Random Rants, Raves and Ramblings


I thought I should share my most surprising discovery to date. World's best pizza is served in "Pizzeria u Adama" in Biely Potok, Terchova, Slovakia. A godforsaken town, bar the annual "Janosik's days" folklore festval. That too deserves mention. Janosikove dny is a five-day line-up of local traditional country-dance acts, one more indistinguishable from the next. That the 50 or so acts are basically subsets of the same 100 people must have given the organisers a hard time if, as suspected, they have had to work down from the entire set of permutations. The whole affair draws a crowd of some 30000 people, mostly Czechs and Slowaks, plus a smattering of Poles and the odd Belgian.

As clumsy as the presentation looks to one more used to western European folk and rock festivals, as refreshing it is to see the audience take part. The music is savoured like jazz. Once the audience is warmed up, the band strikes up a signature tune of which the motif is repeated up to eight times or so. Each time the lead fiddle player makes an imperceptible change in bowing or phrasing, the audience explodes with enthousiasm. There is something cognitively dissonant about loud youngsters in Metallica t-shirts cheering on people playing fiddles, accordeons and willow flutes. Get drunk with them after the concert and you'll discover that they all can sing their national traditional repertoire off the top of their heads.

Terchowa is a hamlet concentrated around one thoroughfare on which two cars can just cross. Apart from the summer festival its economy is based on skiing in winter. The tourist infrastructure is entirely geared towards Slowaks and Czechs. Do not expect to find anyone who speaks English. The place is mostly deserted - a singularly unlikely place for an excellent pizzeria. Just as you're leaving town, a tattered green sign reads "pizzeria 111m" with an arrow pointing right. The arrow takes you down a dirt road with two log cabins. One is where Adam makes and serves pizza. Herbs and spices can be seen growing besides the front door. There are exactly four tables for guests in one room with the wood-fired oven. I am not one to fill pages on the subtleties of food, suffice to say that the pizza is absolutely perfect, well beyond anything I've had in my country where all pizzerias are actually run by Italians.
The other log cabin is where Adam roasts his own coffee. He imports green coffee beans from all over the world and roasts them the same day the coffee gets brewed. Which variety you get depends on the day. I should say that roasting coffee is a risky business. Few coffee roasters manage beyond mere acceptability. Adam manages well beyond acceptability. His ethiopian coffee fills one's nose with the aroma of the soil in which the coffee was grown and ranks among the best I've had yet.

As they say, vaut le détour.

Update: The place has since moved to the centre of town. The quality of the pizza, I'm sad to report, has also become a bit centrist.

Friday 08 April 2011