Potica of Our Roots / The Babji Zob Cave

Potica is probably one of the best known Slovenian sweet treats. It can best be described as something of a cross between a cake and a bread; a dough filled with one of a variety of different fillings. Some of the most popular fillings are poppy seeds, walnuts, curd cheese or tarragon, though there are actually up to 80 different varities of potica including some which are savoury. Although these days potica is available throughout the year, it is most widely sold, and consumed, at Christmas and Easter, when supermarket and bakery shelves are laden with a wide assortment and no family gathering is complete without it. Many people opt to make their own and there are no doubt countless recipes that have been handed down through the generations and which remain a closely guarded family secret.

So it was with interest that I read about a ‘new’ potica that has been created to evoke memories of old. Potica naših korenin, meaning ‘Potica of Our Roots’ was created by one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin (seen with co-owner Marcela, below), from Vila Podvin in Mošnje. The idea behind the creation was to use the best Slovene ingredients to create a unique two-flavoured potica, uniting two of the most popular ingredients, walnut and curd cheese, and enriched with dried pears and honey.

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I have already written about Vila Podvin in a previous blog (http://wp.me/p3005k-ai ) and you can read more about it in the ‘Taste Radol’ca’ section page. However, on reading about the new potica, I decided it was high time to pay another visit! Since my last visit Vila Podvin now also has an in-house ceramics studio and have launched their own range of pottery, and it was on this that I was served a nice cup of tea (so English!), some of the new potica and, as an added treat, chocolate-covered miniature pears (tepke) and pear schnapps – all of which I can attest were delicious.

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So once again after all that eating, it was time to get moving and exploring again and the 1st May Traditional Walk to the Babji Zob Cave was just the ticket. Babji Zob itself, meaning ‘Hag’s tooth’, is a rock which stands on the northwestern edge of the vast Jelovica plateau and high above the villages of Bohinjska Bela and Kupljenik, near Bled. The entrance to the Babji Zob cave, suggested by some sources to be the second oldest cave in Slovenia, is found at an altitude of 1,008m, so a little effort is required to reach, the path leads steeply up through the forest, but it’s worthwhile. Its relatively remote position makes it all the more surprising that it was discovered ‘by coincidence’ some 200 years ago by a local villager. Unlike some of the larger ‘tourist’ caves in Slovenia, such as those in Postojna and Skocjan, the Babji Zob cave is not open for mass tourism and is usually only open to the public for the traditional 1st May walk, during the summer on Sundays at 10am, and by prior arrangement with one of the professional guides. There are no fancy Disney-like experiences to be had here but the guides, from the local cave exploration society, have installed makeshift staircases and lighting and with caution, and good footwear, it is possible to see a 300 metre stretch of the cave’s fascinating interior with its dripstone formations and calcite crystals. You can read more about Babji zob, and arrange guided visits here – http://www.bohinjskabela.si/znamenito/index_en.html

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Forthcoming events and news:

Friday 16th May – The Opening of Vurnik’s Days in Radovljica.

IVAN VURNIK (1884–1971) was an architect and urban planner who, along with Jože Plečnik and Maks Fabiana, was considered one of the pioneers of modern architecture and fathers of urban planning in Slovenia. To mark the 130 years since his birth, there will be a series of exhibitions, talks and trips beginning on Friday 16th May with the opening of exhibitions in the Šivec House Gallery and the Radovljica Mansion. There will be a number of events taking place until the beginning of June and an additional feature will be a special ‘culinary surprise’ Vurnik’s Menu at Vila Podvin restaurant, available until the 2nd June. More information about Vurnik’s Day can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/kaj-poceti/dogodki/vurnikovi-dnevi-v-radovljici/83/434/


Saturday 17
th May – Triglav National Park Market, Bled

Every third Saturday in the month, there is a small market held at the Triglav National Park Information Centre in Bled from 10am – 12 noon. A variety of local products are offered such as fruit and vegetables, honeys, dried meats, dairy products, herbs and more.

Sunday 18
th May – International Museum Day

To mark International Museum Day, events will be taking place throughout Slovenia. In the local area free entrance will be available to Radovlijca’s museums; Museum of Beekeeping, Municipal Museum, Šivec House Gallery, Iron Forging Museum in Kropa, Museum of Hostages in Begunje. More information about Radovljica’s museums can be found here – http://muzeji-radovljica.si/

Triglav National Park – The Pocar Farmhouse

Additionally, at 12noon on Sunday 18th May, Triglav National Park’s Information Point in Upper Radovna (Zgornja Radovna) will host an unveiling of restored paintings, an exhibition and short talk at the Pocar Farmhouse (Pocarjeva domacija). The farmhouse itself, one of the oldest homesteads within Triglav National Park, is now a museum. More information can be found here – http://www.tnp.si/experience/C206/

© AdeleinSlovenia 2014

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