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

 

Archery Adventures and Delicious Draga Delights!

The beautiful Draga valley in Begunje in Gorenjskem – home to the ruins of Kamen Castle, the Gostišče Draga restaurant and the start point for numerous hikes in the Karavanke mountains – has just got even better thanks to the new improved 28-target archery range.

Having never so much as held a bow and arrow, I was keen to try it out for myself and, I must say, I’m hooked already and can’t wait to try it again!

If you have your own equipment, you can just turn up and pay in the Gostišče Draga restaurant and then head off on your own, of course taking care to follow the numbered markers in the correct direction.

If you, like me, are a total novice or a relative newcomer to archery, or you skills are a bit rusty, then I suggest contacting the ‘go-to’ man for archery around here, Robert (Robi) Levstek.

We started with a brief safety introduction and a few warm-up shots as Robi demonstrated and talked me through the technique.

I know you probably won’t believe me, since I barely believed it myself, but this was one of my first shots – totally a case of beginner’s luck, though, as it didn’t continue in that vein!

Robi made all of the animal targets and also makes all his own bows and arrows, something he is deservedly proud of.

The archery course is also ideal for families with children, and Robi teaches children from age 3+. It’s also extremely good value, considering it provides several hours of entertainment, at just 10 euros for adults and 8 euros for children.

Sensible footwear is a must, as is comfortable clothing, but other than that all you need is a sense of adventure and good spirits!

It’s great fun making your way around the course through the forest, crossing the stream and trying to spot the life-like animals. Those with a competitive nature, and even those without, will love it. For those who want to get competitive, you can tot-up points, join the club and/or compete in the regular Parkur tournaments, whilst for others it can merely be a fun day out surrounded by the wonderful nature of the Draga valley.

The archery range is open year-round and even in winter, provided the snow cover is not too deep, you can spot the animal targets!

And no visit to the Draga valley is complete without a meal at the Gostišče Draga restaurant. Known for its fresh trout, venison, and other traditional Slovenian dishes, of late the restaurant has also become a mecca for lovers of all kinds of štruklji – sweet and savoury. Unable to decide on which to try this time, I went for the triple whammy and tried 3 different versions – buckwheat with wild garlic, classic curd cheese, and blueberry – all of which were so delicious I took some home for the next day (or two) too!

 

 

You can contact Robi and/or find out more information via the Facebook pages Parkur Draga https://www.facebook.com/parkurdraga/ and Lokostrelstvo Robert Levstek https://www.facebook.com/Lokostrelstvo-Robert-Levstek-sp-679804982054234/

Enquiries and reservations for the archery range can also be made at the Gostišče Draga restaurant – http://www.gostisce-draga.si/

But watch out, you might, like me, get hooked – on both the archery and the štruklji!

© Adele in Slovenia

Slovenia’s Historic Towns and Cities

Statistics show that the large majority of people who visit Slovenia tend to do so for just a few days, either as just a mini-break or as part of a longer trip taking in some of the neighbouring countries. And for those limited in time, the focus is usually on the ‘usual’ tourist hot-spots i.e. Bled Lake, Ljubljana, Postojna Caves, Piran... However, in visiting just these, admittedly marvellous, places, you miss – in my opinion – a large swathe of the country and the chance to see the ‘real’ Slovenia.

Granted, I might be a bit biased since I’m fortunate to live in Radovljica, which has one of Slovenia’s best-preserved medieval old town centres and is a member of the Association of Historical Towns and Cities of Slovenia, but since Slovenia is a perfectly compact country, it is very easy to get around and make detours to other places of interest. So, sure, go to the usual tourist hotspots to tick them off the list, but do take time to see more of Slovenia’s countryside, culture and history too!

Looking over Radovljica and beyond to the Karavanke mountains

For example, if you are visiting Bled, then turn off the motorway (or get off the train or bus) just one stop early, and within minutes you will be in the historic old town centre of Radovljica where you can see, amongst others, the frescoed townhouses, the Baroque St. Peter’s Church, and the Šivec House Gallery.

Vidic House, just one of the frescoed buildings in the old town

The Radovljica Mansion is home to the Museum of Apiculture, the Municipal Museum, and a music school. During daylight hours the building is always open and visitors are welcome to go in and look at the photographic exhibitions in the entrance foyer.

The Radovljica Mansion

Don’t miss a visit to Lectar Inn where you can try traditional Slovenian food and downstairs visit the workshop with it’s 250-year tradition of making red-iced and decorated gingerbread hearts.

The Lectar gingerbread workshop

Radovljica also offers a wealth of great places to stroll, hike, cycle, do water sports, or partake in other active or less active pursuits. Or you can just sit on one of the benches at the viewing area and and soak up the views of the Julian Alps, the Jelovica Plateau and the Sava River.

Looking back at the old town with majestic Mr. Stol in the background

And be sure to come hungry as you won’t want to miss the chance to taste some of the delicious locally-produced food at the 13 restaurants that collaborate in the Taste Radol’ca project.

In addition to Radovljica , there are a further 13 towns and cities included in the Association of Historical Towns and Cities of Slovenia – Idrija, Kamnik, Koper, Kostanjevica na Krki, Kranj, Metlika, Novo Mesto, Piran, Ptuj, Slovenske Konjice, Škofja Loka, Tržič and Žužemberk.

More information about Radovljica can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/radovljica-area/ and more about the association here – http://www.zgodovinska-mesta.si/eng/index.php

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Spring in Radovljica Means Chocolate!

Yes, finally, after the coldest winter for over 30 years, spring is finally springing here in the Radovljica plains. And spring in Radovljica has come to mean chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, due to the now annual Radovljica Chocolate Festival – this year taking place from Friday 21st – Sunday 23 April. How lucky I am that it takes place in my home town!

Though summer will always be my favourite season, spring isn’t far behind as it’s a time of blooming flowers, Easter, new-born lambs, longer days, warmer temperatures and, in case I haven’t already mentioned it, chocolate!

pomlad-3-3-2017

Photo: Adele in Slovenia

To whet you appetite, and in case you missed it, here’s a recap of some of last year’s festival fun!

Guinness record was broken for the world’s largest chocolate bar by area. 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.

cimg0851

There was also a record number of chocolatiers and visitors to last year’s festival, and I have a feeling that this year, the 6th Radovljica Chocolate Festival, could be even bigger and better.

13041065_1077943002248915_5048165062827836274_o

Photo: Aleš Košir

For the first time last year visitors were able to travel to/from the festival by vintage steam train from Ljubljana.

12991053_1352567444758593_7081727616073599369_n

Photo: Adele in Slovenia

The packed programme also includes chocolate-related entertainment for all the family.

13041252_1077943135582235_4488269117016114694_o

Photo: Aleš Košir

What will this year’s festival bring? Well, the 2017 festival programme is still being prepared, but it will be available soon so keep your eye out on the festival website for updates – http://www.festival-cokolade.si/festival-2017/ as well as on the Visit Radol’ca Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/RadolcaHonestlySweet/

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Celebrating 10 Years in Slovenia in a WILDART Style!

Yesterday marked exactly 10 years to the day since I moved to Slovenia!

On the one hand I can say that the time has flown by, though, on the other, when I look back over the past 10 years I’ve packed so much in and am proud of all that I’ve achieved. Yes, there are still, and probably will always be, a few challenges of living alone in a foreign country, but the pluses far outweigh the minuses. So I decided a celebration was in order, and arranged a get-together with some of those who I’ve met along the way and have been, and I hope will continue to be, an important part of Adele in Slovenia!

I must first thank Staša and Jože from Jansa Apartments in Radovljica, for allowing me to use their breakfast room to hold my celebration, and even gave me this heart-shaped cake too. I can thoroughly recommend their apartments and hospitality if you are considering visiting Radovljica and looking for self-catering apartments. And I’m not just saying that, I have first-hand experience of the excellently-equipped apartments, since my parents stay there every time they visit Slovenia, which, as you might imagine, is quite often!  http://apartmaji-jansa.net/

16700673_1734231753269227_8606958805725634583_o

I must also thank Mišo (ably assisted by Erik!) from Joštov Hram restaurant in Podnart, one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants. Mišo is the go-to man for catering around here! Regular readers will recall that I also turned to him for my father’s surprise 70th birthday last year. They provide excellent home-cooked food for all kinds of private events, parties, weddings, celebrations etc.

tom_1284

Guests were welcomed with the (almost!) obligatory Slovenian blueberry schnapps and warm home-made pogača bread topped with minced bacon and onion, then later we tucked into bograč, cold deli platters and for dessert, one of my favourites, šmorn, with Miso’s extra little touch – a trio of sauces.

20170211_185438

After my short speech – yes, in Slovene – we watched a short slide show of just a few of my favourite adventures from the last 10 years. Thanks Dad!

tom_1281

Then it was time for the ‘surprise’ and the highlight of the evening, a performance by the winners of the 2016 Slovenia’s Got Talent. These two young lads, Timotej Willewaldt and Lenart Prek – both aged 14 and collectively WILDART, have exceptional talent and surely a very bright future ahead of them.

tom_1292

You can see their amazing performance here.

Another one of the many highlights of the evening for me was being presented with a special gift from the Mayor of Radovljica in recognition of my efforts in promoting Radovljica through my blog. I was truly honoured.

tom_1262

20170212_153900

Thanks also to my neighbour and photographer Tomaž Sedej for all the photos. On this occasion I decided it would be nice for me to be able to enjoy socialising without having to worry about taking photos too, so I turned to Tomaž, safe in the knowledge that he would do a good job. His website sums it up – ‘Photography has a powerful message. It ensures that we remember the stories and the people that would otherwise be forgotten.’ Find out more here – http://www.sedejtomaz.com/

And thanks to all of those of you that came for being part of my celebration and for the wonderful array of thoughtful and imaginative gifts. Too numerous are they to show them all, but here are a few! 10 cheers for Adele says Anja!

tom_1244

According to Tanja I’m now a ‘čista prava Radolčanka’!

tom_1255

Jure and Denis – thanks for coming so far to be here and, amazingly, on time!!!!!!

tom_1259

A book and CD of Slovene songs which I now have a duty to learn according to Marcela from Vila Podvin!

tom_1260

Flowers and gifts galore! It was all a bit overwhelming.

tom_1265

And these two came all the way from the UK, well, they do have a house here too, so not exactly, but ….!

tom_1268

Thank you to everyone for making it such a memorable evening and here’s to many, many more years of Adele in Slovenia!

© Adele in Slovenia

Eat, Drink and Be Merry in Festive Radovljica!

Word is rapidly spreading about how beautiful the Christmas decorations are this year in Linhart Square – the heart of the old town of Radovljica. If you haven’t visited yet, be sure to do so and find out why it’s the talk of the town, and further afield too!

15304384_10154615977800953_4016086714618187585_o

Photo: Miran Kambič (www.slovenia.info)

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are the best time to visit when there is a small Advent Market as well as live entertainment for all the family. The Advent Market is also open on Christmas Day and Boxing Day (26th December), and on both days there are street performances at 5pm. For the full programme, click here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/festive-december-in-linhart-square/83/395/

15403836_10154615969900953_2146873955069456685_o

Photo: Miran Kambič (www.slovenia.info)

And while you are here, why not take some time to Taste Radol’ca too!

15337617_1379646012046437_8809864376697338913_n

Kunstelj Inn’s famous cake pops with a Christmas twist!

Since it can be a little bit of a faff, or at least I think so, trying to find out which restaurants are/aren’t open and when during the festive season, I decided to take it upon myself to do the hard work and compile all the information in one place i.e. here! So below is a full list – or rather of those that responded to my request for information. Note: restaurants are open as usual in the period between Christmas and New Year, unless otherwise stated below.

Gostilna Avguštin – 24.12: 9am-6pm, 25.12: Closed, 31.12: 9am-6pm, 1.1: 12noon-8pm

Gostilna Kunstelj – 24.12: 12noon-3pm, 25.12: 12noon-10pm, 30.12 open as usual + 6pm-8pm Cocktail Party, 31.12: 12noon-5pm + 7pm-10pm New Year’s Dinner (reservations required)

Gostišče Draga – 24.12: 11am-3pm, 25.12: 10am-6pm, 26.12: 10am-6pm, 27.12: Closed, 28/29.12: 11am-9pm, 30.12: 11am-10pm, 31.12: 10am-3pm, 1.1: 10am-6pm

Gostišče Tulipan – 24.12+25.12: Closed, 31.12: Open + New Year’s Dinner (reservations required)

Lectar Inn – Open daily throughout the year from 9am – 10pm

Vila Podvin* – 24.12: 12noon-5pm, 25.12: 12noon-5pm, 31.12 Open + New Year’s Dinner (reservations required), 1.1: 12noon-5pm

Joštov Hram – 24.12: 9am-5pm, 25/26.12: Closed, 27-30.12: 9am-10pm, 31.12: 9am-5pm, 1/2.1: Closed

* If you haven’t the time, or the will, to rustle up a gourmet home-cooked Christmas lunch, this year Vila Podvin is offering a fully-prepared takeaway version of their Christmas lunch. You could even pretend you made it yourself! More information and the full menu can be found on the Vila Podvin Facebook page (see the post, in both Slovene and English, dated 6th December).

vila-podvin-xmas-dinner-to-go

So, armed with information about what events are taking place, as well as information about restaurant opening times, there are now no excuses not to visit Radovljica this festive season! What are you waiting for?!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

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.

cimg2647

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!

cimg2652

The chefs from the 13 participating restaurants once again did a magnificent job, each preparing a small dish for us to try.

cimg2663

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.

cimg2659

The ever-popular Joštov Hram mini-burgers were a big hit!

cimg2676

I found my place next to the log-burner to keep warm and enjoy mine!

cimg2681

Jože and chef Aleš from Lectar Inn had a great system going providing us with their homemade štruklji.

cimg2675

And of course the desserts didn’t disappoint either. Chestnut cake prepared by Gostilna Avguštin.

cimg2697

And a delicious creation by Maja at Kunstelj Inn – a winning combination of a gingerbread base with a caramelised walnut, apple and meringue topping.

cimg2703

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.

RADOLCA_logo_pozitiv

So, what are you waiting for, you can now Taste Radol’ca all year-round!

© Adele in Slovenia