“What are the cheap and tasty places to eat in Uzhgorod?” – this question is invariably one of the most popular ones among the guests of our hostel. It’s about time we answered it in our blog, too
Kaktus (7 Korzo St.) is one of the oldest and most popular venues in Uzhgorod. This cowboy style bar offers Ukrainian and Transcarpathian dishes as well as simple and tasty food from international cuisine.
One of our favorite picks on Kaktus’s menu is the Hard Rock Café salad (24 UAH) – the specialty of the house featuring colorful stripes of fresh vegetables and chicken filet that are a pleasure to the eye and to the mouth. The salad goes particularly well with the hutsul kremzli (45 UAH), a simple but very tasty potato dish.
The bar takes special pride in its large selection of soups encompassing 24 different varieties. Among those, there’s the mushroom pottage (20 UAH), a particularly nourishing soup made of white Transcarpathian mushrooms with noodles. And if you’re a fish person, try the gorgeous Hungarian fish soup made according to the traditional recipes, or the fresh Zakarpattia trout also served at Kaktus.
Kaktus offers a large selection of alcoholic beverages and beer, which is quite cheap in Ukraine and Zakarpattia in particular.
On weekends, the pub . . . → Read More: Where to Eat in Uzhgorod
On August 7, the second traditional bilberry festival was held at the village of Huklyvyi, Volovets county.
Bilberries have been collected in Zakarpattia for centuries, but it’s only in the recent years that the trade started to enjoy wide publicity due to the increased exports.
The main treat at “Verkhovynska Yafyna” fest was, of course, the fresh bilberries. This year, there weren’t as many ‘berries around because of the late frosts in the spring, but those who came to the festival for the bilberries still could eat as much as they wanted.
In addition to the plain bilberries, you could also taste bilberry dumplings, bilberry pancakes…
…and then wash all those down with a glass of yafynivka, the homemade bilberry liqueur.
There was also some lekvar for sale at the festival, but we’re waiting for the end of August and the lekvar feast at the village of Hecha to enjoy it full scale
The gastronomic treats at “Verkhovynska Yafyna” weren’t limited to bilberries. You could taste delicious fried pork cooked on a spit, have a sip of Zakarpattia homemade wine and try the traditional dishes of the region.
The beauty of the Volovets mountains, Verkhovyna’s fresh air and the performances of the folk music bands were also pretty conductive to appetite.
Mt. . . . → Read More: Photos from “Verkhovynska Yafyna” Festival
There are plenty of reasons to visit Uzhgorod and Zakarpattia: the fresh, balmy air; the mineral waters; the beautiful mountain rivers; the famous historical places; the old churches and castles. The region’s festivals, however, deserve a special mention because to a lot of people, they alone are worth coming over to Uzhgorod for.
Zakarpattia’s festivals take place all year round and have a variety of themes to them – from a festival of bilberries to the unique Parade of Brides. One festival may take place in a city, and to attend another one, you may have to go to some tiny village in the mountains. But whatever the case may be, you’re certain to enjoy the festive atmosphere, the yummy local treats and to have a firsthand experience of the region’s culture and traditions.
Here are a few notable festivals taking place in Zakarpats’ka Oblast’ this summer and fall:
“Verkhovynska Yafyna” Bilberry Festival
August 7, village of Huklyvyi, Volovets county
The festival will take place 120 km northwest of Uzhgorod in the village of Huklyvyi, the “bilberry capital” of Ukraine. The event is dedicated to the tasty near-black berry that’s collected from wild plants and that stains your fingers, lips, teeth and tongue dark blue.
Huklyvyi is the hometown of the festival for a reason. The village is . . . → Read More: Festival Highlights of 2011 in Zakarpattia
Bogrács is traditionally cooked in a cauldron
The tiny Zakarpattia Oblast, which Uzhgorod is the capital of, borders four countries: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. This makes Zakarpattia a true melting pot of languages and cultures. It’s only here, too, that you can taste such a variety of dishes from different national cuisines: the Hungarian bogrács gulyás, lecsó and rakott krumpli, the Transylvanian tokan, the Slovakian halušky, the Transcarpathian kremzli, the Hutsul banosh or the Jewish cholent.
I don’t expect you to taste all of these yummy dishes while in Uzhgorod, but if you’re only going to taste one, let it be the traditional Zakarpattia bogrács. This dish, cooked from lots of beef, paprika, potatoes and spice, has a lot in common with its Hungarian counterpart, the bogrács gulyás. To many Zakarpattians, bogrács is the traditional dish of the region and their favorite one. And that’s easy to understand after you’ve tasted it, too.
The history of bogrács can be traced 3,000 years back to the preserved meat of the ancient Magyars (Hungarians) as they migrated from Central Asia. Yet few know about how paprika – bogrács’s key ingredient – ended up in the stew.
The legend has it that during the 16th century Ottoman wars in Europe, a famous one-eyed Turkish janizary called Yuchemdzak ordered two Hungarian captives . . . → Read More: Bogrács: Zakarpattia’s Culinary Masterpiece