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

Slovenia’s only preserved moat tunnel

The old town of Radovljica is home to Slovenia’s only preserved moat tunnel which runs under the entrance to the historic old town centre. It was renovated, and partly built-over, some years back, and is well-illuminated, meaning you can walk through it at any time as part of a visit to the old town centre. I’m rather lucky as I live just minutes from the old town and can therefore walk through it every day – and I do!

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The history of the town dates back to the thirteenth century, whilst during the 15th-16th centuries, in addition to the moat, Radovljica had as many as 16 defence towers.

The old town has many notable buildings, many of them with frescoes, such as Vidic House, seen below, which now houses a café and youth hostel.

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If you would like to learn more about Radovljica’s historic past then you can join a FREE guided tour every Tuesday at 10am, which begins from the Tourist Information Centre at the entrance to the old town. More information here – http://www.radolca.si/en/guided-tour-of-radovljica/

AUTUMN 2015 RESTAURANT WEEK

The bi-annual event Restaurant Week (Teden restavracij) sees some of the best restaurants throughout Slovenia offering special set menus for just 15 euros per person. It has become hugely popular with the limited places at many restaurants selling out very quickly, hence prior booking is essential.

This autumn Restaurant Week will take place from 16-25th October and includes no less than three – yes 3 – of Radol’ca’s restaurants. Since it’s not easy to get accepted, due to the stringent conditions to be met, that’s proof positive of the great restaurants we have here in Radol’ca – all of which I, of course, have tried!

There is more information available on the official website (link below), however, it is only available in Slovene and therefore I have below also included links to my reviews of the individuals restaurants where you can also find more information – http://tedenrestavracij.si/

Kunstelj Inn in Radovljica – known for its wonderful views and great home-cooked, seasonal and local food – http://wp.me/p3005k-ev

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Vila Podvin in Mošnje – where one of Slovenia’s best chefs, Uroš Štefelin, creates masterpieces on a plate – http://wp.me/p3005k-ai

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Restaurant Lambergh in Dvorska vas – Chef Grega Rozman heads up the kitchen at this luxury country hotel and adjoining chateau – http://wp.me/p3005k-db

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© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

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

More Rainy Days Ideas – Radovljica and Studor

Most of July was blissfully hot and dry, and indeed records were being broken left, right and centre, until, that is, last week when a new, less than remarkable, record was set of just 20 minutes sunshine over a 5 day period. Let’s hope that record is consigned to the history books and not repeated any time soon! Fortunately, by Friday the sun had worked its way back and it was immediately hot again. The consequence, however, is that there wasn’t much in the way of hiking and cycling for me for the whole of last week, instead just endless trudges with my umbrella.

Once such ‘trudge’ – though in fairness the remarkable scenery means it can’t be described as a ‘trudge’ – was around the quaint village of Studor. The moody skies and the mountains of the Julian Alps rising up from Bohinj Lake only served to somehow make it even more scenic.

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Though only tiny, Studor it is known for its double height ‘toplar’ hayracks.

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The Mrcina ranch with its Icelandic horses.

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and also the Oplen House Museum (Oplenova hiša) which represents a typical 19th century home where various crafts were carried out and includes a black kitchen – http://www.slovenia.info/en/muzej/Studor-in-Bohinj,-Oplen-House-.htm?muzej=914&lng=2

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Meanwhile, in Radovljica, it is noticeable how rain actually attracts visitors to the area. On rainy summer days, the old town centre is often at its liveliest as people flood here from Bled, and the surrounding areas, seeking things to do on a rainy day. Popular attractions include:

The Museum of Apiculture, housed in the Radovljica Mansion, where you can learn all about the history and importance of beekeeping in Slovenia and see the collection of painted beehive panels, each one tells its own story, including the oldest one in the world.

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The Gingerbread Workshop at Lectar Inn, where you can see gingerbread hearts being made and decorated, pick up some souvenirs and/or enjoy a delicious meal in the restaurant.

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There’s also the Šivec House Gallery, St. Peter’s Church and, a little further afield, the iron-forging village of Kropa, the village of Kamna Gorica with its many bridges and streams, the ruins of Kamen Castle and the home of Avsenik music in Begunje, and the Vila Rustica archeological site and Village Museum in Mošnje.

All of the above mentioned are also accessible on the Hop-On Hop Off Tourist Bus which runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer – http://www.radolca.si/en/hop-on-hop-off-radolca/

Of course, on rainy days food and drink is usually top of most people’s list and Radovljica doesn’t disappoint on this score either with a plethora of cafes, and tasty homemade food at the Taste Radol’ca restaurants including Kunstelj Inn, Lectar Inn, Joštov hram, Vila Podvin. More information can be found here or click on the Taste Radol’ca heading at the top of this page – http://www.radolca.si/en/taste-radolca/

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

All About Mošnje

After last year’s record washout of a summer, this year couldn’t be more different. Records are again being broken but this time for the number of consecutive day where the temperature is above 30 degrees. Currently, it looks like more of the same to come for the next week too.

If you are thinking of seeking water-based refreshment then currently the ever cool Sava river is a mere 15 degrees. the Soča river slightly warmer at 17 degrees and the Adriatic Sea at the Slovene coast a balmy 30 degrees.

I prefer to seek shade in the forest so, when I paid a visit yesterday to the newly renovated and remodelled Village Museum in Mošnje, I went via the Radovljica Forest Nature Trailhttp://www.radolca.si/en/radovljica-forest-educational-trail/

For its size, the village of Mošnje packs in quite a number of sights of interest and things to do. The first place reached on entering the village is Vila Podvin where one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin, works his culinary magic. In addition to the usual culinary delights on offer, every Thursday during the summer Vila Podvin hold a Summer Steak and Chocolate evening, where, in the tranquil garden with a view of Podvin Castle, you can eat the finest steak and accompaniments, followed by chef Uroš’ heavenly signature chocolate dessert,

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Vila Podvin also hosts a local market on the first Saturday of each month where the focus is on local products and produce.

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Continuing through the village, passing Podvin Castle – which has sadly been abandoned for quite some time now – you pass the fire station and a pizzeria, before reaching the Church of St. Andrew, one of the oldest churches in Slovenia. http://www.radolca.si/en/mosnje-church/

Opposite the church is the Mošnje Village Museum which contains an ethnological collection and was recently refurbished. The museum can be visited by prior arrangement or, every Thursday during the summer, as part of the programme of the Hop-On Hop-Off tourist bus. For further information contact – tdmosnje@gmail.com or damjanapangerc@gmail.com

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The best way to see the village and the sights of interest is to walk around the Mošnje Archeological Trail which leads around the village and to the Villa Rustica Archeological Sitehttp://www.radolca.si/en/mosnje-archaeological-trail/

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After leaving Mosnje, the next village reached is Globoko, home to the Barbana Lipizzaner Stud Farm, (http://www.barbana.si/en) where Lipizzaner horses are bred, and the Globočnik Excursion Farm, a traditional farmhouse – also a member of Taste Radol’ca – that offers home cooking which can be enjoyed in the authentic black kitchen.

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By prior arrangement, you can also arrive in Globoko by train, as the station is on the main line between Ljubljana and Jesenice, and be met by a horse and carriage from the stud farm for a ride to Mošnje and around the local area.

There are also several events that take place throughout the year in the village including the Midsummer’s Eve celebration, Mošnje Days Fete in September and Easter Games and Exhibition.

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

Historic Radovljica / Retro skiing in Kropa

I recently came across this fascinating website which contains digital archives of photos, postcards and texts about Radovljica – the oldest dating back to 1689. The collection on the website is also being added to, as and when locals offer suitable pictures from their own archives, and can be viewed here – http://www.dar-radovljica.eu/

History buffs might also be interested to know that Radovljica is the oldest settled area so far discovered in the Gorenjska region. Settlements have been discovered from the Middle Palaeolithic Age (40,000 BC) with the first permanent settlement arriving during the Hallstatt period of the early Iron Age. There are also archaeological sites which can be visited in the area including Villa Rustica in the village of Mošnje; a Roman villa which was discovered in 2006 – http://www.radolca.si/en/villa-rustica/

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It’s been a relatively ‘unwintery’ winter’s week, with no extremes of weather – thank goodness – until yesterday when a rain storm made a, fortunately, brief appearance bringing with it more snow on higher ground. At the Kredarica mountain hut (Triglavski dom na Kredarici) a record-breaking gust of wind, measuring 221kmph, was measured on Saturday. Kredarica is the closest hut to Slovenia’s highest mountain, Triglav (2864m), and at 2515m is the highest hut in Slovenia. It is only officially open for a couple of months a year – usually from the end of June to the end of September – dependant on weather conditions, however, it is permanently manned by meteorologists.

Talking of snow, last weekend saw the annual Retro Ski Race ‘The Koledniki Cup’ held in Kropa in the Lipnica Valley. It is a competition which invariably involves a degree of humour as competitors try to demonstrate their skills using antique skis, clothing and equipment – which serve as a reminder of how far technology has come – together with an accompanying entertainment programme, culminating in the ‘Pig’s Head Cup’ ski jumping competition.

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Judging by the number of emails I’ve had in the past week, it must now be the time of the year when people are starting to dream of warmer days and start planning their summer escapes. People who find my blog often write with various questions relating to their planned visit. With this in mind, I decided it would be a good idea to collate some of the more frequently asked questions and try to begin addressing them throughout the course of the coming weeks and months. One question that seems to crop up quite frequently is:

‘When does the Vršič pass open?’

At 1611m the Vršič pass is Slovenia’s highest mountain pass and crosses the Julian Alps to connect the Gorenjska region and the Soča valley. It has a total of 50 hairpin bends. It is usually closed throughout winter due to snow and the risk of avalanches, however, it is very difficult to say exactly when it will open/close as it is dependant on the amount of snowfall. As you can see from the picture below, showing me standing on the ‘road’, taken last winter when I walked up to bend number 17 (read more here – https://adeleinslovenia.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/winter-on-the-vrsic-pass/), there is good reason for it to be closed! It is usually open at the latest by the start of May but it has also been closed until the end of May during years of particularly heavy snowfall and its also not unusual for it to then close again for a day or two if there is heavy snowfall, which is still possible in May. If you are planning a trip which involves going over the Vršič pass, then you should check the up-to-date traffic information (see Links to Tourist Information on the right side of this blog) and, if necessary, take the alternative route which involves continuing on past Kranjska Gora into Italy, then taking the Predel pass into the Soča valley. This is also a scenic route with plenty to see enroute, including the Kluže Fortress.

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So, I hope that answers that question! More to come….

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

The Globočnik Excursion Farm (Izletniška kmetija Globočnik)

These days, people are more than ever looking for somewhere different to go, somewhere off-the-beaten track, away from the masses and the hubbub of modern life, and if that places just so also happens to serve great homemade food, then more so the better! So, this week I have the answer; The Globočnik Excursion Farm (Izletniška kmetija Globočnik). Situated in the tiny settlement of Globoko, next to the Sava river, the Globočnik farmhouse offers genuine, traditional, home-cooked and produced food, which can be enjoyed either outside, during fine weather, or in the centuries old farmhouse which is complete with an original black kitchen and in winter is toasty warm thanks to the log fire and wood-burning stove. The house dates back to 1628, as witnessed by the preserved stone on the façade of the house. The house really has a unique ambience and you feel right at home from the minute you step inside, much in part also to the owner, Cene, a larger-than-life character with a wealth of tales to tell, ably assisted by his wife and family.

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The house is packed full of interesting artefacts, each of which have stories to tell, and many of which are from the time Cene spent working on the railways.

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Other than the occasional distant rumble of a passing train, (Globoko station is just a few minutes away on foot making it easy to visit the farmhouse even for those without a car) the farmhouse is a haven of peace, surrounded by fields and forest, and a hark back to bygone-days. Just a few metres away is the Barbana Breeding House which is dedicated to the breeding of the famous white Lipizzaner horses and where, upon prior arrangement, visitors can take a horse and carriage ride – http://www.barbana.si/en/about-us

This year, Globočnik have also joined the Taste Radol’ca (Okusi Radol’ce) collaboration and therefore during the whole month of November, they are offering a special menu in addition to their regular range of dishes. The food on offer is rustic, hearty and plentiful – perfect for this time of year and for the Gorenjska climate.

Additionally, as part of Taste Radol’ca, on Saturday 29th November from 4-6pm Globočnik will be holding a demonstration and tasting of homemade sausages, made using home-reared pork, together with other goodies and homemade bread.

Dishes on offer at Globočnik include farmers mixed platter (cold meats, cheese, pate) and various soups to start; main courses include – farmers feast (grilled sausages, black-pudding, roast pork, stewed beef or roast duck), goulash, tripe, and various stews; a wide selection of side dishes such as steamed sauerkraut, roast potatoes, turnips, buckwheat with mushrooms, cheese štruklji; and, if you’re not bursting at the seams (which I was but of course still managed to find room for something sweet!) desserts on offer include apple strudel or stuffed apples with walnuts and honey.

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Note – The Globočnik Excursion Farm is only open Friday, Saturdays and Sunday and prior reservations are essential. More information can be found here (in Slovene only) – http://www.globocnik.si/

Whilst in the area, you can also visit the village of Mošnje, home to the Villa Rustica Archeological Site http://www.radolca.si/en/villa-rustica/ – and/or take a walk along the Mošnje Archaelogical Trailhttp://www.radolca.si/en/mosnje-archaeological-trail/

They say the sun always come out after the rain but it was beginning to feel as if we would never see the sun again after 13 days of incessant rain, low cloud and general dullness. My Sunday morning began much as had the previous 13, lying in bed listening to the rain on the roof, and not feeling terribly enthusiastic about going for another walk clutching my umbrella. Imagine my delight then when I finally forced myself out of bed, lifted the blinds and saw blue sky and sun – even though it was still raining! And there was even a perfect rainbow to cap it off whose brilliant colours were the perfect way to banish the blues!

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© AdeleinSlovenia 2014