Eating and drinking like the locals in Friuli

Buffet Birreria Rudy

With only a day allocated for each major city we wanted to visit, I was very keen on seeing Gorizia and Trieste while the weather cooperated in our favor. Three summers ago I had the pleasure of tucking into some of the region’s best dishes, so on this occasion it was a hunt for heartier and heavier meals without worry of breaking a sweat. Our mission included a couple of local customs that I knew we had to try. The first – in giro per bicièri – is similar to the andar per goti pub crawl that had us falling in love with old Verona. The 2nd – the buffets of Trieste – are symbolic of the city’s old dining establishments. These locales typically open their doors early (around 8 to 9am) and service at that hour is kept to the counter where an assortment of fried, baked and grilled foods are set along the length of the bar. All you do is pick and pay.

Buffet in Trieste

Trattoria-Gostilna Alla Luna

Via Oberdan 13, Gorizia | Closed Sunday evening and Monday | €€

I happened to look into their restaurant window and noticed the Slow Food sticker – always a good sign in my book – and they seemed to have just opened! A few people were at the counter toasting glasses, and it became clear that they were in giro per bicièri, or having a glass before heading home. We had it in mind to do the same but since it was lunchtime, decided that a table would be a better idea.

Trattoria Alla Luna
The interior is what some might call a tight squeeze but I found it to be cozy, inviting and festive with all of that warm color. The women working there are dressed in traditional slovenian costume.

Nuts, montasio cheese and local honey
A plate of local montasio cheese, walnuts and honey to start the meal.

Frico and the local prosciutto
A plate of their own housemade prosciutto and frico croccante, a crispy cheese basket with salty olives within. Even though it’s hard to tell in the photo, hand-sliced prosciutto is much thicker, and feels like ham heaven on your tongue. Slightly salty, rich, sweet, delicious!

Jota
Beans and sauerkraut never tasted so good until they were married into a liquid meal. Jota (YOH-tah) is a thick soup that is very popular in this region. The tang of the sauerkraut is only mildly discernible. I’ve seen some recipes where pancetta and/or pork is also added, but this one here did not have any of it from what I could see.

Gubana and slivovitz
Gubana is a sweet yeast bread filled with a mixture of walnuts, raisins, dried figs, prunes, candied fruit, chocolate and bread crumbs. It is traditionally served with slivovitz, a distillate made from prunes.

Gibanica
Gibanica is a moist, delicate layer cake of poppy seeds, cottage cheese and apples. I’d like to recreate this for xmas eve, but with more layers. See wikipedia link: Prekmurska gibanica.

Buffet Birreria Rudy

Via Valdirivo 32, Trieste | Open Monday – Saturday from 9am to 1am | €€

Trieste is a handsome city nestled on the Adriatic coast that deserves more time than what we could allow, and I wish we could have actually stayed at least a night. The buffet that we stopped in (top image) had all manner of tempting foods beckoning behind glass displays (2nd image), but again, we decided that a table would be best especially with doggies in tow.

Cured meats, salame and liptauer
Bad focus job, but I was so impatient to dig in! This antipasto plate included liptauer, a type of cheese spread with roots in slovenian cooking. A whole variety of seasonings go into the mix, but the only one that sticks in my mind is capers. Spicy paprika was sprinkled on top and this was very different in comparison to what I’m accustomed to eating in Italy. Loved it though! An assortment of locally cured meats rounded out the rest of the plate with a basket of plain and caraway seed bread.

Bolliti di maiale
A mixed plate of boiled pork, from wiener to jowls to tongue. Spicy mustard and fresh, grated horseradish to dip everything in, with sauerkraut and patate in tecia (background) – a side dish of cooked potatoes mashed with lard and onions – filling in as carbs. There was also a dish of gulasch with potatoes. Meat!! Add to that large mugs of beer and there was no room for anything else except coffee.

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