The Column with Simone B. Michielen: Welcome to the new normal


The new normal…

After weeks of social isolation, fantasizing about going out, meeting friends, and just breathing freely, the moment came that I was able to book a restaurant and go out for lunch! Who would have thought that this would be a moment to remember and even be grateful for. I most certainly didn’t. It now seems as if I, and probably a lot of people with me, took a lot of things for granted and excited as a child I took the vouchers I collected and started to think about where to go first. Even that suddenly became a big decision! 

I decided on Galerija Okusov, the nearest restaurant in my voucher collection and always a nice place to visit. Since when is the distance an issue for me, the one that thought of Europe as her playground? After three months at home, Slovenia suddenly seems big? Seems small steps are my “new normal”.

Excited and with a mask in my purse, I drove to Novo Celje. Not sure what to expect, not even sure what this experience would bring. The only thing that was sure was the memory I had of good food and nice staff. We were welcomed with a big sign with rules, next to a wine barrel with hand sanitizer. Well, nothing new, same story as going to the supermarket. The good thing was the way it was presented. Nice, in style, and still welcoming. Pfff, first impression: good.

Simone with her daughter

A staff member came out to invite us to our table. With a mask, so I would not recognize him if somebody put a gun to my head, but it was a stylish mask with logo and it looked good. Maybe an idea to introduce waiters by name? It would make it a bit more personal. But otherwise, it was not too awkward, we were brought to our table where the good stuff began.

Significant detail, my ability to understand Slovene seems to need facial expressions. Or at least a very clear pronunciation. Unfortunately both not easy right now. I do have the experience to know what was served, but really, facemasks and limited knowledge of Slovene? Bad, bad combination… What cannot be said about the food that was served. Eating out is good for me! Clearly some nice new creations were thought through over the last months. So, was everything perfect? No… The sauce Hollandaise was a bit flat and not the rich taste this “Hollandaise” lady expects. And for the dessert? I want more firework of tastes and presentation because after a beautiful tasting menu like this, the final should be memorable and inviting for more. But overall it was a good start and we were happy guests.

I can get used to this “new normal” if I have to. As long as the chefs are able to leave the survival mode behind and look forward with creativity. The good part of a forced step back should be the given possibility for a jump into the future. I can’t wait for my next adventure!