As well as being known for its gorgeous lake, magical island and fairytale castle, the Slovenian town of Bled’s other claim to fame is its cream cakes. Be warned – do not read on an empty stomach…
The famous kremna rezina (also known as kremsnita) has been a staple part of the daily diet for both tourists and locals in Bled for over half a century. It consists of generous layers of vanilla custard and fresh cream, sandwiched between two crispy layers of puff pastry and covered with a dusting of icing sugar.
The cafe attached to Park Hotel claims to have made the first kremsnita in Bled back in 1953, and sold its 10 millionth slice in 2009, so I was looking forward to sampling my first one in its birthplace. However as we approached, there was a sign by the entrance that said: “Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties there will be no kremna rezina today”. (These technical difficulties went on for the duration of our stay, so we never did try the Park Hotel kremnsnita).
Instead we went next door to the Panorama restaurant with its outdoor terrace right on the lake shore, overlooking the castle. Although a restaurant, the staff are happy to serve you with just a cake and a drink, and after a couple of minutes the first of many cakes that week was delivered to my table.My slab was a good six square inches of heaven – a true Pavarotti-sized portion, but perhaps a bit too big as it stuffed me out completely, and put me off my dinner later that night. You are only given a fork – the first time kremnsnita eater might struggle to make much of a dent without making a mess (or asking for a knife). We left Panorama and went for a stroll around the lake to burn off some of the calories – the hill leading up to St. Martins church beneath the castle is ideal for a bit of gentle post-kremsnita exercise. The thought of a cake at Slaščičarna Šmon kept us going on our round-trip trek from Bled to Vintgar Gorge. Seeing the café’s sign of a bear eating an ice-cream, after walking non-stop for three hours was like seeing an oasis in a desert. The café may not have lake views, but it does have a nice outdoor terrace in the sun.
I thought I’d give the kremsnita another go. There weren’t too many left on display – Šmon is very popular with locals who come in at tea-time for a cake and a gossip. My kremsnita was smaller than the one at Panorama (a good thing), and marginally sweeter, crispier and tastier too.Kat was happy with her giant slice of apple strudel served with a big dollop of ice cream, and I must admit I was secretly jealous.
On our third and final visit to Šmon, well deserved after a long bike ride (honest), I went for a gibanica – a huge layered cake of some of my favourite puddings – chocolate, cheese, nuts and apple topped with poppy seeds.
The cafe is licensed, and as we soaked up the last of the October sunshine on the terrace, we considered staying for the evening with a bottle of wine (Šmon opens until 9pm).
After what should have been a healthy week of walking, cycling and swimming in the great outdoors, I came home a few pounds heavier thanks to those magical cakes of Bled.