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

 

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

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

 

 

 

Seriously Scrumptious Štruklji!

It’s kind of difficult to describe štruklji, and when reading menus there are all manner of descriptions that get lost in translation –  the majority of which certainly don’t do them justice! I love them and was therefore even more delighted when I recently saw that Draga Inn, which is among my favourite local restaurants, and which already makes great savoury štruklji, has now added a new range of sweet štruklji to its menu, which can also be bought to take home.

It didn’t take me long to go and try them out for myself, especially since chocolate is involved! Oh my, are they good, if you like štruklji, you simply have to try them! This is the white chocolate version, which was my favourite among the new varieties, though the walnut one came a close second!

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Štruklji are made using a light dough, of which there are many variations but the most basic ingredients are flour, water, a dash of oil and a pinch of salt – some doughs also contain egg. Once the dough has been allowed to rest it is rolled out, filled, wrapped in a soft muslin cloth, then boiled, or occasionally wrapped in foil and baked.

They can be eaten either as a side dish, instead of potatoes, rice etc., as a main meal in itself, or sweet versions as dessert.

The most common type of štruklji are filled with skuta – a type of curd cheese (not cottage cheese as it is invariably translated). At Draga Inn the savoury version are served as an accompaniment to their delicious venison goulash, which I can also highly recommend.

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Of course, the quality varies, as does the ratio of dough to filling. Sometimes they can be somewhat bland and dry, but the ones at Draga Inn have a perfectly light dough with a very generous amount of filling and are anything but bland. It was impossible to choose which one(s) to taste, as they all looked and sounded so delicious, so I just tasted all the new flavours – blueberry, walnut, white chocolate, and dark chocolate – and left both very content and fit to burst!

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Draga Inn is one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, where the emphasis is on using local ingredients, and these štruklji are no exception. Read more here – http://www.radolca.si/en/taste-radolca/

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Draga Inn is located at the end of the Draga Valley, in Begunje na Gorenjskem. The valley is a very popular starting point for hikes in the Karavanke mountains and en-route to the valley you can visit the ruins of Kamen Castle.

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You can find more information about Draga Inn here (note that the website is currently being reconstructed) – http://www.gostisce-draga.si/

Until the expiry of the offer on 8th June, you can also use the Adele in Slovenia Discount Card at Draga Inn. Even more reason to go and try the delicious food! More here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/contact/

© Adele in Slovenia

Archery, Hiking and Taste Radol’ca in the Draga Valley

Even a very rainy Saturday didn’t dampen the spirits of the 150+ archers who came from far and wide to take part in the recent archery tournament in the Draga Valley.

I am often in the Draga valley, as it is a starting point for a number of hikes in the Karavanke mountains, and is also home to Draga Inn, which offers tasty home-cooked, traditional Slovene food. The Inn is one the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants where you can also take advantage of the ‘Adele in Slovenia Discount Card’. More information here – http://wp.me/p3005k-1oe

On this occasion I actually visited on the day prior to the archery tournament since a) rain was forecast for the day of the tournament itself; b) I wanted to take some photos of the targets and not to become a target myself during the tournament!;  c) I anticipated parking in the narrow valley to be nigh on impossible on the day of the tournament; and d) I wanted to walk up to the Planinca planina highland, 1136m, (seen below) before the next snowfall.

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There is a very pleasant path which runs from Draga Inn, through the forest, past the remains of Kamen Castle, before emerging near the parking area at the Krpin recreation ground in Begunje na Gorenjskem. It was on this path that I first came across the targets and since then, on a number of occasions, I have been back to search for more, as each time I go I discover new ones – which is a real thrill!

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The annual archery tournament attracts teams from Slovenia as well as from neighbouring countries.

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The targets are positioned in strategic places in the forest.

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It makes a great walk, especially with kids, who will love trying to spot the targets! So far I have found 7, though I think there are probably several more.

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If you are visiting the valley for a walk or hike, I’d also recommend a meal at Draga Inn, which specialises in game, trout, and other local and traditional Slovene dishes.

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© AdeleinSlovenia 2016