Cleveland has a huge amount of Slovenian culture and Slovenian descendants, so it it perhaps not surprising that Cleveland is home to a local celebration of Slovenian Mardi Gras – Kurentovanje. The emblem of Kurentovanje are the Kurents, big fuzzy beasts who romp through town during Mardi Gras (called Pust in Slovenia), ringing bells loudly. The Kurents are rumored to have the power to chase away winter with their ruckus. For Slovenian Mardi Gras, a traditional food is Krofi – or doughnuts. Doughnuts are a popular choice for Mardi Gras celebrations around the world, since they would use up some of the ingredients that would then be forbidden in Lent: sugar, butter, and oil! Slovenian krofi are simple to make, and mirror the other Mardi Gras fried sweet fritters found worldwide like Paczki, Malasadas, Semla and Chiacchiere. Here are recipes from homemade krofi from E-Slovenie and Homemade Slovenian food. Though krofi looks delicious, we are more intrigued by the Kurents!
One vibrant ethnic community in Cleveland has that was not really present in Chicago is Slovenian! You can even get a Cleveland Slovenian pride T-shirt! However, where Slovenians apparently make their presence known in Cleveland in sausage-making. There are several places in Cleveland to get traditional Slovenian sausage, as well as at an annual Slovenian sausage fest.
The most famous Slovenian sausage is called Klobasa and is similar to the more familiar Kielbasa. Klobasa is a smoked sausage made primarily made of pork, garlic and sometimes a bit of bacon. Some varieties of klobasa may even contain cheese. We sampled some Slovenian sausage for the first time at J & J Czuchraj Meats in the venerable West Side Market (1979 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113). This stand in particular has gotten a lot of accolades and outside notice for its smoked sausages, and we were impressed by the quality when we stopped by.
However, J & J Czuchraj Meats is not the only game in town, another fine purveyor of local Slovenian sausage is Raddell’s (klobasa pictured above) on the far east side of Cleveland (478 E 152nd St., Cleveland, OH 44110) in North Collinwood. You can even purchase the smoked sausages to ship right to your door! Another benefit of Raddell’s is that they serve amazing Potica/Povitica, Eastern European nut bread. Azman’s (6501 Saint Claire Ave. Cleveland Ohio 44103) is another purveyor of Klobasa, and they walked away with the 2015 title at the Slovenian sausage festival. Where is your favorite Slovenian sausage made in Cleveland?
Within the past week, we have come across references to Povitica at least three times, which seems like quite a lot given the fact that until now we had NEVER heard of it at all. Povitica (aka Potica) is a sweet yeasted bread, rolled with fillings like sugar, poppyseeds, nuts and sometimes chocolate. You can see this especially when you get a swirly slice/cross-section of Povitica. It also known in the US simply, a perhaps a little boringly, as “nut roll.” The name Povitica comes from a Slovenian word, poviti, meaning “to wrap in,” though the bread or similar varieties are found throughout Central and Eastern Europe, especially in Croatia and Slovenia. Brownie Bites has a recipe for nutty Povitica, and Serious Eats has a recipe for Chocolate and Walnut Povitica, which seems especially delicious.