Bratislava: Beer, Bryndzové halušky, Bacon

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Bratislava, Slovakia is an pretty adorable capital city on the Danube that is sometimes overlooked by another big town down the river (Vienna), which is just about an hour away.

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On a nice fall day, you can stroll the streets of the old city…

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…and gaze up at the beautiful facades in the old town.

Apparently though, quite a lot of people apparently like to travel over for a night out with a significant number of these:

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Zlatý Bažant = Golden pheasant (note the bird on the red circle at the top)

So, in the one evening that I spent in Bratislava, over the course of a few aforementioned beers:

  • On Easter Monday, boys throw girls in the (COLD) river or a bathtub.
  • On Christmas, Slovaks will often have fish. This fish (a carp, probably) is usually kept in the house, alive, in the days leading up to the holiday.
  • Many Slovaks are proud of their wine — but will likely defer to a Czech beer
  • That 10% on the beer can does NOT mean 10% alcohol. It actually means 10% of the ingredients used to make it were fermentable. I’ve seen it denoted as 10º or 12º in the Czech Republic as well.

After a jolly evening out on the town, I dragged myself out of bed closer to lunch than to breakfast and made my way into town, in search of… anything, really. I wandered into a restaurant and ordered what happened to considered a national dish:

Bryndzové halušky, topped with bacon, of course:

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Breaking down the dishBryndzové describes the sheep’s cheese, bryndza, which is added to the halušky, which are potato dumplings that remind me of Hungarian nokedli and reminiscent of German knöpfle.

Bryndza cheese is proudly Slovakian, although you can find variants of it in the Ukraine and Poland, among other places. It’s a soft, fresh rennet-curdled cheese made from sheep’s milk, which reminds me a bit of a sheepy ricotta. The taste starts out with a pretty mild and builds up that typical tanginess and saltiness in sheep’s cheese. That combined with the potato noodles makes for a comforting, filling meal.

If you can’t get enough of it, apparently there is an entire festival dedicated to the dish every year in Turecká. There’s usually an eating competition as well, if you prefer to enjoy large amounts of it in very small amounts of time.

If you only have limited time in Bratislava, I recommend trying this dish (along with some Slovak wine) for a hearty, local lunch or dinner.

If you’re curious, I had the above dish for a very reasonable price in the middle of the old city, while sitting in the sunshine at Pivnice u Kozla. The menus were nicely in English and in German, and though it is perhaps a bit touristy, I still found the food and atmosphere lovely and can recommend it. I enjoyed sitting outside and people watching whilst having my halušky!

PIVNICE U KOZLA
Panská 27
811 01 Bratislava
open from 11-midnight

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