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

The Radovljica Beekeeping Adventure: Follow a ‘Bee’ Through Radovljica!

Honestly Sweet‘ was chosen as the slogan for the tourist destination of Radol’ca, which encompasses Radovljica itself (where I live!) and the other surrounding towns and villages in the municipality, due to the town’s long connection with all things ‘sweet’ i.e. beekeeping and chocolate.

And while this year’s Chocolate Festival has been and gone, Radovljica now features a brand new ‘sweet’ treat – the Radovljica Beekeeping Adventure.

The Radovljica tourist board came up with the idea for the Radovljica Beekeeping Adventure in order to consolidate the town’s position as the capital of Slovenian beekeeping as well as a desire to offer more activities for families. The idea for a bee-related adventure was an obvious choice and was inspired by the events last year to mark the first-ever World Bee Day.

The Beekeeping Adventure has been designed as a family adventure. It features four interactive points in the old town centre of Radovljica, the first of which is the apiary in the town park. 

The next is in front of St. Peter’s church

 

…and at the viewpoint at the end of the old town centre.

Despite living here 12 years, I can never tire of the view from Radovljica towards the Julian Alps and the Jelovica plateau, and even on a partly cloudy late May day – in a month where there have only been 2 days without rain so far – the views still blow me away, every time!

The adventure concludes with a visit to the Museum of Apiculture in the Radovljica Manor, where you can watch bees hard at work and find out plenty more about the history of Slovenian beekeeping, see an exhibition of the oldest painted beehive frontal panels, and learn even more about just how amazing bees really are!

The fun, creative and educational tasks have been devised to allow children to hone their manual skills and to learn about beekeeping, whilst seeking out the path with the help of a map helps develop outdoor orientation and spatial recognition skills.

As a reward for completing all the tasks, a ‘sweet’ treat awaits at the end – but I won’t spoil the surprise!

The Beekeeping Adventure costs €8 per family, which includes:

  • One copy of the booklet including a map, tasks and information about the life of bees
  • A family entrance ticket to the Museum of Apiculture (2 adults, up to 3 children)
  • A ‘sweet’ surprise
  • Supplement for additional booklets with tasks: €1 per booklet (up to 3 additional booklets are permitted per family upon purchase of a family package)

The booklet can be purchased at the following locations:

The Beekeeping Adventure is available from 24th May to 31st October 2019. Since the Museum of Apiculture is closed on Mondays, it is recommended that you visit from Tuesday to Sunday. The path itself is very short and flat, but together with solving the tasks and a visit to the museum, you should allow approximately 1.5-2 hours.

The Museum of Apiculture is celebrating it’s 60th anniversary this year, and, to mark the occasion, there will be a new comprehensive exhibition while the main anniversary event will take place on 15th June.

To end, on an entirely different theme, though one that many would also consider to be ‘sweet’, next Saturday a brand new festival is coming to Radovjlica – the Radovjlica Craft Beer Festival. Weather permitting the festival will kick off at 12 noon on Saturday 1st June and will feature a number of Slovenian craft breweries, live music, and food from Taste Radol’ca restaurants. A shuttle bus will also run every half hour from Bled.

No photo description available.

So, now there are even more reasons to come and visit the lovely town that I call ‘home’!

© Adele in Slovenia

Lovely Little Ljubno and the Brezje Pilgrimage Trail

The village of Ljubno might be small but its numerous beautifully frescoed houses and ‘miraculous’ church are a real feast for the eyes!

When driving along the Gorenjska motorway from east to west, just before reaching the Ljubno tunnel, to the left you can see the village and its closely-packed houses. However, its not until you get up close and take a walk among the houses, that you get a true sense of this small village.

Ljubno was once a centre of pottery in the Gorensjka region. Today you can find out more about the tradition and see examples of Ljubno pottery at the Manufaktura pottery shop and workshop in Radovljica’s old town centrehttps://adeleinslovenia.com/2019/01/05/manufaktura-a-new-year-and-a-new-addition-to-radovljicas-linhart-square/.

There is an interesting story of how Ljubno was transformed into an important pilgrimage place in the 17th century. During renovation of Ljubno’s village church – the Church of Mary Help of Christians, also known as the Church of the ‘Stricken’ Mary – a builder struck the statue of Mary and blood poured out of the ‘wound’ and wouldn’t stop. The story quickly became known throughout the land and attracted ever more pilgrims. Today it is not as popular as nearby Brezje, however, when in the area, it is still worth a visit.

A visit to Ljubno can be an extension of a walk along the Brezje Pilgrimage Trail (Božja pot), which today runs along the once most commonly used pilgrimage trail from Otoče to the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Brezje. There is an information board (in Slovene) about the trail adjacent to the church.

The path in Otoče begins at the railway station, hence making it ideal for those reliant on public transport.

Immediately on leaving the station you will find the first information board about the trail (in Slovene).

First walk along the village road to the junction with the main road and turn left. After just a few metres you can choose to follow the marked path to make a detour to Ljubno, or take the direct route to Brezje. If you opt for the latter, which is cca. 5kms one-way, continue along the verge of the road for a further cca. 5 mins until you reach the shrine of St. John of Nepomuk (kapelica sv. Janeza Nepomuka).

After crossing the bridge over a stream take the wooden steps to the right of another shrine that lead up steeply on a forest path.

On emerging from the forest head towards the underpass under the motorway. Shortly thereafter you will see the sign for the village of Brezje. Follow the road up a short incline into the village and then just ‘follow your nose’ to the basilica, you can’t exactly miss it!

In 1988 the then Church of St. Vitus was elevated to the status of minor basilica by Pope John Paul II, who also visited in 1996. The basilica has become a popular pilgrimage destination to where people flock from all over Slovenia and further afield, too, particularly on Assumption Day, which is celebrated on 15th August and is a public holiday in Slovenia.

Whilst there you can also visit the Nativity Museum, which is located just behind the basilica and contains almost 400 nativity scenes from all over the world. Read more in a previous post here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2017/12/10/feel-the-festive-spirit-at-the-nativity-museum-at-slovenias-national-shrine-in-brezje/

Opposite the basilica there is a small park where you can sit in peace and admire the basilica, read the information boards about Brezje’s history, and soak up the views of the surrounding countryside and mountains.

You don’t need to be a pilgrim, or even to be particularly religious, to enjoy a walk along the trail; it’s just one of the many attractions in the Radol’ca area. Click here to see even more, oh and by the way, if you happen to be in the area in April, or are planning a visit and are pondering when to come, don’t miss the Radovljica Chocolate Festival from 12th-14th April, about which I will, of course, be writing (and eating!) more soon!

© Adele in Slovenia

The 7th Radovljica Chocolate Festival: the Most ‘Chocolate’ Weekend of the Year – ON NOW!

The 7th Radovljica Chocolate Festival has just begun, and, being the chocoholic that I am, I’m not known for having a modicum of restraint when it comes to chocolate. Since I’m lucky enough to live on the doorstep, I headed straight down to the opening to check it out for you (ahem!).

This year there are almost 50 chocolatiers showcasing their chocolates and other chocolate-based creations.

 

The festival takes place in Radovljica’s historic old town centre, as well as in the town park, and in Vurnik Square (Vurnikov trg).

As in previous years, there is a jam-packed entertainment programme, which has something for all the family.

Entrance to the festival, as well as (the majority of) the entertainment programme, is FREE. Tasting of chocolates takes place through the purchase of tasting coupons, which cost 0.50 cents, and come in strips of four.

I also like to check out any new and original flavours of chocolates – there are SO many, it’s mind boggling. However, one can always rely on Čokohram to come up trumps. Last year, among the unusual flavour combinations it offered chocolate with mohant cheese (a particularly smelly cheese, available this year too!), new for this year it’s chocolate with nettle. Throughout the festival, at the 50+ stalls, you can try literally hundreds of different flavour combinations.

Below are just some of the highlights of the weekend ahead.

Events taking place throughout the 3-day festival include:

  • House of Experiments – make your own bar of chocolate; From Bean to Bar (Saturday from 10am-6pm and Sunday from 10am-5pm)
  • Cookery workshops with Radovljica College of Catering and Tourism
  • Pumptrack course for bikes and scooters
  • Archery, handball and minigolf corner
  • Chocolate journey with adventures through Radovljica
  • Chocolate face painting
  • Chocolate roulette

Throughout the festival there are also numerous FREE concerts, workshops, cookery shows and other events, including:

SATURDAY

  • Creative dance day with the Waldorf School and Nursery (9am-5pm)
  • Uroš Štefelin, Igor Jagodic and Marko Pavčnik, Three Chefs’ Cookery Show (10am)
  • Beer Belly, Irish band (10am-1pm)
  • A meeting of two clowns and circus workshops with clown Eva Škofič Maurer
  • Veseli Begunjčani ensemble, concert (1pm)
  • Abba Mia, concert (4pm)
  • Small Tokk, concert (6pm)

The Three Chefs’ Cookery Show – Photo: Visit Radol’ca

SUNDAY

  • Napoli Tango, music (10am-1pm)
  • Dixie Flash Mob with the Lesce Wind Orchestra and dancers (12noon)
  • Maček Muri and Muca Maca with Neca Falk, concert (2pm)
  • Uroš Perič, concert (4pm)

And don’t miss the arrival of the vintage steam train on Sunday, which is always a sight to behold. The train leaves Ljubljana at 10.40am, arriving in Radovljica at 12noon. Click here for more information.

And if you are craving something other than chocolate (why would you?!), then visit the food marquee where some of Taste Radol’ca’s restaurants  – Gostišče Draga, Gostilna Tavčar and Joštov hram – are cooking up some treats, too!

Gostišče Draga – something for those who prefer savoury treats!

Try ‘šmorn’, a kind of shredded pancake served with jam, at Gostišče Draga

And there’s even craft beer too, which will no doubt go down a storm in this heat, yes, heat, in April, when just a few weeks ago I was (still!) moaning about the snow!

But that’s far from all. There’s plenty more! Click here for more information and the full programme (in Slovene) and here for the English version.

So, don’t miss out, come on down. A ‘hot’ chocolate weekend awaits indeed, as the weather is, and promises to be, fab, too!

© Adele in Slovenia

Taste Radol’ca at Spring Restaurant Week – The Tastiest Week of Spring!

After the past bitterly cold week, which saw temperatures plummet to around minus 20 and even lower for consecutive days, and the seemingly endless snowfall during the month of February (18 days of snow out of 28), spring can’t come soon enough, believe me!

And a sure sign of spring, other than warmer temperatures (still waiting for those!) and spring flowers (currently buried under metres of snow!) is Spring Restaurant Week!

Restaurant Week takes place bi-annually, in spring and in autumn, and makes dining at some of Slovenia’s finest restaurants accessible and affordable to all.

Photo: Žan Lebe,

All restaurants that are part of Restaurant Week are assessed and have to meet strict criteria to be included, therefore, the fact that there are three Taste Radol’ca restaurants included in the 19 restaurants in northern Slovenia, is a sure testament to the quality of Taste Radol’ca.

This year 101 restaurants are taking part in Spring Restaurant Week and from 16th – 25th March will offer fixed menus for just €18 per personReservations are essential, and many of the restaurants get booked up early, so don’t delay, book today!

Photo: Dean Dubokovic

Kunstelj Inn in Radovljica is known for its solid, traditional Slovenian food. Much of the inn’s produce comes from its own garden and from the local farm shop 18sedem3, which stocks a wide range of produce and products from local farms and other producers.

Two three-course menus are available for Restaurant Week, including main dishes such as oat risotto with smoked trout, baked lemon and sunflower seeds, or roast chicken with red cabbage strudel and apple.

Photo: Žiga Intihar

Photo: Žiga Intihar

Vila Podvin in Mošnje is one of Slovenia’s finest restaurants, winner of the 2017 Slovenian Restaurant Awards ‘Best Restaurant in Northern Slovenia’ and a member of the Jeunes Restaurateurs. Head chef Uroš Štefelin puts a modern twist on Slovenian food with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients and has created ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ three-course menus for Restaurant Week.

Restaurant Lambergh, part of Chateau Lambergh and Hotel, is in the midst of the countryside in the hamlet of Dvorska vas, yet is within minutes of Radovjlica. The hotel restaurant is open to the public and overlooks the beautiful Renaissance Chateau Lambergh. For Restaurant Week, head chef Grega Rozman has created two three-course menus – one meat-based and the other fish-based.

Of course, if you don’t make it for Spring Restaurant Week there’s always Autumn Restaurant Week, and you can also Taste Radol’ca year-round a the nine participating restaurants – apart from the three above, the others are Gostilna Avguštin, Gostilna Tavčar, Gostilna Lectar, Joštov hram, Gostišče Draga, and Gostišče Tulipan.

Taaste Radol’ca will also be cooking up delights at multiple events such as the Radovljica Chocolate Festival (20th-22nd April), the Month of Local Cuisine (the whole month of November), Refreshing Thursdays in the Square (live concerts and street food every Thursday evening in July), or join me for a Taste Radol’ca Food Tour.

I’m looking forward to some good grub to banish the winter blues – cheers to that I say!

 

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Made in Radovljica: What to Buy, Try and … Enjoy!

With the focus these days ever-more on locally grown and produced products and foods, here are some ideas for what is available in the Radovljica area – genuinely local products that you can buy and try for yourself or purchase as ideal gifts for friends and loved ones.

Being the home of the Museum of Apiculture and the Radovljica Chocolate Festival, the Radol’ca area is synonymous with beekeeping and all things sweet.

If I want to take a small gift when visiting friends or loved ones, particularly those with a sweet tooth, I like to take Čokobelica chocolates. These bee-shaped chocolates are made exclusively for, and in, Radovljica and available at Radovljica Tourist Information Centre. The chocolates have typical, traditional Slovenian fillings such as walnut potica, tarragon potica, and poppy seed. Tried and tested – delicious!

For honey and all-things honey-related visit the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska in Lesce, where, in addition to the well-stocked Bee Shop where you can buy a wide selection of honey, honey products and beekeeping equipment, you can also see the centre’s beehive with its colourful hand-painted frontal panels.

In summer you can admire the beehive from the small terrace of the centre’s coffee shop. It could perhaps be said, however, that some of the clientele are a bit odd!

The heart of Radovlijca’s old town centre is Linhart Square (Linhartov trg), named after the famous Slovenian playwright and historian Anton Tomaz Linhart (1756-1795). At Lectar Inn you can try Linhart’s cake (Linhartov cukr). The idea for the cake came about during conversations held in Lectar Inn between its proprietor, Jože, and locals who recalled how in days gone by in Linhart’s era, local school children used to come to Lectar for cake.

And so the idea to try to recreate and revive this tradition was born and Jože and his team at the Lectar Inn set about trialling and testing recipes, based upon traditional recipes, until they were satisfied with the result. It contains only natural ingredients, – a light sponge base topped with a moist apple layer, using organic locally grown apples, and finished with a light cream icing and silhouette of Linhart.

Magušar’s House (Magušarjeva hiša) in the heart of Radovljica’s old town has an arcaded gothic courtyard and pottery workshop where you can buy Magušar bowls and other pottery items made by the owners, Oli and Urban Magušar. Occasional exhibitions, workshops and other events are also held in the house.

They are also currently working on producing a catalogue of Slovenian clay, and, as you can see below – Urban in his ‘Aladdin’s cave – they have already gathered quite a selection!

Photo: Jošt Gantar for Visit Radol’ca

Kropa is the cradle of Slovenian iron forging. It experienced its biggest boom in nail-making in the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, when the ironworks in Kropa and Kamna Gorica together employed more than 2,000 people. The end of the 19th century brought the end of the 500-year operation of the ironworks in these villages, due to the lack of domestic iron ore and unprofitability.

The area’s iron-forging tradition is still alive, albeit on a more boutique scale, and hand-forged wrought iron furnishings and fittings are still made and can be bought either ready-made or made-to-order at the headquarters of UKO. Upon prior arrangement, a demonstration of hand forging of nails can be seen in the Vigenjc Vice Nail Forge, and there is a wide range of exhibits at the Iron Forging Museum, which also has a small gift shop, and is open year-round.

If its skis and other outdoor equipment and clothing that you are after, then you should visit the Elan factory and showroom in Begunje na Gorenjskem.

So, there’s no excuse to leave Radovljica empty handed or with an empty belly, either!

Click here for more ideas and to find out more about ‘Made in Radol’ca‘.

© Adele in Slovenia

Radol’ca: Find Your Inspiration – I Found Mine!

This new promotional video for Radol’ca has just been released. Watching it makes me so proud to be able to call Radovljica my home. Oh, and by the way, just to make it clear, as I know it can be somewhat confusing, Radovljica is the name of the town; Radol’ca is the marketing name for the destination which includes Radovljica and the surrounding villages, such as Begunje na Gorenjskem, Kropa, Brezje, Kamna Gorica, and the smaller settlements in-between.

So, as another year of my life in Radovljica draws to a close, here’s a look back at just some of my personal highlights of 2017, which I hope will also provide inspiration for you to visit, or re-visit, the area next year!

In winter 2017 I celebrated an amazing 10 years in Slovenia – gosh how time flies! Here I am celebrating with the very talented duo WildArt. More here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2017/02/12/celebrating-10-years-in-slovenia-in-a-wildart-style/

On the occasion, I was particularly proud to receive an award from the mayor of Radovljica for my contribution to tourism.

Spring is chocolate time in Radovljica – time for the Radovljica Chocolate Festival, the biggest of its kind in Slovenia. Note the date for the next festival in your diaries now: 20th – 22nd April 2018!

In spring I also, for the first time, tried parkour archery in the Draga valley with Robert (Robi) Levstek, and discovered what fun it is. More here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2017/04/10/archery-adventures-and-delicious-draga-delights/

In summer I tried out the new Adventure Mini Golf Panorama in Gorica, near Radovljica. I was might impressed by its wonderful panoramic, shady location and well-arranged, modern course. More here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2017/07/30/adventure-mini-golf-panorama-the-name-says-it-all/

The Grabnarca Waterside Trail is also a great place to seek some ‘cool’ during summer. Read more about this path’s many bridges here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2017/08/28/the-grabnarca-waterside-nature-trail/

Late autumn was time for very tasty, very tempting, and very popular Taste Radol’ca!

And that brings us to winter, which started earlier this year (boohoo!) and, to me at least, already seems too long! But it does have its pluses, too, such as the joyous festive atmosphere on the occasion of the switching of of the Christmas lights in Linhart Square – the heart of Radovljica’s old town. Here you can check out the whole Festive December in Linhart Square programme.

And I even really enjoyed my somewhat snowy visit to Brezje’s Nativity Museum – despite my dislike of the white stuff! Find out more about Slovenia’s national sanctuary, the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, and my visit to the museum – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2017/12/10/feel-the-festive-spirit-at-the-nativity-museum-at-slovenias-national-shrine-in-brezje/

And that brings me to the end of another Radovljica year, though, of course, it’s not the end of the journey! I hope you will continue to be inspired by my Adele in Slovenia blog posts, will continue to read, and you, too, might ‘Find your Inspiration’ in Radovljica!

A very Merry Christmas to you all!

© Adele in Slovenia