The 7th Radovljica Chocolate Festival: the Most ‘Chocolate’ Weekend of the Year – ON NOW!

The 7th Radovljica Chocolate Festival has just begun, and, being the chocoholic that I am, I’m not known for having a modicum of restraint when it comes to chocolate. Since I’m lucky enough to live on the doorstep, I headed straight down to the opening to check it out for you (ahem!).

This year there are almost 50 chocolatiers showcasing their chocolates and other chocolate-based creations.

 

The festival takes place in Radovljica’s historic old town centre, as well as in the town park, and in Vurnik Square (Vurnikov trg).

As in previous years, there is a jam-packed entertainment programme, which has something for all the family.

Entrance to the festival, as well as (the majority of) the entertainment programme, is FREE. Tasting of chocolates takes place through the purchase of tasting coupons, which cost 0.50 cents, and come in strips of four.

I also like to check out any new and original flavours of chocolates – there are SO many, it’s mind boggling. However, one can always rely on Čokohram to come up trumps. Last year, among the unusual flavour combinations it offered chocolate with mohant cheese (a particularly smelly cheese, available this year too!), new for this year it’s chocolate with nettle. Throughout the festival, at the 50+ stalls, you can try literally hundreds of different flavour combinations.

Below are just some of the highlights of the weekend ahead.

Events taking place throughout the 3-day festival include:

  • House of Experiments – make your own bar of chocolate; From Bean to Bar (Saturday from 10am-6pm and Sunday from 10am-5pm)
  • Cookery workshops with Radovljica College of Catering and Tourism
  • Pumptrack course for bikes and scooters
  • Archery, handball and minigolf corner
  • Chocolate journey with adventures through Radovljica
  • Chocolate face painting
  • Chocolate roulette

Throughout the festival there are also numerous FREE concerts, workshops, cookery shows and other events, including:

SATURDAY

  • Creative dance day with the Waldorf School and Nursery (9am-5pm)
  • Uroš Štefelin, Igor Jagodic and Marko Pavčnik, Three Chefs’ Cookery Show (10am)
  • Beer Belly, Irish band (10am-1pm)
  • A meeting of two clowns and circus workshops with clown Eva Škofič Maurer
  • Veseli Begunjčani ensemble, concert (1pm)
  • Abba Mia, concert (4pm)
  • Small Tokk, concert (6pm)

The Three Chefs’ Cookery Show – Photo: Visit Radol’ca

SUNDAY

  • Napoli Tango, music (10am-1pm)
  • Dixie Flash Mob with the Lesce Wind Orchestra and dancers (12noon)
  • Maček Muri and Muca Maca with Neca Falk, concert (2pm)
  • Uroš Perič, concert (4pm)

And don’t miss the arrival of the vintage steam train on Sunday, which is always a sight to behold. The train leaves Ljubljana at 10.40am, arriving in Radovljica at 12noon. Click here for more information.

And if you are craving something other than chocolate (why would you?!), then visit the food marquee where some of Taste Radol’ca’s restaurants  – Gostišče Draga, Gostilna Tavčar and Joštov hram – are cooking up some treats, too!

Gostišče Draga – something for those who prefer savoury treats!

Try ‘šmorn’, a kind of shredded pancake served with jam, at Gostišče Draga

And there’s even craft beer too, which will no doubt go down a storm in this heat, yes, heat, in April, when just a few weeks ago I was (still!) moaning about the snow!

But that’s far from all. There’s plenty more! Click here for more information and the full programme (in Slovene) and here for the English version.

So, don’t miss out, come on down. A ‘hot’ chocolate weekend awaits indeed, as the weather is, and promises to be, fab, too!

© Adele in Slovenia

Taste Radol’ca at Spring Restaurant Week – The Tastiest Week of Spring!

After the past bitterly cold week, which saw temperatures plummet to around minus 20 and even lower for consecutive days, and the seemingly endless snowfall during the month of February (18 days of snow out of 28), spring can’t come soon enough, believe me!

And a sure sign of spring, other than warmer temperatures (still waiting for those!) and spring flowers (currently buried under metres of snow!) is Spring Restaurant Week!

Restaurant Week takes place bi-annually, in spring and in autumn, and makes dining at some of Slovenia’s finest restaurants accessible and affordable to all.

Photo: Žan Lebe,

All restaurants that are part of Restaurant Week are assessed and have to meet strict criteria to be included, therefore, the fact that there are three Taste Radol’ca restaurants included in the 19 restaurants in northern Slovenia, is a sure testament to the quality of Taste Radol’ca.

This year 101 restaurants are taking part in Spring Restaurant Week and from 16th – 25th March will offer fixed menus for just €18 per personReservations are essential, and many of the restaurants get booked up early, so don’t delay, book today!

Photo: Dean Dubokovic

Kunstelj Inn in Radovljica is known for its solid, traditional Slovenian food. Much of the inn’s produce comes from its own garden and from the local farm shop 18sedem3, which stocks a wide range of produce and products from local farms and other producers.

Two three-course menus are available for Restaurant Week, including main dishes such as oat risotto with smoked trout, baked lemon and sunflower seeds, or roast chicken with red cabbage strudel and apple.

Photo: Žiga Intihar

Photo: Žiga Intihar

Vila Podvin in Mošnje is one of Slovenia’s finest restaurants, winner of the 2017 Slovenian Restaurant Awards ‘Best Restaurant in Northern Slovenia’ and a member of the Jeunes Restaurateurs. Head chef Uroš Štefelin puts a modern twist on Slovenian food with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients and has created ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ three-course menus for Restaurant Week.

Restaurant Lambergh, part of Chateau Lambergh and Hotel, is in the midst of the countryside in the hamlet of Dvorska vas, yet is within minutes of Radovjlica. The hotel restaurant is open to the public and overlooks the beautiful Renaissance Chateau Lambergh. For Restaurant Week, head chef Grega Rozman has created two three-course menus – one meat-based and the other fish-based.

Of course, if you don’t make it for Spring Restaurant Week there’s always Autumn Restaurant Week, and you can also Taste Radol’ca year-round a the nine participating restaurants – apart from the three above, the others are Gostilna Avguštin, Gostilna Tavčar, Gostilna Lectar, Joštov hram, Gostišče Draga, and Gostišče Tulipan.

Taaste Radol’ca will also be cooking up delights at multiple events such as the Radovljica Chocolate Festival (20th-22nd April), the Month of Local Cuisine (the whole month of November), Refreshing Thursdays in the Square (live concerts and street food every Thursday evening in July), or join me for a Taste Radol’ca Food Tour.

I’m looking forward to some good grub to banish the winter blues – cheers to that I say!

 

© Adele in Slovenia

 

A Sweet Weekend in Store – Mošnje Days, a Roman Feast and the Festival of Honey

Next weekend promises to be a ‘sweet’ one in the Radovljica area – in more ways than one – since there are two events taking place, both of which promise to be tasty!

In fact, the first event – Mošnje Days – begins on Friday 22nd September. This year marks the 10th hosting of Mošnje Days and it promises to be bigger and better. This year it is particularly dedicated to Roman times, due to the Mošnje Villa Rustica archeological site – the remains of a villa dating from the 1st century which were discovered in 2006 during works to extend the Gorenjska motorway.

On both Friday and Saturday you can take a free guided tour of the Mošnje Ethnological Museum where you can see some of the artefacts found at the site including ceramicware, keys and jewellery whilst at on Friday at 6pm in the Mošnje Cultural Centre (Kulturni dom) you can see an exhibition of products from a 3-day mosaic workshop, which is also taking place as part of this year’s event, and watch a performance by pupils from the Mošnje primary school.

You can read more about the Mošnje Archeological Trail here – http://www.radolca.si/en/mosnje-archaeological-trail/

On Saturday 23rd from 1pm you can try Roman food as well as traditional Slovene dishes – there’s always something bubbling in the cauldron! – browse and buy local handicrafts, be entertained by live music from the PROJEKT ensemble, and there will be workshops for children.

Did you know that the Romans were very advanced in the field of cuisine? Why not treat yourself to the Roman-based menu available all weekend at Vila Podvin in Mošnje – one of Slovenia’s top restaurants – where head chef and co-owner Uroš Štefelin specialises in a modern take on traditional Slovenian food with a focus on local ingredients, and where you can always find something innovative to tantalise your taste buds! You can find more details about the Roman weekend menu, price and booking details here – http://goo.gl/u9m7xt

Meanwhile, at the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska in Lesce, this year’s Festival of Honey and Day of Honey in Cuisine takes place on Saturday 23rd September from 10am.

Come and find out more about Slovenian honey, taste honey and honey products, sample honey beer and honey cocktails, treat yourself or buy some gifts for friends and family, and take a tour of the centre and the apitherapy beehive.

The festival programme is below (in Slovenian only) and more about the centre can be found (in Slovenian, English and other languages) on the website – http://www.cricg.si/

From 22nd-24th September you can enjoy special honey-themed menus at selected Taste Radol’ca restaurantsGostilna Lectar, Lambergh Chateau & Hotel, Gostilna Kunstelj, Gostišče Draga, and Gostišče Tulipan, with 3-course menus costing just 15 euros per person (except Kunstelj Inn – 25 euros).

Pork fillet in honey-pepper sauce at Gostišče Draga

I’m looking forward to the ‘sweet’ weekend ahead. Do come and join the fun, too!

© Adele in Slovenia

A Feast of Flavourful Fondues at Vila Podvin

Thanks to the ever-creative team at Vila Podvin in Mošnje, now there’s no need to go all the way to the Swiss Alps to enjoy a cheese fondue! Though only recently revived, the tradition of fondues in Podvin actually dates back quite some way.

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Prior to World War II, the French Duke of Polignac lived in Podvin Castle and, according to locals, the castle’s residents used to enjoy fondues on cold winter evenings, made with cheese that they brought with them from France. Vila Podvin decided to revive the tradition this winter, initially just for the month of February, but it’s been such a hit, that you will now be able to enjoy a fondue up until the end of April!

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When creating and testing fondue recipes, Uroš Štefelin, co-owner of Vila Podvin and one of Slovenia’s top chefs, was keen to ensure that rather than using imported cheese, he uses the excellent-quality cheese that is produced here in Slovenia. And he knew just where to turn – the  award-winning Pustotnik dairy from Gorenja vas – with whom he set about blending a mixture of their cheeses to create the perfect fondue.

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You can also try and buy Pustotnik cheese at the monthly Vila Podvin Local Market, which takes place on the first Saturday morning of each month. Read more here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/09/05/shop-locally-at-radovljicas-farmers-and-craft-markets/

Vila podvin trznica

Each cheese fondue comes with a whole host of tasty and unusual bite-size delights to dip into the gooey cheese!

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For a change from dining alone (sigh!), I invited fellow blogger Peter, who writes a blog in German about Slovenia, to join me for dinner – especially since the fondues are designed for two. Of course, fondues are not restricted to just cheese, oh no, lucky for me Vila Podvin does a chocolate fondue too, using 60% dark chocolate and with a range of wonderfully sinful things to dip, including chocolate brownies, fresh and dried fruit, macarons …

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Another important feature of the fondues, as well as other dishes, is the recent link-up with attendees of the Radovljica Centre for Work, Training and Care (CUDV). Working together they have created unique pieces of ceramicware on which to serve up the restaurant’s tasty and creative dishes. The range of products is collectively made and sold under the name BISER, meaning ‘pearl’, and they really do make original gifts or additions to your own kitchenware.

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Find out more about Vila Podvin here – http://www.vilapodvin.si/EN/ and about Taste Radol’ca here – http://www.radolca.si/en/taste-radolca/

© Adele in Slovenia

New Year’s Eve in Slovenia – How, Where and Hangover Cures!

Generally speaking, Slovenes love New Year’s Eve and really go to town when it comes to celebrating! So, if you are going to be, or are thinking about, celebrating New Year’s Eve in Slovenia, here are some ideas of how, and where, to see in the new year in style.

You won’t have to go far to find new year’s celebrations, since pretty much every village, town, and city has some kind of celebration. And even if you don’t see them, you will certainly hear them!

The biggest crowds gather in the Slovene capital, Ljubljana, where numerous events take place, the highlight being the fireworks display launched from the Ljubljana Castle hill. Find more information about New Year’s Even in Ljubljana here – https://www.visitljubljana.com/en/visitors/events/page-12848/

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There are New Year’s Eve concerts held in several of the city centre squares from 9pm onwards.

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Lake Bled is another popular place to spend New Year’s Eve. I saw in the new year there a few years back; first taking a (brisk!) walk around the lake, then settling down with a friend and a mug of mulled wine to watch the fireworks display above the lake.

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There are New Year’s Eve celebrations in all the major cities, including Maribor, Celje, Novo Mesto, Nova Gorica, Piran, Kranj, Velenje etc., as well as smaller local events.

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New Year’s Eve in Maribor, Photo: http://www.maribor-pohorje.si (Profoto studio)

A more unique way to see in the new year is to visit the mountains. Quite a few of Slovenia’s mountain huts hold house parties on New Year’s Eve. Expect hearty food alongside the wood-burner, plenty of schnapps, and obligatory singing! Of course, don’t forget that the next morning – yes, the one after the night before – you will have to hike back down!

You might find the hut half buried in snow, as I did here on the Pokljuka plateau, but that’s all part of the fun! A pair of snowshoes, as seen below, definitely aids access when conditions are like this.

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If it’s a nice sunny New Year’s Day, what better hangover cure can there be than this!

If you prefer a ‘hair of the dog’ style hangover cure, then be sure to try out one of numerous kinds of Slovenian homemade fruit schnapps, but beware, the homemade versions are often strong enough to blow your socks off!

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I have to admit to being a bit of a killjoy when it comes to New Year’s Eve. I can take it or leave it, preferring Christmas and time spent with family to loud parties and – as we all know – the world is always still the same the next day, despite all the new year’s resolutions! However, since I’ve been in Slovenia, I have tried to embrace New Year’s Eve a little more, and have tried a number of different ways of celebrating.

If you’ve been a good girl or boy, then Old Man Winter (Dedek Mraz) may visit on New Year’s Eve! I met him at Vila Podvin on New Year’s Eve 2014/2015, whilst enjoying a gourmet dinner prepared by one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin. Families with young children especially enjoy the New Year’s Eve celebrations at Vila Podvin. This year the fun begins at 7pm – reservations essential.

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New Year 2015/2016 was spent at another local restaurant, Kunstelj Inn, whilst other years I have just walked from home into the heart of my hometown of Radovljica where the celebrations are focused around the historic old town centre, with live music and merriment. This year in Linhart Square, the heart of the medieval old town, there will be live music and merriment with the Gašperji Ensemble from 11pm – 2am.

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There have been a couple of times when temperatures having been well below freezing and I couldn’t face going out in the cold and the appeal of staying home in the warm won over! If you do venture out in the cold at midnight, be sure to wrap up well!

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Wherever and however you choose to celebrate, I wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR and a healthy and prosperous 2017!

© Adele in Slovenia

It’s Time to Taste Radol’ca (again)!

Yes, it’s that time again. Taste Radol’ca Time!

For the 4th consecutive year, for the whole month of November the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, of which this year there are 13, will be dedicated to serving up tasty dishes, made from locally-produced and sourced ingredients, at the very reasonable price of just 16 euros for a 3-course menu.

This year 2 new restaurants have joined the Taste Radol’ca ‘family’ – Gostilna Tavčar, located in Begunje, and Gostilna Avguštin, situated in the heart of Radovljica’s historic old town centre.

Preparations are now in full swing, the chefs have been putting their heads together, recipe testing is complete and they, or rather we all (including me!), are eagerly awaiting the start!

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The opening event, which will take place on Friday 28th October, is this year being held at Vila Podvin in Mošnje. The event, which is open to everyone, kicks-off at 5pm in front of Vila Podvin with a local market and a chance to sample some of Radol’ca’s delicacies.

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This is followed by a 5-course dinner, beginning at 7pm, for which tickets are now available at 29 euros per person. The menu is being kept under close wraps for the time being, but I have no doubt it will be equally as tempting, if not more so, than last year!

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In addition to the opening event and the month-long special menus available at all participating restaurants, there will also be other Taste Radol’ca themed events taking place throughout the whole month, including cheese tasting and tours of Lectar Inn’s Gingerbread Workshop.

There is also a chance to win tickets to attend the Taste Radol’ca Closing Party, this year to be held on 2nd December at 7pm at Gostišče Draga, in the Draga Valley in Begunje, as well as the chance to win a cookery course with one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin.

In order to stand a chance of winning tickets, just start eating and the more you eat the more of a chance you stand of winning! Pick up a stamp-collecting card from the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre (TIC), and each time you enjoy one of the Taste Radol’ca menus during the period from 29th October – 30th November, you get a stamp. Collect a minimum of 5 stamps and submit the card to the Radovjlica TIC by 1st December to be entered into the prize-draw.

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More information can be found here (in English) – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/taste-radolca-2016/83/394/ and here (in Slovene, with additional information) – http://www.radolca.si/kaj-poceti/dogodki/okusi-radolce-2016/83/2053/

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

 

Taste Tepka Pear Perfection at Vila Podvin

The tepka pear is a rare variety of pear that is only grown in a few areas of Slovenia and, in recent years, has been coming back into popularity largely due to its unique flavour and versatility.

Flying the flag for the tepka pear is one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin, at Vila Podvin. Uroš’ ethos of cooking is based on using local ingredients to give traditional Slovene food a modern twist, thus, incorporating tepka pears into his dishes fits the bill perfectly.

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Curious to find out more about this rare pear, and, of course, taste it, I went along to Vila Podvin in Mošnje last week (luckily for me it’s only a few kilometres from where I live!) to try an entire menu based around tepka pears, with the aim of helping to spread the word about this gem of a fruit.

In their natural form, as seen below here on the left, one could be forgiven for thinking that the brown inside of the pear means it is rotten, but this is quite normal, though, for my taste at least, the texture is a little gritty. The tepka pear seen on the right below is the dried version and, and, as is the case with many fruits, drying or cooking them makes the flavour far sweeter and more intense.

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The tepka pear works equally well in sweet and savoury dishes – all that is needed is a little imagination, which Uroš has in spades! So, if you’d like to get to know this interesting little fruit, read on, and, if you like what you see, be sure to pay a visit to Vila Podvin to try some for yourself!

If you opt for the tepka-based menu, you can expect your table decoration to be tepka-based too!

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Menus at Vila Podvin are seasonal and based on locally available ingredients so, although there is usually always something tepka-based available, if you want the full tepka works, then be sure to book ahead!

The first of the 6 course tasting menu I devoured was beef carpaccio with sliced cooked tepka pear and horseradish mayonnaise.

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Next up was barley risotto with tepka pear, horseradish and goats cheese.

Vila Podvin also has its own in-house pottery workshop in the entrance lobby. The unique plates and bowls in/on which the food is served are designed by the house artist, Barba Štembergar Zupan, who transforms clay into Podvin ceramics decorated with motifs of Ljubno potters. It’s this attention to detail, both in the food and presentation, that makes all the difference.

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Although Vila Podvin is a superior-quality restaurant with a renowned head chef and excellent and knowledgeable waiting staff, the atmosphere is pleasantly relaxed and intimate and doesn’t feel in any way stuffy or formal. So, if you want to go into the kitchen, just ask – as I did!  I was just in time to see my third dish being served up!

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Carniolan sausage, otherwise known as Kranjska klobasa, with tepka, served with plum jam with mustard seeds.

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The next course was pasta filled with goose liver and tepka pear with a clear mushroom broth.

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The final savoury dish was saddle of roe deer on a base of red polenta with tepka pear, black walnuts with berries and a honey sauce.

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Fortunately I still had room, just about, for dessert – which is always my favourite part of every meal! A deconstructed apple strudel with tepka pear ice-cream – delicious!

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The final icing on the cake was the dried, soaked, succulent chocolate-covered tepka pears, which I opted to take home!

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You can also buy tepka pear treats to take home, including fruit juice, liqueur, and sausages, and there is a chance to sample them at the monthly Vila Podvin local market. Read more here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/09/05/shop-locally-at-radovljicas-farmers-and-craft-markets/

Find out more about Vila Podvin, which is also one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants and will this year host the opening event at the end of October, here – http://www.vilapodvin.si/EN/

© Adele in Slovenia