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: 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

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

Spring Restaurant Week 2016

After a relatively dry and mild December and January, the weather seems to have been playing catch-up for the last few weeks and we’ve been experiencing alternating torrential rain and snow. Operators of Slovenia’s ski resorts will be rubbing their hands with glee as an extended ski season looks a dead cert now, since in the past week in some places there has been up to metre of fresh snow. So, if you are considering a late ski trip, consider Slovenia!

Despite the rain and snow, temperatures have been feeling more spring-like (though it was snowing when I woke up this morning!), there are plenty of spring flowers in bloom, the days are getting longer, and Spring Restaurant Week is here, yippee!

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Spring Restaurant Week 2016 takes place from 11th – 20th March. There are a total of 86 participating restaurants, and out of the 11 in the Gorenjska region3 of these are Taste Radol’ca restaurants. This is all the more impressive since the Restaurant Week team visit each restaurant to ensure it meets its strict criteria for inclusion, meaning only the finest are chosen.

Restaurant Week takes place twice a year – in spring and in autumn – and the concept is to make gourmet food affordable. Diners have an opportunity to try out some of Slovenia’s best restaurants, with 3-course specially prepared menus available for just 16 euros. It is incredibly popular, so bookings are essential. Since the website is only in Slovene I thought I’d give you a sneak preview of what to expect.

Kunstelj Inn, Radovljica – a choice of 2 themed menus. One is ‘All Things Vegetable’. Below you can see the main course – the 4th generation of Kunstelj štruklji.

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The other is named ‘From the Mountains and Forests’. The main course is fillet of mouflon with parsnip mash and kohlrabi.

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Vila Podvin, Mošnje – Uroš Štefelin, one of Slovenia’s top chefs, will be cooking up delights including carpaccio of rainbow trout with a herb and horseradish mayonnaise

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Lambergh Chateau & Hotel, Dvorska vas – there are 2 menus, meat-based or fish-based. Note – *this photo is from the 2015 Restaurant Week as photos of the 2016 culinary delights at Lambergh have yet to be released.

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Now, I just have the tough choice of deciding where to go and how many of the restaurants I can fit into one week!

More information here (in Slovene only) – http://tedenrestavracij.si/restaurant-category/gorenjska/

You can also read more about Restaurant Week here, in English, though it is only about Ljubljana-based restaurants – http://www.inyourpocket.com/ljubljana/Restaurant-Week_73983f

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016

New Year in Radovljica / The Dornk Excursion Farm

This year I chose to spend New Year’s Eve (very) close to home at Kunstelj Inn in Radovljica, which is just walking (stumbling!) distance away! The family run Kunstelj Inn has a long tradition and is popular with both locals and visitors to Radovljica and is one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants.

The New Year’s Eve menu consisted of a buffet of cold starters including these tasty cheese bite-pops, followed by a hot starter of pureed spinach and potato with egg.

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The main course included probably one of the tasty pieces of duck I’ve ever eaten. It literally fell of the bone and I have no idea how they got it that succulent. The only time I ever tried cooking duck I ended up smoking out the whole kitchen!

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And the best bit, of course, the dessert buffet and home-made walnut potica. I was too stuffed to try it all – not like me I know – but took some potica home to try the next day, all in the name of research of course!!!

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Meanwhile, in Radovljica’s old town crowds gathered to see in the New Year with live music from the Avsenik House Ensemble from Begunje na Gorenjskem.

Last week I visited the Dornk Excursion Farm (Izletniška kmetija Dornk) in Mlino to see the nativity scene exhibition and museum collection. Wow, this place is a goldmine, crammed to the rafters with every kind of collectable imaginable, and more! The nativity scene exhibition, housed in the stable (note – it’s not heated so wrap up well!), contains over 100 nativity scenes of various sizes and made from various materials. I was also shown around the over 240-year-old house, run by three generations of the family, which still retains its original features including a black kitchen.

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The nativity exhibition is open for viewings daily from 12noon – 6pm until 6th January, then every weekend until the end of January, so there’s still plenty of time. The museum collection is also available to view year-round, by prior arrangement for groups.

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The other barn contains an extensive ethnological museum collection which also includes an amazing collection of handmade needleworkembroidery and crocheting – made by the family’s grandmother.

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The farm has an extensive orchard and the owners prepare all their own juices, spirits, tea etc. which you can sample, as well as delicious homemade food such as potica, strudel etc. in the cosy snug. Find out more about Dornk here – http://dornk-bled.com/?page_id=325&lang=en

According to my annual report from the nice people at WordPress, where I host my blog, the number of readers of this blog in 2015 came from 123 countries around the world and equated to selling out 19 concerts at the Sydney Opera House – isn’t that an interesting fact! Thanks to each and every one of you!

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016

Reflections & New Year in Slovenia

If someone were to ask me what would be your ideal weather for Christmas, my answer would have fitted exactly what we had. I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas present than the perfect cloudless skies and warm winter sunshine we had last week. My parents were here from the UK for Christmas and the three of us sat outside having a picnic lunch on Christmas Day. Who’d have thought that possible!

However, not all the country were so lucky as many places were, again, shrouded in fog. This is the view on Boxing Day looking down from Možjanca, near Preddvor.

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During my parent’s visit we packed in plenty of sights including a trip to the Christmas market in Ljubljana.

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A visit to Kranj to watch the very popular annual Christmas tuba concert (tuba božički) – to get us in the festive mood.

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On Christmas Eve we went to see the preparations for mass at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Brezje http://www.radolca.si/en/brezje-basilica/

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On Christmas Day we visited a tourist farm (more about that next week), visited friends, watched the Ana Snežna street show in the old town of Radovljica, and finished the day with a meal at Kunstelj Inn in Radovljica.

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If you haven’t already decided how and where to see in the new year, here are some ideas of what’s on in Radovljica and the surroundings and also further afield.

On 30th December there will be a pre-New Year’s Eve party for children at 4pm in Linhart Square, whilst on New Year’s Eve the merriment will take place, also in Linhart Square, with live music from the Avsenik House Ensemble. More information here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/festive-december-in-linhart-square/83/110/

If food, and of course drink, is on your mind, then look to one of the Taste Radol’ca restaurants, though hurry as some are already fully booked. Amongst others, Kunstelj Inn is offering a 4-course menu of local food for 33 euros, Grajska gostilnica  is offering a 6-course New Year’s Eve menu for just 37 euros per person and Gostišče Tulipan has a 4-course menu with live music for 28 euros per person.

Further afield, the capital, Ljubljana, is a popular destination to spend New Year’s Eve, with plenty happening all over the city or, if the weather is fine, spending New Year’s Eve in one of Slovenia’s many mountain huts can also be a magical. One year I walked up to the Sankaška hut above Begunje, from where, on a clear day/night, there are fantastic views and I was able to enjoy watching many fireworks displays across the valley. So, if the weather plays game and that appeals, don your hiking gear and a head torch and head on up there. More information here – http://www.radolca.si/en/st-peters-trail-begunje/

I have now been writing this blog for exactly three years. In that time it has had over 90,000 views from all over the world and this year I was delighted and proud that it was also officially recognised by the Slovenian Tourist Organisation and now also features on the homepage of their website – http://www.slovenia.info/en/Blog-Adele-in-Slovenia/Adele-in-Slovenia.htm?adele_slovenia=0&lng=2

People often ask me how I come up with so many ideas for what to write about and if I ever run out of ideas. Actually, sometimes I still have too many ideas so, if you keep reading, I’ll keep writing, and may the journey continue to make 2016 an even more successful year for Adele in Slovenia!

I wish all readers a very, very Happy & Healthy New Year!

 

Kunstelj Cooks & Draga Delights!

We’ve been spoilt with another week of warm autumn sunshine which was perfect for hiking and even a bit of cycling too. Unfortunately it looks set to end this week but it was certainly nice while it lasted!

In addition to the month-long of special menus at participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, this year there are also a number of accompanying events which are open to everyone and FREE to attend.

These days there is ever more interest in where the food on our plates actually comes from. Knowing exactly where our food comes from is not only good for our health – food direct from the farm isn’t stuffed full of E numbers and the like – but it also helps support local farmers, producers and small businesses.

Since moving to Slovenia, and in particular since the launch of Taste Radol’ca, where the focus is on local food, I too have very much begun to embrace this style of buying and eating.

This week I visited two of the restaurants, this time not to indulge in the special menus – as delicious as they are – but to see the opening of a new mini-shop at Draga Inn and to participate in a culinary workshop at Kunstelj Inn.

The Draga Valley, at the far end of the village of Begunje na Gorenjskem, is the starting place for a number of hiking paths in the Karavanke mountains. The valley is also home to the restaurant with rooms Draga Inn (Gostišče Draga).

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The inn has now expanded its offer by opening its own mini-shop stocked with products exclusively from the valley or the family farm; a range of pickled vegetables grown in the Inn’s garden, home-cooked jams, honey from the valley’s beekeeper and these rather attractive hand-painted and produced rucksacks, which are apparently ‘flying off the shelves’.CIMG0144

On Saturday the first Kunstelj Cooks (Kunstelj kuha) workshop took place at Kunstelj Inn in Radovljica. The fine autumn weather was a bonus and meant that the workshop could be held outside on the terrace, which just happens to be one of my favourite places in Radovljica, to sit and admire the views of the Julian Alps, the Jelovica plateau, and the lush Lipnica valley.

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At this first workshop, to coincide with the celebrations for St. Martin’s Day, Kunstelj’s talented head chef, Maja Buden, used ingredients that are typical for St. Martin’s meals and showed how they could be used in a novel way.

A traditional St. Martin’s Day meal in Slovenia comprises roast goose or duck, served with mlinci, as seen below (a kind of thin dried pastry that is prepared by boiling over liquid – water, stock or soup, over then ), and red cabbage.

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Maja used all these traditional ingredients to create these delicious bite-size St. Martin’s mouthfuls!

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Next Saturday, 21st November, there will be another Kunstelj Cooks workshop. This time Maja promises she will be rustling up desserts. Do come, it’s tasty, interesting and FREE!

More information:

Taste Radol’ca – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/taste-radolca/83/380/

Kunstelj Inn –

Draga Inn – http://www.gostisce-draga.si/