Strangely enough, Indian summer in Slovakia is called Old Woman´s Summer. Maybe it is because in good years this month is so warm that even an old woman can stretch her bones in the shining sun. This is also a time for the end of the tennis season often celebrated by a variety of tennis tournaments. There are organized by big companies but also the smaller circles of friends who meet for a last time in the season. At one of these smaller family tournaments called The Wedding Cup, because it not only celebrates tennis but also the wedding anniversary of the couple who organizes it, festivities of the fall are as necessary as strawberries with cream at Wimbledon. Here we have the famous LOKŠE (pancakes) with goose liver and BURČIAK (fresh young wine). This would be fine if one foreign guest had not been so pleased by the fact that he could have as much goose liver as he wanted. He ate so much that soon he had descended from a gourmet’s heaven to a glutton’s hell. His stomach was so painfully full that he though he was going to die. And only escape he could find was to walk fast around the tennis courts. He survived, and from then on The Wedding Cup has featured not only tennis but a speed-walking tournament.
In October, you cannot escape these delicacies in most restaurants and at village wine-festivals around Bratislava. But the true capitals of goose liver and pancakes from now till the following spring is in nearby villages – Chorvátsky Grob and Slovenský Grob.
You may also have a bite and sip in Bratislava at Zrkadlový háj hippodrome as horse racing is at its peak during this season.
For a trip we recommend Červený Kameň, a magnificent castle, only about 20 kilometers East of the capitol city Bratislava. You may choose the Malokarpatská vínna cesta (Malokarpatská wine route) where at almost every kilometer (for example, suburban Rača and outlying villages and cities like Jur pri Bratislave, Pezinok and Modra) you may taste a wine in cellars of different wine-makers. In Modra, for example, you will find the newly renovated but more than 400-year-old wine cellar run by the well-known wine-making family Hacaj. Nice private winery is running in village Budmerice by Štefan Lukačovič, Str. Jána Rášu 422.
If you have a time to go further into the country, be sure not to miss an unique „hobbit-land“ in the village of Brhlovce near the city of Levice. The only difference between Tolkein’s fantasy and this place in Slovakia is that in these rock dwellings were inhabited in the past by real people and are utilized until the present day by their descendants. Its exhibition was opened in 1992 as monument to preserve of folk architecture. It consists of a little „rock“ house from the end of the 19th century, a house from 1932 and a two-story dwelling cut directly into the rock. The interiors are furnished according to the function of the various rooms documenting domestic culture from the end of the 19th century to the present.
It is obvious that this „rock“ is not very hard. In fact soft „tuff“ is an ideal shelter not only for people but for another specialty of Slovakia – Tokaj wine. Yes, you read correctly. Tokaj wine is also produced in Slovakia on the south border with Hungary. Actually, there is a theory that this term originated from Slavic word „Stokaj“ marking the confluence of two important rivers of this region, Bodrog and Tisa. The first document about wine-making in this Slovak region was recorded during the Roman Empire, and the first Tokaj wines were produced here in 1560. Although the Slovak part is much smaller than the rest of the Tokaj region in Hungary, it produces not only good wine but also varieties that you may not find in Hungarian wineries. These are „Tokajský výber 2-putňový“, „Samorodé suché“, „Samorodé sladké“, „Lipovina“ and „Omšové“ (made the most natural way for an use in churches during the mass). Therefore, this „Vinum regnum, rex vinorum“ (Wine of kings, king of wines) you may test here in October, when the slopes of hills with vineyards are as colorful as the taste of the wine produced there.
By Gustáv Murín