7 Train to Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave
Strolling around LIC with my cousin Vicky, she told me about a Slovak-Czech specialty store that she passed while walking from her boo's house. What!? Can it be? A little piece of my home country right in the 'hood! Actually, I wasn't that surprised because I've heard about this place from my Slovak friend Katarina. I knew it was there I just didn't know exactly where.
We found the place by mere process of elimination, "Ummm, I think this is the block," Vicky said. We walked and poked our head out in anticipation and low and behold, there it was. The itty-bitty Slovak-Czech Varieties store. If I didn't know about the treasures it holds, I wouldn't go in because it looks shabby and dirty from the outside. But once inside, the "oohing" and "ahhing" didn't stop. We recognized almost everything and got very excited, exclaiming effusively. The woman working behind the register didn't know what to make of us! American-looking girls with weird Slovak accents; she though we were some strange Slovak impostors. We asked her for help finding some of our beloved Slovak treats. She was sweet and we ended up conversing briefly at the end of our visit--good times.
Here's what you could expect to find at this store:
Snacks Galore: Tons of European chocolate treats. They have Milka, Delissa, Kinder and even one of my favorite wafer bars called "Fidorka." Actually, wafer treats are a Slovak and Czech obsession and this place carries a lot of varieties.
Cold Cuts and Cheeses: Looking for European-style salami and sausage? Slovak-Czech Varieties carries imports from Hungary and of course Slovakia and the Czech Republic ($7.50 on average). I highly recommend the smoked cheese and even the "bryndza" a sharp sheep's cheese that is very hard to find in this country. If you do go for the "bryndza," I'd recommend pairing it with dumplings or egg noodles.
Homemade Delicacies: I was happy to discover that you could buy "knedlik"--a dumpling bread. It's a moist, hearty side-dish, which goes especially well with mushroom or pork gravy. Want to try it before you buy it? They serve it at Astoria's Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, Koliba and Zlata Praha. Slovak-Czech Varieties sells this for $7.29/loaf.
Wooden Toys and Fine Crystal: Slovakia and the Czech Republic are known for their meticulous craftsmanship. You can find various tchotchies such as handmade figurines, children's toys, bookmarks, and of course their famous crystal vases, bowls, ashtrays, and other unique goods.
I'll definitely be hitting this little Slovak-Czech haven again soon. On my way out, I saw a children's book that my mom recently got in Slovakia for my little cousin Emma. It made me smile. For all you Slovaks and Czechs, I have no doubt this store will do the same for you and for ya American friends, I know you'll appreciate it too.