Yummy Stories of Slovene Food (in the snow!)

Autumn came to an abrupt end on Saturday when, after an entire month with no rainfall, it instead SNOWED! This was accompanied by a marked drop in temperatures; in some places on Saturday morning the temperature was in the mid-high teens, by the afternoon it was just 1 degree; on average around 20cm of snow fell.

Though I’m really not a fan of the white stuff, I have to admit that Radovljica did look quite pretty when I went out for a walk on Sunday morning. Mind you, to me, Radovljica looks lovely come rain or shine (or snow!).

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Walking through the virgin snow in the forest towards Talež early on Sunday morning.

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As is usually the case in Slovenia – other than in times of particularly heavy snowfall – the roads were cleared quickly and efficiently and there was no major disruption to my journey on Saturday from Radovljica to Ljubljana, where I had been invited to be one of two ‘guest speakers’ at Njam Zgodbe 2015 (Yummy Stories) – a foodie/blogging event. The event was a mixture of talks, workshops, networking, and, of course, yummy food.

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Though my blog is not a food blog per se, as regular readers will know, I do love food (especially chocolate!) and write about it often, and even more so in the winter when my outdoor activities are somewhat curtailed due to the weather. In the 8+ years I’ve been living in Slovenia, the food scene has come on leaps and bounds, not only due to the vast number of new restaurants offering cuisine from all over the world, but also due the ever-growing importance and recognition of locally sourced and produced ingredients and fresh, seasonal food; this is also reflected in the increasing number of food-related blogs.

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It was for this reason that I decided to dedicate part of my talk to Taste Radol’ca as, being from Radovljica, it is something close to my heart – not to mention my stomach!

After my presentation the event attendees were able to try some of the goodies from Radol’ca’s restaurants; the famous cake-pops (grizike) from Kunstelj Inn, ‘tepke‘ pears in chocolate from Vila Podvin, and chestnut and pear tarts from Grajska Gostilnica. I think it’s fair to say that they went down well with the attendees, all of whom certainly know their food!

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There’s just one week left to try out the special menus at the Taste Radol’ca restaurants as, on 30 November, it all sadly ends for this year. Well, not quite, as this year, for the first time, there is also a closing party to look forward to. Tickets are now on sale for the party at Joštov hram in Podnart on Friday 4th December; those who collect stamps by visiting at least 4 of the restaurants also have a chance to win free entry. More information here – http://www.radolca.si/en/taste-radolca/

 

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/

The Katzenstein Mansion – A Chilling Reminder of the Past

The imposing Katzenstein Mansion, which stands in the heart of the village of Begunje na Gorenjskem, has had a long and interesting past. The mansion was built in the 14th century; renovations in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries contributed to its current Renaissance and Baroque appearance.

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The mansion’s setting and surroundings are idyllic and I always enjoy a walk around the park, particularly in this beautiful autumn weather we are currently enjoying, to admire the mansion and gaze up at the surrounding mountains of the Karavanke range. A great way to see more of the village is to walk the marked Begunje Village Trailhttp://radolca.si/en/begunje-village-trail/

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The park is particularly known for its pavilion and the Chapel of St. Joseph, designed by the most famous Slovenian architect, Jože Plečnik, and is also home to a small cemetery where 457 hostages and 18 World War II combatants are laid to rest. The bronze statues of a hostage and a prisoner, as well as the karst marble sculpture of a female hostage are the work of the sculptor, Boris Kalin.
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1n 1875 Katzenstein Mansion was sold to Austro-Hungarian judicial authorities and a prison, holding 300 female prisoners, was established. During the German occupation, it became a Gestapo prison and political prisoners were incarcerated in the mansion; after the war it again reprised its role as an all-female prison.
Since 1953, the main part of the mansion has been operating as the Begunje Psychiatric Hospital, whilst since 1961 in the building at the north-western end of the residential wing – annexed in 1875 – the Museum of Hostages (Muzej Talcev) has been housed since 1961.

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I must confess that until last week I hadn’t actually visited the museum, though had walked past it countless times. Somehow it seemed a bit depressing, however, following a recent chat with the director of Radovljica’s museums I realised that it was time to actually go and though the museum is only small its historic importance shouldn’t be overlooked. It doesn’t hurt for one to take a moment of quiet reflection to consider the suffering of the hostages held here.

Inside, on the walls of the former prison cells, you can see written records left by the prisoners and announcements by the occupiers concerning executions.

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Read more about the Museum of Hostages, opening times etc. here – http://radolca.si/en/begunje-museum-of-hostages/ AND here – http://www.muzeji-radovljica.si/3m_talci/_predstavitev.html
Read more about Katzenstein Mansion here – http://www.radolca.si/en/katzenstein-mansion/

Taste Radol’ca 2015 is GO!!!

This year’s Taste Radol’ca kicked off with a bang on Friday night with the opening event held at Lambergh Chateau & Hotel in Dvorska vas.

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The evening started with a market, where local producers and suppliers to the 11 participating restaurants offered their products to taste and buy and the talented Taste Radol’ca chefs rustled up some tasty warming morsels to satisfy the peckish!

Entertainment was provided by the popular singer Nuša Derenda, in the lovely setting of the chateau grounds.

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The main event then began – the opening Taste Radol’ca 2015 dinner – all 6 courses of it! The event was a complete sell-out, with all 90 places in the restaurant taken.

The ethos of Taste Radol’ca is collaboration between restaurants and the use of local produced products. All the products used in the opening dinner, as well as those in the menus that are available at each participating restaurant for the entire month of November for a set price of just 15 euros for three courses, are local.

The starter was prepared by the Globočnik Excursion Farm from Globoko.

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The next courses was a rainbow of trout with buckwheat hearts – prepared by Kunstelj Inn and Lectar Inn. Almost too pretty to eat!

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Next came the chestnut soup with mushrooms, just perfect for these autumn days, prepared by Tulipan Inn and Joštov hram.

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A farmer’s plate followed – prepared by Hotel Krek and Draga Inn.

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By now we were all beginning to burst at the seams but the delicious food kept coming! This dish comprised many elements including veal with mushrooms in cannelloni, cheek of calf, potato foam, barley and vegetables – courtesy of Lambergh Chateau & Hotel and Vila Podvin.

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And finally the dessert. It’s funny how however stuffed one is, we somehow always manage to find room for dessert, don’t we! Dessert was prepared by Grajska gostilnica, from right here in Radovljica, and the restaurant ‘Pri Jožovcu’ – home of Avsenik in Begunje na Gorenjskem.

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Suffice to say a great night was had by all and that was just the start. Now we have the whole month of November to try out the Taste Radol’ca menus at all the 11 participating restaurants and, if you manage to eat at 7 during the month, you can earn yourself automatic entry to the Taste Radol’ca Closing Party on 4th December at Joštov hram. So get eating and tasting the local culinary delight of Radol’ca!

For more information and to see the menus click below and I wish you bon appetit!

http://radolca.si/kaj-poceti/dogodki/okusi-radolce/83/930/

@AdeleinSlovenia 2015

Autumn Hiking in the Karavanke

After a less than promising start to autumn, it finally arrived in style last week with nature offering a palette of the most resplendent autumnal hues. This, together with the warm, sunny days – which lasted all weekend too – made it perfect weather to enjoy the great outdoors. As the Karavanke mountains are right on my doorstep, that’s where I most often head to get my hiking fix!

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On Sunday morning I headed off on my bike from home in Radovljica to the Draga valley, then on foot – initially up to the Preval highland and the Preval mountain hut (Koča na Prevalu) – part of the Karavanke range.

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From the hut there are a number of paths; steeply (very!) up through the forest to the top of Mt. Begunščica; through the Baron’s Tunnels to Ljubelj, back down to the Draga valley – either through the forest or via the road – or across Roža (čez Roža) to the Roblek mountain hut (Roblekov dom). I chose the latter, as it is one of my favourite walks, particularly as it is circular and offers wonderful views across the Radovljica plains, the Jelovica plateau, and onwards towards the Julian Alps.

As can be seen below, with such perfect weather and views across to the snow-capped Julian Alps, no photo-shopping is required!

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It’s always a particularly wonderful feeling being in the mountains and looking across at other parts of the country which are shrouded in low cloud, as was the case on Sunday morning!

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The opening event of this year’s month-long Taste Radol’ca is drawing nearer. Reservations are being taken for the opening event this Friday and participating restaurants have finalised their special Taste Radol’ca menus for the month of November – all available at just 15 euros for 3 courses and with the key focus on local ingredients.

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Additionally this year there are a range of accompanying events during the month of November. Below are some of the highlights, the whole list can be seen here –  http://radolca.si/kaj-poceti/dogodki/okusi-radolce/83/930/

  • Every Wednesday: Live accordion music evening at Lambergh Château & Hotel
  • Every Friday: Live music evening at Vila Podvin
  • Every Sunday at 1pm: Presentation of the Zupan Fish Farm at Vila Podvin
  • Saturday 7.11: Podvin Local Food Market at Vila Podvin
  • Sunday 8.11 from 12 – 5pm: Presentation and tasting of honey from the Draga valley at Draga Inn
  • Saturday 14.11 & 21.11 at 11am: Cookery workshop with tastings of St. Martin’s dishes at Kunstelj Inn
  • Friday 27.11: Culinary Evening with Sartori wines and live music at Grajska Gostilnica
  • Friday 4.12: Taste Radol’ca Closing Party at Joštov hram (tickets can be obtained by participating in this year’s 2 prize competitions)

@AdeleinSlovenia 2015

The New Triglav National Park Centre and a Froggy Tale!

Triglav National Park is Slovenia’s only national park, covers an area of 880 square kilometres and has 3 information centres including the newly-built and recently opened centre in the village of Stara Fužina, near Bohinj lake, which I visited for the first time last week.

Downstairs the centre, which is open 10am-3pm on weekdays and 10am-5pm at weekends, has a permanent exhibition, information and exhibits about the park, and a small area selling local products.

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However, its the upstairs viewing room that makes this place so special. The saying ‘a room with a view’ is certainly apt for this, and no photo-shopping is required. They have managed to capture the views and the essence of Bohinj lake and the surrounding mountains perfectly with the full-depth windows, relaxing hanging chairs and selection of magazines.

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The only thing missing was a nice cup of tea with which to be able to sit and marvel at the views!

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Whilst in the area I paid a visit to another of my favourite haunts, Čokohram, in the tiny village of Česnjica, near Bohinj lake. I wrote extensively about this in a previous blog – http://bit.ly/1iq7MR4 – however, this time there was an added reason for my visit, apart from the obvious reason of gorging myself with chocolate and cake.

Inside the tiny building the walls have been hand-painted with several pictures of frogs and, on a previous visit, the owner, Alenka, had begun to tell me about the reason for this and her plans for the future. So, I wanted to find out more, as I’m always one for listening to an interesting local story.

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Though, in fact, I won’t give too much away yet as Alenka has plans to create a ‘frog-based’ theme path that will lead from Bohinj lake to Čokohram in Česnjica – and you can be sure I’ll be writing about that as soon as the plan is realised.

In the meantime I’ll share some photos I took of the delicious things on offer, as each time I visit there is something new. This time I noticed new chocolate liqueur, home-baked chocolate cookies, and cake pops. Nothing escapes me!

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I also worked on persuading Alenka to be a part of next year’s Radovljica Chocolate Festival, which has become THE unmissable chocolate event in Slovenia and the date of next year’s festival has already been announced – 15-17th April 2016.

Kamna Gorica: Langus Days / The Sextons’ Museum House

After a 30km hike on Saturday (more about that soon!) in 30+ degree temperatures, I was pretty out for the count by early Saturday evening, that was until I was suddenly awoken with a start, though it wasn’t until the next morning that I found out why. There was an earthquake, measuring 4.1 on the richter scale, the centre of which was in the Bovec area in the Soča valley, and was felt throughout the west of the country.

In fact, earthquakes are not an entirely uncommon occurrence here, there have been four recorded this year and in April 2014 there was a 4.4 magnitude quake in South-West Slovenia. However, the majority of them are almost undetectable. The biggest earthquake, 6.1 magnitude, struck Ljubljana in 1895 on Easter Sunday. Seventeen years ago one of the strongest quakes of this century, 5.6 magnitude, caused considerable damage in the Soča valley area, but fortunately no lives were lost.

The annual Langusovi dnevi (Langus Days) event begins this week in the village of Kamna Gorica. The event is held on the first weekend of September in memory of the painter Matevž Langus (1792-1855). Various artistic, creative, social and recreational events, for adults and children alike, take place during the course of the celebration.

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For its size the small village of Kamna Gorica, in the Lipnica valley, crams in a number of sights of interest. The Sextons’ Museum House, dating from 1803, stands perched on a small hill above the village, next to St. Trinity’s church, and affords wonderful views across the village and to the mountains of the Karavanke range.

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In 2014 the house, which had previously lain derelict for years, was re-opened after thorough restoration. Visitors can see the original black kitchen and preserved living areas which offer an insight into life in Kamna Gorica in the past. Together with nearby Kropa, Kamna Gorica was formerly one of the main iron working villages in the area of what is the present day Slovenia. It is also known for the many water canals that run through the village which previously served the needs of the forges and led to the village also being known as ‘Little Venice’. Entrance to the museum house is free, though voluntary donations towards its upkeep are appreciated. More information can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/the-sextons-museum-house

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The main events of this year’s Langus Day take place on Saturday 5th September and include:

  • 10am – 2pm – Creative Workshops for All Generations
  • 10am – 5pm – Open Day at the Sexton’s Museum House
  • 2pm – Free Guided Tour of Kamna Gorica
  • 4pm – Children’s 200m, 400m & 1100m Run
  • 5pm – Adult’s 5km Run

More information about these and other Langus Day events can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/langus-days/

Finally, as summer slowly draws to an end (boohoo!) it’s official that this has been the 2nd hottest summer ever since records began in 1900, with 42 days being above 30 degrees C.

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015