Carpathian Cake

During our aforementioned grocery run to Slovakia (see the entry about that here), we purchased this:

Carpathian Cake, also called Karpatka Kuchen (Polish name) and Karpatenkuchen (German name)

Carpathian Cake, also called Karpatka Kuchen and Karpatenkuchen

I normally don’t use box mixes for cakes, but I’d never heard of this type of cake before and the name “Carpathian” sounded dark and mysterious. Plus, the added ingredients were butter, eggs, milk, and more butter — can’t go wrong there.

I don't know if the name of the cake is derived from its region of origin, or the fact that it looks like a snowy mountain range. Maybe both?

A snowy mountain range on my tabletop

I don’t know whether the name of the cake is derived from its region of origin, or the fact that it looks like a snowy mountain range. Perhaps both?

Crème-filled deliciousness

Crème-filled deliciousness

Regardless, this cake was delicious! It tasted vaguely reminiscent of a Boston crème pie less the chocolate, or perhaps a plain/fruit-less Napoleon. I loved this cake and so did my husband. My daughter was convinced this was her birthday cake (it wasn’t), so she sang “Happy Birthday” to herself over and over as she inhaled her slice. Needless to say, this cake was a winner and I will research a recipe so that I can make it again.

Grocery Run… to Slovakia

Yesterday we found ourselves in the unfortunate situation of being out of yogurt and beer. Unfortunate in that it was an Austrian national holiday, and all the stores are closed on holidays and Sundays. The tiny groceries found at the gas stations and train stations are open, as is the large Billa at the airport, but this is no fun when there is a better alternative: driving to Slovakia!

We spent the day at the Carnuntum archeological park, walking around Roman ruins and reconstructed Roman villas. This park is very close to the Slovak border, so once we were Roman-ed out we crossed the border and headed to the closest Tesco. I am glad that we did because we were treated to delights such as this:

Self-serve bakery cart

Self-serve bakery cart

How can one resist such a sight, especially when everything in the cart was less than 1 Euro a piece? We came home with these:

Orechovnik and Makovnik Kolacky

Orechovnik and Makovnik Kolacky

These are kolacky or kolache, a sweet bread filled with fruit or nuts. The ones I chose were made with a lightly sweetened yeast bread, as opposed to pastry, and were filled with poppyseed (makovnik; top) and walnut (orechovnik; bottom). I thought they were great, but my husband thought they were so-so and my kids would not touch them, so I am not going to be making these.

We got a couple more gems, in addition to the yogurt and beer that led to the visit in the first place:

Am I the only one who thinks "Cowboy sausage" just doesn't sound right?

Am I the only one who thinks “Cowboy sausage” just doesn’t sound right?

Dancing Goat Beer! (That's how I will always think of it at any rate.)

Dancing Goat Beer! (That’s how I will always think of it at any rate.)

 

 

 

Staroslovenská krčma

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

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

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.

Cera Mel

During our aforementioned trip to Bratislava, we came across a honey shop called Cera Mel. We initially went in because there was a sign in the window advertising a 1 Euro cup of honey lemonade. It was a hot day and the promise of a refreshing lemonade was too tempting to pass up.

Upon entry, we were greeted by a table with many jars of honey, a cup of sticks, and a sign inviting us to try the honey. Long story short, I ended up leaving the store with two jars of honey (ginger honey and mountain honey) and a strong desire to return with a sturdy shopping bag to procure more.

I also left with a bag of these:

Honiglebkuchen

Honiglebkuchen

I’ll take it as the universe’s way of telling me that I really need to start learning how to make lebkuchen, and soon.

Bratislavské rožky

My friends and I did a day trip to Bratislava, and we spent a majority of our time there either eating or buying Slovakian food to bring home and eat later. One could say that was my bad influence…

Our explorations led us to Obchod v múzeu. We were initially attracted to the shop because its sign claimed it was the oldest shop in the city. The shop, however, is better described as one third Slovak handicrafts and one third Slovak pastries and wine for sale, and one third museum. The museum portion exhibited a large number of old school cash registers and commercial products, and looked like this:

A blast from the past

A blast from the past

The owners must have sensed our true nature because on our way out the door, one of them held up a crescent shaped pastry and asked if we’ve ever heard of Bratislavské rožky. He said it is a very traditional and popular Slovak pastry that can be filled with either walnuts or poppyseed. You don’t have to tell me twice to try a new type of pastry, so I dutifully bought a bag of the poppyseed ones to try at home.

Bratislavské rožky

Bratislavské rožky

I am glad that we did as they were utterly delicious. I thought that they were almost exactly like the Waldviertler mohnzelten that I made for my friends’ visit (see the recipe for those here), but alas they are not. The recipe for the Slovak version uses buttermilk in the dough, and not potatoes. The rest of the recipe looked somewhat similar. I might try to make these one day in the future, though they’re not high on my “to try” list.