News from Radovljica May 2017

There’s been quite a lot happening in Radovljica of late. Well, in itself that’s nothing new, since there’s always something happening here even where there aren’t any major events – you just have to know where to look!

So, here’s a round-up of the latest news and information, including news about three exciting new additions to Radovljica’s range of boutique accommodation.

The 6th Radovljica Chocolate Festival was as roaring success. During the 3 days, over 50,000 people visited the festival and tasted tonnes of chocolate of all shapes, sizes and tastes.

Photo: Miran Kambič

There were so many highlights and novelties that it’s hard to single out one – the chocolate fashion show, the chocolate roulette, chocolate sculptures, entertainment for all the family, oh, and of course, eating (ok, in my case, gorging on) chocolate too! Seeing (and hearing!) the vintage steam train arrive on the Sunday of the festival was certainly among the highlights – both for the passengers and onlookers.

Photo: Miran Kambič

So you can plan ahead and be sure you don’t miss out on next year’s festival, Tourism Radol’ca have already revealed the date for the 7th Radovljica Chocolate Festival: 20 – 22nd April 2018.

The new family-run Linhart Hotel recently opened in the old town centre. This charming boutique hotel and coffee shop is located in the heart of the medieval old town centre. I went to check it out for myself yesterday and was seriously impressed! Original stone staircases, wooden beams, tastefully-decorated rooms, period furniture, not to mention delicious looking cakes in the coffee shop! More information here (note: website currently under construction) – http://www.linharthotel.com/ I’d stay there myself if I didn’t live just 5 minutes away!

A new hostel – Life Hostel Slovenia – opened its doors on 1st May. The hostel is situated in the heart of Radovljica in the Grajski dvor building. It is opposite the bus station and the town park and offers simple, comfortable rooms that are reasonably priced and more akin to a hotel than a hostel. Ideal for those looking for a budget-friendly option in a convenient location. More information here (note: website currently under construction) – http://www.life-hostel-slovenia.com/

The recently renovated and newly-opened Vila Sejalec in Lesce is ideal for families and/or groups of up to 8 people. The house is a unique example of a Gorenjska artistic villa and is available for short- or long-term stays. Among its unique features, Vila Sejalec has a well-stocked larder with products from the ethical shop 18sedem3, as well as period fixtures, fittings and art including works by one of Slovenia’s most renowned painters.

More information about Vila Sejalec can be found here – https://www.facebook.com/pg/VilaSejalec/photos/?ref=page_internal

For details of all the accommodation available in the Radovljica area – boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, apartments, private rooms, tourist farms –  you can view the accommodation catalogue here – http://www.radolca.si/en/accommodation/

© Adele in Slovenia

The Radovljica Chocolate Festival 2017 – Hot Off the (Chocolate) Press!

So, it’s that time again. Chocolate Time! It’s hard to believe that this year marks the 6th year-in-a-row of the Radovljica Chocolate Festival and, of course, I’ve been to every one!

Last year the festival attracted around 55,000 visitors, and this year those numbers could even be exceeded, which is quite astounding for a festival which began as a humble one-day event back in 2012 and has since grown to become one of Slovenia’s main foodie events.

This year the festival is on for 3 days, beginning today on Friday 21st April at 3pm, and continuing on Saturday from 9am to 8pm and on Sunday from 9am to 7pm, so there’s still plenty of time!

In addition to the regular sales and tastings of chocolate, this year there are some new highlights and treats to look forward to.

This evening there is a premiere 6-course dinner at Vila Podvin, prepared by 3 of Slovenia’s top chefs and in collaboration with 20chocolate.

In the Chocolate Beauty Marquee the Roz’ca massage salon is offering chocolate hand massages using their own handmade cocoa butter cream using all natural ingredients. I couldn’t stop sniffing my hands, it really does smell good enough to eat! Those who have a hand massage during the festival are also entered into a prize draw to win a full body massage (the non-chocolate version!). More information here http://masaza-rozca.si/ and here https://www.facebook.com/Masaže-Rožca-Simona-Šlegel-sp-278814295512819/?fref=ts

A chocolate roulette, bet with chocolate and win chocolate – that’s got to be worth a flutter!

Chocolate sculptures

Meta Solar painting using chocolate, so original and resourceful and what an eye for detail! https://metasolar.si/tag/radovljica/

New to the festival this year is Čokoladni Hram which produces some unusual flavours of chocolate using speciality Slovenian ingredients, among them zaseka (minced lard), mohant (a very smelly cheese), and tarragon. Go on, be daring and give them a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

As well as new, intriguing flavours of chocolate infused with tea at the Čajna Soba Tea Room. among them chocolate with black masala chai, honeybush caramel tea chocolate, dark chocolate with earl grey green tea…

In addition to chocolate, there’s plenty to see and do for all the family, including archery for children with Robert Levstek https://adeleinslovenia.com/2017/04/10/archery-adventures-and-delicious-draga-delights/

Children’s cookery workshops and dance classes.

Stilt walkers entertaining the crowds.

On Saturday at 2pm students from the Maribor Design School will be putting on a Chocolate Fashion Show, and on Sunday at 12 noon Gorenjka’s giant 95kg chocolate bar will be smashed and shared among the crowd.

Other highlights of the packed entertainment programme include culinary workshops with contestants on this year’s Slovenian Masterchefjugglers, magicians and other street entertainment, free concerts, a canine corner, chocolates and chocolate products for everyone, including for allergy suffers, organic chocolate, raw chocolate, chocolate scooter races – all this and much more! See the full programme herehttp://www.festival-cokolade.si/program-2017/

Congratulations to Tourism Radol’ca for another fantastic job organising the festival. The weather, for now at least, couldn’t be more perfect for such an event so, don’t miss out, there’s enough chocolate for everyone – even after I’ve had my fill!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

The 5th Radovjlica Chocolate Festival – a New Guinness World Record!

Regular readers of my blog will know that I usually always post new blogs on Mondays. However, in a break with tradition, I’m posting today with BREAKING NEWS – and for two reasons.

First, I can’t contain my excitement that today, at 5pm today, it became official that a new Guinness World Record was set at the 5th Radovljica Chocolate Festival for the World’s Largest Chocolate Bar by Area.

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The chocolate bar was made by the Cukrček chocolatier and measured over 140 square metres, smashing the previous record of 102 square metres. It took over 300 hours to piece together the 28,000 pieces of chocolate.

After his speech, Slovenia’s Prime Minister, Miro Cerar,  became the first person to get a taste of the record-breaking chocolate bar. Visitors to the festival this weekend can try it too, through the purchase of tasting coupons.

The second reason for my early blog posting is that, since the festival has only just begun, there’s still plenty of time for anyone wavering as to whether or not to visit this weekend.

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There’s chocolate of every size, shape, and taste imaginable.

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Over 50,000 people visited last year’s festival; this year looks set to be a whole lot more. That means there are an awful lot of chocolate lovers out there – I’m not alone!

This year you can come and sit on the chocolate throne and be the King (or Queen) of Chocolate too!

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Visit Lectar Inn to see, and taste, the incredibly cute chocolate gingerbread men.

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There is a jam-packed, or should I say chocolate-packed, programme of events and entertainment taking place all weekend. Here are just some of the highlights still to come:

  • Watch the process of chocolate being made at the chocolate factory
  • Try a mini-planica ski jump (sorry, children only!)
  • Join a cookery workshop and make your own cup-cake
  • Listen to concerts, watch dance shows, stilt walkers, puppet shows and circus entertainers
  • Watch some of Slovenia’s top chefs creating chocolate-based dishes
  • Go to Kunstelj Inn’s Garden Party for cocktails, burgers and more

Find the whole festival programme here – http://www.festival-cokolade.si/en/programme/

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016

SO Tasty at Wine Bar and Restaurant Sova, Lesce!

In the almost nine years I’ve been living here I’ve eaten at a lot of restaurants; some average, some great and some outstanding. However, I’d go as far as to say that the meal I had last week in the new Sova Restaurant and Wine Bar in Lesce was the best yet and I haven’t stopped raving about it since!

Lesce has an incredible 12 restaurants – or rather 12 eateries – as a couple are more snack bars than restaurants. When I say ‘incredible’ I don’t mean that they are all ‘incredible’ – some are obviously better than others – it’s just incredible that Lesce, which is something between a big village and a small town, has such a wide choice. I can’t help but wonder if they will all survive, as competition is now fierce, however I certainly hope this latest addition is here to stay.

I must confess that I’m not a great gourmet when it comes to the type of cuisine which is culinary art but you, or at least I, am always left wanting more and leave the restaurant hungry. The team at Sova, however, seem to have found the perfect balance between food that both looks and tastes amazing, comes in decent-sized portions and at prices that don’t break the bank.

The restaurant is run by the team who run Fine Food at Penzion Berc in Bled which is closed during the winter thus they sought out somewhere for the team to offer their fine food – and indeed it is fine food – over the winter. In fact, I couldn’t find fault with a single aspect of the meal, which is a rarity!

Perhaps the only negative aspects, though these are not food-related, are that the restaurant doesn’t have its own car park, doesn’t have any outdoor space and is rather small inside, meaning as and when word gets out and the crowds come flocking (and I believe they will!) we will probably be fighting over tables!

I started my meal with creamy truffle soup with prosciutto chips and profiteroles.

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The main course was spicy slow-cooked and grilled pork rib with potato puree and garden vegetables.

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And the dessert – yes, you know that is ALWAYS my favourite bit – was mango tiramisu with white and dark chocolate, homemade ice-cream and lavender crème brulee.

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Since I enjoyed it so much, I went back again two days later! This time I tried the house pizza, which comes topped with aged gauda, basil pesto, baby onions, prsut ham, and more!

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And I somehow found room to try out another pudding too! The chocolate bomb with chocolate mousse and forest fruits, with an added surprise element, which I won’t divulge as it wouldn’t then be a surprise!

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All being well, we will hopefully see Sova joining the Taste Radol’ca collective and you will also find some of their delights at this year’s Radovljica Chocolate Festival in April – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/chocolate-festival/83/309/

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016

 

 

 

 

The 4th Radovljica Chocolate Festival

No prizes for guessing what I’m writing about this week!! Yes, of course – chocolate AGAIN!!!

The weather didn’t exactly play ball, in fact after a week of beautiful warm sunshine, the rain arrived almost simultaneously with the start of the festival on Friday, and on Saturday it was wet and windy with near freezing temperatures. Sunday, however, was much better with bright, though cold, sunshine and mostly clear skies. But the rain didn’t dent the spirits of the exhibitors or the crowds, and a fun-filled, chocolate-filled weekend was had by all! And besides, chocolate can be eaten come rain or shine, or snow, or hail, or…… in my case anyway!

One of the highlights of the weekend was the 93kg bar of Gorenjka chocolate, seen below left with Radovljica’s Mayor lending a helping hand to break it up before it was shared among visitors. The giant bar was made especially for the show and to celebrate Gorenjka’s 93rd year of production.

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The Radovljica Chocolate Festival, now its in 4th year, was held over 3 days this year, as well as being spread over a larger area and with more exhibitors and an extensive entertainment programme. The bulk of the festival takes place in Linhart Square in Radovljica’s old town centre, as well as in the beautiful Radovljica Manor (grascina), which houses the Museum of Apiculture, the Municipal Museum, a music school, and is the main venue for the numerous concerts and festivals which take place in Radovljica throughout the year.

I had a hunch that it was going to get mega-busy so, keen to get a head start on the crowds, I was there immediately when the festival opened on Friday for a browse, and of course, a taste or two! There was chocolate of every size, shape, flavour and form imaginable and something for all kinds of lovers of chocolate, as well as ‘non-chocolate’ food prepared by chefs from the Taste Radol’ca restaurants.

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Apart from the pure pleasure of eating it, it’s quite amazing what can be done with chocolate these days. This year there were a number of new takes on chocolate including chocolate beer, chocolate tea, chocolate hamburgers, the new tarragon-flavoured Radol’ca choco-o-bee chocolates, and very colourful and on-trend macaroons. I would be hard pressed to pick a favourite, as I love pretty much all kinds of chocolate – except the really dark stuff which I know is supposedly the ‘healthy’ stuff but I don’t eat chocolate to be healthy – but one of my personal favourite stalls was ‘Pravljicne Pite’ (Fairytale Pies) with their ‘to-die-for’ pies and cakes and the Festival certainly provides a good avenue for these kinds of small businesses.

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Entertainment included a mini-Planica ski jump – which was definitely a hit with kids even in the pouring rain – a chocolate photo booth, chocolate fortune telling, cookery shows and, this year for the first time, evening entertainment with live music, stand-up comedy and an after-chocolate party.

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My weekend was largely spent working, as I have a large translating job on-the-go, so a couple of trips to the festival throughout the weekend to get some brain food(!) just about saved my sanity and I managed to amass quite a large stash of all kinds of chocolate which helped to get me through the weekend.

I also had an unexpected visitor this weekend. On Sunday afternoon my phone rang and the lady on the other end pronounced herself as ‘an old lady from Vienna who is a big fan of my blog and had come to Radovljica after reading about the Chocolate Festival on my blog and because she really wanted to meet me’! Despite not having a mobile phone and not knowing where I live she, Herta, managed to track me down – what a tenacious an amazing lady. It was lovely to meet you Herta, thanks for the chocolate wine, and I hope we meet again some day in Radovljica!

I think everyone that was involved and attended will agree, this event just gets better each year and has now become the main, and most anticipated, event on Radovljica’s event calendar

There will be plenty more photos of the festival on my Pinterest page coming soon.

Next week, weather and work permitting, I hope to be partaking in some more active physical rather than mental pursuits!

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

Easter Snow, Easter Food, and Chocolates Galore at Coko-Hram!

We may not have had a White Christmas, although the first snow of the year arrived on Boxing Day, however, this Easter was marked by abnormally cold and wintery temperatures. In fact, this past few days we’ve really had it all weather-wise; on Friday I was sitting outside a café in the sun drinking tea; on Saturday I was walking in the rain with my umbrella; on Sunday I was gazing out of the window at falling snowflakes and now, as I sit writing this on Monday, there’s another flurry of snow, well almost a blizzard actually combined with gusting winds. Winter certainly had the final say this Easter!

I read an interesting comparison yesterday of the temperature recorded at Kredarica, the mountain hut beneath Slovenia’s highest mountain, Triglav (2864m), where, on Christmas Day the temperature was +2.9 degrees, whilst on Easter Sunday it was MINUS 12, brrr…….. Thus, any plans for long hikes this weekend were scuppered and therefore my next love – food – was high on the agenda instead!

Food is a big deal in Slovenia at Easter. The most common tradition is for a family breakfast on Easter Sunday, consisting of baked ham with fresh horseradish, pirhi (coloured hard-boiled eggs) and, of course, potica (a rolled filled cake). As I have been asked to write as a guest on an American food blog – what an honour – this year I decided to do some Easter baking of my own and am rather proud of my first attempts at ‘šunka v testu’ – ham baked in a bread crust. Here is a sneek peek photo of my Easter table and I will post the link to the full blog when it is published.

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I already knew that April was going to be an indulgent month, and a heavenly one for a chocoholic like me – what with Easter and the Radovljica Chocolate Festival (see below for more details) both on the agenda. However, it just got even better when, on Friday, I discovered the cutest little café where they produce and sell the most amazing cakes and chocolates. Truly chocolate heaven for me! The place in question is Čoko-Hram in the tiny village of Bohinjska Češnjica near Bohinj lake. Blink and you could miss this place which, from the outside, belies what lies within. It is set just next to the road but a lack of good signage (new signs are being prepared!) means one could easily drive past, as I have done many-a-time, without giving it so much as a second look. But to do so is a crime – seriously – believe me!

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Once I stepped inside I was immediately charmed by the cute little chairs, tables, chalkboard drinks menus, and other homely touches; not to mention the glass chiller cabinet bursting full of delicious cakes and truffles, and the corner where home-produced chocolate, of all flavours, shapes and sizes, is displayed and for sale. So, as you can imagine, I had some serious tasting to do!

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Now, I love strong cheese; stilton, extra-mature cheddar – the stronger the better – but I have always turned my nose up at Mohant, a local cheese from the Bohinj area which has an extremely pungent aroma. So, when I was offered a taster of a truffle filled with mohant, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic at the prospect, but I tell you, it works! The combination of the sweet white chocolate and the creamy mohant truffle centre is genius – although I can imagine it might be a bit ‘Marmite’ for some people i.e. you either love it or hate it! Another such daring flavour combinations is dark chocolate with zaseka (smoked minced lard no less!), and others flavours and centres including tarragon, yoghurt, raspberry, honey-lemon-ginger, and many more. And then there were the cakes – oh the cakes! Where should I start? Perhaps it would be easiest to say, don’t just take my word for it, go and try them for yourself!

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Čoko Hram is owned and run by the same family who own the four-star Hotel Kristal in Ribčev Laz, just metres from Lake Bohinj. This is, in fact, how I came to visit Čoko Hram, rather than driving past as I would usually have done, since the chocolates are also on sale in the hotel, which I had visited as I had heard great things about their centre for Ayurveda massage and medicine – Calendula Ayurvedic & Medicinal Clinic – and wanted to see it and try it out for myself. I emerged 90 minutes later and, thanks to the healing hands of the Nepalese masseur, blissfully chilled-out and ready for anything- well almost anything! More about the clinic and hotel, which also features a rich collection of paintings from the annual artist colonies held there, can be found here – http://www.hotel-kristal-slovenia.com/index.php

Tourism Rado’l’ca are slowly tempting us details of the programme for this year’s Chocolate Festival which takes place 17-19th April. The full programme will be made available in the next few days on the festival website (I should know – I’m translating it!) and features such events such as:

  • Mini Planica – Jumping in Chocolate with Franci Petek
  • Culinary Shows by Taste Radol’ca restaurants and 3 of Slovenia’s top chefs
  • Chocolate Fortune Telling
  • Chocolate Adventure through Radovljica

….and much more – http://www.festival-cokolade.si

I have a feeling I will be writing a lot more about chocolate in the coming weeks! Hopefully, though, I’ll be offsetting all the indulgence with some hiking too, well if the weather plays ball that is!

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

Multi-culinary Slovenia

One of the features of Slovenia’s cuisine that makes it so unique is its diversity, which is largely due to the influence from surrounding countries – Austria, Italy, Hungary. These days it is perhaps even more diverse due to the emergence of some world-class chefs who are taking traditional Slovene food and giving it a modern twist, and also due to the increasingly multi-cultural population consisting, in particular, of people from other former-Yugoslav nations.

An example of this was the event ‘Multikulinarika‘ event which took place last Friday in Jesenice. Held in the Kolpern Hall at the Stara sava area (which I wrote more about in last week’s blog), the event is designed to showcase food from various nations and unite them all under one roof. There were 21 different countries represented at this year’s events including; Macedonia, India, Mexico, Albania, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Belarus, Spain, Kosovo and of course Slovenia!

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Taking the lead from Radovljica’s Chocolate Festival – more about that below – tasting takes place through the purchase of tasting coupons. As you can see from the photo below, I bought some and began to work my way through the cuisine of various countries!  The only problem was that there were so many different things on offer, and it was so busy, with the stands so tightly packed together, that I lost track of what I was eating and from which country! I was hoping to have a chance to chat with the stall holders, to find out more about what they had on offer, their country specialities etc., however, the crowds and the lack of space made it almost impossible. So, in the end I just headed to the stalls that were most reachable and managed to come away with plates laden with various types of burek, breads, potica, cakes, baklava and more!

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I can see this event going from strength-to-strength, however, the organisers really need to find a larger venue which allows more space for the exhibitors, the visitors and the accompanying programme. Here are a couple more pictures of the various dishes on offer, more can be seen on my Pinterest page!

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I have been fortunate to be privy to some of the as-yet closely under wraps, and still being finalised, details of this year’s Radovljica Chocolate Festival. The festival takes place over 3 days from 17-19th April and, in addition to the regular programme of chocolate tastings, sales and entertainment, the programme this year has quite a number of exciting new features too including; an extended festival area including a Chocolate Avenue and Chocolate Kitchen; an exclusive children’s entertainment area; a marquee where the chefs from the Taste Radol’ca restaurants will be cooking up special dishes; a Chocolate Party and other evening entertainment. You can also follow the latest news about the festival on the festival website – http://www.festival-cokolade.si/en/ and on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/events/341095372765995/

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In last week’s blog I wrote about the new route being launched by Adria airlines, Slovenia’s national carrier, offering flights 3-times per week from Maribor, Slovenia’s 2nd biggest city, to Southend-on-Sea in the UK. I’m definitely a supporter of more flight connections to/from Slovenia, especially if they are reasonably priced. The Adria flights went on sale yesterday with prices from 69 euros return and, unlike the so-called ‘low-cost’ airlines, these flights include 23kg of luggage, plus hand-luggage at no extra cost. Additionally, as an opening offer, they are throwing in a free return train ticket to London. What’s not to like! Click on the link on the right-hand-side of my blog to get booking those bargain flights!

Still on the theme of transport, I read this week about a new daily bus route from Vienna to Trieste in Italy, via Ljubljana. This also has to be another useful addition as many tourists visiting Slovenia from further afield, fly into one of the surrounding airports, such as Vienna or Trieste and this offers another choice of ways to reach Slovenia. More information here (in Slovene)  – http://www.javniprevoz.si/prevozi/avtobusni-prevozniki-slovenija/nova-vsakodnevna-avtobusna-povezava-dunaj-ljubljana-trst/

This article, published in The Guardian newspaper yesterday, about 10 of Europe’s best national parks, lists Triglav National Park, Slovenia’s only national park, at number 2. Just another reason to come and visit! http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/mar/30/10-europe-best-national-parks-italy-france-spain

Finally, I wish you all a very HAPPY EASTER!

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015