I think that everybody who is not a vegetarian will agree that a roasted goose is a meal which belongs on a festive table. Its aroma and special flavour would excite all the senses of any gourmet. On the 11th of November – the day of St. Martin – it is almost obligatory to roast a goose in Slovakia and some other countries as well. If you don’t dare to fight with a hefty goose on the roasting pan then you can visit Slovenský Grob – a small Slovak village declared as the Kingdom of Geese.
The village Slovenský Grob has an 800-year-tradition and almost everything here revolves around geese.
They started to breed and roast geese 100 years ago. There was just a marshland here and thanks to that maize growing was very successful. And they used the corn to fatten geese. Housewives went to Bratislava or even to Vienna or Budapest to sell the geese on the central market. Rich burghers bought a goose and often ran into a problem where to roast that big piece of 7 kg? So housewives of Slovenský Grob decided to sell already roasted geese. This tradition is still continued.
When we visited Slovenský Grob some geese were distrustfully watching us… Did you know that already ancient Egyptians had found geese to be better watch animals than dogs? Even today they are still used as guards because they belong to the most aggressive birds of all poultry!
Since September, you can find also a big statue of a goose in Slovenský Grob. It was unveiled by Her Majesty Maria Theresa personally. By the way – she was crowned as the sovereign of the Kingdom of Hungary in the St. Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava (it is the same Martin who is connected to geese…).
The statue is 2,80 m high and has a weight of 150 kg. And because geese love water it is situated near an artificial pond. The statue was made by sculptors from the School of Applied Arts in Bratislava and as one of them has revealed before creating this sculpture they had to study lots of pictures. They could not use any living model because geese are restless… 🙂
Every proper kingdom also has to have some legends. The story of Slovenský Grob is made up but anyway, some historical relations cannot be excluded: Maria Theresa was invited by Palatin Palffy who wanted to show her his properties. He took her to Slovenský Grob as well but suddenly a storm arose. They took shelter at a poor goose shepherd. To prevent being recognized they put on simple clothes. The shepherd welcomed his guests with what he had: a roasted goose with cabbage and potato pancakes called “lokshe” (did you know that it was Maria Theresa who ordered to plant the very first potatoes in the monarchy?). It is said that the empress had never tasted anything as delicious as that goose before. And because no cook in her court kitchen was able to prepare this meal the same way she had to come to the village again… (according to kralovstvohusaciny.sk)
Roasted geese and other specialties are the most popular attractions in Slovenský Grob even today. There are several restaurants belonging to the Kingdom of Geese – you will find the list of them, addresses and other information here – click on “GUILD”.
We visited the Restaurant at the Golden Goose – Pivnica u Zlatej Husi – a charming restaurant with 100 places and 50 more on a summer terrace.
First, they brought us geese liver – foie gras – a delicacy in olive oil which melts in your mouth.
After that two geese landed on our table, golden roasted, soft, beautifully smelling meat… They say they roast 2.300 birds a year, all geese come from Galanta in southern Slovakia and are roasted in clay roasting pans for 3,5 hours. They also offer excellent Slovak or imported wines to this extraordinary dish. We visited the restaurant during the season of young wine (called “burchyak” in Slovakia) with 4-6 % of alcohol which was also superb.
If you decide to try this culinary adventure you have to know that it is not cheap. But a roasted goose is not a meal for every day, so why do not afford it once in a while? But do not forget that booking is required! And if you do not manage to do it on the day of St. Martin, never mind! Although the main season for goose specialties is from September till December you can also make your reservation in January and some restaurants offer these dishes the whole year around.
How to get here: by car from Bratislava – in the direction to Pezinok – ca 25 km
Text: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri
Fotos: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri