The tepka pear is a rare variety of pear that is only grown in a few areas of Slovenia and, in recent years, has been coming back into popularity largely due to its unique flavour and versatility.
Flying the flag for the tepka pear is one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin, at Vila Podvin. Uroš’ ethos of cooking is based on using local ingredients to give traditional Slovene food a modern twist, thus, incorporating tepka pears into his dishes fits the bill perfectly.
Curious to find out more about this rare pear, and, of course, taste it, I went along to Vila Podvin in Mošnje last week (luckily for me it’s only a few kilometres from where I live!) to try an entire menu based around tepka pears, with the aim of helping to spread the word about this gem of a fruit.
In their natural form, as seen below here on the left, one could be forgiven for thinking that the brown inside of the pear means it is rotten, but this is quite normal, though, for my taste at least, the texture is a little gritty. The tepka pear seen on the right below is the dried version and, and, as is the case with many fruits, drying or cooking them makes the flavour far sweeter and more intense.
The tepka pear works equally well in sweet and savoury dishes – all that is needed is a little imagination, which Uroš has in spades! So, if you’d like to get to know this interesting little fruit, read on, and, if you like what you see, be sure to pay a visit to Vila Podvin to try some for yourself!
If you opt for the tepka-based menu, you can expect your table decoration to be tepka-based too!
Menus at Vila Podvin are seasonal and based on locally available ingredients so, although there is usually always something tepka-based available, if you want the full tepka works, then be sure to book ahead!
The first of the 6 course tasting menu I devoured was beef carpaccio with sliced cooked tepka pear and horseradish mayonnaise.
Next up was barley risotto with tepka pear, horseradish and goats cheese.
Vila Podvin also has its own in-house pottery workshop in the entrance lobby. The unique plates and bowls in/on which the food is served are designed by the house artist, Barba Štembergar Zupan, who transforms clay into Podvin ceramics decorated with motifs of Ljubno potters. It’s this attention to detail, both in the food and presentation, that makes all the difference.
Although Vila Podvin is a superior-quality restaurant with a renowned head chef and excellent and knowledgeable waiting staff, the atmosphere is pleasantly relaxed and intimate and doesn’t feel in any way stuffy or formal. So, if you want to go into the kitchen, just ask – as I did! I was just in time to see my third dish being served up!
Carniolan sausage, otherwise known as Kranjska klobasa, with tepka, served with plum jam with mustard seeds.
The next course was pasta filled with goose liver and tepka pear with a clear mushroom broth.
The final savoury dish was saddle of roe deer on a base of red polenta with tepka pear, black walnuts with berries and a honey sauce.
Fortunately I still had room, just about, for dessert – which is always my favourite part of every meal! A deconstructed apple strudel with tepka pear ice-cream – delicious!
The final icing on the cake was the dried, soaked, succulent chocolate-covered tepka pears, which I opted to take home!
You can also buy tepka pear treats to take home, including fruit juice, liqueur, and sausages, and there is a chance to sample them at the monthly Vila Podvin local market. Read more here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/09/05/shop-locally-at-radovljicas-farmers-and-craft-markets/
Find out more about Vila Podvin, which is also one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants and will this year host the opening event at the end of October, here – http://www.vilapodvin.si/EN/
© Adele in Slovenia