A Feast of Flavourful Fondues at Vila Podvin

Thanks to the ever-creative team at Vila Podvin in Mošnje, now there’s no need to go all the way to the Swiss Alps to enjoy a cheese fondue! Though only recently revived, the tradition of fondues in Podvin actually dates back quite some way.

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Prior to World War II, the French Duke of Polignac lived in Podvin Castle and, according to locals, the castle’s residents used to enjoy fondues on cold winter evenings, made with cheese that they brought with them from France. Vila Podvin decided to revive the tradition this winter, initially just for the month of February, but it’s been such a hit, that you will now be able to enjoy a fondue up until the end of April!

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When creating and testing fondue recipes, Uroš Štefelin, co-owner of Vila Podvin and one of Slovenia’s top chefs, was keen to ensure that rather than using imported cheese, he uses the excellent-quality cheese that is produced here in Slovenia. And he knew just where to turn – the  award-winning Pustotnik dairy from Gorenja vas – with whom he set about blending a mixture of their cheeses to create the perfect fondue.

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You can also try and buy Pustotnik cheese at the monthly Vila Podvin Local Market, which takes place on the first Saturday morning of each month. Read more here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/09/05/shop-locally-at-radovljicas-farmers-and-craft-markets/

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Each cheese fondue comes with a whole host of tasty and unusual bite-size delights to dip into the gooey cheese!

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For a change from dining alone (sigh!), I invited fellow blogger Peter, who writes a blog in German about Slovenia, to join me for dinner – especially since the fondues are designed for two. Of course, fondues are not restricted to just cheese, oh no, lucky for me Vila Podvin does a chocolate fondue too, using 60% dark chocolate and with a range of wonderfully sinful things to dip, including chocolate brownies, fresh and dried fruit, macarons …

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Another important feature of the fondues, as well as other dishes, is the recent link-up with attendees of the Radovljica Centre for Work, Training and Care (CUDV). Working together they have created unique pieces of ceramicware on which to serve up the restaurant’s tasty and creative dishes. The range of products is collectively made and sold under the name BISER, meaning ‘pearl’, and they really do make original gifts or additions to your own kitchenware.

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Find out more about Vila Podvin here – http://www.vilapodvin.si/EN/ and about Taste Radol’ca here – http://www.radolca.si/en/taste-radolca/

© Adele in Slovenia

New Year’s Eve in Slovenia – How, Where and Hangover Cures!

Generally speaking, Slovenes love New Year’s Eve and really go to town when it comes to celebrating! So, if you are going to be, or are thinking about, celebrating New Year’s Eve in Slovenia, here are some ideas of how, and where, to see in the new year in style.

You won’t have to go far to find new year’s celebrations, since pretty much every village, town, and city has some kind of celebration. And even if you don’t see them, you will certainly hear them!

The biggest crowds gather in the Slovene capital, Ljubljana, where numerous events take place, the highlight being the fireworks display launched from the Ljubljana Castle hill. Find more information about New Year’s Even in Ljubljana here – https://www.visitljubljana.com/en/visitors/events/page-12848/

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There are New Year’s Eve concerts held in several of the city centre squares from 9pm onwards.

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Lake Bled is another popular place to spend New Year’s Eve. I saw in the new year there a few years back; first taking a (brisk!) walk around the lake, then settling down with a friend and a mug of mulled wine to watch the fireworks display above the lake.

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There are New Year’s Eve celebrations in all the major cities, including Maribor, Celje, Novo Mesto, Nova Gorica, Piran, Kranj, Velenje etc., as well as smaller local events.

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New Year’s Eve in Maribor, Photo: http://www.maribor-pohorje.si (Profoto studio)

A more unique way to see in the new year is to visit the mountains. Quite a few of Slovenia’s mountain huts hold house parties on New Year’s Eve. Expect hearty food alongside the wood-burner, plenty of schnapps, and obligatory singing! Of course, don’t forget that the next morning – yes, the one after the night before – you will have to hike back down!

You might find the hut half buried in snow, as I did here on the Pokljuka plateau, but that’s all part of the fun! A pair of snowshoes, as seen below, definitely aids access when conditions are like this.

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If it’s a nice sunny New Year’s Day, what better hangover cure can there be than this!

If you prefer a ‘hair of the dog’ style hangover cure, then be sure to try out one of numerous kinds of Slovenian homemade fruit schnapps, but beware, the homemade versions are often strong enough to blow your socks off!

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I have to admit to being a bit of a killjoy when it comes to New Year’s Eve. I can take it or leave it, preferring Christmas and time spent with family to loud parties and – as we all know – the world is always still the same the next day, despite all the new year’s resolutions! However, since I’ve been in Slovenia, I have tried to embrace New Year’s Eve a little more, and have tried a number of different ways of celebrating.

If you’ve been a good girl or boy, then Old Man Winter (Dedek Mraz) may visit on New Year’s Eve! I met him at Vila Podvin on New Year’s Eve 2014/2015, whilst enjoying a gourmet dinner prepared by one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin. Families with young children especially enjoy the New Year’s Eve celebrations at Vila Podvin. This year the fun begins at 7pm – reservations essential.

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New Year 2015/2016 was spent at another local restaurant, Kunstelj Inn, whilst other years I have just walked from home into the heart of my hometown of Radovljica where the celebrations are focused around the historic old town centre, with live music and merriment. This year in Linhart Square, the heart of the medieval old town, there will be live music and merriment with the Gašperji Ensemble from 11pm – 2am.

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There have been a couple of times when temperatures having been well below freezing and I couldn’t face going out in the cold and the appeal of staying home in the warm won over! If you do venture out in the cold at midnight, be sure to wrap up well!

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Wherever and however you choose to celebrate, I wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR and a healthy and prosperous 2017!

© Adele in Slovenia

It’s Time to Taste Radol’ca (again)!

Yes, it’s that time again. Taste Radol’ca Time!

For the 4th consecutive year, for the whole month of November the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, of which this year there are 13, will be dedicated to serving up tasty dishes, made from locally-produced and sourced ingredients, at the very reasonable price of just 16 euros for a 3-course menu.

This year 2 new restaurants have joined the Taste Radol’ca ‘family’ – Gostilna Tavčar, located in Begunje, and Gostilna Avguštin, situated in the heart of Radovljica’s historic old town centre.

Preparations are now in full swing, the chefs have been putting their heads together, recipe testing is complete and they, or rather we all (including me!), are eagerly awaiting the start!

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The opening event, which will take place on Friday 28th October, is this year being held at Vila Podvin in Mošnje. The event, which is open to everyone, kicks-off at 5pm in front of Vila Podvin with a local market and a chance to sample some of Radol’ca’s delicacies.

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This is followed by a 5-course dinner, beginning at 7pm, for which tickets are now available at 29 euros per person. The menu is being kept under close wraps for the time being, but I have no doubt it will be equally as tempting, if not more so, than last year!

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In addition to the opening event and the month-long special menus available at all participating restaurants, there will also be other Taste Radol’ca themed events taking place throughout the whole month, including cheese tasting and tours of Lectar Inn’s Gingerbread Workshop.

There is also a chance to win tickets to attend the Taste Radol’ca Closing Party, this year to be held on 2nd December at 7pm at Gostišče Draga, in the Draga Valley in Begunje, as well as the chance to win a cookery course with one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin.

In order to stand a chance of winning tickets, just start eating and the more you eat the more of a chance you stand of winning! Pick up a stamp-collecting card from the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre (TIC), and each time you enjoy one of the Taste Radol’ca menus during the period from 29th October – 30th November, you get a stamp. Collect a minimum of 5 stamps and submit the card to the Radovjlica TIC by 1st December to be entered into the prize-draw.

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More information can be found here (in English) – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/taste-radolca-2016/83/394/ and here (in Slovene, with additional information) – http://www.radolca.si/kaj-poceti/dogodki/okusi-radolce-2016/83/2053/

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

 

Taste Tepka Pear Perfection at Vila Podvin

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Carniolan sausage, otherwise known as Kranjska klobasa, with tepka, served with plum jam with mustard seeds.

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The next course was pasta filled with goose liver and tepka pear with a clear mushroom broth.

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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.

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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!

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The final icing on the cake was the dried, soaked, succulent chocolate-covered tepka pears, which I opted to take home!

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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

 

Shop Locally at Radovljica’s Farmers and Craft Markets

Radovljica now boasts two monthly local markets, where you can buy direct from farmers, producers and local craftspeople. As anyone who has ever shopped at a farmers’ market will know, it’s a lovely, relaxed way to shop; safe in the knowledge there are no food miles involved, no added nasty additives etc., and, at the same time, you are helping to support the local community. So, a win-win all round!

The monthly Vila Podvin local market takes place on the first Saturday morning of each month in Mošnje near Radovljica. It is something of a mixture of a farmers and craft market, where you can buy locally produced food and other handmade products.

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The market is always popular and, of course, the fact that it is held in the beautiful gardens of Vila Podvin, where one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin, conjures up delicious and creative dishes, is also a factor, as is the added bonus of being able to stay after the market and enjoy a specially prepared lunch, made using products available for sale on the day. And if you’d like to enjoy a tipple too, there are also 5 well-appointed double rooms available, located in the previous stable area of the building, with views of the (sadly) long-abandoned Podvin Castle.

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Uroš’ ethos is on using forgotten local ingredients, such as tepka pears – a variety of pear that only grows in this area of Slovenia – to create new dishes in his own distinctive way. At the local market there is also a chance to try these unique sausages made with tepka pears.

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What is on offer at the market varies from month to month, but as a general rule you will food items such as find fruit and vegetables, cheese, jams, flour, cordials, eggs, dried meats etc.

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As well as non-food items such as jewellery, trinkets and other homeware goods.

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Vila Podvin is one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, the focus of which is on using local ingredients, and about which you can find out more here – http://www.radolca.si/en/taste-radolca/

Find more information about Vila Podvin here – http://www.vilapodvin.si/EN/

The other market, and a welcome new addition, is the small farmers’ market held on the 2nd Saturday of each month, from 9am to 1pm, at the building known as Sarčeva hisa, next to the library in Radovljica. The next such market will take place this Saturday 10th September.

© Adele in Slovenia

Spas, Caves, Eats and Other Rainy (and Not So Rainy) Day Ideas!

Anyone visiting Slovenia in the last fortnight might be forgiven for thinking it rains here a lot! Please be reassured, however, that this much rain in June is not the norm. In the 9+ years I’ve been living here, I don’t think I can remember such a prolonged period of wet weather at this time of year. It really is turning out to be a strange year, weather-wise. After having very little snow during winter, we then had snow in late-April, and now, in the second-half of May and early June, it seems to be April! It’s been either raining torrentially or the clouds have been looming ominously, making it frustratingly difficult to go anywhere too far from home.

The good news is that it’s set to improve soon, just a couple more days of these storms then hot, dry weather is headed our way, yippee! In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of my ideas for how to spend rainy, as well as not so rainy, days in the Radovljica area and elsewhere in Slovenia.

VISIT A SPA

It doesn’t matter what the weather is doing outside if you are inside getting wet anyway! All of Slovenia’s thermal spas feature indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, jacuzzis and modern wellness facilities, offering something for all the family. You can read plenty more about spas and the facilities here and read some insider tips from me, here – https://spasinslovenia.com/

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DELVE INTO THE MAGICAL UNDERWORLD IN CAVES

A visit to one Slovenia’s caves, such as Postojna Caves or the UNESCO-listed Škocjan Caves, is ideal whatever the weather. There are over 9,000 caves in Slovenia, though only a small number of these are open to the public. The temperature in the caves is constant year-round so it really doesn’t matter if its snowing or there’s a heat-wave! All of the caves are fascinating and unique, and the current phenomena of the newly-hatched ‘baby dragons’ at Postojna Caves provides an additional reason to visit. Read more here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/06/01/the-phenomenal-postojna-proteus-phenomena/

Underground river Pivka in Postojna Cave_photo Iztok Medja for Postojnska jama

VISIT, TASTE & DRINK RADOVLJICA

Rainy days always bring an influx of visitors to the Radovljica area as the small town packs in quite a few sights of interest. You can visit the Lectar Gingerbread Workshop, the Museum of Apiculture, the Šivec House Gallery, and the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska. More here – http://www.radolca.si/en/

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I don’t know about you, but this miserable weather makes me want to eat, eat, and then eat some more! The participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants all offer home-cooked, and locally sourced and produced food. Or why not visit the Sodček Wine Bar for a wine tasting session. More here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/taste-radolca/

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LISTEN TO SLOVENE FOLK MUSIC AT AVSENIK

Visit Avsenik in Begunje na Gorenjskem – home to the world-renowned legendary Avsenik music – a popular style of folk music. There are regular live events, festivals and workshops, and you can also visit the gallery and museum. More here – http://www.avsenik.com/en

TAKE IN SOME CULTURE AT SUMMER MUSEUM NIGHT

There are hundreds of museums and galleries in Slovenia and a lot of attention is placed on culture and cultural-related events and activities. Next Saturday, 18th June, is Summer Museum Night, when, from 6pm until midnight, museums and galleries throughout the country offer free entrance and host special events. More information here – http://www.tms.si/PMN/?page_id=67

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GO SHOPPING

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of shopping, particularly large shopping centres and especially when on holiday in a place where the great outdoors is so ‘great!’ So when I say ‘shopping’ I don’t mean traipsing round clothes shops, and getting hot, bothered and irritated in changing rooms (or is that just me?). Instead, when on holiday, I prefer to browse craft shops, visit local markets, buy and try local produce, and try to find unique buys. I particularly like foodie events such as Odprta Kuhna (Open Kitchen), which takes place every Friday (weather permitting) in Ljubljana. Closer to home at Vila Podvin in Mošnje a market takes place on the first Saturday of every month from 9am-noon, come rain or shine. You can meet local producers, buy food and non-food goods, and enjoy a delicious lunch cooked by one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin. More information here – http://www.vilapodvin.si/events

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I hope to have provided some ideas and inspiration, after all, the weather may mean some plans have to curtailed but there’s always plenty more to see and do until the next sunny day comes along!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

Fucanje: a traditional Easter game of money, money, money!

The game of ‘fucanje‘ traditionally takes place at Easter in Slovenia. It involves players, all male, competing in a coin throwing contest, each aiming for their coin to land closest to the target. The winners then ‘takes all’!

On Easter Sunday in the municipality of Radovljica ‘fucanje‘ took place outside the cultural centre in the villages of Mošnje and also in Begunje na Gorenjskem behind the Tavčar restaurant.

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It’s nice to see these kinds of traditions being upheld, and the events always draw quite a crowd.

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At the cultural centre in Mošnje there was also an Easter exhibition of coloured eggs, known as ‘pirhi‘, created by children from the local school, as well as an exhibition of lacework produced by the Železniki Pensioners Association.

There were coloured eggs of all shapes and sizes. These ones were produced using a silk technique.

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These were dyed using teran wine. Apparently it doesn’t affect the taste – shame about that!

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This one’s an ostrich egg!

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And these cute little coloured eggs, which must have involved a painstaking amount of work, are quail’s eggs.

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These ones are just plain old eggs, but I couldn’t resist them!

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Though it’s a fairly small village, the Mošnje Tourist Association is quite active and arranges quite a number of annual events. The next such will be the mid-summer’s eve bonfire on 17th June, whilst on 23rd and 24th September the village’s main event ‘Mošnje Days’ takes places. There is also a small museum in the village as well as an interesting archeological trail. You can read more about the village in a previous post here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2015/07/20/all-about-mosnje/ and about the archeological trail and the museum here – http://www.radolca.si/en/mosnje-archaeological-trail/ and here – http://www.radolca.si/en/mosnje-museum/

Happy Easter!

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016