We actually stayed about as far East in Slovakia as you can before coming to the Ukraine, nearby to a village Michalovce. Our hotel and the wedding were both about 15 minutes from the village, but in opposite directions. The hotel, Hotel Euro Penzion Salas, was a hidden gem. It is located on a lake popular for outdoor activities in the summer. As we were traveling in late September, they were in the off season and thus we were two of only a few guests. The room is huge - three separate areas for bathroom, bedroom, and a living room opening to our own private balcony. It was a rustic lodge feel, and other than the bed (not comfy by American standards though others in the wedding group said theirs were fine - could have been ours), and bathroom (a little dated), this place ooozed warmth and charm. They recently renovated all of the outside areas with new flagstone steps, garden, and outdoor searting (easily seating 100+ on their patio).
Now, we later found out that basically NO American tourists really ever visit this area. It's literally backing up to the Ukraine, so you have to travel pretty far (about 3 hours from Budapest, Hungary). That mean that the entire town was fascinated by our visit. Not only was my brother (the new husband) there, but myself, IceDaddy, and a friend of my brother who was working in Paris and flew in. None of us four spoke any Slovenska upon arrival, but trust me, the universal language of both food and love (ok shots of vodka if I'm being honest) enabled us to understand each other.
|One of many vodka shots|
After about 10 hours of driving plus two hours of having to find clothes because of American Airlines screw-up, we made it to M's family home. The drive was worth it - they immediately welcomed us with shots of vodka, both homemade and non. Now, neither Ice nor I are vodka experts, but I generally know a good from a bad (at least in terms of how "harsh" it goes down. If ever you think to try Nikolai vodka, you might want to reconsider - it's a bit harsh. Now, we also had some homemade liquor that literally tasted like a reposado tequila. I have no idea how they make it, but it wasn't bad. Ice was driving, so he had one and tried a local beer. For those used to our typical American bottles, these were more like "40's."
Our main course was a simple meal of a chicken stew (similar to tetrazzini) and rice. Tasty and filling, especially after only eating McDonald's in Poland because we could order there - Mc Royal with cheese does translate! Now, the other part of their culture is to celebrate with drinks. As Ice was driving, I shared several shots of vodka with M's dad (four in about 40 minutes). For those that know me, I'm not used to drinking like that, but blessedly, I think the food absorbed a good amount of the alcohol (thanks for the idea of the asparagus sandwich Collin!), so I managed ok. I think we all knew what we might be in for the next day however....
|The wedding couple... Congrats!|
M and B (the wedding couple) wanted to have a meal of mostly traditional Slovak cuisine as this would be our first exposure to it. Additionally, instead of the usual all-night event, they wanted to have the event from around 1 pm until 8 or 9 pm to allow for a reasonable amount of rest. That or they were afraid we couldn't "hang" with the locals if you will.... I think what they ended up doing was just perfect - it was a really nice event, we had amazing food, and the attendees (mostly) did not get sloshingly drunk.
Our first course was actually a surprise - prosciutto and mozzarella with fresh tomatoes. Nope, not traditional, but tasty. The tomatoes literally tasted garden fresh and, based on the observation of how many people have gardens and grow a fair amount of summer produce, I definitely believe these were locally grown. Ice was pleased since this reminded him of our trip to Rome last year and the flavors definitely mirrored that. It was a great (and light) start to the meal. Additionally, there were two "martini" toasts. The martini is basically a sweet white wine with the lemon slice. A summer cocktail if you will.