A favourite autumn treat
Inquiring about the autumn's most delicious treats, the answer in the Vipava Valley is clear: the sweet taste of roast chestnuts paired with a glass of young wine! At the threshold of winter, when nature's shifting colours herald the coming of slumber, it blesses us with a final boon. Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) is a cultivated Mediterranean crop grown already by the ancient Greeks and Etruscans. Due to its unique aroma and amazing nutritional value, the fruit of the chestnut tree has been a favourite throughout history, while the local cuisine still considers it an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
The outskirts of the Vipava Valley and the Banjščice Plateau is where the European chestnut thrives, producing beautiful thick marrons known far and wide. Like many other cultivated crops, the chestnut was likely introduced to these parts by the Romans. In past centuries, the hard brown fruit represented a vital source of nourishment. Spoken records tell of stockpiles of chestnuts stored by the farmsteads across the plateau, representing little short of a treasure in the remote snow-covered lands. Lower in the valley, where various produce was always abundant, farmers would sell off most of their chestnuts to the nearby towns.
The wholesomeness of chestnuts is considered superb even today. They're packed with complex carbohydrates, B vitamins and minerals; scant with sugar, protein and fat. The amazing food is also attributed healing properties. In addition to the fruit, healers use chestnut leaves and especially the honey, which is found with the beekeepers of the Vipava Valley at a premium quality.
Above all, chestnuts are very, very tasty. Roast or cooked, the core is simply mouth-watering. Traditional cuisine presents several ways of preparation, most often as part of desserts. The haute cuisine of the Vipava Valley likewise features a touch of chestnut in many of its dishes served between October and up until Christmas. Sampling chestnut-based seasonal delicacies is simply a must. Experience the unique interplay of autumn flavours.
In the bosom of the Vipava Valley, the village of Vitovlje has been staging its traditional October chestnut festival for many years. The villagers are particularly proud of their marrons, organizing lively socializing in the chestnut spirit. Visit Vitovlje and taste their famous chestnuts.
Chestnuts may be picked freely in modest amounts in all the Slovenian forests, but not for resale. The law states individual foragers may pick up to 2 kg of chestnuts per day. An exception are specially marked forests whose owners decided to cultivate chestnuts. When strolling the woods and gathering pods, kindly don't forget to observe the forest-going etiquette.