A sweet delicacy from a hundred years ago brought to life in the historical town of Kremnica

At nine o’clock in the morning the roads are surprisingly quiet. It’s Good Friday – a public holiday, and most Slovaks have either moved to their holiday destinations, or are getting their homes ready for Easter. We should be officially welcoming spring at this time of year, but the weather has decided to play a trick on us. Fine snowflakes are floating in the air as we are leaving home; it feels more like Christmas than Easter.

We are driving to a small town of Kremnica where there is a quaint museum that promises a unique experience: a return to the 1920s and the story of Atkáry’s potato. I’ve heard of Kremnica’s sweet speciality before and I’m curious to see what the new tourist attraction has to offer.

We have no problem to park our car right in Kremnica’s centre. It’s ten o’clock and the streets are still empty (except for two dog walkers strolling by), all shops and cafés closed, and the town of 4800 looks half-asleep. Not so the Tourist Information Centre just behind Kremnica’s Barbican. The gentle music is wafting softly from the windows upstairs, and the sign in front of the tastefully refurbished building directs us to the ‘Traditional manufacture of unique confectionery.’

As we walk inside, we are greeted by a lady behind the information desk and a moustached gentleman dressed in a stylish white uniform. He looks as if he’s just stepped down from the 1920s photograph of Alois Atkáry – the creator of Kremnica’s sweet delicacy. Martin Varhaňovský – the owner of Atkáry’s museum and our guide today, takes us upstairs to a confectionery that was open for visitors shortly before the coronavirus pandemic.

The room, turned a confectionery turned a museum, is furnished in art deco style. The old-fashioned radio is playing music from the 1920s, a copy of an old newspaper is laid on the coffee table near the window, and the walls are adorned with framed photographs of the Atkáry family.

The ladies behind the glass wall are already at work, putting together the pieces of Kremnica’s delicate ‘potatoes’. And, you guessed it, they’re wearing confectioners’ costumes from the Twenties.Confectioners making Atkary's potatoesVarhaňovský had done a thorough research on the Atkáry family and their business. He used old documentation from Kremnica’s archives to create a replica of the original confectionery from a hundred years ago. He also collected and tested dozens of recipes for Kremnica’s potato, which had been circulating among local families. After six months of trial and error he arrived at the result that, he says, reminded him most of his grandma’s variation on Kremnica’s traditional speciality.

Apparently, Kremnicians had been making – and eating – their potato for decades without knowing about Alois Atkáry – the man who invented it. A century later, Varhaňovský opened a new, delectable chapter of the local history to his fellow men (and women), as well as epicures and curious visitors from outside of the town.Atkary's museumDespite what you might expect, there is no potato in Atkáry’s confection. As you watch the ladies behind the glass wall, you will see that it is made by joining two sponge biscuits, each one filled with either vanilla or cocoa cream. The little cakes are then lightly sprayed with rum and wrapped up in a thin layer of dough made from ground walnuts, sugar and whipped egg whites. At this stage, the cakes resemble small potatoes in shape and colour.putting the pieces of the dessers togetherFinally, they are coated in cocoa powder and engraved with an elegant ‘A’ design to honour Alois Atkáry – the potato’s creator. The dainty desserts are packaged by six in cute cardboard boxes custom-made for Kremnica’s sweet treat.Atkary's unique potato dessertWe leave the world of the 1920s to buy a few boxes of Atkáry’s potatoes downstairs in the Tourist Information Centre. Fresh from the museum, they are also delivered to Kremnické medovníky – a café and a confectioner’s shop in one – just across the street from the Barbican.Atkary's potatoes, feature photoIt’s time for a walk around the town’s historical centre. At eleven o’clock, the air still feels crisp, but the skies have cleared by now and the main square is bathing in sunshine. Drops of water are glistening on the greenery that is pushing up from the ground. No matter what games the weather is playing with our seasons, life seems to prevail.

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