Our Slovenian Sandwich
Every year, my family does a weeklong walking trip somewhere in the world. Since I’m with my parents and they don’t want to carry everything we’d need for camping on their backs, we hike from inn to inn. It’s actually really nice having a hot shower at the end of the day and a meal prepared for you. I love travelling with my parents. It’s also a great way to see places we normally wouldn’t since the towns in which we end the day are like the size of one block in Salem or they’re in the middle of nowhere rural. These are some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been with some of my favorite meals I’ve ever had. I mean the walking is great and all that, but I’m really in it for the food – the farther you walk, the more you can eat!
This year, the family went to Italy and Slovenia, walking from one country into the other. Both countries fed us very well, but one of my favorite meals was one of the simplest. We hiked out of Bovec, a town in the northwest corner of Slovenia that sits on the turquoise colored (freakin’ freezing) Soča River, into the hills surrounding the town to an imposing stone fort from WWI. It was never stormed or taken during the war, and it’s in such a crazy spot perched on the cliffs above the Soča surrounded by jagged mountains, I don’t know how any army would have even gotten close. We were hot and hungry by this point, so we wandered away from the fort and back into the woods until we reached a pretty clearing dappled with light and strewn with moss covered boulders. One rock became our table and the rest became our cushioned seats. Then we made open-faced sandwiches I’m still dreaming about. Here’s how we did it on the trail:
1. Tear fresh, crusty roll from the bakery in town in half.
2. Open tin of lush tuna swimming in olive oil.
3. Pour the oil all over the bread. It will also get all over your hands, but hey, you’re a rugged hiker so you WELCOME IT.
4. Squirt some seeded mustard onto the bread that your Aunt Laura brought in her travel sized squeeze bottle that was supposed to be for shampoo but she repurposed it for the much more important condiments.
5. Add chunks of tuna to the oil and mustard covered bread.
6. Delicately balance large chunks of Slovenian cheese on top of the tuna.
7. Employ the slow bite (an invention by my brother Ollie for any precarious sandwich) to keep everything balanced.
The cheese has finally appeared! It was a semi-firm, young and mild sheep’s milk cheese from Bovec that paired perfectly with the tuna. It had was buttery, a touch sharp and a little earthy and by the end of lunch, we were fighting over the last pieces of fish and cheese. Everyone’s hands were a mess but we were all very happy. I loved this lunch with the comfortable rocks, the pretty clearing, having my family around me, and then this killer sandwich. We were going to bring some of the cheese back to recreate the lunch back home but someone *cough cough Dad* forgot it in the fridge in his hotel room. I don’t blame the person *Dad* but I’m VERY sad we *Dad* left it behind. I’m looking forward to trying it with the French sheep’s milk, Mendia, which we have in the case, and some of my favorite tinned rainbow trout that we also carry. I’ll try to be slightly less messy now since I don’t have the excuse of being on the trail. Or maybe I won’t, you know, keep it authentic.
For the love of cheese and family hikes that include cheese,