Ćevapčići straight off the grill
The first time I had Ćevapčići I was in Sarajevo and I just assumed they are a Bosnian thing, or perhaps a Balkan thing. I was thus quite surprised by their popularity in Vienna: they can be found in street stands, pre-made in the grocery store, and in some restaurants. In fact, the picture in the header of this blog features Ćevapčići that we enjoyed at Schweizerhaus.
I purchased some of the aforementioned pre-made Ćevapčići at the grocery store and we grilled them this past weekend, which brought the subject to the front of my mind. I did a little research and discovered that Ćevapčići are considered Bosnia and Herzegovina’s national dish, but they are also popular throughout southeast Europe. More importantly, I found some recipes for them.
Ćevapčići with lescó and lángos
To recreate the above-pictured meal at home, check out my recipe for lescó, recipe for lángos, and stay tuned for a Ćevapčići recipe.
One more story about our day trip to Bratislava, and I have to say that I saved the best for last: what we ate while there! It was difficult to choose where we wanted to have lunch because all the restaurants boasted “traditional Slovak food” with pictures to make your mouth water. We settled on the Staroslovenská krčma because it had a large suit of armor in front and we like shiny things.
Deciding what to eat was a grueling ordeal because first, the menu was in seven languages. I know it sounds odd, but it was kind of difficult to consistently read the English description because my eyes kept jumping around all the languages. (I don’t think it’s because I am an illiterate freak because my friends said they had the same problem.) Second, there was also the problem of the aforementioned mouth-watering pictures. How do you choose just one meal?
As it turns out, I chose two meals. I thought I ordered a starter and main but no, it was two full meals. This was the first:
Diabolská topinka Želibor
Devil toast. This is a slice of bread covered with grilled vegetables (or possibly lecso), grilled pork, cheese, spicy peppers (hence “devil”), and some sort of spicy delicious gravy. I wish I knew exactly how to make this dish as it was one of the best things I’ve eaten in awhile (and I eat a lot). Maybe I will return to this in the fall, when I have more time to experiment.
Next up was:
Bryndzové Pirohy s kyslou smotánou, slániná
Sheep cheese-filled pierogi with sour cream and large chunks of crisp, delicious bacon on the side. The Austrians have a version of pierogi that they call “Kärntner Kasnudeln” that they serve with a butter sauce. It is absolutely delicious and thus pierogi were already on my “to learn” list, but this meal in Bratislava bumped them up higher in priority. These pierogi were filled with paprika-spiced sheep cheese and were soooo gooood. Experimentation will commence soon.
Roast chicken with lecsó
400 grams (14 oz) tomato
800 g (28 oz) green pepper
2 large onions
50 grams (1.8 oz) smoked bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon hot red pepper (ground)
1. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water, then peel and cut into wedges.
2. Wash the peppers, cut out the stem, and remove the veins and seeds. Cut into chunks about one inch thick.
3. Peel the onion and finely dice it.
4. Cut the bacon into small cubes or thin strips.
5. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, add the bacon, and fry over moderate heat. Add the onion and saute until it softens. Remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle the red pepper over the cooked onions, and add the tomatoes. Season with salt to taste.
6. Return the pan to the heat and boil uncovered for a few minutes. Add the green pepper and cook over moderate heat with the pot half covered until the peppers are soft. Add a dash more salt and serve warm.
When we visited Sopron, Hungary over the weekend, we had a fantastic lunch at Corvinus restaurant. My understanding is that the restaurant is named after the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus in honor of his stay at a building located on this site back in the mid-1400s. Enough history, though: let’s talk food.
Erős Pista and bread
After we ordered, we were greeted with a basket of bread and a pot of erős pista, a spicy chili pepper paste/spread. I first encountered this paste in Budapest and enjoyed it so much that I made a note of what it was called. At the time I thought it was for eggs since it was part of the breakfast buffet, but Saturday’s meal proved that it goes well with everything. I am definitely learning how to make this.
I ordered a dish whose name was translated to “barbecued gypsy skewers” on the menu. Intellectually I know that it meant barbecue skewers gypsy-style and not a skewer of barbecued gypsy, but I found the translation so amusing that I ordered the dish. I am glad that I did because it was delicious! It was grilled pork and ham with lecsó (a vegetable stew with tomato, onion, pepper, and lard) on top. Lecsó is another dish that I think would go well with most everything, and I am going to learn it as well.
Between our visit to the bakery and lunch, I got to try several new things that I now want to learn to make. We should visit little Hungarian towns and villages more often. Hmmm… I’ve heard rumors of a gypsy restaurant somewhere in the Hungarian countryside…