2 Records and a Rant!

Rather an odd title for this week’s blog, you might think. I’ll start with the ‘records’ and get on to the ‘ranting’ later!

The first of the ‘2 records’ refers to this year’s Radovljica Chocolate Festival where, in addition to a full programme of chocolate tasting and other chocolate-related entertainment, there will be an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest ever chocolate bar.

The current world record was set in 2011, with the largest bar weighing a whopping 5,792.50kg (probably equating to about my average annual consumption of the stuff!). It was produced by Thorntons Plc (UK), who just happen to make one of my favourite kinds of chocolate in the world. Any friends or family visiting from the UK are always instructed to bring me some!

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So, it will take some doing to break it – the record I mean, not the chocolate bar! Though, one does wonder how on earth they are going to divide it up into manageable chunks! The full programme for the festival, which takes place from 15 – 17th April, is almost complete, so there’ll be plenty more about it here, and on the festival website, in the coming weeks – http://www.festival-cokolade.si/program/

That’s not all on the subject of record-breaking. The 2nd of the ‘2 records’ refers to the record-breaking weekend at Planica. I wasn’t among the crowd as unfortunately, despite being offered a ticket, a problem with my ears means that I’m unable to withstand loud noise and Planica is a synonym for loud noise with hooters, claxons and the masses of highly enthusiastic fans cheering on their heroes. However, since there was such widespread media coverage over the whole 4 days, it was easy to feel a part of the nation’s pride without actually being there.

The combination of fantastic weather, record-breaking crowds, and world-beating performances by the Slovene ski jumping team ensured a winning weekend was had by all. And boy, do the supporters know how to cheer and wave their flags in earnest when it comes to Planica – all 110,000 of them!

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To crown his sensational season, on Sunday Peter Prevc once again secured victory, to round-off a truly astounding year which saw him amass 15 wins, 22 podiums and a new record of 2303 points to become the overall 2016 FIS ski jumping champion. I think it’s fair to say that there isn’t a single Slovene who isn’t proud of him! In Sunday’s competition, Slovenia’s Robert Kranjec took 2nd place, whilst on Saturday the Slovene team were second in the team competition.

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Now, moving onto the ‘rants’ – well actually just one rant, and not something I would usually use the medium of blogging to do, however, on this occasion I feel the need, so please indulge me, just this once.

Saddened, disgusted, horrified, angry, these, along with resignation, were my feelings on finding out that a McDonalds is to open in Lesce. In recent years Taste Radol’ca restaurants, amongst others, have been striving to place a focus on eating locally-produced food. In schools too, both here and elsewhere, there has been ever increasing attention on what kids eat.

From my perspective, I thought I’d found a little corner of the world to escape mass corporate globalisation, though, in truth, that’s almost impossible these days. Therefore, to find out that this particular burger chain is opening on my doorstep was a huge upset. Of course, it’s not the first one in Slovenia, but until now they have been confined to larger cities, rather than encroaching in this beautiful part of the country.

What is additionally worrying is its location. Right at the Bled exit from the motorway, which is notoriously busy. Every weekend during the summer there are tailbacks of several kilometres, and this will only add to that, not to mention there will no doubt be ghastly advertising hoardings erected here, there, and everywhere – another of my pet hates.

Sadly, it’s inevitable that it will do well, as those passing on the motorway will stop off for a fast food fix. I’m not trying to be a preacher here, since I’m no saint when it comes to food – pizza, chocolate, cakes etc. are a staple part of my diet. I can only hope, forlornly perhaps, that at least some of you, my dear readers, appreciate quality food over fast food and steer clear! After all, within just a few kilometres, or even less, of ‘that burger chain’ there are a wealth of restaurants awaiting you with delicious home-produced Slovene food. And if the need for a burger really grabs you – as sometimes it does, at least choose one such as this Angus beef burger, new on the menu at Draga Inn, looks delicious wouldn’t you agree?

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So, I urge you, please support local food and restaurants, when visiting Slovenia eat Slovenian food, and don’t let the global giants win!

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016

Na Kležnk in Lesce – First Class Airport Food!

Did you know that there is an airport in Lesce? Well, ‘airport’ is a slight over exaggeration, airfield, to be more precise – the Lesce Alpine Flying Centre (Alpski letalski center). It offers panoramic flights above the Julian Alps, glider flights, skydiving and parachuting (more here – http://www.radolca.si/en/adrenaline-in-the-air/). I’m told that in the past there also used to be scheduled direct flights to Dubrovnik. What a shame that is no longer the case!

Moreover, you can now also get first-class food there that doesn’t break the bank, which is not something that can often be said of airport food! However, this is no ordinary ‘airport’ restaurant. The Na Kležnk restaurant, which opened last year, has brought a much-needed revival to the centre, and it’s range of high-quality dishes and delicious desserts, are just the ticket!

I was interested to know where the restaurant’s name hails from and found out that it comes from the name of a farm that used to be located in the area where the airfield now stands.

During the warmer months you can sit outdoors on the terrace and admire the views of the Julian Alps and the Jelovica plateau.

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My visit on a damp February evening wasn’t exactly conducive to admiring the outside views, but instead I was able to sit in the warm, pleasant ambience of the restaurant and admire the indoor views – mainly of the cakes!

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Na Kležnk  has its own in-house patisserie, where delicious cakes are baked daily and can also be purchased to take-away, or they will even deliver if you have a sudden urgent craving for cake – it happens, you know!

With such a wide range of cakes on offer, it was a tough choice, so I had a slice of this raspberry meringue cake to start, well I don’t mean as a ‘starter’ but as my ‘starter dessert’!

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And later a piece of the delicious, and highly addictive, banana mudcake ‘to go’!

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Oh yes, and I also ate some seriously tasty and imaginately presented ‘real’ food too!

Starters include cheese ravioli with a pesto sauce and parmesan, and, as seen below, shrimp tails with crab pate.

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For my main course I chose a dish from the specials menu – pork fillet with onion sauce and bread dumplings.

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And my friend ordered the sea bass which came looking like this.

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And inside looked like this!

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Apparently, though, word is already out and, particularly if you go at the weekends for their popular Saturday and Sunday lunches, reservations are required. Now I too know why and am already looking forward to my next visit. It is to be hoped that Na Kležnk will also join Taste Radol’ca later this year.

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016

 

 

Stories of Slovene Success: Dali Šport – Dressing the Best!

Two weeks ago I wrote the first in an occasional series of posts entitled ‘Stories of Slovene Success’. That post, which you can read here http://wp.me/p3005k-1fl was about the success of Elan and Peter Prevc.

This week the story is in a similar vein, since the company Dali Šport, based in Lesce, make the clothing for some of Slovenia’s top sports stars, as well as for sports people from numerous other countries competing in, amongst others, skiing, ski jumping, rowing, equine and aerial sports.

I popped in for a nose last week and was lucky enough that during the time of my visit 3 of the Slovenian ski jumping team were there, having come to pick up their new apparel, during a brief lull in training. Below you can see, from left to right, Matjaž Pungertar, Leon Šarc and Anže Lanišek – oh and me of course!

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In addition to the firm’s headquarters in Lesce, it also has a shop in Bled which sells off-the-peg sportswear for hiking and other outdoor sports, as well as outfits for your four-legged friend!

Dali Šport, a family run company, has been making made-to-measure and off-the-peg clothing for over 25 years, including the outfit worn by Peter Prevc when he won silver at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

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And for the ski jumper Robert Kranjec too!

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LOOKING AHEAD: It’s not long now until the annual Radovljica Carnival Ball (Pustni ples) with Taste Radol’ca. This year the event will take place on Saturday 6th February at Tulipan Inn in Lesce. Tickets are now on sale at the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre. The theme of this year’s ball is ‘The Radovljica Olympics‘ and prizes are up for grabs for those who come up with the most creative outfits. More information (in Slovene) here – http://radolca.si/kaj-poceti/dogodki/pustni-ples-z-okusi-radolce/83/724/

On the same day, at 2pm in the afternoon, the annual Carnival Procession will take place through the streets of Radovljica ending in Linhart Square in the old town centre. More information here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/carnival-procession/83/381/

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© 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

 

 

 

 

Down Mexico Way at Krčma Lesce!

Lesce is situated midway between Radovljica and Bled and is part of the Municipality of Radovljica. It is probably most known for the 5-star Šobec camp http://www.radolca.si/en/accommodation/camps/camping-sobec/212/92/, which is hugely popular during the summer months. Lesce is an important rail junction, as it is the station closest to Bled on the direct line from Ljubljana to Jesenice, and a passing point for trains running on the single track.

Considering its modest size, Lesce has quite a wide selection of cafes and restaurants, however, you probably wouldn’t immediately think of coming here to find (possibly) the best Mexican food in Slovenia!

Lesce is home to the noteworthy Church of Mary of the Assumption – http://www.radolca.si/en/lesce-church/, with its impressive interior and bell tower.

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There is also a sports airfield – which offers panoramic flights over the Julian Alpshttp://www.radolca.si/en/adrenaline-in-the-air/, and it is home to the factory of Slovenia’s largest chocolate producer, Gorenjka. More here – http://www.radolca.si/en/lesce/

It’s fair to say that I’ve eaten at the Krčma Mexico restaurant more than a few times, my most recent visit however, just last week, was for a somewhat different reason. Let me explain!

Regular readers may recall that just a few weeks ago I appeared as one of the guest speakers at the Njam Zgodbe (Yummy Stories) bloggers’ event in Ljubljana. The other guest speaker was Isabel, a Mexican who, due to falling in love and subsequently marrying a Slovene, now lives in Ljubljana, though also returns regularly to her homeland of Mexico. Since moving here, Isabel has also starting writing a blog – The Sunny Side of This – where she publishes posts in Spanish and English, and since she has previously written about where to get great Mexican food in Slovenia, and since I was flattered that in a recent post she described meeting me as meeting ‘her blogging idol’, I invited her to come and visit Lesce and try Krčma so we could do a joint blog. And so here it is!

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We sat down with the restaurant’s owner, chatted about all things ‘Mexican’ and tried a variety of things from the menu, all of which were, as usual, delicious and plentiful. You certainly never leave Krčma hungry, even someone like me with a big appetite!

Anyone for chimichangas?

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Or how about steak in barbeque sauce with spicy rice?

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And as for the desserts, well, where should I start? Pancakes tend to feature heavily on dessert menus at many traditional Slovenian restaurants, however, I usually find them somewhat underwhelming as they are all pancake and no filling. The pancakes at Krčma, however, are far from underfilled and, though not exactly Mexican, are absolutely awesome!

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And since you can never have enough desserts, how about baked pineapple with caramel too!

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Isabel gave the food the thumbs up and since she’s a real Mexican, it must be good! But don’t just take my, or her, word for it, try it for yourself. But do book in advance, its no secret that great food can be found here, and ‘Buen apetito!’ – as they say down Mexico way!

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.

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

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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.

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I was particularly taken by these cute honey pots!

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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!

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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.

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Take a look at the brochure here – http://issuu.com/turizemradovljica/docs/kulinaricna_brosura_radolca

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.

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

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

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

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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 – http://en.grajska-gostilnica.si/home.html

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!