Eating vegan in Piran and Portoroz, Slovenia
If you're opening this post hoping to be wowed by all the various vegan-friendly restaurants and cafes in Piran and Portoroz, then I'm kind of sad to report that well, there isn't much to report. Both towns are rather lovely, but I wouldn't say that either is a culinary destination for the plant-based eater.
Or, to put it a bit more bluntly, if you're off to Piran or Portoroz, I'd recommend going self-catering. Having scoped out the vegan options nearby - or rather the lack of them - we booked ourselves a dinky apartment at the top a lot of stairs (over 200, in fact, which I counted and recounted several times as I walked up them in the 33C heat. I would have wept at the effort involved, but I had no water in my body left for tears, having sweated it all out by that point.)
When we were in Ljubljana, we'd stocked up in a chemist chain called DM, which has a number of good size branches around town. While it's a pharmacy and you can pick up your aspirin or what have you, it also stocks lots of 'health food', like happily includes things like tofu, vegan hot dogs and pasta, and non-dairy milk. Happily, it's all stuff that doesn't need to be kept in the fridge either, so you can sling it in your backpack til you need it and not worry about it going manky in your bag.
Here's what we picked up:
The cappuccino ended up leaking in my bag on a warm day, so by the time I got to it, it was sort of warm fermented chocolate tofu. I'd still try it again though - what can I say? Obviously I'm a sucker for warm fermented chocolate tofu!
The hot dogs were fine, but I developed a friendly relationship with the tofu stuffed pasta. Decent pasta and a tomato sauce is a good meal on any day of the week, and it's even better when you eat looking out over the sea.
Here's the pasta:
Here's the view of Piran's red rooftops we'd look out over while we ate our breakfast:
We did venture out looking for lunch one day, and headed down to Portoroz's Fit Bar Fresh4U, a raw place. It's part of the Terme and Wellness LifeClass hotel and spa (round the corner from the Grand Hotel Portoroz), so head up to the lift and you'll find it. When we stopped in, it was empty, bar the odd spa guest wandering in their dressing gown for a juice.
We picked up two dishes: raw burgers and raw lasagne. They both came in huge plastic clam shells, probably about three times larger than they needed to be, and the prices felt a bit inflated as well, but I guess I shouldn't really go into fancy spas and carp about cost. Their market isn't itinerant vegan students, it's people who can afford to spank €160 a night on a hotel.
The raw burgers were three nutty patties on a big pile of undressed salad. The raw spaghetti was spiralised courgettes, cashew cheese, and the same big pile of dressing-challenged salad. Don't get me wrong, it's a raw restaurant, so I was expecting a lot of raw veggies, but I was hoping for some delicious raw dressing to moisten the whole thing. The burgers, and cashew cheese were both tasty, but the rest of the experience was missable.
In need of something sweet we fell upon Cacao, a cafe/ice cream bar on Portoroz beach. While a lot of it is very milky, there are some sorbets and non-dairy ice creams to be had: we both liked this little dark chocolate flavour.
Back in Piran, the Cafe Theater - a big yellow bar and cafe on the waterfront, just off Tartini Square - not only has a lovely view over the Gulf of Trieste, but it also has a full menu of raw vegan cake, with the ingredients listed for good measure.
We went there twice for the cracking cocktails - perhaps it was the magic of watching the sun set and enjoying a goodly amount of alcohol, but they really are good - and had some vegan cake for good measure.
The first was a raw version of the local prekmurska gibanica, a layered cake normally made with fruit, poppy seeds, and ricotta. Clearly no ricotta here, but you get the rest of the good stuff:
Almonds, walnuts dates, cashews, apples, and poppy seeds: that's some of my favourite things right there, all in cake form. Given the amount of fruit involved, the cake was a bit on the moist side for my liking, but the flavour was absolutely delicious - with a wisp of cinnamon and all those fruits and nuts, it felt like the best of autumn made cake.
Incidentally, Lizin Vrt, the company that makes the raw cakes sold by Cafe Theater, also sells them to a lot of places in Ljubljana so if you're in a raw cake mood when you're strolling around the capital, there are a good few places selling Lizin Vert stuff to get your fix. Handily, they tend to advertise the raw cakes within with a large sandwich board outside, so just keep your eyes out.
Back in Piran, we also tried the raw chocolate cake. It looked like this:
Piran and Portoroz are fairly bereft of good vegan and veggie fare, but I guess if you know where to look, there are still a couple of enjoyable bites to be had. Failing that, bring your food, order a cocktail, and just kick back and enjoy the sun slowly dropping into the ocean. Piran's delights aren't culinary, but they are delights nonetheless.