Archery Adventures and Delicious Draga Delights!

The beautiful Draga valley in Begunje in Gorenjskem – home to the ruins of Kamen Castle, the Gostišče Draga restaurant and the start point for numerous hikes in the Karavanke mountains – has just got even better thanks to the new improved 28-target archery range.

Having never so much as held a bow and arrow, I was keen to try it out for myself and, I must say, I’m hooked already and can’t wait to try it again!

If you have your own equipment, you can just turn up and pay in the Gostišče Draga restaurant and then head off on your own, of course taking care to follow the numbered markers in the correct direction.

If you, like me, are a total novice or a relative newcomer to archery, or you skills are a bit rusty, then I suggest contacting the ‘go-to’ man for archery around here, Robert (Robi) Levstek.

We started with a brief safety introduction and a few warm-up shots as Robi demonstrated and talked me through the technique.

I know you probably won’t believe me, since I barely believed it myself, but this was one of my first shots – totally a case of beginner’s luck, though, as it didn’t continue in that vein!

Robi made all of the animal targets and also makes all his own bows and arrows, something he is deservedly proud of.

The archery course is also ideal for families with children, and Robi teaches children from age 3+. It’s also extremely good value, considering it provides several hours of entertainment, at just 10 euros for adults and 8 euros for children.

Sensible footwear is a must, as is comfortable clothing, but other than that all you need is a sense of adventure and good spirits!

It’s great fun making your way around the course through the forest, crossing the stream and trying to spot the life-like animals. Those with a competitive nature, and even those without, will love it. For those who want to get competitive, you can tot-up points, join the club and/or compete in the regular Parkur tournaments, whilst for others it can merely be a fun day out surrounded by the wonderful nature of the Draga valley.

The archery range is open year-round and even in winter, provided the snow cover is not too deep, you can spot the animal targets!

And no visit to the Draga valley is complete without a meal at the Gostišče Draga restaurant. Known for its fresh trout, venison, and other traditional Slovenian dishes, of late the restaurant has also become a mecca for lovers of all kinds of štruklji – sweet and savoury. Unable to decide on which to try this time, I went for the triple whammy and tried 3 different versions – buckwheat with wild garlic, classic curd cheese, and blueberry – all of which were so delicious I took some home for the next day (or two) too!

 

 

You can contact Robi and/or find out more information via the Facebook pages Parkur Draga https://www.facebook.com/parkurdraga/ and Lokostrelstvo Robert Levstek https://www.facebook.com/Lokostrelstvo-Robert-Levstek-sp-679804982054234/

Enquiries and reservations for the archery range can also be made at the Gostišče Draga restaurant – http://www.gostisce-draga.si/

But watch out, you might, like me, get hooked – on both the archery and the štruklji!

© Adele in Slovenia

Beguiling Begunje na Gorenjskem

I’m fortunate to live just a few kilometres from the village of Begunje na Gorenjskem, which is packed full of natural and cultural sights of interest. I spend quite a lot of time there, too, whether hiking, cycling or eating great Taste Radol’ca food. So, in this blog I’ve focused on some of the highlights of beguiling Begunje.

Fans of popular folk music won’t want to miss a visit to the Avsenik family homestead, where the legendary forefathers of Slovene folk music, Slavko and Vilko Avsenik were born. Though, sadly, Slavko passed away in 2015, the family’s music very much lives on.

You can visit the gallery and museum, and/or attend one of the frequent music evenings and other events. More information here – http://www.radolca.si/en/avsenik-gallery-museum/

The Katzenstein Mansion in the heart of the village has had a long and interesting past. Built in the 14th century, its current Renaissance and Baroque appearance is a result of renovations in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. 1n 1875 the mansion was sold to Austro-Hungarian judicial authorities and a prison, holding 300 female prisoners, was established. During the German occupation, it became a Gestapo prison and political prisoners were incarcerated in the mansion; after the war it again reprised its role as an all-female prison.

The Museum of Hostages (Muzej Talcev) has been housed in the building at the north-western end of the residential wing since 1961. Inside, on the walls of the former prison cells, you can see written records left by the prisoners and announcements by the occupiers concerning executions. This one says ‘Molimo za mir’ (We pray for peace). Sobering stuff, indeed.

The park in the ground of the mansion is a lovely place for a stroll. It contains a pavilion and the Chapel of St. Joseph, designed by the most famous Slovenian architect, Jože Plečnik, and is also home to a small cemetery where 457 hostages and 18 World War II combatants are laid to rest. The bronze statues of a hostage and a prisoner, as well as the karst marble sculpture of a female hostage are the work of the sculptor, Boris Kalin.

Also in the heart of the village, near the entrance to the hospital and park, is the Gostilna Pr’ Tavčar restaurant, one of the 13 Taste Radol’ca restaurants. In the relatively short time it has been open it has become a firm favourite among locals.

At the end of the village you reach the Draga valley and the imposing ruins of  Kamen Castle, built in the 12th century by the Counts of Ortenburg. More information here – http://www.radolca.si/en/kamen-castle/

Photo: M Kambic

The short drive to the end of the valley brings you to Gostišče Draga, another of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, where specialities include venison goulash, fresh trout, homemade sweet and savoury štruklji, and more. Situated in the shade of the forest beside a stream, it is particularly popular with those seeking refreshment and sustenance after expending their energy in the surrounds.

The Draga valley is a gateway for numerous hiking trails in the Karavanke mountains including, amongst others, to Begunščica, the ever-popular Roblekov dom mountain hut, and the Preval mountain hut.

As you can see, despite it’s modest size, Begunje packs in a lot, so be sure to include a visit on your trip to the Radovljica area.

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Taste Radol’ca 2016 – The Final Party but Far From the End!

In one way I was pleased to see the back of November – 22 days of rain, with the odd bit of snow thrown in for good measure – but the end of November also brought the end of the month-long Taste Radol’ca 2016, which isn’t so much sad as time for a celebration of all the hard work put in by the chefs during the past month and the even harder work put in by the diners – including me – having the tough job of trying out all the menus! If nothing else, my waistline will be pleased it has come to an end, though, with the festive season all but here, there’s still plenty of gluttony to come, no doubt!

Each year different restaurants host the opening and closing events and this year the Taste Radol’ca Final Party took place at Draga Inn in Begunje na Gorenjskem. We began outside with hot punch, much needed on a chilly December evening, and food to keep us warm provided by Gostilna Tavčar and the Globočnik Excursion Farm.

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In contrast to the opening event, which is a somewhat more formal sit-down multi-course meal that showcases the talented chefs, the final party is more a relaxed, social, let-your-hair down party and a chance to hobnob with the chefs. Thanks Uroš (Vila Podvin) and Mišo (Joštov Hram) for helping keep me warm!

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The chefs from the 13 participating restaurants once again did a magnificent job, each preparing a small dish for us to try.

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Bite-size dishes, each of them delicious, and all made using local ingredients. Too numerous were the dishes to show them all, but here are a few photos to drool over! Gostilna Tulipan dished up smoked pork neck with curd cheese on a bed of barley.

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The ever-popular Joštov Hram mini-burgers were a big hit!

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I found my place next to the log-burner to keep warm and enjoy mine!

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Jože and chef Aleš from Lectar Inn had a great system going providing us with their homemade štruklji.

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And of course the desserts didn’t disappoint either. Chestnut cake prepared by Gostilna Avguštin.

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And a delicious creation by Maja at Kunstelj Inn – a winning combination of a gingerbread base with a caramelised walnut, apple and meringue topping.

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But, it’s far from the end of the Taste Radol’ca story. In addition to their regular menus, all participating restaurants also offer Taste Radol’ca dishes, prepared using local ingredients, throughout the year. You can identify these dishes on menus by the small coloured bee next to the name of the dish.

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So, what are you waiting for, you can now Taste Radol’ca all year-round!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

The early bird catches the early winter of 2016!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I continued up to Smokuški vrh.

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

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

© Adele in Slovenia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Taste Radol’ca 2016 at Draga Inn – A Winning Start!

As there are 13 restaurants involved in this year’s Taste Radol’ca, I made a start last week already at attempting to try as many as possible during the month of November – all in the name of blog research for you, dear readers, of course!

Having perused the menus, I plumped for Draga Inn (Gostišče Draga), located in the Draga valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem, for my first Taste Radol’ca 2016 meal, and what a fine choice it was too!

There are 2 four-course menus to choose from, both costing just 16 euros, which is fantastic value and, as is the whole ethos of Taste Radol’ca, all products are sourced from local suppliers. I’ll let the photos of the food do (most of) the talking!

I opted for Menu I. but swapped to the Menu II. starter – game ragu with homemade cheese and bacon strukelj.

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The alternative starter is smoked trout with horseradish, honey and creamed celery.

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This was followed by cream of barley soup with chanterelle mushrooms.

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I’m still salivating when I think about the main course – succulent wild pork in cranberry sauce, calf cheek, puree of carrot, and bean strukelj.

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For those opting for Menu II. there is fillet of trout with mixed seeds, vegetable bake and pumpkin jam, which, although I’m not a lover of fish, also looked delicious.

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The portion sizes (even for my large appetite!) were just perfect, therefore we still, just about, had room for dessert. Strawberry dumpling, cinnamon ice-cream, and honey and chocolate cream.

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Sitting next to the log-burner, the ambience was cosy and warm and it was delightful to enjoy great food in the company of good friends – a welcome change from dining on my tod! So, thanks Jana, Tone and Pia!

So, one down, only 12 to go, though, this meal was so good, I have a feeling I will have to squeeze in another visit to Draga Inn before the month is out!

© Adele in Slovenia

Taste Radol’ca 2016: The Opening – Too Many Cooks DON’T Spoil the Broth!

Now in its 4th year, Taste Radol’ca keeps going from strength-to-strength and has really enlivened the month of November – a traditionally quiet month in the hospitality industry – in the restaurants in Radovljica and its surroundings.

This year there are 13 restaurants as part of the Taste Radol’ca ‘family’, all of which combined to cook up an incredible feast at the opening dinner held last Friday at Vila Podvin. It turns out that ‘Too many cooks don’t spoil the broth, they actually improve it!’

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The evening began with a local farmers and craft market, with tastings of food provided by the Globočnik Excursion Farm (Izletniška kmetija Globočnik) and Gostilna Avguštin.

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Live music was provided by the band ‘Suho cvetje’, who entertained visitors throughout the evening with their unique style of music.

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At 7pm we were ushered to our seats in the restaurant for the main event, whereby each dish was concocted and cooked by the Taste Radol’ca chefs, teaming up to create the culinary sensations you can see below.

The first course was chilled smoked trout, buckwheat ice-cream served on a blini, and beetroot and horseradish – prepared by Grajska Gostilnica and Tulipan Inn.

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Next came quail soup with a quail’s egg and julienne vegetables, prepared by Draga Inn and the Krek Restaurant.

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The third course was calves liver with onion, polenta, salad and edible flowers – prepared by Lectar Inn and the Lambergh Restaurant.

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To cleanse our palates in preparation for the main course we were then served a ‘juniper berry sorbet’, which wasn’t actually a sorbet at all, but a creamy and clever spin on one, courtesy of Kunstelj Inn.

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Finally, already fairly bursting at the seams, it was time for the main course! Cheek of pork, tarragon struklji and caramelised vegetables – prepared by Vila Podvin and the Avsenik Pri Jožovcu restaurant.

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And, the dessert was certainly worth waiting for! A unique and delicious take on a plum strudel with curd cheese, vanilla cream, served with cinnamon ice-cream – prepared by Joštov Hram and Gostilna Tavčar.

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But that was just the start! Now comes a whole month of eating and trying out the delicious-sounding Taste Radol’ca menus at all 13 restaurants!

Well, actually, I think 13 in one month might even be a bit beyond me, but I’ll give it a try, I’m always up for a challenge, especially where food is involved!!!

The participating restaurants are:

  • Gostilna Kunstelj, Radovljica
  • Gostilna Avguštin, Radovljica
  • Gostilna Lectar, Radovljica
  • Grajska Gostilnica, Radovljica
  • Gostišče Tulipan, Lesce
  • The Krek Hotel and Restaurant, Lesce
  • The Globočnik Excursion Farm, Globoko
  • Joštov Hram, Podnart
  • Draga Inn, Begunje na Gorenjskem
  • Gostilna Tavčar, Begunje na Gorenjskem
  • Gostilna Avsenik – Pri Jožovcu, Begunje na Gorenjskem
  • Lambergh Chateau and Hotel, Dvorska Vas
  • Vila Podvin, Mošnje

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

© Adele in Slovenia