Join me in this special food and beer pairing experience at Restaurant 1906 in Bled where we’ll indulge in a five-course dinner and drink fantastic craft beers by Pelicon Brewery.
You’ve surely heard of Bled Cream Cake (Kremšnita), the famous dessert that’s symbolic of traditional Bled cuisine. Well, despite the fact that it’s tremendously popular among locals and tourists, I can’t say it’s my favourite. Probably because it mostly consists of custard and cream, and I’ve never been too fond of cream-based desserts.
Bled Cream Cake isn’t the reason for my most recent visit to Bled. Restaurant 1906—located within the beautiful boutique Hotel Triglav Bled—recently hosted a food and beer pairing featuring craft beers by Pelicon Brewery from Vipava Valley.
I was glad to be returning to Restaurant 1906 for the occasion, after first having dined there last November. That savoury-sweet macaron, chestnut soup with truffles, aged pork belly in bone marrow sauce… How could I forget? And their ‘tepka’ (yellow pear) ice cream with caramelised apples and tarragon cream (pictured below). Heavenly. I would only allow the aftertaste from that dinner to be replaced by my next dinner there.
Let’s begin our food and beer experience in which we’ll have a five-course dinner paired with six craft beers!
Food & Beer Evening at Restaurant 1906, Hotel Triglav Bled
We get to Hotel Triglav Bled a few minutes before dinner, deposit our bags in our room, and return to the reception area. Sonja Primožič, executive manager at the hotel, gives us a warm welcome and directs us towards the terrace just outside Restaurant 1906, where the food and beer pairing event is about to take off.
Restaurant 1906 is a charming dining room overlooking Lake Bled where Slovenian food with a healthy dose of creativity and modernity is the specialty. With outstanding food and service, and highly positive reviews on Tripadvisor, it’s full to the brim during the high season, and slightly more peaceful during the winter. Hotel Triglav Bled is located at the less touristy end of the lake, so it’s bathed in peace and calm, and certainly feels more exclusive. Moreover, its restaurant is on the list of The Slovenia’s Top 10 Most Romantic Restaurants in Slovenia.
“Restaurant 1906 is a charming dining room overlooking Lake Bled where Slovenian food with a healthy dose of creativity and modernity is the specialty.”DENISE REJEC – WINE DINE SLOVENIA
During the winter months, between November and April, Restaurant 1906 organises a series of food and drink events. Tonight’s food and beer pairing is the second in the series, following the previous held in November on the occasion of St Martin’s (Martinovanje), featuring wines by Sutor from Vipava Valley. This year, for Valentine’s Day, they decided to hold a food and beer pairing rather than the usual dinner. And here we are, about to indulge in the delights of Slovenian food and craft beers.
Pelicon 1906: 6 Perfect Food & Beer Pairings
“How do you pair the beers with your food?” I ask Danijel, Restaurant 1906 F&B manager. “On the same principles of food and wine pairing. I do a blind tasting of the beers together with our chefs, after which we select the best dishes from among our menus.” Danijel points out that it took his team one month to devise the food menu to match the six beers we’ll be drinking this evening.
I now present to you six perfect food and craft beer couples. ❤️
Bled Posmodulja & Walter Wheat
Out on the terrace just outside Restaurant 1906, we come face to face with a tray of glasses filled with a drink of light yellow colour. The colour clearly states the beer is unfiltered. I take the welcome drink: Walter Wheat (5% alcohol), brewed using the Slovenian hop variety Styrian Fox. It’s got a fruity hop aroma, plus a light and refreshing taste that recalls cooling down with a drink on hot summer evenings.
Along with this beer, we eat another of Bled’s specialties other than the Bled Cream Cake: Bled Posmodulja, a traditional wheat bread made from an old and almost forgotten Slovenian recipe. The wheaty taste of the bread is a good match for the beer, a nice start to the food and beer pairing.
Sea Bass & Wheat Wine Revolution
Back from the terrace, we seat ourselves within the elegant dining room. Our cold starter, sea bass with Granny Smith apple and celery puree, is paired with the strong and malty Wheat Wine Revolution (11.5% alcohol). Quite a lot of alcohol for the start, but the beer is as soft as wine with very light bubbles, and a nice acidity that goes well with the green apple and fish.
The sea bass comes in the form of a cake, similar to a terrine, as part of a beautifully presented dish. Sea bass to one side, and to the other side a jar of green apple and celery puree with a fishtail sticking out of it (pictured below on the left). The citrusy fizz of the puree is a great complement to the fish.
Danijel tells me no part of the fish went unused during the cooking process. Some of it went towards making the fish mousse used to bind the fish cake. We can also see a lot of the fish on our plate. What’s with the tail? “The skin is obtained by putting the frozen fish in boiling water so that the skin falls off easily,” says Danijel. It’s then laid flat on a dish and baked in the oven at low temperature overnight.
Wheat Wine Revolution: The Result of a Fortunate Mistake
I must say that Wheat Wine Revolution is the most interesting beer I’ve had so far in my life. It’s the result of a fortunate mistake made during the making of a beer. Matej, the top man behind Pelicon Brewery, let me in on the details: “When they first made this type of beer in England they ended up with a beer that was so strong the yeast died due to alcohol content. So it didn’t produce CO2.” Well, it turns out they were happy with it anyhow, so thankfully we can still find this beer today under the term ‘barley wine’ or ‘wheat wine’.” It’s more like a still wine as it doesn’t have the bubbles nor the foam that’s typical of beer.
Pelicon has revolutionised this beer-making method. “We re-ferment the beer with Champagne yeast so it can easily go up to 15% or 16% alcohol to produce some CO2”, says Matej. “It’s the classic method of Champagne making, adding a bit of sugar so it ferments in the bottle.” Furthermore, Pelicon ages the beer in bourbon and rum barrels for one year to get that oak tannin. And the orange note and vanilla flavour that you can easily detect is due to the rum barrel. What a work of art!
Truffle Tortelloni & Relax
A truffle tortelloni topped with bacon lard foam is placed before me. Soon after, the waiter returns to pour parsley and chestnut soup into my bowl. An explosion of flavours occurs in my mouth. The truffle in the tortelloni and the bacon lard foam that comes with it bathing in the soothing taste and texture of the soup. A warm wave of relaxation takes over me.
Relax is the name of the beer we’re now having. It’s the lightest of Pelicon’s brews, containing only 2.8% alcohol. This allows the truffle taste of the tortelloni to emerge, while fitting so comfortingly with the warmth of the soup.
The beer is full flavour, not watery, not dry, and is made from fresh German hops called Relax. Matej comments that this hop variety has a low bitterness so lots of it can be added when producing the beer.
Pork Belly & Harvest Moon
Our warm starter is succulent pork belly on toasted French bread (brioche) paired with Harvest Moon (4% alcohol), a seasonal beer made once a year from freshly picked hops from Zalec, Lower Savinja Valley.
Matej makes us appreciate that it’s a great privilege to be living in a country that produces hop. He stresses that the fresh hops must be put into the beer the same day they’re picked. For this year’s Harvest Moon version, Pelicon used the traditional modern varieties Wolf and Cardinal that give traditional flavours that are not new age, not too fruity, but more herbal. This is a high-acid beer that pairs well with high-fat dishes.
Fun fact: Slovenia is one of the world’s largest hop producers. It harvests about 2 to 3% of the worldwide production of hops and more than 17 different varieties, the most popular being Aurora, Styrian or Savinjski golding, Celeia, and Bobek.
Porcini Sorbet (An Intermezzo)
As an intermezzo, we enjoy porcini clear soup sorbet with buckwheat crumble to neutralise the palate before going on to the following meat dish. The waiters point us to the raffle cards on our tables that had been soaked in beer, in keeping with the evening’s theme. So much attention to detail. I can see how much hard work and preparation has gone into this event.
“Number 26!” That’s my number! I win a black apron displaying the Hotel Triglav Bled Restavracija 1906 logo. All it needs is that extra bit of magic so I can wear it and cook some fabulous Restaurant 1906 dishes at home 🙂
Veal Knuckle & Black Aurora
Tempting slivers of veal knuckle are resting on a mini pancake, the fluffiness of the pancake gainfully soaking up the coffee sauce that surrounds it through its air pockets.
What makes these veal knuckle pieces so tender? “They’re cooked sous vide (under vacuum) together with Black Aurora beer at 45 degrees celsius for two days,” explains Danijel. Apparently, when you use beer in your cooking, the food can take on a rather bitter character, so it’s best to use the sous vide cooking method so as not to lose the juices. Since all the juices are retained, the bitterness from the beer does not increase.
Black Aurora is a dark chocolate-colored ale (6.2% alcohol), a perfect match for this main course with its coffee sauce, and a more-than-suitable ingredient for the honey and beer sauce in which the veal is cooked.
White Chocolate Mousse & Winter
Have you ever eaten beer ice cream? Here’s some on my dessert plate, along with a white chocolate mousse with tarragon, two pieces of lemon sponge, toffee sauce and toffee crumble. Two neatly composed portions of delicate sweetness are arranged on either side of the plate, connected by a stroke of blackberry gel. Yet another orgasmic dessert by Restaurant 1906.
And the beer? We’re pairing this fresh dessert with Winter, Pelicon’s holiday beer. When the team at Restaurant 1906 tried the Winter beer to find a food match for its spicy character, they came up with the third edition of their beer ice cream. I taste subtle flavours of stout, vanilla, cinnamon, something like sweet Christmas bread. All the flavours blend nicely to complement the Winter beer. They’ve also dropped some forest fruit onto the plate for some extra sweetness, and there’s this dark coffee sauce to complement the spices in the beer.
Winter (8.4% alcohol) is another of Pelicon’s seasonal beers that’s brewed once a year in time for the Christmas season. No year is the same for Winter, as the recipe varies every time, providing Pelicon beer fans with a festive surprise. Though you can always expect these mainstay ingredients: malted barley and winter spices.
And may I give you a suggestion? If you’ve got some leftover potica (traditional Slovenian nut roll that’s enjoyed as a dessert) that’s gone dry, don’t throw it away! Cheer it up by having it along with some Winter beer.
Edible Cigars with Crushed Tobacco
A surprise unfolds: A waitress goes around with a huge box of cigars. I’m not into cigars so I’m glad these ones are edible, and they come with a tantalising cream filling. Crushed tobacco leaves are in the cream. They’re almost invisible and I mistake them for chilli because of the tingling sensation they produce on my tongue.
Real Food Porn
Real food porn is something you can definitely get at Restaurant 1906. A paradise for lovers of food that inspires with its playful taste. The à la carte restaurant focuses on presenting its diners with dishes prepared using local ingredients, sourced from nearby producers.
One such example is their cold starter of trout that features on their daily menu. Head chef Jure Kordež and his team prepare this dish using trout from Zupan Fish Farm (Ribogojnica Zupan), located halfway between Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj.
Hotel Triglav Bled: Cosy Boutique Hotel Over Lake Bled & Bled Island
Since it was already dark by the time we’d sat down to dinner the last time we were here, we’d missed the view from the restaurant. I was elated to be able to appreciate it this time round over breakfast the morning after the dinner. Sitting in the corner of the bay window, I ate while looking out onto Lake Bled and Bled Island.
Summertime on the terrace would be lovely, though I hope to be back before that to attend the last two food and drink pairings for the season.
Up Next: Fine Slovenian Food, Wine & Gin
‘Dinner in Style 1906’ is the next event being held at Restaurant 1906. So mark March 7 in your diaries. Head chef Jure Kordež and his team will be taking some old Slovene early 20th century (Astro-Hungarian) recipes from the hotel owner’s great grandmother to produce dishes with a modern twist. A four-course menu will be paired with wines from the Kupljen Wine Estate.
The last event for this season will take place in April, and will feature a range of Slovene gins produced by various gin-makers.
A big thank you to Hotel Triglav Bled and Sonja Primožič for your kind invitation and warm hospitality. And a big applause for the food and beverage team, lead by master chef Jure Kordež and F&B manager Danijel Galjot.