Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
This week, we find ourselves in the beautiful Eastern European country of Slovakia. It is a landlocked country and of the five countries it’s bordered by, the only one we’ve cooked from yet is Czech Republic (check that post out here). The capital is Bratislava which appears to be a charming old city. Like many other countries we’ve tackled so far, Slovakia has a diverse and striking landscape that ranges from mountain ranges to farmland to cityscapes. But what struck me most of all when researching this country was the castles. I mean– absolutely spectacular. Check out this awesome blog post with really thorough information about travelling in Slovakia as well as visually stunning images of the country:
The national dish of Slovakia is Bryndza Halusky– a dish made of potato dumplings (similar to gnocchi) with a creamy sheep’s cheese sauce that is topped with crumbled bacon. It sounds good when it’s typed out like that; but if I’m being honest, the idea of this dish scared me and I almost went with a safer option like goulas. The pictures I saw online looked like mush and we’ve done dumpling-esque recipes in this challenge so far and they haven’t been my favourites. But I’m really glad I didn’t go with the safer option and you’ll read why.
I went with this recipe from Halusky.co.uk as it appeared to be the most authentic, had the clearest instructions, and had a built-in alternative for the Bryndza (sheep’s cheese) which doesn’t appear to be readily available anywhere in Canada:
I started by making the dumplings, which was surprisingly easy. I thought this dough was going to be a huge mess and that they would just fall apart in the pot. But they didn’t, and this is where my hopes started to rise again. I really took my time and ensured that I watched the pot closely. Once they were done, I set them to one side in a dish while I prepped the other parts of the recipe.
I put the bacon on a baking sheet and popped it in the oven because it’s less messy and requires less attention than pan-frying. Then I prepped the cheese/cream mixture. I found the recipe to be a little dry so I poured in a splash of milk.
This dish was delicious. It’s such a comfort food and I can now understand why Slovakians love this so much. It’s creamy, warm, and hearty. The cheese is sharper than what you might find in a Mac n Cheese which is really nice, especially with the bacon. I could’ve eaten that cheese sauce as soup, but my arteries wouldn’t like that very much. My only mistake was not making the Halusky (the potato dumplings) smaller. Mine were a little large- about the size of a cherry- whereas after watching some YouTube videos I think they should’ve been closer to the size of blueberries. Either way, super tasty and satisfying and I wish I made more!
We watched these travel vlogs while we ate:
Happy eating and we’ll see you next week! Hint: we’re headed back to Africa!