CHICAGO - Chicago Blackhawks players come from all over the world, but mainly Canada, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, which results in all kinds of food preferences.
Former Blackhawks player Richard Panik, a native of Slovakia, spent the afternoon with food reporter Steve Dolinsky at a place that reminded him of home -- Bohemian House in Chicago's River North neighborhood.
"They have similar food, what I used to eat when I was growing up. Kind of reminds me of home," said Panik, who has lived in Chicago for less than two years.
Panik usually orders duck, dumplings and sauerkraut; the Slovak hat trick.
"Dumplings, meat, sauerkraut is used a lot. And some sauces with heavy cream. Not the healthiest food, but so tasty. Our traditional Slovak food is bryndzové halusky. It's dumplings with traditional Slovak cheese, called bryndzove - it's a sheep cheese. On top is a little bit bacon and some greens," he said.
So what did Panik order? Duck sausage and chicken paprikash.
"That's typical, when I grew up, my mom, she usually makes it. Didn't look like this," said Panik of the chicken paprikash.
Probably because mom didn't make farmer's cheese dumplings or serve hers with pickled red onions and blistered sweet peppers. Langos is a typical fried pancake from Slovakia and the Czech Republic. At Bohemian House, it's topped with garlic sour cream and aged gouda cheese; perfect drinking food.
And his favorite beer? Pilsner. Na zdravie!
Panik says in Slovakia, the typical garnish - or sauce of choice - is not what you'd expect.
"We usually put ketchup on it, or mayonnaise," he said.
After we polish off most of the dishes, an apple tart arrives. For a guy who avoids dairy and gluten during the season, there's a moment of hesitation.
"I'm pretty scared about this, tomorrow, how it's gonna feel on the ice. It's like I don't eat sweets, but when I do, I'm crushing things," Panik said.
Typical Slovak dessert? Strudel.
In this week's Extra Course, Steve Dolinsky took a closer look at the black forest cake at Bohemian House.
Extra Course: Black forest cake at Bohemian House
11 W. Illinois St., Chicago