Time for Tea at the Čajna Soba Tea Shop!

It might surprise you to know that prior to moving to Slovenia I had never in my life drunk tea! Yes, and that coming from an Englishwoman – since we British are known for liking a cuppa or two!

However, that changed when I moved here, primarily because during the long cold winters I really needed to start drinking something hot, since I don’t like coffee either, or milk come to that! And that’s when I discovered green tea and now I drink nothing but, even during summer.

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Since then I’ve tried hundreds of different varieties of tea – both in tea bag and loose-leaf form. Though the convenience of the humble teabag sometimes can’t be beaten, I am now a convert to loose-leaf teas – none of that traditional English ‘builders’ tea for me and definitely NO MILK!

Therefore, I was delighted when the new Čajna Soba tea shop (‘čajna soba’ means ‘tea room’ though its more of a tea shop than a tea room) opened a few months ago in Linhart Square, the heart of Radovljica’s old town. It offers a wide range of loose-leaf teas, all of which smell delicious, making it tough to choose which to try and buy.

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The owner of Čajna Soba, Nizar, is more than happy to spend time with customers explaining the process of how the tea leaves are picked and prepared and how best to brew tea to ensure the leaves have enough space to fully open thus imparting the most flavour. His enthusiasm is infectious and since my visit I’ve become much more aware of preparing tea as it should be, to do justice to the hard work involved in its production.

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You can also make yourself comfy, have a chat and/or read more about tea whilst enjoying a brew or get a ‘Tea-to-Go’.

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With Christmas just around the corner, there are a selection of gifts for tea lovers, or just treat yourself!

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I also learnt that buying loose-leaf teas is actually a smart choice financially. As Nizar pointed out, when we buy teabags in the supermarket, we – and I include myself in this – usually only look at the ‘small’ price i.e. the price per box of teabags, but what we should look for its the price per kilogramme.

In many cases, even for the seemingly cheapest of teas, this price can be astronomical, added to which the majority of supermarket teabags contain only powdered remnants of the actual tea leaves. Thus buying loose-leaf tea, which at Čajna Soba costs EUR 3.50 per 100g – only around 2g is needed per cuppa therefore 100g makes approx. 50 cups of tea – is a no-brainer, quality tea at winning prices!

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Nizar’s teas are also served at the Gostilna Avgustin restaurant, one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, which is located directly opposite Čajna Soba.

I believe its important to shop locally and support local businesses, so I know where I’ll be buying my tea from now on and, if you live in or near Radovljica, or are visiting the area, pop in and try some for yourself too!

More information here – http://cajnasoba.si/

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Festive Radovljica: Christmas Market and Family Entertainment Galore!

It might not be the biggest of Slovenia’s Christmas markets, but the setting for Radovljica’s Advent Market, in the heart of the medieval old town – one of the 3 best preserved of its kind in Slovenia – makes it among the cutest and most attractive! Combined with the festive entertainment programme, which offers something for all the family, a visit to Radovljica should be on your list if you are spending time in Slovenia during this festive season.

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Photo: Pakt media

The festive programme kicks off this Friday 2nd December with the Christmas lights switch on at 4.30pm, and entertainment from DJ Darmar, performances by the Studio Ritem Dance Studio and the opening of the Advent Market.

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The Advent Market is open every Friday (3pm-8pm), Saturday and Sunday (10am-8pm) throughout December, and additionally on Christmas Eve (10an-5pm), Christmas Day (10am-7pm), and Boxing Day (26th Dec – 10am-8pm).

Below are just some of the highlights of the festive entertainment programme. Unless otherwise stated, all events take place in Linhart Square. Click here for the full programme – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/festive-december-in-linhart-square/83/395/

3rd & 11th December – Fairytale Horses for Children

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9-11th December – Open Day at the Lectar Gingerbread Workshop

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17th December at 8pm – Opera Concert: Baritone Ivan Andres Arnšek and pianist Mojca Lavrenčič (Radovljica Manor)

24th December at 11am – Čupakarba: Stilt walkers and jugglers

25th Dec at 5pm – Ana Snežna Street Theatre

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26th December at 5pm – Čupakabra and Priden Možic: Sodrga – street show with fire

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There are also creative workshops for children, performances by local choirs and bands, carol singing and more!

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You can find out more about what else to see and do in Slovenia during the festive period, more about Christmas markets, and some information about Christmas food and customs in my recent blog post here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/11/20/christmas-2016-in-slovenia-christmas-markets-food-and-traditions/

© Adele in Slovenia

Taste Radol’ca 2016: Gourmet Delights at Grajska Gostilnica

With just 10 days to go of this year’s Taste Radol’ca, I’m running out of time to get round to tasting them all (for you!) – but I’m doing my best!

My latest foray was to another of my favourite local haunts, Grajska Gostilnica, which is located in the centre of Radovljica, directly opposite the town park, within just a few hundred metres of the bus and train stations – thus ideally located for anyone reliant on public transport – and just a 5 minute walk for me!

The imagination and creativity of Taste Radol’ca chefs, who conjure up gourmet meals using local ingredients and for just 16 euros per person, knows no bounds, and each and every restaurant offers its own interpretation and imaginative presentation of Slovenian food at its best.

So, onto the food….

To begin, an amuse-bouche of buckwheat blini with an albumin curd cheese and horseradish cream and cured bacon.

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The starter was cream of leek soup with mushroom profiteroles.

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The main course, a work of art on a plate, tasted as good as it looked! Pork fillet stuffed with spinach in a herb crust, beetroot gnocchi, pumpkin puree with goat’s yoghurt and potato chips with black sesame seeds.

It was all delicious but, as a lover of gnocchi, the beetroot gnocchi were the stand-out part for me. Borut – please add these to the regular menu!!!

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Chef and owner Borut is something of an expert when it comes to desserts, so I was expecting, and hoping for, something exceptional, and I wasn’t disappointed.

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The waiter arrived first with the dessert, then disappeared back to the kitchen, emerging with a jug of hot raspberry sauce which he poured over the chocolate ‘lava’ cake, causing a volcano-like effect.

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Just 10 days to go, so don’t miss out the chance to try some of these delights! More information about Taste Radol’ca can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/taste-radolca-2016/83/394/

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

 

 

Christmas 2016 in Slovenia – Christmas Markets, Food and Traditions

In February next year I will have been living in Slovenia for 10 years – gosh how time flies! My first Christmas here in 2007 was a bit of a culture shock as, at that time, Christmas wasn’t, or at least to me didn’t seem to be, such a big deal – no roast turkey and all the trimmings, no crackers and wearing of silly paper hats (though some might say that’s a bonus!), no shops crammed with Christmas merchandise in September and blaring Christmas jingles for months on end, and just a few low-, or at least lower-key Christmas markets.

Well, things have definitely changed and Christmas is most definitely here in a big(ger) way! With an increasing number of people choosing Slovenia as a destination for a short-break over Christmas/New Year, this blog has a run down of just some of things you can see and do.

Christmas in Ljubljana, Photo: http://www.slovenia.info

As in many other countries in Europe, the evening of the 24th is when most families celebrate and get together for a special meal, to exchange gifts and/or attend midnight mass. It’s worth noting that many restaurants are closed on Christmas Eve, or close earlier than usual. Shops are usually open on the 24th but close a little earlier than usual. All shops are closed on the 25th and again this is a family day, often for some recreational activities perhaps skiing, hiking or visiting relatives. The 26th is also a public holiday, Independence and Unity Day, and therefore again many shops and business will be closed although these days most of the larger ones are open, at least for a few hours in the morning. No Boxing Day Sales – hooray!

Christmas markets take place in all the major cities – the largest being in Ljubljana, where there are numerous markets throughout the city, the main one being alongside the banks of the Ljubljanica river. The festivities kick-off on 25th November with the official switching on of the lights at 5.15pm. There are also numerous concerts and other events taking place throughout the festive period. More here – http://bit.ly/2eBfQhk

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Christmas in Ljubljana, Photo: http://www.slovenia.info

My home town of Radovljica, one of the three best-preserved historic towns in Slovenia, has a small Advent Market and also looks magical! More information here – http://tinyurl.com/zxczvsg

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The cute little Alpine Village in the ski resort of Kranjska Gora is a winter wonderland. More information here – http://tinyurl.com/jbntrpl

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Slovenia’s 2nd biggest city, Maribor, switches on its Christmas lights on Friday 25th November. The Christmas programme includes a Christmas market, St. Nicholas fair, Artmar fair, city ice-rink, concerts and parties. More information here – http://bit.ly/1I8qXL0

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Festivities in Bled begin on 2nd December. A Christmas market takes place on the promenade at the south end of Lake Bled. If there’s snow, the island looks even more fairy tale-like! More information here – http://bit.ly/2eDpZZj

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Bled Island, Photo: http://www.slovenia.info

There are also Christmas markets in Celje and Portorož, as well as smaller local ones in many other towns throughout the country, though these tend to only be open for a few days rather than for the entire advent period.

Throughout Slovenia you will find a host of other festive events and activities, where you can be a spectator or join in, including live nativities, outdoor ice-rinks, parades and concerts.

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Outdoor ice-rink in Maribor – Photo: Produkcija80

The last two years, Christmas has not been ‘white’. However, if it is a white Christmas, then there are a whole host of other possibilities, such as sledging, skiing, snow-shoeing, hiking etc. My parents often spend Christmas here and we have had some memorable Christmas Days, including this one below, spent hiking on the Pokljuka Plateau.

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And Christmas isn’t Christmas (and Easter not Easter!) without home-baked potica! You can read plenty more about my potica journey here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/03/03/easter-in-slovenia-my-potica-journey/

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So, if you are considering Slovenia’s for a Christmas break, then rest assured, you will find plenty to see and do. You can also be safe in the knowledge that you won’t have to pull a cracker and wear a silly hat!

© Adele in Slovenia

Taste Radol’ca 2016: Gostilna Avguštin, Great Food & To Die For Views Too!

It was absolutely delighted when I found out that Gostilna Avguštin was under new management and had joined Taste Radol’ca, since I had long wondered why this traditional restaurant, located in the heart of the historic old town of Radovljica, and with to die for views, did not take part in any of the town’s events and festivals. Thank goodness, then, that 2 young enterprising brothers, who previously worked at the restaurant as waiters, have taken over its running, and with it brought a fresh new approach to customer service and upgraded the menu of traditional food.

In fine weather the views from the terrace of Gostilna Avguštin are magnificent; Slovenia’s highest mountain, Mt. Triglav, can be seen in the background with the snow-capped Julian Alps and the Pokljuka plateau in the foreground, and the Jelovica plateau and the Sava river dominating the immediate view.

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Gostilna Avguštin was somewhere I often used to frequent in the first few years after I moved here. However, it then went through a bit of a – let’s just say – ‘wobbly’ stage, whereby sometimes it was fantastic, other times far less so, and I then began to go elsewhere. So, it’s really fantastic news that it is back to its best – well actually, even better – and that there is now another restaurant serving delicious Slovenian food right on my doorstep – now you won’t be able to keep me away!

So, on to the food! I tried out the Taste Radol’ca menu, of which there is a choice of 2, which is excellent value at just 16 euros for 3 courses, and all ingredients are from the local area.

To start I had pumpkin soup, which just happens to be my favourite type of soup on the planet, so it certainly hit the spot! The added pumpkin-seed oil, pumpkin seeds and homemade onion bread were the icing on the cake (icing on the soup?)!

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The main course consists of a hearty plate of pork fillet stuffed with prunes, buckwheat struklji and bacon-wrapped vegetables. It really was delicious and beautifully presented too.

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I always like to have a peek into the kitchens of the Taste Radol’ca restaurants where possible, to see the master chefs at work! So, I snuck in to watch dessert being prepared – chestnut cake.

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So, if it’s been a while since you last visited, or indeed you have never visited, do hot foot it down to Gostilna Avguštin soon!

© Adele in Slovenia

The early bird catches the early winter of 2016!

Winter seems to have come early this year and, though the snow might look beautiful, I can’t say I’m ecstatic about it!

The past 2 years we haven’t had any significant snow until after Christmas, but last week’s dismal weather brought quite a significant amount of snow to higher-lying areas, and even a bit of the white stuff fell in lower-lying areas too.

I’m trying to be optimistic that perhaps we will still get a (very) late autumn with some milder temperatures, though, it’s look increasingly unlikely. But ‘glass-half-full’ and all that…

So, in an attempt to once again get accustomed to winter, I was up with the lark and braved freezing early morning temperatures to head up St. Peter’s Church above Begunje na Gorenjskem, just 10 minutes drive from Radovljica.

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Though its not easy to drag myself out of bed when it’s so cold and dark, the rewards are (usually!) worth it, which was certainly the case this time, as you can see below!

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The valley was still shrouded in low cloud and Triglav and the other peaks of the Julian Alps were looking particularly majestic.

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I continued up to Smokuški vrh.

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And this was my reward. Brilliant, warm sunshine and stunning views. It was tempting to linger there for a while, alas, the pile of translating awaiting me at home was ever present on my mind. But, I’d go, and will go, again in a heartbeat, even if it means an all-to-early start to the day!

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A case of the early bird catches the worm and the early winter and all that…!

© Adele in Slovenia

Taste Radol’ca 2016 – A Taste of Tradition at Gostilna Tavčar

Though I had been meaning to do so for a while, I had yet to visit Gostilna Tavčar in Begunje na Gorenjskem since it changed hands. Therefore, a visit to try the Taste Radol’ca 2016 menu gave me the perfect excuse!

Gostilna Tavčar is a typically traditional Slovenian restaurant and, what particularly struck me was, despite it being my first visit, I was greeted like an old friend. Since it re-opened the restaurant has become a firm favourite with locals – always a good sign, I think. A large part of that can, no doubt, be attributed not only to the great food, but also to the chef and owner, Mitja, who likes to take time out of the kitchen to mingle with guests.

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Mitja describes himself as “one of the old-school generation of cooks” and there’s nothing wrong with that I say!

Now, time to get down to the serious business of the food! The starter was guinea fowl pate with grated ‘tepka‘ pears and homemade buckwheat and walnut bread.

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I then sneaked into the kitchen to see my main course being cooked – the finest Angus rumpsteak, no less! And, as with all Taste Radol’ca menus, it costs just 16 euros for 3 courses, all made using local ingredients, and excellent value for money.

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My steak arrived – cooked to perfection – accompanied by chestnut puree and red cabbage.

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With just a dessert-sized space left in my stomach, it too didn’t disappoint. Tavčar plum mošnjiček – light pastry pockets served warm filled with hot plum sauce and strawberries.

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Gostilna Tavčar is open daily and also offers light lunches (malice), lunches and dinners as well as weekend and Sunday lunch specials.

Taste Radol’ca menus are available at 13 participating restaurants for the entire month of November. You can find more information about Taste Radol’ca here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/taste-radolca-2016/83/394/

© Adele in Slovenia