination, we were introduced to the Zelen Burja 2015, a prime example of local zelen wine whose smoothness is great wine for contemplation. Made by Primož Lavrenčić, Burja 2015 is soft and floral wine, it is also organic wine produces on Lavrenčič’s bio-dynamically farmed estate.
Majerija cares for everything that is fresh and good in any given moment. That is why in mid-spring beef carpaccio comes with very young sheep cheese and olive oil but also with raspberries, blueberries, and pine nuts. The carpaccio is mild, but the forest berries are strong; in an aesthetical manner, it is a curious combination that may resemble the nature.
After some try outs we realised that the chef is playing with us, making the guest to make efforts and think about the meal. If so, this is seldom seen and great idea. Our own try-outs included raspberry-carpaccio (strong fruit) and blueberry and pine nuts with carpaccio (excellent combination of freshness and salty flavours). Together with this meal we tried the Hedele Malvasia 2015, a matured work of Andrea Pittana from a homestead in the place of Goče. Another organic wine, it has a strong scent and rich flavours.
The Vipava Valley is a micro-world of the wider area and its influences. Here the culinary traditions of Mediterranean and the Central Europe combine with a unique Slavic touch and produce rich meals. Unavoidable part of it is pasta in its numerous variations. Such is homemade corn pasta (trganci) with duck breasts and courgettes. Trganci itself was regarded to be simple and peasant pasta, but rich in substance in order to feed the poor families in the past. Majerija brought this pasta back and added duck breasts and courgettes in another somewhat challenging combination. To bring some freshness, we are offered with Pinela Avin 2015, local sort with a pleasant acidity and great combination for pasta.
Spinach pie with black sesame, nettle, and tomato brought us back into the flavours of our mothers, a reminiscence of spinach meals we hated but whose flavour indescribably stays with us and becomes beloved search for the same aroma to come back. By this time Majerija is packed with people having lunch, including an American family who’s offspring delicately runs between the friendly staff carrying more and more plates of gastronomical desires.
We overheard people sitting behind us are going to the same wine event later that day. No wonder, we are told, they are Petrič family, Zmago and Zorica, the owners of Guerilla wine estate. Recognisable name comes from the fact that every day is another fight in the wine world, but their fight ends with beautiful wines such as Guerrila Tabu 2007, a barrique blend of pinela, rebula, and sauvignon. It has heartbreakingly beautiful orange colour and rich aftertaste, making it love at first sight.
Refreshing pause with mint sorbet, dried fruit, and basil returned us to lively atmosphere and bright smiles of our hosts before venturing to the main and indeed special dish: mouflon fillet with elder flower! Sweet and meaty chunks of mouflon, juicy and tender, is by itself a taste we cannot see so often on the table. But elder in the sauce and bits of flower round the plate is such a surprising addition that we had to pause and rethink the whole concept.
We almost forgot to open the dough package with excellent and rich curd inside. Innovative and challenging, Majerija indeed showed its best! And to be very clear, this wasn’t a menu set for the visiting journalists: all guests could try it. Krapež Merlot 2011 follows us to the essence of mouflon meat, with its ruby colour and oily texture, fruity yet strong and rich wine that needs still time to reach its finest potentials.
The curd is made by the grandma of the house and it goes not only in the dough but also as a basis for dessert with strawberries and poppy seeds, a gentle and balanced sweet ending of the gastronomy tour in Majerija. Dessert sweet Guerilla Nika accompanied us to the finish with yet another quite specific story. This wine is made with grapes dried on the bura wind, thus closing the chapter of bura and Vipava Valley and all the scents and flavours experienced in Majerija.
A pleasing experience will be cherished by anyone visiting this place and will evoke a danger of desire for coming back for more!