In Slovakia, a historically agrarian society, food is fuel. Traditional Slovak cuisine provided high-energy, low-cost, and recipe quick-prep sustenance to peasants, herders, and laborers. Slovak food, therefore, leans heavily toward potatoes and wheat (dough, bread), cabbage and onions, apples and plums, dairy (milk and cheese), and poultry and pork.
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Typical Slovak dishes are simple, filling, comforting, and homey—and they pair well with beer.
For example, the Slovak national dish, bryndzové halušky, is potato-dough gnocchi smothered in salty sheep bryndza cheese, and topped with smoked bacon bits.
With Slovakia’s territory located in the heart of Europe and the lands historically ruled by outside powers, traditional Slovak cuisine is heavily influenced by Hungarian, Austrian, and Czech cuisines, with some Turkish influences. Of course, the greatest influence is American by way of the potato.
Moreover, there are quite a few regional variations to the traditional dishes, and some regions developed their own dishes not found elsewhere. From the mountains in the north to the plains in the south, Slovak cooks traditionally used efficient produce from their gardens and fields and products from animals they raised or tended to. Goose is popular in Western Slovakia, Hungarian dishes along the border with that country, and sheep milk specialties in the mountainous Northeast.
As for eating habits, Slovaks eat three main meals every day, with desiata (a ten o’clock elevenses) and olovrant (afternoon snack) sometimes squeezed in between, particularly for children.
Bread is the foundation of breakfast, served with butter and jam or honey, and more and more frequently with meat products like ham and salami. Fried or boiled eggs sometimes accompany the meal as well. In recent decades, a growing number of health-conscious Slovaks add fruits and vegetables, and substitute the gluten and fat-heavy stuff with cereal like muesli and yogurt.
Lunch is traditionally the main meal, eaten at noon, with soup and the main course (some main courses are sweet dishes, see below). With accelerating lifestyles, Slovak lunches have shrunk, and dinner, traditionally eaten at 6:00 p.m., has gained in importance.
Despite the limited variety of traditional ingredients, Slovak dishes provide quite a range of flavors. This should become all the more obvious from our compendium of Slovak food.
In addition to our own descriptions of Slovak cuisine, we asked our fellow travel bloggers to share the best dish they had sampled on their travels in Slovakia (Lindsay, as the non-Slovak half of Where Is Your Toothbrush?, added her own favorites). What we received pleasantly surprised us both in terms of variety and how much the travelers enjoyed Slovak cuisine.
With that, we are proud to present 34 traditional dishes of Slovakia that will make you crave Slovak food.
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Traditional Slovak food: Soups
Soup in Slovakia is beautiful.
Traditionally, soups in Slovakia were standalone meals. Eaten with bread, soups like goulash can satiate on their own.
Over the years, Slovak soups have thinned out, with vegetable soups and broth-based soups gaining popularity.
And though Slovaks eat less and less soup, the dish remains the most quintessential of meals: almost every lunch or dinner in Slovakia begins with soup.
Slovaks think it’s strange if you don’t have soup prior to every meal. One way to identify a foreigner is that they don’t have soup as a first course.
Take clear chicken soup with homemade noodles, a Sunday lunch classic. What would be a gourmet soup at a high-end bistro is the most down-to-earth basic dish in Slovakia.
Soup is also part of old traditions: for example at weddings the newlyweds eat soup from the same plate to symbolize their unity.
Slovaks love soups, we live on soups, we eat some pretty much every day. There is always a pot of soup in the house.
Otília Golis, Slovak Homemade Cakes
Beware: If you come from a culture where soup is a meal in itself, as in the United States, you have to learn how to not fill up on soup in Slovakia, lest you offend your hosts or leave your restaurant meal unfinished.
Particularly hearty soups, like kapustnica (sauerkraut soup) or fazuľová polievka (bean soup), can constitute a meal on their own, so fill your plate with moderation.
In addition to the aforementioned, these traditional soups are popular in Slovakia:
- cesnačka (garlic soup)
- chicken noodle soup
- demikát (bryndza soup)
- lentil soup
- sour mushroom soup
- tomato soup
Kapustnica is the most traditional and common Slovak soup. It’s the ultimate comfort food, made with sauerkraut, potatoes, dried mushrooms, onions, and sausage and other smoked meat.
No other national(ish) dish elicits as much passion as kapustnica. Every Slovak region or town has its own variation; every Slovak cook makes it slightly differently, swearing theirs is the best version.
To Slovaks, the Christmas holiday connotes a lot of things—Baby Jesus, the tree, presents, snow (if you’re lucky), watching old movies with family—but what really makes it is the Christmas Eve dinner. And, as the first course, kapustnica brings the family together for the celebration.
You can have kapustnica any time of the year, but Christmas is when you must.
by Siya Zarrabi, Hopscotch the Globe
I’m about to scoop into a traditional soup called kapustnica. First, let me point out that I’m dining with a mayor of a town near Slovak Paradise National Park. She brought me to a local restaurant to get a taste of Slovakian history.
Let me give you the scoop on the soup: This is a cabbage soup brewed to succulent perfection, typically mixed with onions, dried mushrooms, sauerkraut, slices of sausage, and sour cream on top. I had the added bonus of having mine served in a bowl made of fresh bread.
Imagine the smell of standing in a bakery and cracking open a pot of amazing soup. Particles of allspice, nutmeg, garlic, paprika, smoked sausage and baked bread hit your palate at once.
This is a simple dish perfected over centuries. Many other countries have variations of cabbage soup, but they don’t compare to kapustnica, holding a spot in Slovakian cuisine across the country.
I’m not that big into soups, but this is one that I ordered repeatedly during my travels in Slovakia. The final spoonful of broth only meant the second meal was about to begin, and it looked vivid with flavour. The inside of my bread bowl had been absorbing the savour, while still remaining crunchy on the outside. It was like crackers and dip mixed into one delicious bite.
Slovak recipe for kapustnica
by I ♥ SVK, American Robotnik
- 1.5 qt sauerkraut. Home-made rather than store-bought (canned or bottled) sauekraut is best, as it’ll be more flavorful.
- 8 oz crimini mushrooms
- 3 lbs Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 lb or 4 links smoked pork sausage
- 3/4 large white onion
- fine flour
- Spices: ground smoked paprika, black-and-white peppercorn mix (black-only is fine, too) wrapped in a cheese cloth pouch, 6 medium-size bay leaves, 1 tbsp caraway seeds, salt to taste
Boil sauerkraut in 3.5 quarts / liters of water in a big pot and cook on low for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, sauté onions and mushrooms, then add them, sausage, and spices except paprika to the big pot. Cook everything on low for 20 minutes.
In a separate pan, fry flour in oil until light brown, add paprika, fry some more for a total of 20 minutes until the rue is creamy. Add rue to the soup and bring to boil again. Let simmer for 80 minutes.
Bring potatoes to a boil and add them to the soup. Let simmer for 10 minutes and turn off.
Fazuľová polievka (Bean soup)
by Lindsay Sauvé, Where Is Your Toothbrush?
The first time I heard about fazuľová polievka was when my Slovak language school classmate Csaba searched for the best one to have in Bratislava, searching for one similar to his Slovak grandmother’s, of which he had fond memories. He finally found one in a dive-y pub near the dorm where we students were staying. He raved about it so much, I knew I had to try it, especially because I didn’t recall having had any at Peter’s parents’.
When I finally sampled the soup, I understood Csaba’s obsession. The soup is creamy, filled with butter-soft brown beans that melt in your mouth. It’s cooked with a hunk of smoked meat that flakes off into the soup and lends it a salty, smoky flavor.
Though Slovaks insist on having an entrée course to follow soup, fazuľová polievka is a standalone meal in a bowl if you have it with crusty bread and butter. It’s comfort in a bowl, and a perfect accompaniment to pint of cold lager in a dark pub or a mountain chalet.
A staple of backyard picnics, camping trips, and town fairs, goulash soup is a traditional Slovak dish of Hungarian origin.
Based on potatoes and beef chunks, and eaten with wheat or rye bread, goulash is a whopper of a soup.
While you can make it in your kitchen, the best variations are made outdoors, in a large kettle or cauldron over open fire.
As with kapustnica, every Slovak cook believes his is the best goulash (the soup is particularly popular with men). Goulash cookoffs are held all over the country to find the best local goulash.
Traditional Slovak recipe for goulash
by Lubos Brieda (SVK/USA), SlovakCooking.com
- 1.5 lbs beef
- 1.5 lbs potatoes
- 1 onion
- 1 garlic clove
- beef bullion
- 1/2 green pepper
- 1 tomato
- spices: ground paprika and black pepper, caraway seeds
Chop the beef into cubes, discarding as much tendon tissue as possible, and brown it in a large pot with butter.
Add diced onion, then the spices and a mashed-up clove of garlic.
Add water, cover and let simmer on low for about 2 hours, until the beef softens. Optionally, make broth from the bullion to thin the soup as needed.
Peel and cube the potatoes, and add them to the soup. Add a sliced pepper and diced tomato.
Simmer until the potatoes soften.
Impossible to translate, prívarok is a vegetable or legume soupy stew thickened with flour. Sour cream, corn starch, or tomato paste can also be added for taste.
A hearty Slovakian dish, prívarok is most often made from beans, cabbage, cauliflower, lentils, peas, potatoes, spinach or winter/butternut squash, and accompanied with meat or fried eggs.
Some variations, particularly those made with less popular vegetables like squash, often constitute a bane of Slovak children’s dinnertime.
Recipe for squash prívarok
- 1 winter/butternut squash
- 100 ml milk
- 1-2 tbsp sugar
- 1-2 tbsp fine flour
- 250 ml whipping cream
- spices: dill, ground black pepper, salt to taste
Peel the squash, halven it, scoop the seeds out, and grate it roughly.
Mix the grated squash with salt and pepper and add it to a light rue, made with with oil and sugar. Cover, and let simmer. Add water, if needed.
Mix flour in milk and add to the pot to thicken the contents. Cook for a few minutes and add whipping cream.
Bring to a boil and add dill.
Serve with cooked diced potatoes and fried egg. Add sausage or smoked meat for additional protein.
Slovak food: Entrées
Following soup as the second, main course at lunch or dinner is typically a hearty dish featuring potatoes and meat or cheese.
In entrées, Slovak cuisine shows its fatty colors, with many dishes using lard as the base and meat (chicken, pork, beef, and sometimes venison, rabbit, lamb, or goose) featuring prominently.
Potatoes are a staple, either in a boiled diced/mashed form as a side or made into halušky (gnocchi), mixed with bryndza, cabbage, or tvaroh (curd cheese).
Most Slovak main-course dishes also include onions as a base, and wheat or rye bread accompanies many
dishes as well.
It is no coincidence that many of the traditional Slovak dishes travel bloggers contributed feature bryndza, a salty sheep cheese included on European Union’s Protected Geographic Indication list (along with Skalický trdelník, and parenica and oštiepok cheeses, see below). Bryndza centers the Slovak national dish, bryndzové halušky, and aside from its use in cooking, it makes for a tasty, tangy spread.
Another category of Slovak entrées are doughy múčnik, which derives from the word for flour, múka. Múčnik dishes are basically flour-based desserts served in a portion large enough to be an entreé. Some consider pirohy (see below) a múčnik.
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Bryndzové halušky (Bryndza sheep cheese dumplings)
by Lindsay Sauvé
To be honest, bryndzové halušky isn’t much to look at. But when you consider its individual components—potato dumplings, tangy creamy sheep cheese, and crisp smoky bacon bits, what’s not to love?
Overwhelmed by information on my first trip to Slovakia, I don’t even remember my first bryndzové halušky. Later, on my many visits to Peter’s country, I fell in love with Slovakia’s national dish.
It’s basically perfect comfort food, best consumed after some hard work, such as hiking, biking, or plowing a field, and washed down with a pint of cold pilsner.
I’ve had it homemade, in restaurants, in cities, in villages, and in the mountains. It doesn’t matter: Slovaks know how to make this dish and make it well.
Recipe for bryndzové halušky
by Otília Golis (SVK), Otilia’s Slovak Kitchen: A Collection of Recipes
- 1 cup flour
- 1 egg
- 1 potato
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 oz bryndza OR sheep feta mashed with 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 5-7 slices of thick bacon
- salt to taste
Finely grate the potato into a bowl, keeping the juice. Add flour, egg, and salt, and stir with a wooden spoon. Add water and stir until all the lumps are smoothed out. If the dough is too runny, add flour; if too thick, add water.
In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add salt. Transfer the potato dough into the boiling water by cutting off small chunks with a spoon or using a spaetzle maker. Gently boil all halušky for 7 or 8 minutes, until they all float to the top.
Meanwhile, fry the bacon and dice it into cubes.
Strain the halušky and mix with bryndza. Sprinkle the bacon on top and pour the rendered bacon fat all over. Salt to taste and serve immediately.
Pirohy would likely share the title of the Slovak national dish with bryndzové halušky were it not more complicated to make.
Flattened potato dough is carved into circles, dabbed with a variety of fillings, closed into shape, boiled, and served smothered in butter with a variety of optional toppings.
As for the pirohy filling, every Slovak has their favorite. Bryndza is the most traditional; potatoes, cabbage, and tvaroh (curd cheese) are further savory options. Jam is my childhood favorite.
Nowadays, health-conscious Slovaks use buckwheat flour to make the dough for pirohy.
Bryndzové pirohy (Bryndzasheep cheese pierogi)
by Miriam Risager, Adventurous Miriam
The absolute best dish I had in Slovakia was bryndzové pirohy (sheep cheese pierogy). It’s one of the national dishes of Slovakia and it’s de-lish.
Now, this heavy Slovakian meal consists of potato dumplings (like gnocchi), filled with sheep cheese and topped with sour cream, fried onion, spring onion, and crispy bacon.
You can get cheese dumplings just about anywhere in Slovakia, but I had it in Košice, a lovely town in the eastern part of the country.
Give it a try, you won’t regret it.
Vyprážaný syr (Deep-fried cheese)
If there’s an unofficial Slovak national dish, it’s deep-fried cheese.
A thick slab of Edam or Ementhal cheese that’s breaded and deep fried, the dish is ubiquitous around the country.
In restaurants, canteenas, and cafeterias around Slovakia, you’ll see it served with potatoes or, more often, French fries, a dab of tartar sauce for dipping, and sliced vegetables as a garnish.
Generations of Slovak students survived college on deep-fried cheese.
Throughout the 1990s, deep-fried cheese was often the only vegetarian dish on restaurant menus. For a short period back then, street vendors sold deep-fried cheese in a hamburger or kaiser rolls as “cheeseburger.”
Classic Slovak recipe for vyprážaný syr
- 300–350 g Edam cheese
- 3 eggs
- fine flour
- sliced tomatoes, cucumber, and bell peppers
Slice the cheese into 1–1.5 cm slabs.
Put flour, whisked eggs, and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Coat both sides of each cheese slab with flour, whisked eggs, and breadcrumbs, then again in egg and breadcrumbs to prevent the cheese from oozing through during frying.
While the potatoes cook, fry the cheese in a pan filled with hot oil, 20–30 seconds per side, or deep fryer. Soak away excess fat with a paper towel.
Serve with French fries or boiled potatoes, and with a tomato, cucumber, and pepper garnish.
Other Slovak main dishes
Vegetarian food in Slovakia
Traditional Slovak cuisine can be challenging for vegetarians. Few traditional dishes outside the potato dough-based ones described above appear on Slovak menus (and even some of those are often traditionally made with lard or sprinkled with bacon bits).
Luckily, in recent decades the growing number of vegetarians have swayed the cuisine’s balance toward healthier fare.
Grenadírsky pochod (Grenadier march)
Quite common around Central Europe, grenadír probably originated in military kitchens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a cheap, efficient, and plentiful way to feed the troops.
The dish is a mixture of boiled potatoes and flat, square pasta layered over sautéd onions and seasoned with paprika.
Most Slovaks remember eating grenadír at school, where it remains a staple.
Ryžový nákyp (Sweet rice cake)
This school cafeteria, dessert-as-main-course staple, valued and beloved for its quick prep and low cost, has become a true retro dish.
“Ryžák” is built around rice cooked in milk, which is baked with egg cream, canned fruit or compote (apples, plums, cherries), and dried fruit like raisins, and covered with egg-white “snow.”
Flour-based dishes that would be desserts anywhere else but in Slovakia are a main course.
Beloved by children and nostalgic to hikers in the mountains, sweet dough dishes show the more tender, (grand)motherly side of Slovakia’s traditional cuisine.
Buchty na pare / Parené buchty (Steamed sweet dumplings)
Ask a Slovak about buchty na pare and they’ll regal you with stories from their childhood, when their mother or grandmother (or both) made the dish a lot—but not often enough.
Fluffy steamed buns filled with jam (homemade plum jam is the best), coated with sweetened butter and sprinkled with cocoa powder or finely diced walnuts or crushed poppy seed…need we go on?
Other significant múčnik dishes
- lievance (small, flapjack-like pancakes served with jam)
- palacinky (crepes served with various sweet and savory fillings)
- slivkové gule (plum-filled dumplings)
- šúľance (rolled potato dough with poppy seed)
- dukátové buchtičky (small square baked buns with vanilla sauce, the sickly-sweet scourge of school cafeterias
- žemľovka (bread pudding with apples)
Slovaks place a lot of culinary stock in meat. Traditionally, meat was expensive and consumed on special occasions like pig stickings (the annual slaughter of the house pig), celebrations, or Sundays. The Slovak cuisine’s doughy focus originates in the high cost of meat.
As the country developed, meat became a more integral part of the cuisine to the point where traditional meatless dishes feel like poor people’s food.
On the flipside, Slovaks value rich red meat and smoked meat, with corresponding health outcomes.
Vyprážaný rezeň (Fried schnitzel)
Schnitzel may have originated in Vienna, Austria (the Slovak version of it, anyway) but, like so many dishes inherited from the Empire period, it has become so entwined with the Slovak culinary culture it’s practically a Slovak dish.
Served in restaurants as a standalone dish with potato salad, rezeň is a slice of lean, boneless pork (the word derives from the word for cut), tenderized into thin submission, breaded, and fried.
Variations on the schnitzel include
- Čiernohorský rezeň (Montenegrin schnitzel) – made with potato batter instead of deep-fried breading
- Bačovský rezeň (Shepherd schnitzel) – layers of bacon and smoked cheese are added on top of the meat slice before covering it in potato dough batter
Cigánska pečienka (Gypsy roast)
Popular at fairs and markets, particularly around May Day and Christmas, Gypsy roast is a sandwich centered around a slice of lean pork, marinated in milk and garlic (some add mustard), and fried.
Because it’s served in a bun or a roll, some Slovaks jokingly call it the Slovak burger.
Plnená paprika (Stuffed peppers)
Pepper is another New Continent import that took hold across the Hungarian lands, making its way to Slovak cuisine. A popular dish, plnená paprika is peppers stuffed with a mixture of ground beef and rice and cooked in tomato sauce. Served with knedle (sliced steamed dumplings), potatoes, or rice.
Francúzske zemiaky (French potatoes)
French potatoes is the Slovak version of the tartiflette, popularized, for unknown reasons, during socialism. The gratin-like dish is baked with cooked slices of the Slovak staple tuber, sausage, and hard-boiled eggs layered in a pan and smothered in a mixture of whisked eggs and sour or whipping cream, with cheese optionally sprinkled on top at the end.
A favorite of campfire picnics, živánska adds a romantic element to Slovak cuisine. Pork chunks, potato slices, sausage, bacon, and onion chunks are rolled in aluminum foil, sometimes on a skewer, and grilled over open fire. Expert cooks make it in hot embers.
The Slovak rendition of ham-and-eggs, the dish is quite self-explanatory. It’s a hearty go-to for every bachelor. My father used to make hemendex for himself when he came home late from work.
Segedínsky guláš (Szeged goulash)
Another Hungarian import, as the name reveals, this version of goulash revolves around pork shoulder chunks and sauerkraut heavily seasoned with ground paprika and thickened with sour cream. Served with knedle.
Mäsové guľky (Meatballs)
by Toccara & Sam, Forget Someday
When it comes to food in Slovakia, the locals sure do enjoy hearty entrées. Like most traditional Slovak dishes, even their meatballs cannot be made without potatoes. Mäsové guľky is a Slovak-style meatball dish made with minced meat enclosed in potato dough, served over steamed cabbage, and topped with roasted onion and spring onion.
I first tried this scrumptious entrée at The Flagship Restaurant in Old Town Bratislava. Locals and tourists alike dine at this cozy establishment when seeking out traditional Slovak food and drink in a truly authentic atmosphere.
This dish, among the many others that I tried throughout my time in Slovakia, was among my favorites. It definitely left me satisfied…and full!
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Slovak cuisine: Salads
Salad in Slovakia is traditionally a small side, served to blunt the heaviness of the main course. Diced tomato or sliced cucumber salad are the most typical. Hearty salads, like potato or tuna, also feature prominently on the Christmas and students’ tables, respectively.
More recently, Slovaks have grown to like salad as a standalone dish. Šopský šalát (Shopska AKA Bulgarian salad), a mixture of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, and crumbled white cheese (sirene), is particularly popular in restaurants.
In a nod to traditional Slovak cuisine, many salads nowadays feature eggs and meat like ham or chicken.
Recipe for cream cucumber salad
by Naomi Hužovičová (CAN), Almost Bananas
- 500 g cucumbers
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vinegar
- 1/3–1/2 cup whipping cream, sour cream, buttermilk, or kefir
- optional: garlic, fresh dill
Slice refrigerated cucumbers very thinly, for example with a mandoline slicer. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix.
The cucumbers will release a fair amount of water, thinning out the cream.
Slovak cuisine: Snacks and sides
What cuisine doesn’t have delicious snacks and sides? We’ve previously covered Malaysian snacks, and Slovak snacks aren’t that far behind.
Similar to entrées, cheese and potatoes rule in this category of Slovak food as well. It’s quite amazing what Slovak cuisine can do with so few ingredients.
It goes without saying, that Slovakian beer complements these typical Slovak dishes best.
When Slovaks say “sausage,” they typically mean smoked pork sausage made at pig stickings. Served with bread, mustard, smoked pork sausage is a meat lover’s delight.
Also common, in many regional variations, is jaternica (blood sausage), which, too, is best homemade.
Cheese tops the hierarchy of Slovak specialties, originating among the sheep and cow herders of old.
The most traditional and typical are sheep cheeses. The reigning champion among Slovakian sheep cheeses: bryndza. Used in a variety of traditional dishes, bryndza is a natural, white, salty, spreadable cheese made from non-pasteurized, fermented sheep milk, sometimes with additions of cow milk.
Liptovská bryndza is made fresh in the Liptov region when sheep are producing milk. Summer bryndza can contain cow milk and is leaner. Winter bryndza is fattier, combining stored sheep cheese with fresh cow cheese additions.
Bryndza is so integral and original to the Slovak cuisine that Slovakia is the only country in the world that can make it (it is on European Union’s Protected Geographic Indication list).
Aside from use in Slovak national dishes (see above), bryndza can also be consumed raw or in spreads, e.g. with paprika and onions.
Bryndza contains a wealth of probiotic bacteria, proteins, minerals, and B-complex vitamins. The Slovak national cheese is both delicious and healthy (at least as far as cheeses go)!
Other sheep cheeses
Oštiepok is a traditional dark-yellow shepherd cheese made in a decorated mold and marinated in salty water.
Coming in smoked and non-smoked versions (I recommend the former), parenica is a flat strip of non-ripening cheese rolled into a tight coil. Parenica, too, has the EU’s Protected Geographic Indication.
Literally “little whip,” korbáčik is a soft sheep cheese rolled into spaghetti-like noodles and woven into braids that resemble switches.
Cheeses made from cow milk play a distant second-fiddle to sheep cheeses in Slovakia. But due to the lower price of cow milk and greater ease of production, cow cheeses have been gaining in prominence.
Popular Slovak cow cheeses include:
- tvaroh (curd cheese) – a traditional soft cheese that’s fermented, cooked, and strained
- niva – a Slovak version of the French roquefort, aged with blue mold
- encián / plesnivec – Slovak versions of the French camembert
Parenica and oštiepok (traditional Slovak cheeses)
by Andrea Anastakis, Rear View Mirror
I’ve known people who would cross the world for cheese. I’m sure you’re thinking of the pull of exquisite French and Italian cheeses, but would you believe I travelled for Slovakian cheese? Ok, I didn’t quite cross the world but I hopped in my car and drove 1,300 km from Como in Italy to the far eastern Slovakian town of Košice.
I was there to sample food from some of Slovakia’s best chefs at the Košice Food Festival. I got to try modern takes on the traditional Slovakian food halušky, grilled local fish, and poppy seed ice cream.
But where was the cheese?
The cheese I discovered later at the Olive Tree restaurant. A delicious selection of Slovakian cheeses accompanied by a little fruit. Not all Slovakian cheeses are smoked but two of the most famous are. Both parenica and oštiepok are smoked. Both are so good they are protected by the European Union.
Oštiepok originates in the Tatra Mountains and is a cheese often found at the Christmas markets in Central Europe. Parenica is quite different, being made of strips and rolled into a spiral shape.
Slovakia has many great cheeses and intense, creamy butter, too—a surprisingly great destination for dairy products.
Often sold at markets and fairs as street food, lokše is a heavy, fatty flatbread made from potato dough, filled with savory fillings like liver pate, cracklings, lard, garlic, or sheep cheese, or with sweet fillings like ground poppy seeds or jam.
In the fall, during hunting season, lokše accompany duck or goose dishes and are often made using the fat of those two birds.
Recipe for lokše
by Naomi Hužovičová (CAN), Almost Bananas
- 1 kg / 2.2 lbs white potatoes
- 300 g / 2 1/2 cups fine or all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
Boil potatoes whole with skins until soft. Let cool, peel, and grate finely.
Mix in flour and salt, and knead on a flour-covered board into not-too-sticky dough.
Roll the dough into a log about 60 cm / 2 feet long, cut it into 15 pieces, about 5 cm / 2 inches wide, and roll them with a pin into round pancake shapes.
Warm a frying pan over medium heat with no oil, and transfer the flatbread pieces to it. When one side starts to bubble, flip it (you can pop large air pockets with a fork or knife). Each side should take about 2–2.5 minutes on each side.
When finished, place the lokše on a plate and brush one or both sides with melted lard or duck fat or, if you want them served sweet, melted butter. Serve warm with fillings of choice.
Pagáče are rich biscuits made from leavened dough with ground cracklings (oškvarky, hence the dish is often also called (o)škvarkové pagáče), i.e. rendered lard or pork rinds.
Not to be confused with pogača or pogácsa, a type of bread made across Central and Southeastern Europe, pagáče can also be made with potatoes, cheese, or cabbage.
Pagáče goes well with sour milk and Sunday afternoon old movies.