A five-course dinner at Restaurant 1906 Bled paired with premium wines by Kupljen Winery
(Scroll down for video)
So much has changed ever since the coronavirus suddenly surfaced. And with the changes, I’ve been struggling to find the time and frame of mind to sit down and write. I’d also started to dedicate as much time as possible to my toddler daughter once kindergartens (like everything else) closed their doors.
But here I am now writing about our most recent dining experience. That was last March, on the eve of Woman’s Day. Hotel Triglav Bled invited us to a food and wine pairing, a ‘Dinner in Style 1906’. This was the second food and drink pairing event for the season after their first event, Pelicon 1906, which was a food and craft beer pairing.
Even though quite a bit of time has gone by since the March food and wine event, the memory of it is still fresh in my mind.
Star Dishes from Bled (Bled Local Selection)
It was such a fine evening, with star dishes right out of the Bled Local Selection list (featuring Bled’s most famous dishes and food products) coupled with premium wines by Kupljen Wine Estate in Jeruzalem- Svetinje, in eastern Slovenia (an area known as Slovenian Styria). Restaurant 1906’s signature soup of dried porcini mushrooms that you can see in the photo at the top of this post is one of those star dishes.
Nežka’s Roast Beef, which you can see here below, is another stellar dish: A succulent piece of beef served with cottage cheese rolls (štruklji) filled with dry tepke pears, and a bone marrow sauce with Carniolan sausage (Kranjska klobasa).
Vintage Hotel Triglav Bled & Yugoslav Souvenirs
A warm, unforgettable atmosphere hung around us throughout that special night. Before dinner, we viewed a highly interesting display of antiques from Hotel Triglav’s heritage collection: vintage storage tins for coffee, biscuits and such; old recipes with impeccable handwriting; Hotel Triglav brochures from Jugoslav times; and other memorabilia.
We dined to the charming sounds of live piano playing. And during the breaks between the five courses, Alenka Bole Vrabec—one of Slovenia’s most respected translators and veteran theatre artists and directors—read out a couple of wine poems in her usual charismatic fashion. Unfortunately, news came to us just a few days after the event that she had passed away. So we were really lucky to have had her there with us for that occasion.
Video of Our ‘Dinner in Style 1906’
It’s actually a blessing to be revisiting our evening at Triglav Bled Hotel here again in my writing. But there’s also one other aspect that has kept this experience very much alive. Something that you can see for yourselves! 🙂 We produced a short video highlighting the event’s special moments.
Now that you’ve watched the video and got a taste of our ‘Dinner in Style 1906’, I’ll share with you some brief stories from the man behind the great Kupljen wines: Samo Kupljen (not a hard name to remember since it literally translates to ‘only bought’). I think it’s quite a fitting name for a man of great humour.
5 Wine Stories from Samo Kupljen
Aldebaran: A Riesling from the Pannonian Sea
This Riesling is made from single vineyard grapes. This particular vineyard of Samo’s is full of seashells because a million years ago the area was covered by the Pannonian Sea. In fact, if you dig out the soil, you’ll see it has the same structure as the rocks in Piran on the Slovenian coast. It contains sand, stone, and marl. The many seashells in the vineyard give the wine its minerality, which is this wine’s most stark characteristic.
How did the wine’s name come about? Samo has named his special wines after the stars. “Aldebaran is the brightest star in the Taurus zodiac sign. It represents the bull, so if you’re born in May, Aldebaran is certainly the perfect drink for you.”
Food pairing: Bled Posmodulja (pork pate, horseradish caviar, beetroot foam)
Loona: An Exotic Wine Reminiscent of an Istanbul Bazaar
“This is the first time I made Cabernet Sauvignon in this way, so I had to give this child a special name. As I was drinking and smelling the wine, I became inspired.
I could pinpoint what comes to my mind when enjoying the wine: my former girlfriend, Hedil, who was a refugee from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. And I remembered one particular evening when she invited me over for dinner. As I entered her apartment, I smelt the same smell that was in my glass, so exotic, the smell of southern fruit like maracuja, very heavy and spicy, like walking through a bazaar in Istanbul. If I would have named it Hedil, I’d be divorced! 😃 So I had to look for a different name.”
“If I’d have named it Hedil, I’d be divorced!”SAMO KUPJLEN, Manager & Owner of Kupljen Wine Estate
We Christians have crosses, while Muslims have the moon. So if you’re in Egypt, and you get ill, the red half-moon will save you, not the red cross. Therefore, I named it Loona.”
Food pairing: Dried porcini mushroom soup with royal chanterelles, bacon, and buckwheat gruel
Passion: A Pinot Noir Made from Love & Devotion
Kupljen Wine Estate has been producing Pinot Noir the longest in the Jeruzalem – Svetinje region, their first Pinot Noir dating back to 1982. This grape variety is the most challenging to work with, it either breaks or makes a winemaker, so you can tell whether a winemaker is successful or just lucky with the weather.
Because of all the suffering and devotion required to make a good Pinot Noir, Samo’s father named it ‘Passion’ with the intended meaning of suffering. “I wouldn’t completely agree with my father,” says Samo. “But I can accept the name as long as there are two sides to the coin. It’s like life before and after marriage. Before marriage, there’s passion, while after there’s suffering 😃”
“It’s like life before and after marriage. Before marriage, there’s passion, while after there’s suffering.”
Food pairing: Warm starter of smoked duck ragout comprising corn žganci with duck crackling and root veggies.
Red Star Magnum: A Silky Smooth Wine
This delicious cuvée, a blend of Merlot and Pinot Noir, came right out of Kupljen’s wine bank. When deciding which wines to bring to the Hotel Triglav dinner, this was Samo’s line of thought: “A great man is one who says to another man: ‘You are greater’”.
This Red Star Magnum was made by Samo’s father, who passed away in 2015. “Just think about how old you were in 2003 (17 years ago), then think about how you were climbing stairs back then. You were running up. But today, you’re probably walking up. What I want to say, with respect to the old man, is that I’m so happy this bottle is so good now after 17 years.”
“I’m so happy this bottle is so good now after 17 years.”SAMO KUPJLEN, Manager & Owner of Kupljen Wine Estate
It’s also double in size (standard bottles are 750ml, while is a 1.5 litre bottle) but has a cork of equal size. This means the amount of air that goes into the bottle is the same, but the amount of wine is double. Therefore, wine in magnum bottles matures much slower, giving it that silky smooth quality.”
This is indeed a beautiful wine that has aged wonderfully and feels so silky and smooth in the mouth and throat. The Pinot Noir really comes through strongly and nicely, smelling of strawberries. I fell completely in love with this wine, and really hope I’ll get the chance to try it again. But I do need to be quick about it, as they’ve only got around 200 to 300 bottles left, and I’m sure they won’t be around for much longer!
Food pairing: Nežka’s Roast Beef, served with cottage cheese rolls (štruklji) filled with dry tepke pears, and a bone marrow sauce with Carniolan sausage.
Sky (Selection): A Sweet Riesling
“When you’re 16 or 18 and your boyfriend takes you out for a drink to impress you, he probably buys you a sweet liqueur like amaretto, or a sweet wine. You instantly love him. As you grow older, you develop a taste for drier wines. You get your first job, you can afford high-class wines, so you drink white matured wines, first from large wine barrels, and then as you make more money, wines aged in smaller barrels.
At 35, you get your first raise, and you start to drink reds. First light red wines, which as you go into your 50s get bigger and heavier. At the end of your 50s you say ‘I don’t give a fuck, it’s what I like that counts’. So you start to drink whites again, lighter ones.”
At 65 plus, you remember your youth: ‘Oh that first wine when my boyfriend took me out, it was so good!’ And then, when nobody’s looking, you start to drink semi-dry wines, and the older you get the better it tastes. Towards the end of your life, you redevelop that taste for sweet wines such as semi-dry or sweet Riesling.”
Remember what I said today and keep me in mind for the next 30 to 40 years. Look at a baby’s hand, and compare it with that of a 70-year-old, they’re the same, wrinkled.”
Food pairing: Chocolate and orange slice with a pear crisp, accompanied by dried fruits ice cream on a honey biscuit (pictured below).
Gin, Gin, I Smell Slovenian Gin!
Hotel Triglav Bled is planning another event in June, this time with a GIN theme. I’ll be sharing updates about the gin event here on my FOOD & WINE EVENTS page, and also via my social media channels Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.