Trieste and the Karst: scents of the sea and cross-border wind

04 August 2022

On Saturday, September 24 at 7pm at Terra Madre in Turin, we’ll explore the Karst region and its landscapes, through its scents from east to west, from the Adriatic to Central Europe.

The event will take place as a Taste Workshop in Parco Dora dedicated to the Karst region, an forthcoming destination for Slow Food Travel.

A place worth discovering, at this event, thanks to its wines, sheep’s milk cheese, extra virgin olive oil, honeys, and cured meats.

The Karst plateau and its legendary geology

Swept by cold northern winds, the Karst Plateau is 500 square kilometers of rocks and grottoes which host a transitional habitat among different geographical regions. It’s also among Europe’s most marginal areas, with some of the poorest soil fertility in the continent. The legendary geology here only allows for water to flow in underground canyons: there are no above-ground rivers, streams, or lakes, thus condemning its inhabitant to a life of hardship.

But, maybe, the fascinating part of this land can be seen in the allusion given by Welsh writer Jan Morris in the title of his most notable work, Trieste and the meaning of nowhere, which suggests how not only the ecosystems but also the residents’ identity are difficult to find.  

September 24 – Delicacies of the Karst Plateau – Parco Dora, Sala Unicredit 2

The heroic agriculture of the Slovenian community in Italy has looked after the Karst Region for centuries, also thanks to the help of the Carsolina Sheep (a Slow Food Presidium) and to the work of the bees from which we get, in good years, Marasca honey (Slow Food Presidium) that comes from the nectar of the flowers of the mahaleb cherry. In the Workshop, we’ll get to know these products and other local treats: Jamar cheese aged in grottoes, cured meat from semi-wild pork, extra virgin Bjelica olive oil (Slow Food Presidium) and wines like Malvasia, Vitovska, and Teran.

Book your place now!

Between east and west

The Karst Region was colonized around a thousand years ago by Slovenians, in the most extreme Western expansion of the Slavic people. Then, it was invaded by the Turks, menaced by Venice, and then governed for at least seven centuries by the Habsburgs of Vienna and their vassals. During World War I some hills were razed and the land became part of Italy. World War II sliced the region in two, separating Western Europe from the East, Italy from Yugoslavia, and later, Italy from Slovenia.

Slow Food Presidia: Karst sheep and mascara honey

During the Taste Workshop at Terra Madre, we’ll introduce the Karst region with two cheeses:

  • Antonič, an aged cheese product that comes from the Carsolina sheep, made a Slow Food Presidium a few months ago
  • Jamar, a Slovenian word that literally means “from the grotto”, because it is aged by the producer, Dario Zidarič, in a natural cave.

Both of the cheeses have their origins in the local pastures and hay, which draw on a rich flora of around 2000 plant species.  This same flora is used as a pasture for bees, often a hybrid of Ligurian and Carnic bees, a Slovenian native. Another Slow Food Presidium in the Karst region has been founded to protect the marasca, or mahaleb cherry, and the honey that is made from it.  

Carsolina Sheep
Carsolina Sheep, Slow Food Presidium. Photo: Fulvio E. Bullo.

Cured meats, olive oil and natural wine

The Karst lands and their farms are not just about sheep, cows, and bees. In fact, Workshop participants will also be served lonza (pork loin) and another typical Karst specialty – cooked pork shoulder, both made from pigs raised in the wild by the Bajta farm. From the nearby territory of Breg, we’ll also offer Belica extra virgin olive oil grown by Rado Kocjančič; this olive variety, among the most northerly-grown, has coiled leaves to resist the aggressive northern winds.

From one of the origins of natural wines in Europe, don’t miss out on the deep wine knowledge found in the cracks of white Karst rock, where Slovenian vintners have maintained their places of production. From the Sandi Škerk winery comes Vitovska, considered by many the “King of Karst” varietal. From rising star Gregor Budin, we propose a tasting of Teran wine made with Refošk grapes grown in the Karst terroir. From the stone tanks of Benjamin Zidarich’s winery, we’ll also taste an Istrian Malvasia.

by Enrico Maria Milic, info.eventi@slowfood.it

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto is in Parco Dora, Turin, from September 22-26, 2022, with over 600 exhibitors and a series of workshops, conferences and tastings that show how we can regenerate our planet through food. #TerraMadre2022 is a Slow Food event. Free entry.