Culinary Radol’ca & a Festival(ful) Weekend

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, there were a lot of events going on this past weekend, and I had some difficulty choosing which to attend. In the end I managed to fit in 3 in one day, such is the benefit of living in a small country. The weather also contributed to my decision as when I awoke early on Saturday morning the skies were looking ominously gloomy and so I decided that a day out to the coast to visit the Sweet Istra Festival and to see some sunshine and sea would make a change. It was like mid-summer there, so I certainly achieved what I set out too and I even managed to also squeeze in visiting the Festival of Honey in Lesce, and Mošnje Days in Mošnje.

The Sweet Istra Festival (Sladka istra) takes place in Koper every September, and for lovers of all things sweet i.e. me, it makes a great day out. It’s held right next to the sea in the old town of Koper, home to Slovenia’s only port. There were cakes, chocolates and sweets of all shapes and sizes. Even, as seen below, a giant fish made out of chocolate being sculpted by Blaž Habjan in the Land of Chocolate, where I recognised many of the chocolatiers from Radovljica’s Chocolate Festival.


There were typical Istran dishes such as this koruzni šmorn – a kind of shredded pancake made from corn flour.


On my way back I stopped off at the Festival of Honey at the Beekeeping Centre in Lesce where there were stalls selling honey and beekeeping products, workshops for children, honey drinks, ice-cream and other dishes, and a chance to look around the centre and see the various equipment available for beekeepers for processing wax, bottling etc.


I was particularly taken by these cute honey pots!


My final port of call was to Mošnje where the Mošnje Days event was taking place. There was an open-day at the village museum, locally produced food, stilt walkers, and much merriment. I arrived rather late after my long day out but fortunately there was still a little food left in the pot!


Tourism Radol’ca have produced a new culinary guide to the Radol’ca area which includes details of all the restaurants that are part of Taste Radol’ca, and since the focus is on local food, the guide also include details of local suppliers. Additionally, the chefs have divulged recipes for some of their favourites dishes so you can try making them at home.


Take a look at the brochure here –

Grajska gostilnica – A New Era

In late spring this year the restaurant Grajska gostilnica in Radovljica was given a new lease of life when it was taken over by Borut Salmič, who previously worked as Head Chef at several prestigious restaurants in the Gorenjska region, including Lambergh Chateau and Hotel.

It’s great to have a new (albeit old) restaurant in the centre of Radovljica, with a view over the town park. It offers top-quality food at affordable prices – classic Slovene dishes as well as more modern cuisine ‘ all with an added twist from Borut.

I have visited quite a few times in the past couple of months and have been working my way through the menu. In addition to the main menu, there is a snack menudaily lunch specials and a wine cellar where special events can be held.

Starters include cold-cut boards and soups.


Main courses include steaks, pasta, risottos, fish, salad plates and more.


And my personal favourite, stuffed dough parcels (kruhki), served on a board with dips:


Home-made desserts are a particularly speciality, and for someone like me with a very sweet tooth they are heavenly.


Grajska gostilnica will be (re)joining the other Taste Radol’ca restaurants, and preparations are well-underway for this year’s opening event next month. More on that soon – watch this space!

More information about Grajska gostilnica can be found here –

These days I spend quite a significant amount of time scouring the internet and other media to find out what events are going on in the local, and wider, area and have discovered that next weekend, 18 – 20 September, there is an awful lot going on. In fact, almost too much!

It’s a shame as, inevitably, with so many things going on, it will be impossible to get to all of them. Should any of the event organisers happen to be reading this, perhaps for the future it would be worth considering some kind of co-ordination ‘date-wise’ as it would mean higher attendance numbers at events and more opportunities for us i.e. Joe Public’ to attend them, since this past weekend, there were no such events.

Anyway, that’s just my two-pennies worth, though, I suppose its better to have too many events than not enough! So, here are just some of the larger events taking place next weekend. Now I must just decide which to attend!

Food, Glorious Slovene Food!

In the 8+ years I’ve been living in Slovenia the food scene has certainly come on in leaps and bounds. There’s still plenty of the traditional Slovene food which we all (including me) love, but there is also no shortage of variety with a plethora of international restaurants opening, particularly in the capital Ljubljana which is now right up there with other capital cities in terms of its variety of restaurants serving food from across the world.

Just last week there was an article published in the local media (in English) entitled ‘Top 10 delicious Slovenian dishes’ which you can read here –

Many places, including Radovljica where I live, have also begun initiatives such as Taste Radol’ca whereby local restaurants unite to arrange special events and offer dedicated menus using local produce. More information here –


There are also some great food events taking place such throughout the country, particularly the weekly ‘Odprta Kuhinja’ (Open Kitchen) street food market, which this year has also been successfully expanded to Celje and Koper. This is a hugely popular event with both locals and tourists and allows visitors to try out all kinds of different foods, with restaurants taking part on a rotational basis so there’s always something new on offer. More information here –

Odprta kuhna

Despite living less than 45 minutes away, I don’t find myself often in Ljubljana, and when I do its for work and I’m usually in a rush and am left wishing I had more time to look around and have a chance to try out some of the goodies on offer. So, I decided to address this and, having read so much about her and her Food Walks, I contacted Iva Gruden, founder of Ljubljananjam Food Walks. What Iva doesn’t know about food in Ljubljana isn’t worth knowing!

A Ljubljananjam Food Walk offers the chance to take a walk around the city to see some of the great sights near the Ljubljanica river and Ljubljana Castle, and also a little further afield, and enjoy some of the best food and drink the city has to offer too.


The philosophy of Eva’s Food Walks is based around showing the best local producers, restaurants, pubs, cafes – those offering something slightly different from the normal Slovene fare, or Slovene food ‘with a twist’. The Food Walks cater for small groups and can therefore be entirely personalised to your and your group’s wishes.

One such example is the deconstructed apple strudel I enjoyed on the walk. Strudel is found pretty much everywhere throughout the country, so finding a new way to serve it is refreshing. Savouring it in a small Italian restaurant, just metres from the main tourist area in a peaceful courtyard, which I would never have otherwise known about, made it all the more enjoyable.

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I also had a chance to sample delicious cupcakes and jams, bought some bread from a small craft bakery, where the bread is a million miles from that sold in supermarkets, and sampled some craft beer.


For more information about Iva’s Food Walks visit her great website which labels itself as Ljubljana Foodies’ Hub and also has a complete listing of all things ‘foodie’ happening in the capital –

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

The Slovene Coast, To Koper – Part Two!

Brrrr, it’s been freezing this week, unseasonably so. Usually this time of year can bring some nice warm days and with it some nice hikes in the mountains to enjoy the autumn colours. However, this week its been coats, hats, gloves and mugs of tea all round! I’m still optimistically hoping for an Indian summer, or at least a few nice warm autumn days – it can’t be winter, not yet!

How different to the previous week when I was basking in sunshine at the coast, more about which I promised to write this week. I packed so much into my day out at the coast there was too much to write. So if you didn’t read it, check out last week’s blog to read part one of my day out!

Slovenia only has a small coast line – 42kms to be precise. But as the saying goes ‘Small things come in big packages’ and this is certainly true. Koper is Slovenia’s largest coastal town and home to the country’s only port. It is therefore very much a working town and on first glance, looks somewhat industrial. However, it is worth a visit to the compact old town centre which has a hidden charm; narrow streets, town squares and several impressive buildings. An increasing number of cruise ships also now call at Koper.

The centre of the old town is Tito’s Square (Titov trg), which is dominated on the south side by the city hall Praetorian Palace (Pretorska palaca) whilst on the northern side of the square is the Loža (Loggia) building which was formerly used as a debating club for the townsmen but today houses a cafe and art gallery. Some of the other buildings of note in Koper are the Cathedral of St. Mary’s Assumption, the 36m bell tower opposite it (climb it for great views), and Brutti Palace in Revolution Square (Trg Revolucije).

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Koper doesn’t have much in the way of a beach but the paved embankment area has plenty of benches, a wide paved area and far reaching views and is a great place to just sit and soak up the views before or after a stroll around the town.


Numerous events are held in Koper throughout the year but the one that I always make a beeline for is the Sweet Festival – Sladka Istra – held annually in September. For someone as sweet-toothed as me, it is heaven; stall after stall offering all manner of cakes, biscuits, drinks, chocolates and other heavenly sweet delights. I spent a plesant couple of hours browsing the stalls, tasting, deciding what to buy, sitting enjoy the sun, people watching and soaking up the atmosphere.

This week a new photograpy exhibition opened in the Mansion House (graščina) in Linhart Square in the old town centre of Radovljica. The photographer, Tomaž Sedej, is my neighbour so of course I was intrigued to go along and see his work. The photos are of children, taken over a long period of time, in different situations and environments and he has successfully captured some of their unusual adventures in more informal manners. I’m no expert but the photos really are quite unique and its well worth stopping by if you are passing. The exhibition is in the Pasaža Gallery (Galeria Pasaža) in the entrance hall of the mansion house and is open at all times for free viewings from 1st – 31st October.

Whilst in the area, you might also be interested in the following events taking place in, or near, Radovljica next weekend. On Saturday 12th October, there will be a Family Activity Day in the village of Ljubno. Beginning at 10am at the football playing fields, the day will include orientation adventures, nordic walking, a market and more. On Sunday 13th October, there will be a concert in the Radovljica Mansion House, performed by the Radovljica Veterans Choir. The concert will begin at 6pm and entrance is free.

A day out – from Radovljica to the coast!

Almost five days it’s been. Five long days. I know I’m forever waxing lyrical about the beauties of Radovljica and its surroundings, but anyone visiting this region of Slovenia during the past days would be forgiven for thinking I’ve been talking rubbish since all that has been apparent to the eye for those five days has been low, white lingering cloud. Not a hint of blue sky or sunshine, not a forest or mountain in sight. So, today it was time to get wily and outfox the weather! And I did and I felt smug! It’s quite often the case that whilst there might be low cloud in the valley, if you get up high enough, you can be bathed in glorious sunshine and, looking down over the cloud.

So this morning I set off on foot from home towards Jelovica, the plateau that dominates the backdrop to Radovljica, and within a little over an hour of leaving home, I found it – the elusive sun! I continued up to the Goška ravan highland and then reluctantly began to return back towards Radovljica where, I’m pleased to report the sun, albeit briefly, peeked through the clouds and the forecast looks decidedly better for the remainder of the week, if still unseasonably cold.

One of the advantages of living in a small country like Slovenia, is the ability to be able to get pretty much anywhere in the country within a couple of hours. I’ve never been overly interested in the seaside and certainly not sunbathing, the mere thought of it bores me to tears. However, the occasional day trip to the Slovene coast is a real treat; a change of scenery, the warmer climate zone, the different flora and fauna, food etc. So last weekend, to coincide with the Sladka Istra Festival, I set off towards Koper. Wanting to make a whole day of it, I started early and stopped to walk first on Nanos, then later on Slavnik, before reaching Koper.

The vast Nanos plateau forms an extention of the Dinaric Alps and is 6kms wide and 12km long. The highest point is Suhi vrh at 1313m. However, the most often visited part of Nanos is the mountain hut ‘Vojkova koča‘, which stands a little lower at 1240m. The hut, established in 1949, was named after the national hero Janko Premrl (1920-1943), who was born in the nearby village of Podnanos, and whose statue can be seen adjacent to the hut.

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There is a choice of routes and start points which lead to the top. I left the motorway at Razdrto, around a hours drive from home, and parked in the large parking area in the village, which is specifically intended for those visiting Nanos, such is its popularity. From here the steep path ‘strma pot leads, as the name implies, fairly steeply up and involves a little scrambling and a couple of exposed section where steel cables are in place to assist. Following this path, it takes little over an hour to reach the hut. The more level path ‘položna pot‘, takes a little longer, but is more suitable for those wishing to avoid the rocky sections, or with children. Either path offers far-reaching views over the Vipava Valley and towards the coast.

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Nanos, and the whole of the Primorska region of Slovenia, is subject to ‘burja‘ winds, hurricane strength winds, which can reach speeds of up to 200km an hour and can sometimes last for days and be very destructive. 3 of the 4 times I have visited Nanos, it has been incredibly windy and so one must always be well prepared and have additional warm clothing and perhaps an extra stone or two in your rucksack to stop you getting blown away!

From Razdrto, I continued on the motorway to the exit for Podgorje and the walk to Slavnik. At 1,028m, Slavnik is one of the highest peaks in the Istria region and a very popular destinations for hikers and cyclists. Again, there are numerous ways of reaching the top and a choice of steeper or easier paths. I chose the steep direct route up from Podgorje, which really isn’t that steep at all, and leads easily and gradually uphill, taking about an hour to reach the top where the hut ‘Tumova koca‘ stands, named after the mountaineer Henrik Tuma.

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By the time I reached Koper, I had certainly earnt my sweet treats at the Sweet Festival! More about which, and about Koper itself, I will write next week.

On Sunday 6th October, the annual walk around the village of Otoče and its surroundings will begin at 8am, commencing at the train station at Otoče. The 10 euro fee will include around 4 hours of guided walking, 2 hours of sightseeing and lunch.