Central market, Bratislava / Slovakia

  • The center stage hall
    The center stage hall
Grey winter day

Is it a good idea on a grey winter day to visit the market? Not sure, but it is a good excuse to get some fresh air when in the office the whole day.

Surprising structures

The central market of Bratislava (Trhovisko Miletičova – Miletička) at Miletičova street is fairly large (see map below). It consists of many permanent structures for bakeries, butchers, cheese mongers etc., a roof structure covering the produce stalls and some random pop-up tables for people with small offerings.

The permanent structures, all wooden huts, usually had small windows where the customers could make their orders from the outside. This reminded me of shops in areas where theft is abundant. So I was wondering how customers were seen here. In some cases customers could enter the stall through narrow doors, which was more welcoming.

The slightly run down roof structure would give a very nice shade on a hot sunny day, but on a grey winter day it might somber you mood a bit. At least until you meet the friendly vendors. They had no problem letting me take pictures of their beautiful merchandise. And indeed they piled up vegetables with care and sense for beauty which looked a more inviting and more diverse than the one at the Nová Tržnica market hall. Indeed the merchandise under the roof was the most interesting one in the market and no small window separated the clientele from the vendor.

The pop-up dealers had a very limited offer, one product category only, be it pumpkin seeds, bread, bakery goods or so. Several of these vendors were old ladies who looked like they needed to add some Euros to their pensions.

The discoveries

It seemed that the market was in peak season for pumpkin seeds and pickles. The variety was impressive.

The pumpkin seeds came roasted, salted, unsalted, with paprika powder and more. The roasted ones are especially good for tourists, ready to  nibble, without the need to spit hulls. Strangely enough the vendor selling me those was from Hungary. No idea why he had to come to Bratislava for his small business. He made clear that he preferred the Budapest markets over this one. Make the comparison yourself when reading my post on the central market hall in Budapest.

The pickles were really amazing to look at. Besides the sauerkraut, all kinds of vegetables were pickled the home made way. They were sold out of large buckets, like the stuffed cucumbers and peppers or in little plastic jars. Those were layered with care and a sense of colourful beauty (see the picture gallery). The home made horseradish and other preserves gave an impression on what the local cuisine likes.

The vegetables, more or less of the season, were arranged beautifully, lush but without wasteful presentation. Cabbages, cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes, zucchinis, broccoli, radishes in different varieties, beans … all were there, enough to create a nice variety of winter dishes. Inspiring.

A few things I did not figure out. What do you need 15 cm large paper thin wafers for? They break so easily. Then there is this long bread dumpling which is so light, without real taste. I ate it once, basically it is good for dipping into rich sauces, but …

The butchers had simple choices of meat and especially dried sausages (good to bring home). I was most impressed by the variety of fatback offered, clearly abundant – looks like hearty cooking in the region. The typical Slovak smoked cheese was also available, unfortunately it has never been one of my favourites, despite being offered with nice patterns on the thin rind.

When you are hungry on the spot

Some stalls offer ready made food like Lángos (a deep fried flat bread), potato pancake, and local hearty dishes with or without meat. Even though I am addicted to Lángos, I did not eat anything, so no possibility to give a recommendation.

All in all: When looking for what Slovaks buy for cooking and for local discoveries, probably the place to be in Bratislava.

A little link list: