Cheese and dumplings in Bratislava

Our weekends have lately been made up of various end-of-summer excursions. Although we have eaten far more than is good for us, cheese hasn’t been much of a feature; the exception is Bryndzové Halušky, a national dish of Slovakia.

Bratislava sits on the Danube, resting in between its larger neighbour cities of Budapest and Vienna.  If you happen to be heading to Slovakia’s capital, it’s worth trying this dish. A hefty dish to eat on your own, it involves crispy bacon cubes (or alternatively fried fat cubes) balanced neatly onto top of a substantial body of soft sheeps cheese (bryndza) and fingernail size potato dumplings (Halušky). Sleep-inducing it may be when combined with an afternoon beer, but that seems a perfectly good use of a holiday.

Although it is probably available in other places, it seems to appear most frequently on the menus of many of the ‘traditional food’ restaurants that populate the old town and the sides of the castle. We tried a few places, and a good one was Prasna Basta. My favourite dish was Bravčová panenka na paprike v zemiakovej placke (Pork tenderloin with paprika in potato pancake). The light wasn’t great, so I don’t have a photo, but it was gooey, spiced pork, rolled into the pancake and the plate was clean without even trying. Slightly less successful was the starter, Nakladaný encián (translated as Pickled camembert style cheese), which doesn’t really match the translation. It’s fine as a block of soft cheese with lots of pickles but not quite as great as it sounded.

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