Croatian Cheese Paški Sir Wins at 2010 World Cheese Awards

Paški SirAs most of you know I like to champion superb local produce from across Eastern Europe, especially the likes of Croatia where I have indulged in many a fabulous meal.  As you can imagine, I was thus excited to hear that Croatia enjoyed not one but several spectacular wins at the 2010 World Cheese Awards in Birmingham at the BBC Good Food Show. Paški Sir made it all the way through the 2636 international cheeses to the final 14 best cheeses of the world!

Sirana Gligora entered Paški Sir in the ‘sheep cheese cheese‘ category as well as ‘new cheese on the market‘ and ‘small producers cheese‘.  Sirana Gligora came top of each class, winning no less than three Super Gold Medals and three places in the best 30 cheeses of the world, an outstanding result and a great testament to the cheese makers at Sirana Gligora!

When you consider the new Sirana Gligora diary was only opened in January 2010 it is even more remarkable that such an outstanding cheese can be produced in its first year of operation.  In fact the cheese that was entered was eight months old having been produced in March 2010, just two months after Sirana Gligora started production.  No doubt expectations will be even higher at next years show.

Congratulations to everyone on the island of Pag in Croatia for their efforts!

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Take a Short Break in Medieval Slovenia this New Year

Obviously, Slovenia is one of my favourite countries in which to holiday so I was excited to hear that for 2011, specialist tour operator, Just Slovenia, is offering short breaks over New Year to the pretty, medieval town of Radovljica, where the fourth generation of the Štiherle family welcomes guests to the charming Kunstelj inn for traditional celebrations and gourmet dining.

With its classic architecture, pavement cafes, healthy sub-alpine climate, several interesting museums, plus numerous footpaths, Radovljica has much to offer visitors, including spectacular views of the majestic Julian Alps, Mount Triglav and the River Sava running through the valley below. It is also just 10 minutes’ drive from picturesque Bled, where pletna boat rides across the stunning lake, kremsnita cream cakes and the 17th century castle are among the attractions.

On New Year’s Eve, visitors to the historic Kunstelj inn, where guests have been welcomed since 1873, will enjoy a delicious five-course gourmet dinner. Then it’s off for a drink or two and some live music and singing in the local bars, or maybe a short drive to Bled where food stalls, music and a firework display will help to see in 2011 in style.

Based on two people departing on 30 December for three nights, the price of £488 per person includes return flights from Stansted to Ljubljana, car hire, bed & breakfast, a welcome drink, three gourmet meals including dinner on New Year’s Eve and a traditional Slovene meal on New Year’s Day.

For further information, visit or telephone 01373 814230

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London’s Russian Film Festival 2010

This October The Russian Film Festival returns to London and as anticipated this season will  packed with a great programme showcasing the latest award-winning Russian films. The most highly commended recently produced Russian films to hit the big screen will be presented at the Apollo Piccadilly.  The best bit? Each film will be introduced by the creators themselves.

The main programme features this year’s ten best Russian films, all acclaimed at major international and Russian film festivals including:  the controversial ‘One War’ by Vera Glagoleva, Svetlana Proscurina’s latest thought provoking film ‘The Truce’, the applauded ‘Another Sky’, by Dmitry Mamulya, ‘Gastarbeiter’ by Yusup Razykov and ‘Reverse Motion’ by Andrey Stempkovsky.

While the documentary programme encapsulates the last decade in Russia, offering a window into the real Russia, with screenings of the ten finest Russian documentary films, one for each year. This definitive selection is presented by the great director and documentary maker, Vitaly Mansky, president of Russia’s ArtDocFest.

In addition to the main programme and documentaries, the Russian Film Festival is showing a comprehensive and diverse programme of animation ready to enchant adults and children alike with its charm and imagination. Among the feature length animations, the festival is proud to include the captivating ‘Little Tragedies’, based on Alexander Pushkin’s verses and master animator Garri Bardin’s ‘The Ugly Duckling’, a children’s stop-motion animated film with Orwellian overtones deemed so politically subversive it was banned from showing on Russian television.

This year’s film festival will showcase a retrospective of the great actor and director Sergei Bondarchuk’s films and the works of Leo Tolstoy on film, as well as a retrospective of masters of Soviet and Russian animation.

The Russian Film Festival will be held at the Apollo Piccadilly from the 29th October to 7 November 2010. All films are shown with English subtitles. The Russian Film Festival is organised with the support of the Russian Embassy. Check out the Academia Rossica Russian Film Festival 2010 Facebook page HERE!

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14th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

The 14th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival will takes place from 19th November to 5th December 2010.  This is a particularly unique event combining a feature film festival with the sub-festivals of animated films, student films and children/youth films. The festival aims to present Estonian audiences a comprehensive selection of world cinema in all its diversity with the emphasis on European films, providing a friendly atmosphere for interaction between the audience, Estonian filmmakers and their colleagues from abroad.  Alongside this festival there will be a number of others taking place in the Baltics this winter. Check out the programme below…

The Programme:

Black Nights Film Festival main programme (24 November – 5 December) – International competition programme EurAsia and Tridens Baltic feature film competition.

Student and Short Film Festival Sleepwalkers (20 – 24 November) – International competition of student films from previous 2 years.

Animation Film Festival Animated Dreams (19 – 23 November) – Competition of short animations from previous 2 years.

Children and Youth Film Festival Just Film (19 – 28 November) – Competition of children’s films and youth films.

Nokia Mobile Phone Film Festival MOFF (1 September – 3 December) – Competition of short films made with mobile phones.

Black Market Industry Screenings (1-3 December) – regional cinema and audiovisual market focusing on the new films from the neighbouring regions and smaller film industry countries.

During the festival Baltic Event film and co-production market (1- 4 December) takes place, which screens the newest feature films from the Baltic countries along with a co-production market open for projects from the Baltics, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Scandinavia.

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Petrovac Jazz Festival in Montenegro

Mention Montenegro to someone on the street and their likely response will involve a comment about James Bond and Daniel Craig.  However, in the music world, Petrovac in Montenegro’s Budva municipality is renowned for its Jazz Fest which attracts local and international artists alike.  Concerts, workshops and participation events attract a lively crowd year after year.  This year the festival will take place between the 31st of August and the 3rd of September.  Acts will include: Eyot, Gerd Schuller “Key Trio”, Aga Zaryan Trio, Cirkusz-KA, Balkan Jazz Collective, Michaela Rabitsch & Robert Pawlik and Filip Gavranovic Duo.

To find out more information visit

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Pilsner Fest 2010 – A Feast of Pilsner, Gastronomy & Music

Pilsner FestOn the 27th and 28th of August the Pilsner Fest will take place in the premises of the Pilsner Urquell  brewery in the Czech Republic.  The festival promises to be a feast of beers, gastronomy and music.

Music lovers have been promised an incredible two-days featuring 25 bands offering the widest variety of musical genres and performing on two stages directly on the grounds of the Pilsner brewery including: J.A.R., Support Lesbiens, Mig 21 and Tři sestry (Three Sisters). The latter has even prepared an entirely new song for Pilsner Fest and will play it live for the very first time in Pilsen. A unique sort of musical carousel has also been prepared to introduce each band. As the band on stage winds down its performance, it will play something from the repertoire of the band following them up. Visitors will therefore be treated to an incredibly diverse combination of musical styles: Tři sestry playing something famous from Xindl X, Visací Zámek (Padlock) trying a bit of hip-hop ala Kapitán Láska (The Captain of Love), or Jirka Macháček gritting his teeth and launching into a song by Sunshine.

There will be plenty of unique beer specials to keep your tastebuds alert, while traditional snacks will be available to soak up any excess alcohol!  The best bit? Entry to the festival is FREE of charge.

To find out more visit

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The Cannstatt Beer Festival in Stuttgart

From the 24th of September to the 10th of October, Stuttgart will attract millions of enthusiastic visitors to the 165th Cannstatt Beer Festival where candy floss, grilled sausages, chicken and most of all, beer will be enjoyed by all.  Originally founded in the year 1818 as a celebration of thanksgiving, the festival is now firmly established as one of the biggest and best of its kind in the world.


Following the official opening ceremony with the traditional tapping of the first barrel of beer by the Mayor of Stuttgart, Dr. Wolfgang Schuster, the action starts on the Wasen fairground; the fairground rides begin to move and the beer tents open for business. The big wheel, the roller coaster, the chairoplanes, the “Wild Mouse” switchback.  With more than 300 providers and new attractions each year plenty of variety is guaranteed. In the beer tents, which hold up to 5000 guests, you can be sure of a fabulous atmosphere where celebrations continue late into the night. The beer flows more or less non-stop, and Swabian specialities such as Kässpätzle (cheesy noodles), Maultaschen (stuffed pasta), Rostbraten (roast) or Schupfnudeln (potato noodles) with sauerkraut make sure no-one need go hungry.  The thought of all that food and beer is making me salivate as we speak. I think this is my must-take trip of the year!

For more information about Stuttgart visit

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50 Years On – The Evolution of Hamburg Sound

On the 17th of August 1960 The Beatles played their very first concert at Hamburg‘s music club Indra. During the following two and a half years, with 281 gigs played, they laid the foundation for their career. Exactly 50 years later, the all-star band Bambi consisting of members of Maplewood, Nada Surf, Moby and Cat Power will bring pop history back to life by re-creating exactly the same songs the Beatles performed on that very day.

Beatles fans from all over the world are jumping at the chance to experience this anniversary concert and after that explore what else Hamburg has to offer. From The Beatles to Hamburg’s new fresh pop music sound there are countless cutting-edge music clubs lining the neon bright Reeperbahn, which has become a renowned entertainment boulevard over the last 20 years.

Beatlemania Museum Hamburg

Today, the Kaiserkeller, where The Beatles played after their guest slot at the Indra, serves as a club, while the Große Freiheit 36 is one of the main stages of the Reeperbahn Festival. Germany’s biggest club festival invites about 170 international newcomers to Germany’s most creative neighbourhood, St. Pauli, for three nights of fantastic music.

A festival ticket entitles one to attend the weekly Beatles tour with musician Stefanie Hempel, who tells anecdotes from the Beatles era and sings Beatles songs.  There is also a the museum, Beatlemania, five storeys exclusively devoted to commemorating the Fab Four which must not be missed.

In the beginning of the Sixties, the band helped two more of Hamburg’s musical institutions to hit the big time. The Moondoo tempts with Black Music and House Tracks and the tiny but very creative Molotow at Spielbudenplatz 5 replaces the once legendary Star-Club, which in its first year saw The Beatles’ first single, Love Me Do, climb to number 17 of the British charts.

In the ’60s, Hamburg made The Beatles stars and now the city invites everybody to re-discover this magnificent legacy. The Beatles themselves never tired of stressing the importance of their apprenticeship years in the music metropolis Hamburg with John Lennon confessing, “I was born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg.”

For more information on the concerts visit Bambi Kino: August 17. -20., 2010, Indra Club (Große Freiheit 64) , 20:00 h,

To find out more about the Beatlemania Museum go to

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Nights in Ljubljana Old Town

Nights in Ljubljana Old Town is a mini festival closing the summer in Ljubljana Old Town festival and symbolically concluding Ljubljana’s summer event season.  Taking place between 24th and 28th August, it traditionally features outdoor concerts accompanied by a diverse mixture of other cultural and entertainment events taking place in the streets and squares of the old part of the city centre.  Entrance is free so if you find yourself in Ljubljana at the end of August, make sure you take full advantage of the festivities.

Ljubljana Slovenia

For more information about Ljubljana and the city’s events go to

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Tallinn August DanceFestival Schedule

The August DanceFestival is a contemporary performing art festival introducing new generation of performing arts artists from the World to the Baltic region and serves as a meeting point and common ground for artists. Since 2004 every second year the festival has been devoted to emerging young artist and their work.

The first August DanceFestival was held in 1999 in Tallinn, but it is a continuation of summer festival idea started in 1996 in Pärnu, Estonia. The festival will take place mainly at the Kanuti Gildi SAAL, but other venues are used as well. Kanuti Gildi SAAL is Estonian’s first production and event house devoted exclusively to the genre of contemporary dance and art and situated in the centre of Tallinn Old Town.

Check out the line-up below:

14.08 /SAT./ 20:00 Kanuti Gildi SAAL
HOOMAN SHARIFI /NOR/: “Lingering of an earlier event”

16.08 /MON./ 17:00 Freedom Square (site-specific / free)
MIHKEL ERNITS /EST/: “Bodysnatchers”

16.08 /MON./ 20:00 Theatre NO99

17.08 /MON./ 20:00 Theatre NO99
P.A.R.T.S. /BEL/: personal work

19.08 /THU./ 20:00 Kanuti Gildi SAAL
LIIS ILULA /EST/ “älis mnimedemaal”
ELE VISKUS /EST/ “Taidlusrühm Rähn”
HENRY HÜTT /EST/ “The Reader”

21.08 /SAT./ 17:00 Lindakivi Cultural Centre Square (site-specific / free)
MIHKEL ERNITS /EST/: “Bodysnatchers”

23.08 /MON./ 20:00 Kanuti Gildi SAAL

24.08 /TUE./ 18:00 Tammsaare Park (site-specific / free)

25.08 /WED./ 18:00 Cinema Sõprus Square (site-specific / free)

25.08 /WED./ 20:00 Von Krahl Theatre
VAVA STEFANESCU /ROM/: “Quartet for a microphone”

26.08 /THU./ 20:00 Von Krahl Theatre
VAVA STEFANESCU /ROM/: “Quartet for a microphone”

27.08 /FRI./ 20:00 Kanuti Gildi SAAL

28.08 /SAT./ 20:00 Kanuti Gildi SAAL

For more information visit

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