The traditional cuisine of the mountain regions is a favourite of those who love cheese and dairy products. In lower-lying areas, you can try spicier food, cabbage specialities, goose, lokše (pancakes made of potato dough) or trdelník (traditional sweet pastry baked on a rotating pole over an open fire).
High-quality Slovak wines have been appreciated by many experts and have received some of the highest awards at prestigious world competitions such as the Concours mondial de Bruxelles or the Vinalies internationales de Paris.
In the past, the basic components of the Slovak diet included milk, potatoes and cabbage. Combining these components, tasty meals were prepared (for example cabbage dumplings called strapačky, etc.). The milk was drunk fresh or sour and the dairy products, such as buttermilk, cottage cheese, cream, bryndza (salted sheep's cheese) and various other sorts of sheep's cheese, were very popular too.
Today, favourite dairy products include braided string cheese, steamed cheese, smoked cheese and bryndza. You can buy them in almost every grocery, although the products delivered directly from producers in the submontane region of Liptov taste the best.
The typical Slovak national dish is called bryndzové halušky (bryndza dumplings) with fried bacon. The dumplings are made of potato dough and mixed with a special sort of sheep's cheese – bryndza. This dish is best enjoyed in a typical Slovak koliba restaurant or in a salaš (a kind of sheep farm). Fried bacon chopped in tiny pieces is added at the end to the finished dish, and sour milk is the ideal beverage to accompany it. To taste the very best bryndzové halušky, the place to be is the World Championships in the Cooking and Eating of Sheep's Cheese Dumplings in Terchová.
Traditional homemade dishes include meals prepared from potatoes, such as zemiakové placky (potato pancakes fried in oil) or lokše, from various sorts of sheep's cheese and cabbage. A good Slovak dinner consists of a soup – kapustnica (made of sour cabbage), garlic soup (sometimes served in a bread loaf), bean soup, and beef or chicken consommé.
Traditional Slovak desserts include pastries from risen dough filled with jam, poppy seeds, curd or nuts. A delicious Skalický trdelník comes from the Western Slovakia region. It is a sweet pastry in the shape of a roll with a hole inside. When drinking wine or beer, salted pastries are favoured, e. g. kapustník (cabbage pastry) or pagáč (crackling scone made from pork greaves or potatoes).
Gastronomy in the surroundings of Bratislava is very rich. Apart from traditional Slovak cuisine, it is also influenced by Hungarian and Austrian cuisines. So in Bratislava, you can enjoy schnitzel, goulash, but also fish or game.
Several typical Slovak food products have been granted a trademark. These include various sorts of cheese, such as Slovenská bryndza, parenica, oštiepok, Oravské korbáčiky or Klenovský syrovec, but also the popular Skalický trdelník pastry. You will certainly enjoy the delicacies labelled as 'Guaranteed Traditional Specialities', such as Bratislavské rožky (rolls filled with nuts or poppy seeds), Spišské párky (a kind of sausage) or Liptovská saláma (a sort of salami).
The autumn goose feast, which is a famous gastronomic event, has brought fame mainly to the village of Slovenský Grob situated close to Bratislava. The traditional village pig slaughter is also worth mentioning. Moreover, tasty products (hash-and-crumbs sausages, brawn, and aspic) from pork are served in many restaurants.
Today, Slovak cuisine is adapting to new trends. Chefs now prepare the traditional Slovak specialities in a different way. They know how to 'lighten' them up and give them a new, attractive look. In addition to the many restaurants, you can familiarise yourself with Slovak gastronomy during gourmet events such as the Slovak Food Festival (held in May in Bratislava) or the Gurmán Fest (held in June in Bratislava).
Domestic soft drinks, such as Vinea and Kofola, but also a wide choice of local fine quality table and mineral waters, often with beneficial effects on health, now compete with global brands of soft drinks.
A special Slovak spirit is called borovička, which is distilled from juniper berries. Spirits distilled from fruits are very popular too. When you visit mountain chalets and cottages, ask for a 'horec', which is a spirit flavoured with extract of gentian root. Slovaks also like liqueurs produced from medicinal herbs and forest fruit.
Apart from spirits, beer is also very popular. Slovak beers are of high quality, comparable to top world brands. You can try the authentic taste of various brands of unfiltered beers in mini-breweries.
Moreover, high-quality varietal wines are produced in Slovakia where the vine-growing tradition dates back to the Roman era. These unique wines are a must for any gourmet visiting Slovakia. There are six viticultural areas and eight wine routes in the country. Along these routes, you can taste award-winning Slovak wines – light white, rosé or red.
Pride of place is given to the remarkable sweet wine from the Tokaj area, which is designated 'the king of wines – the wine of kings'. The world-famous viticultural area of Tokaj is located in the southeast of the country. Frankovka modrá of Rača (made from the Blaufränkisch variety of grape) is the most famous wine produced in the Little Carpathians area, and was the favourite beverage of the Habsburg ruler, Maria Theresa. During the coronation celebration (held in June in Bratislava), this wine usually flows directly from the fountain in the centre of Bratislava.
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