A Taste Radol’ca Culinary Challenge!

Life in Slovenia is almost back to normal – tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, campsites, etc. are open, and there are even tourists to be seen here and there! That said, there has been a spike in new cases in the past week, so we aren’t out of the woods yet, and caution is still the name of the game.

As a result of COVID-19, now, more than ever, it is important to support local businesses and to look after our health – of which eating a healthy, balanced diet plays an important part. So, it seemed an appropriate time to set Taste Radol’ca restaurants a culinary challenge!

The background to my ‘challenge’ is the situation I find myself in these days since being diagnosed with coeliac disease, which is that going out to eat leads to feelings of: (1) anxiety, (2) apprehension, (3) embarrassment and (4) envy. The first two are due to never being able to be 100% sure that when I order gluten-free food it will really be gluten-free and prepared in a ‘safe’ way, the third is due to having to ask the waiting staff and/or chefs so many questions, and the fourth because invariably I can only ever order one or two things from the menu, which most often aren’t the things I would have previously chosen to eat, and I then end up feeling envious looking at fellow diners tucking into their tasty-looking meals.

Thus I decide it was high-time to be brave and embrace the great, local cuisine and to put my faith in the Taste Radol’ca chefs! I contacted 4 restaurants and asked them to prepare a selection of dishes – meat-based, vegan, and vegetarian – all of which needed to be gluten-free. I should add that I’m neither a vegan or a vegetarian, however, I know that these days an increasing number of people are turning to vegan lifestyles, and there are also those with coeliac disease who choose to additionally be vegan, which must be doubly difficult.

So, below you can see the tasty delights I devoured, beginning at Gostišče Draga in the Draga valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem.

I used to particularly enjoy the various sweet and savoury štruklji at this restaurant, and up until now, I hadn’t found anywhere that offers gluten-free štruklji. I had kind of resigned myself to never being able to eat one of my favourite Slovenian foods again, well, unless I made them myself – and that isn’t about to happen!

So, I was more than over the moon to discover that owner and head chef Ales Tavčar finally lived up to his promise and prepared gluten-free štruklji for me! And, even better, they were such as success they will be featuring on the menu sometime in the near future.

Struklji can be eaten both as a savoury dish, for example with a mushroom sauce…

…or sweet, for example with cranberry sauce. I think my face tells the picture of how delighted I was, and, trust me, they tasted as good as they look!

Vegans are catered for too with dishes such as buckwheat with apple and almonds, which is also gluten-free.

Next up was Gostišče Tulipan in Lesce. Regular readers might recall that I held my celebration there on the occasion of gaining Slovenian citizenship last year. And at that time too it came up trumps with a gluten-free buffet for all my guests. You can read about my celebration here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2019/10/14/when-adele-in-slovenia-became-adele-is-a-slovene/

So, my visit was with less trepidation in the knowledge that they know their stuff in terms of gluten-free food and preparation.

This time I enjoyed risotto with prawns and truffles – gluten-free and also suitable for pescatarians…

…rump steak with roasted vegetables and potatoes – all naturally gluten-free…

…and rice noodles with homemade wild garlic pesto – vegan and gluten-free.

And all enjoyed on the terrace with a great view!

Next was the turn of Restavracija Center in Lesce, which is a new, and very welcome, addition to the Taste Radol’ca ‘family’.

Since being diagnosed with coeliac disease this place has become my ‘go-to’ restaurant, notably for their amazing gluten-free pizzas, which actually look, and taste, like pizzas – something that can’t be said for many a gluten-free pizza! The dough is made separately and the pizzas are cooked in special baking trays to avoid any cross-contamination. Eating here is the one time I don’t feel so hard done-by!

And this pizza ticks the vegetarian box too, though there are plenty of meat pizzas, too!

For meat eaters, a great gluten-free choice is the beef tagliata, potatoes, rocket and parmesan…

…while vegans can enjoy a seasonal risotto – this one with asparagus was by far the best risotto I’ve ever eaten and from now on will be my second choice in the event that they have run out of gluten-free pizzas, which does happen at times, so it’s always best to call ahead to check to avoid disappointment.

And I ended at Gostilna Kunstelj, which ranks among one of Slovenia’s most well-known traditional restaurants. Even the former Yugoslavian president Tito used to visit!

In fine weather the fantastic view makes the food taste even better!

Since Gostilna Kunstelj’s whole ethos is based on using local and seasonal produce, there is certainly no lack of choice for vegetarians and vegans, and many of the dishes are either naturally gluten-free or can be adapted to be so.

A big hit with me, and a revelation too, was the buckwheat with vegetables and pumpkin seed tempeh. Full of colour and flavour, indeed!

There are numerous salads on the menu, which use produce from the restaurant’s own garden.

Gostilna Kunstelj also has renovated guest rooms, all of which come with stunning views too!

Fortunately, Taste Radol’ca’s talented chefs came up trumps and I’m delighted that now I know I have a slightly wider choice of dishes when I go out to eat, though, of course, the worry is, and will be, ever-present, as even the tiniest grain of gluten sets off an autoimmune reaction. But one needs to also remember that there are people far worse off in life!

© Adele in Slovenia

52 Shades of Radovljica – Part One!

The COVID-19 lockdown in Slovenia, which from 30th March meant that we were not allowed out of our municipalities, was finally lifted today, hooray! Of course, we aren’t out of the woods yet; strict social distancing measures are still in place, we still have to wear masks in enclosed places, there’s still no public transport, schools are still closed…but things are gradually beginning to open and get back to some degree of normality.

Other than a somewhat uncomfortable feeling of a loss of freedom, fortunately, it actually didn’t affect me too much since I work from home and the municipality of Radovljica has so much to offer in terms of the great outdoors. In addition to my usual local haunts, it was actually quite interesting working out and planning just where (and where not) I could hike and cycle. I was surprised to discover that the municipality of Radovljica comprises a whopping 52 towns, villages and hamlets!

This gave me an idea for a blog – well actually two – in which I will photograph and describe (in brief!) each – or most – of the 52. A task-and-a-half indeed! So, in alphabetical order, here is the first half!

Begunje na Gorenjskem – one of the bigger villages in the municipality, with plenty to see and do! The birthplace of Slovenian national folk music, home to the Avsenik Museum, the Elan Alpine Skiing Museum, the Draga valley, Kamen Castle, and more.

Brda – a small hamlet at the start of the Lipnica valley near Lancovo.

Brezje – this village, though small, is considered Slovenia’s national pilgrimage site and is home to the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians as well as the Nativity Museum.

Brezovica – a hamlet in the Lipnica valley near Kropa.

Češnjica pri Kropi – follow the windy road up to this sunny settlement for wonderful views of the Karavanke mountains.

Črnivec – a small village near Brezje with a pizza place and a restaurant.

Dobravica –  a small hamlet near Češnjica pri Kropi.

Dobro Polje – another small hamlet, this one is near Brezje.

Dvorska vas – a small settlement near Begunje, home to the Lambergh Chateau and Hotel.

Globoko – a small settlement, which is home to the Barbaner Lipizzaner stud farm and the Globočnik homestead, which is about as traditional and homely as it gets!

Gorica, just a handful of houses but also a great mini golf course!

Hlebce and Hraše – two small settlements between Lesce and Begunje that I often confuse as they are located parallel to each other and both start with the letter ‘H’!

Kamna Gorica – sometimes also referred to as Slovenia’s ‘Little Venice’ due to its numerous water channels, the village is also home to the Sextons’ Museum House and the Church of the Holy Trinity, from where there are great views of the surrounding hills and mountains.

Kropa – the cradle of Slovenian iron forging. Home to the Iron Forging Museum, two churches, the Vigenjc vice forge, and numerous water sources that served the needs of the forges in their heyday.

Lancovo – home to the confluence of the Sava Dolinka and Sava Bohinjka rivers.

Lesce – plenty of restaurants, a sports airfield, the Church of the Assumption of Mary and the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska.

Lipnica – the lush Lipnica valley winds its way from Radovljica towards Podnart. Great cycling territory, either on the flat through the valley or by mountain bike on the forested Jelovica plateau.

Ljubno – known for its numerous frescoes packed into one small village, as well as the Church of Mary Help of Christians.

Mišače – I often pass through this peaceful hamlet when cycling through the Lipnica valley and back towards Radovljica via Globoko. In recent times a new ECO river camp has sprung up.

Mlaka – to be honest I’m not sure! I know of one area called Mlaka beneath the old town of Radovljica and a small hamlet beneath Mt. Dobrca, but not sure which one this is!

Mošnje – home to the fine dining restaurant Vila Podvin as well as the Mosnje Ethnological Museum, the Villa Rustica Archeological Trail and one of the oldest churches in Slovenia.

Nova vas pri Lescah – a small hamlet between Radovljica and Begunje.

Noše – a small hamlet near Brezje.

Otoče – a small village with a railway station on the main line between Ljubljana and Jesenice.

Ovsiše – located on sunny plains above the Lipnica valley and home to the Porta organic farm.

So, as you can see, there’s far more to Radol’ca than just Radovljica – and that’s just the first half! My work here is not yet complete! Until next time…

© Adele in Slovenia

Reasons to Be Cheerful in Radol’ca!

Okay, I admit it, at times I’ve been finding it a bit hard to remain optimistic of late, more so since new rules came into force last Sunday at midnight, which stipulate that we aren’t allowed out of our municipality and have to wear masks to go into food shops, banks, and the post office. On the flip side, however, at this time I am certainly grateful that, if I am forced to be confined to one municipality, it is Radovljica!

In these testing times, when we are surrounded by so much doom and gloom, it is important to find some reasons to be cheerful and rays of hope. And, fortunately, here in Radovljica we don’t have to look too far to find them.

During this period when we are all doing our best to avoid each other(!), it’s the perfect opportunity to take stock and appreciate what we have got rather than what we haven’t. And the main reason to be cheerful, particularly for me, is that Radovljica has so many natural assets and hidden beauty spots, that there’s actually no need to go too far from home.

In the past week, in addition to working, we have managed to:

Hike to the Roblekov dom mountain hut where, following last Monday’s snowfall, it still looked pretty wintry as of the middle of last week…

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

Walk in the Draga valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem – where there really are more animals (albeit not real!) than people at this time. Of course, once things are back to normal, you simply must try the parkour archery course for real, i.e. with a bow and arrow, rather than just being a spectator! You can read more about the course in a previous blog here)…

©AdeleinSlovenia

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

Strolled over the Fuxova brv footbridge and walked among the wild garlic on the Lipnica Castle Trail towards Lipnica Castle

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

…and hiked from Kamna Gorica up to the Vodiška planina mountain pasture above Kropa.

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

And all that without leaving the confines of Radovljica!

In fact, having read this, you might even decide to spend the majority of your next holiday here in Radovljica. I mean, do you really need to go elsewhere?!

@Adele in Slovenia

Radol’ca Strikes Gold!

In these testing times for all, it’s nice to at least be able to convey some good news: Radol’ca has struck gold! Well, obviously, not literally but it has been awarded a Gold Slovenian Green Destination label, which is surely as good, if not better! And, as one of just 14 destinations in the country that are holders of gold labels, I think that’s something to shout about!

The label, which is awarded by the Slovenian Tourist Board, is proof that Radovljica is on the right track not only in the field of tourism but also those of sustainable development, preserving nature and cultural heritage, and social inclusion.

So, why not come and see for yourself – when the virus situation allows, of course – why Radovljica is a ‘Gold’ destination, and experience its nature and culture, and, while you are here, you can play your part in helping its sustainable practice, too.

Choosing accommodation that is environmentally-friendly is a good way to start. One such is the Woodhouse B&B in Dobro polje, near Radovljica, which was conceived in a sustainable way, thus requiring less operating and maintenance costs. In fact, this B&B alone played a key part in Radovljica being awarded a ‘Gold’ destination label, since it is the holder of a Green Key certificate, which is one of the requirements for applying for a Slovenian Green Destination label. Click here to see the full range of accommodation in Radol’ca.

The fact that Radovljica offers so many cultural and natural assets and attractions was also key in obtaining the label. Radovljica’s crowning glory is Linhart Square, the heart of the historic old town centre, with its frescoed houses, the magnificent Radovljica Manor, and numerous museums and galleries.

Keep up the good work Radol’ca!

Of course, I couldn’t end without mentioning Coronavirus and its effect here in Radovljica and Slovenia as a whole.

At the time of writing (Monday 23 March), there have been three deaths here (all of whom had previous medical conditions) and over 400 confirmed cases. Social distancing is being enforced, whereby no more than five people are allowed to be outdoors together at any one time, but we can – for the time being and I’m praying that it stays this way – at least go out for walks in forests, etc., providing we maintain a safe distance from others we encounter.

Fortunately the Radol’ca area has numerous places where you can walk and escape into the embrace of nature whilst avoiding public areas. In addition to such trails being ideal now at a time when we are all forced to avoid each other, they are also great places to walk in the summer to avoid the heat and crowds. In Radol’ca these include the Lipnica Castle Trail and the Grabnarca Waterside Nature Trail.

All shops – other than food shops, post offices, banks and petrol stations – are closed, as are cafes, and all other services such as hairdressers, garages, etc. Sadly, the Radovljica Chocolate Festival has become a ‘victim’ of the virus too and has thus been cancelled. Such a shame for the organisers as a significant amount of work and time had already been invested. But I have no doubt that it will be back bigger and better than ever next year from 16-18 April 2021.

Click here to keep up-to-date on the developments in the Radol’ca area – in tourism terms.

I hope to be back with you soon with some more cheerful news and some photos of me out hiking and enjoying all that the Radol’ca area has to offer! Until then, stay safe and well!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

Ten Top Insider Radol’ca Tips!

Since I think I have a right these days to call myself a ‘Radolčanka’ (i.e. a Radovljica local), I thought I would share with you some of my top insider tips, some of which are more obvious than others!

So, in no particular order…

YOU WILL NEVER GO HUNGRY OR THIRSTY IN RADOVLJICA…at the last count – in my head that is so I could have forgotten the odd one – I totted up 23 bars, cafes and restaurants in Radovljica itself – not to mention the numerous others within the municipality. So, there’s no need to worry about going hungry or thirsty whilst visiting! And now there’s an exciting new ‘kid’ in town too – Linhart Hotel & Bistro – in Linhart Square, the heart of the old town. The hotel opened a couple of years ago but has just been taken over by the hugely successful and popular restaurant Vila Podvin, with head chef (and celebrity chef these days!) Uroš Štefelin at the helm. Expect bistro-style food – Uroš style!

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THERE’S A VISIBLE TUNNEL... Okay, so it’s not an insider tip as such, but I’ve included it here since it’s easy to miss. The only preserved moat tunnel in Slovenia is found beneath Radovljica’s old town centre. It was renovated, and partly built-over, some years back, and is well-illuminated, meaning you can walk through it at any time as part of a visit to the old town centre. I’m rather lucky as I live just minutes from the old town and can therefore see it by day and by night, though the latter trumps it for me!

Radoljice1HDR

AND AN INVISIBLE/HIDDEN TUNNEL TOO…well, that is if legend is true! It is said that there is a tunnel that runs underground from the well in Linhart Square all the way to Lipnica Castle. To date no one has actually found it, but the legend lives on…!

AND EVEN A ‘SECRET’ CHAPEL…the Edith Stein Chapel is hidden away behind the vestry tower of Radovljica’s baroque St. Peter’s church in Linhart Square, and surprisingly few people even know it’s there. Edith Stein was a German-Jewish philosopher, born on 12 October 1891 to Jewish parents, who converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun.

Also know as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, she was canonised as a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church, and is one of six co-patron saints of Europe. Edith and her sister Rosa, who was also a convert and an extern sister, were sent to the Carmelite monastery in Echt in the Netherlands in 1938 for their safety, where, despite the Nazi invasion in 1940, they remained until they were arrested by the Nazis on 2 August 1942 and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where they died in the gas chamber on 9 August 1942.

WE HAVE RATHER LOVELY CEMETRIES…bear with me on this one! I know it might sound odd but it’s true, Radovljica’s (and in fact in general throughout the country) two cemetries are so well kept. There is always an abundance of fresh flowers, plants and glowing candles, and a sense of peace prevails. You can admire both the cemetries as you pass on a walk towards the Sava river and the Fux footbridge.

RADOVLJICA REALLY IS A ‘SWEET’ TOWN…in so many ways! Not only is the town’s slogan ‘Honestly Sweet‘ but Radovljica is also the home of the biggest and best chocolate festival in Slovenia and a honey festival too. This year’s Radovljica Chocolate Festival – the 9th in a row – takes place from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th April.

WE LIKE TO STICK TOGETHERTaste Radol’ca is a great example of this. Rather than being in competition with each other, many of Radol’ca’s restaurants have joined forces and, in doing so, have realised and reaped the benefits of cooperation and collaboration. In doing so they are also supporting local farmers, beekeepers and producers of other goods, by including locally sourced ingredients on their menus. Each year there are an increasing number of events at which Taste Radol’ca restaurants are present, such as the Radovljica Chocolate Festival, summer Thursday concert evenings, the November Month of Local Cuisine, various Christmas and New Year events, and more.

WE LOVE OUR BEES…the Museum of Apiculture, the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska, the ‘Follow a Bee Through Radovljica‘ family adventure, an annual Honey Festival, and numerous beautifully painted apiaries where hardworking bees, and equally hardworking beekeepers, ensure that we have a plentiful supply of local honey.

IT LOOKS GREAT FROM ABOVE OR BELOW…Wherever you view Radovljica from – whether up high in the mountains or down beneaths its terraces – Radovljica’s old town centre with its prominent church is picture postcard stuff! So, whether you choose a stroll beside the Sava river on the Sava River Trail, or one of the marked hiking trails, such as to St. Peter’s church above Begunje, or even higher to the Roblek mountain hut or the peak of Begunščica, you are assured of a great view and a totally different perspective of the beauty of Radovljica and its surroundings.

SEEK OUT BUNKERS FROM THE RUPNIK LINE…the Rupnik Line is a system of fortifications that were built during the 1930’s by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia as a defence line on the border with the Kingdom of Italy. The strategically placed forts and bunkers were never actually used for military or defence purposes, but they at least brought residents a temporary solution to the unemployment and financial troubles which affected them due to the location of the Rapallo Border. In Radovljica there are bunkers on the Obla gorica hill, which is located behind the swimming pool, as well as on the grassy bank in the street Cankarjeva ulicacop. I recently read that, in fact, there are around 50 such bunkers located across the Jelovica plateau, Radovljica and Begunje na Gorenjskem, though, to date at least, I’ve only come across a handful. Hmm, an idea is brewing, how many (more) can I/you find?!

I hope this has given you plenty of ideas for exploring (more of) Radovljica and you’ll agree that’s there’s certainly more than meets the eye!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

The Magnificent Radovljica Manor – (even) More Than Meets the Eye!

The magnificent and imposing Radovljica Manor dominates Linhart Square – the heart of Radovljica’s historic old town.

The building houses numerous attractions and institutions, among them the Radovljica Music School, the Museum of Apiculture, the Municipal Museum, two small gallery areas, and the wonderful Baroque Hall.

Photo: Tourism Radol’ca

The Orthenburgs built a small castle in the 13th century on the site on today’s manor. The structure was rebuilt following an earthquake in 1511 by the building’s then-tenant Count Dietrichstein, and in the following century it was further expanded by the Counts of Thurn-Valsassina.

Immediately on entering the manor through the impressive, not to mention heavy, door you spot the beautiful grand central staircase, made out of green tuff, which hints at the grandeur of the building.

Before reaching the staircase you will notice a photographic exhibition on the right-side of the entrance hall. The exhibition changes every month so it’s always worth popping in for a look when passing!

Much of the space on the ground floor is today given over to the Radovljica Music School. But if you have a nose around, you will discover other hidden features, such as this sundial, which I discovered for the first time today, despite having lived here for almost 13 years!

Photo: Adele in Slovenia

Head up the magnificent stairs to visit the Museum of Apiculture and the adjoining Municipal Museum, while numerous concerts take place throughout the year in the Baroque Hall with its amazing acoustics.

The Museum of Apiculture is a hive of activity for beekeepers and bee enthusiasts! It houses a wide collection of bee hives and figural hives, beekeeping equipment and tools.

The museum’s extensive collection of painted beehive frontal panels, including the oldest known in the world, is a particular highlight. Each one tells its own unique folk tale.

The manor also plays host to some of Radovljica’s larger annual events, among them the Radovljica Chocolate Festival, which takes place both indoors and outdoors at various venues throughout the town, as well as the Radovljica Festival – a festival of early music.

A chocolate-themed fashion show in the Radovljica Manor!

Photo: Miha Horvat, 2014

The Radovljica Manor also makes a special venue for weddings and other ceremonies/celebrations.

Photo: Tourism Radol’ca

Photo: Tourism Radol’ca

Outside, to the right of the manor, there is a statue of the art historian and honorary citizen of Radovljica Cene Avguštin, and also a small exhibition titled ‘Radovljica, Our Old Town Through the Centuries’.

So, when visiting Radovljica, be sure to take time to discover the manor – both inside and out. And to end, one useful tip…there are toilets on the ground floor. Not an attraction in themselves but always good to know, wouldn’t you agree?!

© Adele in Slovenia

Let the Festive Season Begin in Radovljica!

It’s that time of year again in RadovljicaFestive December time!

Time to switch on the Christmas lights; time to browse the stalls at the mini Christmas market; time to warm your cockles with a mulled wine or two; and time to soak up the atmosphere and marvel at the decorations in Radovljica’s old town centre – which is especially fairytale-like during the festive season. To whet your appetite check out the ‘December in Radovljica‘ video below!

The festive season officially kicked off earlier today with the switching on of the Christmas lights and the closing event of this year’s Taste Radol’ca Month of Local Cuisine. I’ve just returned home and my fingers have just about defrosted enough to download the photos of the entertainment!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Linhart Square so full! But whether its full or empty, it’s always magical – even more so in December, of course!

The festive fun then resumes on Saturday 21st December through until New Year’s Eve with a variety of events, concerts, workshops and performances – the highlights of which are below.

On Saturday 21st December there will be a (small) Christmas market from 12noon-8pm, fairytale horses for children from 12noon-3pm, a Kropa nailmaking workshop, and from 5-8pm Taste Radol’ca restaurants will once again be cooking up great street food, which you can enjoy whilst listening to a concert by ‘Fed Horses, which kicks off at 6pm.

On Sunday 22nd December Radovljica will host, for the first time, the Artish Festival – a creative festival usually held in Ljubljana – while on the same day there will be two creative workshops as well as concert by Natasa Artiček.

The Christmas market will be open on Monday 23rd December from 3–7pm, whilst at 5pm there will be a performance by pupils and ballet dancers of the Radovljica Music School and children’s folklore groups, and from 6–7pm a workshop for children titled: ‘Radol’ca – A Golden Crown’.

On Christmas Day itself, why not take a stroll through the old town centre to work off your lunch where at 5pm you can watch a street show by Ana Snežna.

On Thursday 26th December at 4pm you can watch a dance performance by Moj klub in the Baroque Hall of the Radovljica Manor followed by at 5pm in Linhart Square a fire show by Čupakabra, titled ‘School for Dragons‘.

On Friday 27th December those with kids won’t want to miss a puppet show at 5pm titled ‘The Wrong Day’ and a visit by Grandfather Frost.

On Saturday 28th December, in addition to the Christmas market, you can once again try some great Taste Radol’ca street food from 5-8pm, while children can join in a face painting workshop from 5-7pm and then from 6-8pm there will be a concert by Andrej Šifrer.

On Sunday 29th December there’s another chance to watch a(nother) street show performance by Ana Snežna at 5pm followed by carol singing through Linhart Square starting at 6pm.

So, as you can see, there’s more than enough reasons to visit Radovljica during the festive season. Hope to see you there – or rather I should say “here”!

© Adele in Slovenia

Taste the Treasures of the Forest with Taste Radol’ca 2019!

Yes, it’s that time of the year again, the tastiest time of the year in Radol’ca – the Taste Radol’ca Month of Local Cuisine!

Photo: Boris Pretnar, Source: http://www.radolca.si

As in the past, for the whole month of November you can visit any (or all!) of the nine participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants to try their special menus created using ingredients sourced and grown locally by local suppliers in the Radol’ca area.

The theme of the menus this year, of course in addition to local ingredients, is the forest, which offers an abundance of ingredients, some of them rather unusual. The talented Taste Radol’ca chefs have been hard at work coming up with new flavour combinations using the wealth of ingredients readily available in the forest during autumn. You can try dishes such as rosehip soup, fillet of white fish with spruce tip salt, venison occo bucco with juniper berry sauce, forest honey and spruce tip ice-cream…

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Every year the opening Taste Radol’ca event is held at one of the participating restaurants, and this year it was the turn of Gostišče Draga in the Draga valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem to host the event. It began with a market featuring local and guest suppliers and the chance to try their products…

…as well as the chance to meet the chefs and taste some of their creations.

And of course there was plenty of entertainment too!

The evening continued (or rather is continuing as I write!) late into the night with the opening dinner where diners were treated to a five-course feast.

Photo: Boris Pretnar, Source: http://www.radolca.si

Photo: Boris Pretnar, Source: http://www.radolca.si

There are two changes to the line-up of restaurants this year, with Jostov hram and Restavracija Lambergh exiting the fold, while Restavracija Center and Restavracija Tabor have joined the happy Taste Radol’ca family!

The other significant addition this year is supplier open days. On Fridays, Saturday and Sundays during the month of November you can visit some of the suppliers in the Radol’ca area where you will have an opportunity to meet the producers and taste their products.

Local Taste Radol’ca November menus will be available from 26th October to 30th November at a price of €19 for (a minimum of) three courses. So, don’t miss the ‘tastiest’ month of the Radol’ca year and the chance to treat your taste buds and support local suppliers too! And, in addition to treating yourself, you can now also treat your friends/loved ones by buying them a Taste Radol’ca gift voucher.

© Adele in Slovenia

Kunstelj Inn – A True and Tasty Tale of Tradition!

Kunstelj Inn in Radovljica is a family-run restaurant with rooms that has a long tradition and a great reputation. It is also one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, takes part in other culinary events such as Slovenian Restaurant Week and is featured in the Gault&Millau restaurant guide.

Five year’s ago, Maja Buden (nee Štiherle), daughter of Toni and granddaughter of Tone and the fourth generation to head up the family business, took over as manager of the inn. To mark this anniversary, as well as a certain ‘big’ birthday with a zero at the end, she threw a celebratory gathering last Friday! Happy Birthday and congratulations Maja!

And, of course, a Slovenian celebration wouldn’t be complete without accordion music and traditional entertainment!

Having recently translated a special edition newsletter to mark this special anniversary, I was keen to be able to share with readers of my blog some of the highlights and photographs of the inn’s long and fascinating history, and, fortunately, Maja gave me the nod to do so!

Kunstelj Inn was opened by Franc Kunstelj in 1873 and some years later handed it over to his son Rudolf. Rudolf was very ambitious and had a vision and belief that the small family inn could become the heart and soul of social life in Radovljica.

The Rudolf Kunstelj Inn in 1906. Photo: 110 years of the Radovljica Tourist Association

He set to work building a large lounge with a stage for celebrations, a wine cellar, a freezer and a veranda with views of the Julian Alps. The renovations placed Kunstelj Inn on the map of the most popular local restaurants in Slovenia.

Grandmother Jerica later took over the running of the inn. She had a reputation as a fearless woman who always knew exactly what she wanted and was not afraid to tell people to their face what was on her mind! She survived two wars, became a widow at a very young age, raised two sons, and took over and managed Kunstelj Inn all by herself.

Many of the dishes Jerica introduced onto the inn’s menu can still be found today, albeit with a modern ‘Maja twist’, as well as other traditional Slovenian food, including blood sausages, Carniolan sausage with sauerkraut or turnip, buckwheat polenta, homemade štruklji and more.

Meanwhile, grandmother Maria left home at the age of 14 to work at the Roblek dom mountain hut. Tone and the now legendary Slavko Avsenik – the founder of Slovenian folk music – used to visit the hut as rumour had it that there were a lot of pretty girls there! And it turned out to be true, since Tone and Maria met and later married, and Slavko Avsenik even played at their wedding!

Grandmother Maria (second from left) doing washing at the Roblek dom mountain hut

A particularly amusing tale is that of Grandad Tone and his golf ‘caddy’ Grol. Tone didn’t start to play golf until he was 62, when, due to his weak heart he gave up hunting as well as skiing and golf became a form of relaxation and enjoyment.

As the doctors had instilled in him that he must strictly avoid all forms of exertion, for some time Tone thought about how he could lighten the load of carrying his heavy golf clubs from one hole to the next and he hit on the idea that his faithful companion Grol could help!

Uncle Ivan made Grol a special trolley for transporting Tone’s golf clubs, and Grol adapted really well to his role as ‘caddy’.

Maja’s father Toni regularly went on exchange to Switzerland to “learn from the best”. It was there that he learnt skills from one of the most well known Swiss patisserie chefs, Hans van den Klinkenberg, in Hotel Eden in Lugano. Toni brought all the tricks and secrets he learnt from the patisserie chef to Kunstelj Inn’s kitchen, which led to Kunstelj’s strudels, pies, ice-cream and other cakes soon gaining a reputation as the best desserts in Gorenjska.

Like her father, Maja also has a passion for desserts and, also like her father, she went to Austria to learn her patisserie skills. Her role model, who she met on one of her culinary travels, is Lea Linser; at that time Lea was running an acclaimed restaurant in Luxembourg and was the first ‘tv chef’ on German television. To this day Maja turns to Lea’s cookery books for inspiration for her signature desserts.

Some year’s back Maja created the first Kunstelj ‘grizike’ (cake pops), which later became – and still are – one of the star attractions of the Radovljica Chocolate Festival!

You can also visit during the time of Slovenian Restaurant Week, which takes place twice per year for 10 days in autumn and spring, when you can take advantage of a 3-course menu for just 19 euros per person, the next edition will take place from 11th – 20th October (note: the website is currently only available in English, but menus will soon also be available in English and by next year the entire website too – working on that one too!).

Kunstelj Inn is also part of Taste Radol’ca and for the whole month of November all nine participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants offer special menus based on local ingredients also for a set price of 19 euros  per person.

So, now you know (some of) Kunstelj Inn’s history, why not visit to find out (and taste!) more!

© Adele in Slovenia

By Bike to Begunje and Bees!

Not only is cycling good for you and for the environment, it’s also a wonderful way to explore an area, and the Radol’ca area is no exception. In fact, I find it the best way to get around and much prefer two wheels to four! There’s no need to worry about where to park, you are out in the fresh air, and you can see so much more than you do in a car and can stop at your leisure.

So, join me on a bike ride to, and through, Begunje na Gorenjskem to discover some of the sights of the Radol’ca countryside!

I have listed the places below in order so as to suggest a circular ride, however, you can of course pick and choose what to see and do, and the list is by no means exhaustive. Starting from Radovljica head past the Spar supermarket, pass under the motorway then continue to the village of Nova vas.

On reaching the t-junction in Zapuže, turn left then shortly afterwards turn right (there is a bar on the corner) towards Zgoša. On reaching the junction, as seen below, turn left towards Begunje.

After a few minutes you will reach the Elan factory, shop and Alpine Skiing Museum, more here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2019/01/27/test-your-skiing-skills-at-the-elan-alpine-skiing-museum/

Continue towards the village of Begunje, the birthplace of Slavko Avsenik, who, together with his brother Vilko Avsenik, were the founders of Slovenian folk music. You can also visit the Avsenik Museum.

Opposite the Avsenik Museum is the Begunje Tourist Information Centre, where you can pick up more information about the area.

Continue through the village towards the Draga Valley, stopping first to admire and explore the ruins of Kamen Castle (grad Kamen).

Shortly after leaving the castle, there is a small cemetery that contains graves of hostages from the time when Begunje fell under German rule during World War II. You can also make a side trip to visit the Museum of Hostages, housed in Katzenstein Manor.

Now its just a few minutes more to reach the head of the Draga valley and the Gostišče Draga restaurant, which situated next to a stream and makes an ideal place to cool down, rest and/or enjoy some sustenance in the form of a drink, ice-cream, something sweet or some hearty traditional Slovenian food.

You can even stay overnight in one of the newly-renovated rooms and continue your cycling trip the next day! Or stay longer and enjoy the tranquility of the valley, which is also a great place for hiking in the Karavanke mountains.

On the way back, instead of returning the same way, after leaving the valley, you can turn left at the junction just after passing a sawmill. You could also make a detour to visit the Robačnekov mill. It is officially open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9am-12noon, however, outside of these times if the owner is home, ask nicely and she will be happy to show you round!

Those interested in beekeeping, and even those who think they might not be interested but will likely discover that actually they are(!), can visit Luznar Beekeeping (Čebelarstvo Luznar).

Upon prior arrangement, you can call in to visit Erik at home, where you can purchase his award-winning honey and other honey products, and/or you could arrange to meet him in the Draga valley, where you can get up close to one of his many hives and his amazing new ‘book’ hive, which allows a fascinating, close up, and unique view of Slovenia’s indigenous Carniolan grey bees hard at work. Email cebelarstvo.luznar@gmail.com or call 040 321 556.

Photo: Erik Luznar

Photo: Erik Luznar

You can also visit Begunje and the Draga valley – as well as Erik and his bees(!) – on the Hop-On Hop-On tourist bus, which runs every summer throughout July and August. It’s a great way to discover the villages and countryside of the Radol’ca area. In addition to the ride, there are guided tours and walks as well as other attractions to see and visit at each destination.

Click here for more information about cycling in the Radol’ca area.

© Adele in Slovenia