7 Places to Have a Beer in Halifax

When it comes to Halifax, there are two things I know for sure: it’s one of my favorite cities to visit, and it’s got an excellent beer scene.  It doesn’t hurt that the city is incredibly walkable, so tracking down a variety of beers is as easy here—and often easier—than anywhere else.  Throw in mild summers and a harborfront that has everything you need for a nice day out, and you can’t go wrong with a visit (in the summer, or any time of year). There’s plenty to see and do (and eat), but for now let’s focus on the most important part: the beer.

Propeller

Propeller is the OG craft beer in Halifax, and they’re still going strong. Their pilsner is as good as it gets, their ESB is also tops, and their porter may have been the first Canadian craft beer I ever had.  They have a nice brewery/tasting room close enough to the waterfront to be a pleasant walk, or they make a solid stop on your way to the waterfront.  While they may not be the most impressive brewery on Halifax, they’ve been in the game for over 20 years now and are worth a stop. 2015 Gottingen Street

Good Robot

In addition to a comfortable tasting room with solid beer, Good Robot has an excellent outdoor area that hosts various events and concerts.  If you don’t want to spend all of your time downtown on the water, this is a great option to get back in the neighborhoods of Halifax and hang out at a fun brewery, drink some beers, and maybe see a show or a free movie. 2736 Robie Street

2 Crows

With a bright, modern space, and plenty of outdoor seating near downtown, you can’t go wrong at 2 Crows.  The beers tend towards IPA but are varied enough that your palette won’t be overloaded by hops.  The tasting pours are generous, as well, so you’ll be able to spend plenty of time getting acquainted with the offerings on tap.  These guys can also easily be found around town either on tap or in cans, but it’s always better right from the source. 1932 Brunswick Street

Stillwell

Hands down the best beer bar in Halifax—Stillwell knows what it’s doing.  Their taplist always features local breweries, and sometimes even some of their own beer.  If you don’t want to run all over the city but want to experience a cross-section of the best beer Halifax has to offer, this should be your main stop.  They also have a fantastic bottle list which includes a lot of hard-to-find beer that you probably won’t be able to get anywhere else in the city.  Be sure to be hungry when you go, because the food here is excellent as well. 1672 Barrington Street

Unfiltered

While Unfiltered is probably the least-accessible from downtown on this list, it’s probably also the best brewery in Halifax.  The name should be an indication of the kinds of beers they serve—they love hop-bomb IPAs—but is also a nod to the brewery’s general attitude, as evidenced by their website URL (unfuckingfiltered.com).  Don’t expect much grandeur from their stripmall location, but expect to drink a lot of excellent beer.  6041 North Street

Garrison

(You probably won’t run into all these awesome dogs while you’re there)

As a general rule of visiting Canada, I wouldn’t usually recommend drinking Garrison, but their seaport location is big and open and wonderful on a nice summer’s day, and the selection is varied enough to keep everyone happy.  I didn’t have any complains with the beer while we were there, which were all tasty and affordable.  A great spot to meet friends or spend a lazy afternoon having some drinks.  And plenty of bottles and cans to go, if you so choose.  1149 Marginal Road

Alexander Keith’s

Until recently, Keith’s (pronounced by the locals as “Keit’s”) has been a one-beer go-to for maritimers: their IPA (which can barely be classified as such) is the only beer that would come to mind if you said “I’ll have a Keit’s.” Now, however, they’ve started to dip their toes in the craft beer market with some impressive offerings.  The brewery, conveniently located in the middle of downtown, is a must to tour, and you might as well grab the original IPA despite the ominous tagline of “those who like it, like it a lot.” 1496 Lower Water Street

Bonus: Stubborn Goat Beer Garden

You’re not going to find any crazy original beers here, but being right on the water makes this place worth visiting if you’re in town during the warmer months.  Grab a beer, sit in the shade, and enjoy the people watching and the breeze off the harbor.  They have some lighter fare to snack on and are close to plenty of other spots to grab food if you want to make a day of it. 1599 Lower Water Street

Bonus 2: Bishop’s Cellar

Need to take some beer home with you? Bishop’s Cellar is the spot.  Located—you guessed it—right by the water, you’ll be able to find all the local beer you can handle in bottles and cans.  If you have the means to take beer with you when you leave Halifax, this is the place to get it. 1477 Lower Water Street

If you drink too much, there’s plenty of green space by the waterfront…

Six Places to Drink Beer in Brussels

We only had a weekend in Brussels; a quick stop on our way to the Tour de France with one goal and one goal only: drink as much beer as we could.  Nowhere in the world has better beer than Belgium, and Brussels is the place to go for the lion’s share of it.  And the people of Brussels are clearly proud of it, because it’s everywhere.  I hold Philadelphia up on a pretty high pedestal as far as beer selection and availability goes, but when we stopped into a small organic café for breakfast and they had a beer list that could rival any bar in Philly, I knew this was a special place for the beer drinker.

As you can imagine, it’s not hard to find beer in Brussels.  It’s not hard to find exceptional beer.  But you can’t go everywhere (our livers wouldn’t allow it), so here is a whittling down of our six favorite places to grab a beer in Brussels.

Affligem

Having outdoor seating on the pedestrian-only Boulevard Anspech makes for a wonderful night, especially when it’s low-70s and breezy.  We stopped here for our first beer(s) and couldn’t have been happier. Our server was very knowledgeable about the local beers and pointed us to a few local breweries we hadn’t heard of (which were unfortunately closed that weekend).  Beer highlight: their beer of the month was also Lindeman’s Faro, a beer we’d never tried but become a running theme throughout our vacation: a tart lambic brewed with brown sugar. Refreshingly sweet and tart. Boulevard Anspach 81

Delirium Café

Part of the Delirium Village cul de sac of eight bars, when I asked my friend if Delirium Café was super touristy or a place we should definitely check out, he just said, “Yes.” I would recommend going on an off-hour; our first attempt on a weekend night found the place overflowing with people.  But for good reason: the downstairs café has over 2,000 beers on offer (most by the bottle) with a massive magazine “menu” to browse. The café itself is decorated with branded beer trays from all kinds of breweries, and the stairs leading down are lined with old Delirium bottles.  Definitely a cool place to spend a few hours. Beer highlight: Delirium Red. While Delirum Tremens has become somewhat old hat, I could have had multiple glasses of this kriek (cherry) version. Impasse de la Fidélité 4

Au Bon Vieux Temps

Down a small alley off one of the main touristy pedestrian areas is this little bar, tucked in a back corner.  The inside is everything you’d want an old-world bar to be: stained glass windows, carved wood paneling, and plenty of mugs and trinkets that look like they’ve been there since the bar opened.  We grabbed a spot at the bar and ordered the highlight of the menu: Westvleteren 12, consistently rated one of the best beers in the world.  Our bartender apologized for only having two Westvleteren glasses for the four we’d ordered, so she gave them to the ladies.  Well worth the stop, even though we were drinking a 10% beer first thing in the morning. Impasse Saint-Nicolas 8/4

Moeder Lambic

There are two Moeder Lambic outposts in Brussels, but the newer on is closer to the downtown/Grand Place area and a little more accessible if you’re walking.  Like everywhere, it had a great beer list (and was where we had our first Cantillons of the trip—more on that later), along with some good-looking food.  We opted for meat and cheese boards, because we’re fancy, and drank our fill. Beer highlight: Tilquin Mure, a tart but refreshingly fruity gueuze brewed with blackberries. Place Fontainas 8

Poechenellekelder

While the name Poechenellekelder may be hard to say, the bar is not hard to find.  Right across the street from Manneken Pis, you can grab a drink and do some sight-seeing at the same time.  There is plenty of seating at this quirky bar, whether outside in their courtyard, inside, or upstairs.  The entire bar is filled with weird little dolls, trinkets, and photos to peruse while you drink some of the freshest Taras Boulba you’ll ever have. Beer highlight: a bottle of Cantillon Nath, a rhubard beer that none of us had ever heard of but all thoroughly enjoyed. Rue du Chêne 5

Cantillon

Finally: the cornerstone of our trip to Brussels.  Opened in 1900, Cantillon is one of the most sought-after breweries in the world and, for my money, the best. No one makes a better lambic, and we put them to the test by spending hours in their surprisingly modern tasting room.  We ended up splitting four bottles and some additional glasses before we went down to raid the small gift shop, and it was the highlight of our time in the city.  It’s a bit of a walk from the city center (about 2km) but well worth the trip.  Beer highlights: all of them.  Fou Foune (an apricot lambic), 2016 Lou Pepe Kriek, Vigneronne (brewed with muscat grapes and aged in oak barrels), 2015 Lou Pepe Framboise (raspberry), and Rosé de Gambrinus (another raspberry lambic). Rue Gheude 56

If you’re a fan of beer, it’s no secret that Brussels should be your Mecca.  And while a focused strategy will definitely improve the amount and quality of beer you will be able to sample, you could really walk into almost anywhere to find a top-shelf beer list.  But whether you go to these places or not, drink as much as you can (safely), and drink as local as you can.  And don’t miss Cantillon.

Six Places to Eat in Montreal

One of the great drawbacks—if you can call it that—of trying to see as much of the world as possible is that it doesn’t leave a lot of time for re-visiting any favorites:  I’m dying to go back to Vietnam; I want to give the Inca Trail another shot now that I’m a little more in shape; I want to eat more of Montreal. It’s also for this reason I try to make the most of a place when I am there, and I think in my limited time I’ve eaten pretty well in Montreal. This is just a small collection of a few standard places in the city, but no trip would be complete without at least trying some of these.

St. Viateur Bagel

Regardless of where you fall on the New York vs Montreal bagel argument, Montreal bagels are damned good and should not be missed.  There are plenty of popular places, but St. Viateur is one of the most popular—they even have a 24-hour storefront in case you need an everything bagel at 3am.  Be prepared for a line if you go on the weekend, but don’t skip it just because there’s a line.  Any wait is worth your time. 263 Rue Saint Viateur O, Montréal, QC H2V 1Y1, Canada

Schwatz’s Deli

Another stalwart of Montreal cuisine, this one serving up the ubiquitous Montreal smoked meat sandwich.  Not quite pastrami but just as good, the generality of “smoked meat” may be off-putting, but a trip to Montreal without having some is no trip to Montreal.  Schwartz’s another cramped little spot you will have to wait in a line for, but once again it is worth every second.  Sit down, have some pickles, and stuff your face with layers of supple smoked meat. 3895 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, QC H2W 1X9, Canada

La Banquise

If there is such thing as a perfect food, it may be poutine.  Quality French fries, delicious hunks of partially-melted squeaky cheese curds, and a special gravy all on one dish—I don’t know how you can go wrong.  And if you go to La Banquise, a 24-hour spot offering dozens of varieties of poutine, you absolutely can’t.  And while I can be somewhat of a poutine purist (I mean, what else could you possibly need), some of the combinations here are way too good to pass up. 994 Rue Rachel E, Montréal, QC H2J 2J3, Canada

Dieu du Ciel!

While this isn’t necessarily a food establishment, Dieu du Ciel! is one of Montreal’s best breweries.  As far as stouts go, Peche Mortel is a flagbearer of the style. The brewery has plenty of other great beers, though, and stopping in for as many as you can taste is highly recommended. The sample sizes make it easy to try a bunch, and should be taken advantage of. They do have food, though, in case you happen to take advantage of too many.

Au Pied de Cochon

If you have a problem with foie gras, do not eat here.  Au Pied de Cochon is a shrine to not only foie, but indulgence in general, as memorialized in the early Quebec episode of No Reservations. And while we didn’t eat the sheer amount of food Bourdain did, I still couldn’t get to sleep for hours after eating here due to the richness of the food.  We started with foie gras croquettes, followed by chicken nuggets with foie gras and a warm maple syrup dipping sauce.  I of course had to get the foie gras poutine, and then the special of that night: a pizza topped with arugula, cured ham from the Au Pied du Cochon sugar shack, house-made ricotta, black truffle, foie gras, and drizzled with maple syrup. And then add some maple bread pudding for dessert. Holy shit, what a decadent meal. Thankfully it was within walking distance of our AirBNB, because I needed some exercise afterwards. 536 Avenue Duluth E, Montréal, QC H2L 1A9, Canada

Joe Beef

Consistently ranked one of Canada’s best restaurants, it’s not hard to see why.  Joe Beef is tiny, but they pack a huge punch.  As LeeAnne said afterwards, “It’s been a long time since food has been so good I’ve burst out laughing.” You can’t go wrong here with their extensive chalkboard menu, and I would suggest doing what we did—we told our server that we just wanted six or seven courses of their best shit (those words exactly) and her eyes lit up.  My one requirement from the menu was the terrine as pot au pho, a terrine with pho spices topped with thinly-sliced tendon and herbs—it was incredible.  Also topping the list was was off-menu “pancake sandwich” of two fluffy pancakes with a fried egg, foie gras, maple syrup, and hollandaise. Despite how much I loved the over-the-topness of Pied de Cochon, Joe Beef was not only the best meal we had in Montreal, but the best we’ve had in all of Canada. 2491 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal, QC H3J 1N6, Canada

Montreal has a lot of great things to do—and if you’re a hockey fan, taking in a game at the Bell Centre should not be missed—but as a food town it ranks as highly as anywhere I’ve been. With its French influence and chefs that don’t hold back, though, be prepared to indulge. 

Cesky Krumlov: A Day in a Fairy Tale

When there’s so much to do in Prague, it may seem like taking a day trip to a small, out-of-the-way town is a waste of time—especially if you’re like most travelers and have limited time to spend in Czechia.  In my travels, though, I’ve almost always found the small towns to be the best times, and the most authentic times.  They haven’t been Americanized and they don’t cater to tourists as much.

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Being a popular day trip from Prague already, Cesky Krumlov is a little bit of both; it’s not going to attract the volume Prague does, but enough people make the effort that there are plenty of tourist shops and subpar restaurants.  If you stay the night, however, you’ll be rewarded: the day trippers don’t get in until after breakfast, and they leave right after dinner, so the town empties out and quiets down outside of these peak hours.

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It was during these off-peak hours, at the end of the day, sitting in the main square with a beer as dusk settled in, waiting for our later dinner reservation, that the magic of Cesky Krumlov started to engulf us.  Sitting on a bench, watching the small Easter market become less and less busy, a man sat down on a bench across from us and started to play the hang (pronounced hahng), a metal hand pan from Switzerland and looks like a lap-sized UFO.  Both tapping and running your fingers around it (as you would a glass of water) give off a mystical, otherworldy sound.  This was our soundtrack (including an interesting rendition of Blue Monday) as we relaxed in the cool Cesky Krumlov evening.

Wandering

We had arrived that morning, after taking the earliest bus possible from Prague.  We walked a short distance from the bus stop to Hotel Villa Beatika, where we were able to get breakfast.  We’d told them we’d be leaving super early the next day in order to drive to the Prague airport, so we wouldn’t be able to take advantage of breakfast the next morning, so they let us have it when we checked in, which was very generous of them.

After fueling up, we dropped off our bags (it was way too early to check in) and walked down into the sleepy little town—still sleepy, as most of the day-trippers hadn’t made it in yet.  Walking down through the town, and especially once you make it up to the castle that overlooks everything, the view of Cesky Krumlov is damn near magical.  I’m not sure anywhere else I’ve been has so totally encapsulated the fairy tale vibe (cliché though it may be) as this little town, even on a cold, overcast April morning.

We walked around the castle a bit, foregoing a guided tour (the timing of the English tours didn’t really mesh with how we wanted to spend our day).  We spent most of our time wandering the garden—as it was a tad cold out and none of the flowers had really bloomed yet, it was a nice and quiet area above the city, tucked away from everything.  Not many on the tour came to the garden—and those who did didn’t stay long when they saw it hadn’t yet bloomed—but we walked almost every foot of it.

Food & Drink

When we weren’t just wandering the streets of the city and marveling at the views from every corner we turned, we were eating (of course).  After the hotel breakfast, we had two meals, and one was planned and reserved in advance.  And once we found out there was a large brewery in town, our lunch was easily decided.  Set on the outskirts of the town, Eggenberg Brewery dates back to 1336.  The dining room was huge—they clearly get the brunt of tourist meals here—and the food and beer was pretty standard Czech.  Refreshing pilsner, food leaden with dumplings, barely a vegetable in sight—nothing different than what we’d been seeing all over Eastern Europe.

Dinner, though, was something else.  Lew Bryson, beer and whiskey writer extraordinaire, had recommended we check out Krčma v Šatlavské, a small cave-like restaurant specializing in grilled meats. Later, when I was scanning my trusty 125 Places to Have a Beer list (though it is 10 years old now), I happened to see Krčma listed on there—perfect.  When we arrived, we quickly realized having a reservation was key, as the place’s reputation seemed well-known.

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We sat catty-corner to a massive open fire in the middle of the restaurant, where a clearly heat-resistant cook worked various cuts of meat all over the impressive flame.  Being our last meal in Czechia, we made it an impressive one.  We started with a bread bowl of soup—the bread quickly absorbed all of the soup, turning the dish into a mass of deliciously soggy garlic cheese bread. LeeAnne ordered some sausage, and I went with a pork knuckle to devour on my own as we drank a few beers (and then some mead—why not?).

Go Visit

After gorging ourselves on grilled meats and beer, we slowly walked back up the hill to our hotel, which now seemed even worse than it had before.  We took to our Jimi Hendrix room—all the rooms at Villa Beatika are based on classic rock legends (and are quite spacious)—and fell asleep quickly, which was fortuitous, as we had a private car to drive us to the Prague airport departing around 3 am.  As it turns out, the amount of sleep I got in the hotel didn’t really matter, as I slept almost the entire car ride.

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Overall, we had a great day in Cesky Krumlov and, like most short stops, I wish it could have been longer.  The pace of life is a tad slower, everyone is a bit more relaxed, and there is enough to keep you busy even if you do prefer the city life.  The idyllic views of the town and the surrounding hills certainly don’t hurt, either.  If you’re going to be in Prague, make your way to Cesky Krumlov, and make a reservation at Krčma v Šatlavské.

At the World’s Most Famous Brewery

clockIt may seem odd to some people that one of the most well-known breweries in the world on produces and serves one beer, and a dark one at that. But such is the case with Pivovar U Fleku, a brewery and restaurant in the middle of Prague that has been continuously running since 1499.  Ranked #3 on All About Beer’s 125 Places to Have a Beer Before You Die list (and the first brewery listed), U Fleku is a pilgrimage spot for any serious fan of beer.

When we decided we were going to Prague, U Fleku was the first thing that popped into my mind. We immediately made a reservation, which is recommended—I don’t know what other nights are like, but it was packed the night we were there; possibly because it was a springtime and a little too cool to sit outside at night.  Altogether, the place can seat almost 1,200 people.

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Top: Fleck’s Treat. Bottom: Half roasted duck.

After we were seated, it quickly became apparent how things were done—a slip of paper is put on your table, and servers come along with huge trays of beer glasses.  If you want one, you let them know and they mark it on your slip.  If not, they pass you up and deliver the beer elsewhere.  Since the dark lager (which only clocks in at 5% ABV) is the only beer, it’s a pretty efficient system.  The same works for other drinks—when we were there, they came around with two different shots, one of mead and one of Becherovka (a very herbaceous Czech liquer).  We only had one shot of the Becherovka, but had a few meads mixed in with our beer.

While most of the seating is family-style at long wooden tables, we were lucky enough to sit at our own table, which gave us plenty of room to spread out our food.  Unfortunately, while the beer was delicious, the food was just okay.  The idea of it was great, especially since U Fleku serves a lot of traditional food that is worth trying if you’ve never had experience with it, but the predominance of bready dumplings overshadows most other things.

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Wanting the widest variety of traditional food, I ordered the “Fleck’s Treat,” which is a quarter of a roast duck, roast pork, sausage, red and white cabbage, bread dumplings, and potato dumplings.  LeeAnne ordered the half roast duck meal, which was accompanied by bread dumplings, potato dumplings, and speck dumplings.  Definitely not light meals.  LeeAnne tried, though, as she always craves some kind of healthy touch to her meals.  She also ordered the mixed salad, which was tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, and about a pound of Balkan cheese on top.  Apparently in Eastern Europe, it counts as a salad if the animal ate a plant at some point in its life.

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Despite the standard food, the beer was top notch and the experience was second-to-none.  I started as a beer writer, and having heard about this place for so many years made finally getting there all the more special.  But even if you’re not necessarily a beer person, if you’re swinging through Prague, U Fleku is a must-go kind of spot.  The prices are a little higher than some other traditional places in the city, but the time you’ll have will make it worthwhile.

Easter Markets in Budapest & Prague

buda-eggFor whatever reason, when we did our Hungary – Slovakia – Prague trip over the week of Easter, it never occurred to me to be excited for the Easter markets.  I had marked the main one in Prague on a map for things to do, and I had the vague notion that the Catholic holidays were a big deal, but I guess when I was looking for places to drink beer and eat great local food, it had totally gone over my head to pay attention to these markets.

So it was with great glee when we happened to walk into an Easter market on our first night in Budapest.  My eyes were immediately drawn to one of the food vendors, and I couldn’t have been more excited—Eastern Europe is well known for its meat-heavy and vegetable-light food, which has never been a problem for me.  Add to that fact that I immediately saw a tray of stuffed cabbage, a food my family makes often and that I had been looking forward to trying in its natural habitat.

buda-food3The markets were pretty evenly split between food vendors and those with trinkets and souvenirs.  I didn’t worry about the latter, because I was there for the former.  We found huge buffets of local food, including full meals, snacks, desserts, and even people who had made their own beer for the occasion.  At the first market, I sat down with a beer and a huge piece of stuffed cabbage atop a potato latke, appropriately slathered with sour cream (which, if you’ve been to Hungary, you’ll know is the only way to eat anything).

The markets also offered local delicacies like langos (fried dough usually topped with sour cream and cheese, but those toppings can expand to include just about anything) and trdelnik, also known as chimney cakes.  The trdelnik quickly became our favorite snack, and involved dough being wrapped around a roller and rolled over hot coals until it was cooked, and then dipped in sugar, with the option to add nuts or Nutella.

buda-langos

The markets were incredibly pleasant—none of them were packed, and between the cool spring weather and the people enjoying themselves, it was a great time to sit outside and enjoy some food or a drink.  Especially the one we got to in Prague’s old town—while it was a bit chilly, the sun was out and the sky was blue; it was an ideal day to hang out.

The food was a tad different at the markets we hit in Prague, with much more focus on what you would consider typical German food – sausages, potato salad, and huge hocks of ham.  The attractions and the market itself was pretty similar, though.  They even had their own trdelnik, though that may have been surpassed snackwise by a ring of potato put on a stick and fried.  It was like a long, homemade potato chip.

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With the two things that I need to enjoy myself—beer and food—the markets delivered.  They made for quality people-watching, and even better eating.  And while both cities may have been a tad more packed with tourists than they normally would be due to the holiday (we were told thousands of people travel to Prague around Easter), I would highly recommend visiting during this time of year, if only for the food.

Bratislava Food Tours

curiedcovikaSlovak food has been a part of my life since I was born, but not a large part.  My family has always had a few standard recipes: pierogi, kapustnica (sauerkraut soup) for Christmas Eve, halušky (though that died off when I was young), and stuffed cabbage, which I learned on my travels was more Hungarian than Slovak—but close enough.  Other than that, though, there wasn’t much.  All the women in the family receive a First Slovak Ladies Association cookbook, but it’s just a compendium of whatever recipes anyone wanted to submit; a quick glance shows there’s really nothing Slovak about it.

This was the main drive behind checking out Bratislava Food Tours—I wanted to be able to try my family favorites and see how they differed between the motherland and my mother’s house, and I also wanted more insight into some of the traditional foods we had been missing out on over the years.

We met Linda (who at the time was very pregnant) at Bratislava Castle, where she started off the food tour with a shot of Čučoriedkovica, a delicious low-alcohol liquer that is made by mixing plum brandy with a pile of blueberries and sugar and letting it sit forever.  Needless to say, it’s a great way to start a food tour.

toastAs was our first stop, which was the Zámocký Pivovar (“Pivovar” being Slovak for “Brewery”) to sample a light beer (svetlé 10°) and a dark beer (tmavé 12°), as well as a few traditional Slovak small bites: pečeňová paštéta (liver pate) and restované hribiky na hrianke, which were sautéed forest mushrooms on toast.  I pretty much automatically love anything on toast, and anything that deals with mushrooms, and these were no exception—the sauce they were in had a deep, rich flavor that would’ve made me happy had the tour ended right then.  I hadn’t had previous experience with either of these foods as traditionally Slovak, so learning more about the cuisine of my people was off to a great start.

We then moved on to another brewery (joy!), but this time only for food and not for beer.  Bratislavský Meštiansky Pivovar served up a vianočná kapustnica (Christmas sauerkraut soup) that was slightly different from the one we had at 1. Slovak Pub the previous night.  This one left out the potatoes, but had more meat (including sausage and pulled pork) and was just as delicious—maybe more so. This only secured my love for the sauerkraut soup in Slovakia above the version I’d been having at home all those years (sorry, mom).

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We stopped briefly for a savory pastry called pagáč (a word I had heard before, but apparently applied incredibly incorrectly at home) and then to a small specialty food store called Sklizeno for one of our favorite things: cheese and meat.  We were able to sample bravčová klobása (a pork sausage), ovčí syr (a very fresh sheep’s cheese) and oravský korbáčik, known as “little whip cheese” which came in small strings.

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Next was the main course: a stop at Zylinder, a nicer restaurant, for a traditional Bratislava Sunday dinner.  Being so close to Austria, the cuisines were surprisingly similar, with a prešporský schnitzel (a Bratislava schnitzel with potato salad) and kačací konfit, which is roasted duck leg with potato pancakes, knoedel, and a terrific savory and slightly sweet stewed cabbage that had us dying for the recipe. One top of that was a plate of špenátové pirohy(spinach pierogi topped with bryndza cheese sauce).

Our final stop was at a coffee shop called Moods for Bratislavské rožky, which are small local rolls with a poppy seed and nut filling.  We’d had so much food, we could hardly finish these small bites, but we made a good show of it.

All in all, the Bratislava Food Tour was easily my favorite part of Bratislava: I had gone there to learn about the local cuisine, and I had done just that.  It didn’t only show me differences to my own family’s way of doing things, but greatly expounded on that, as most of the food on the tour I had never heard of or tried, or didn’t know was part of a typical Slovak menu.

Linda was a fantastic guide; knowledgeable, well-spoken and very engaging.  I have even been in regular contact with her over the past year to ask her repeated questions about food and recipes, and she always gets back to me quickly and patiently answers all of my questions.  When I find myself back in Bratislava, I would go back on the tour if for no other reason than to just hang out and talk about food with her.  Well, and to eat it all again.