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Prague Food Adventure

Friday, June 24, 2011

At the end of May we took a mother-daughter trip to Prague, where Nadia had visited at the time when she was pregnant with the other chef of this blog. Of course, she couldn't have any famous Czech beer then, so we had to correct the situation, half her lifetime later.

Maybe it was just the mood set up by the incredible beauty of Prague, but almost all food that we tried in restaurants or bought in stores tasted exceptionally good. Pork was tender, with finer fibres, and less chewy. Milk tasted as if it was just delivered from a farm. Egg yolks were vividly yellow, almost orange, as in organic eggs though the label didn't say so. Butter had this special sweet creamy aftertaste that confirmed it's "real butter". Local yogurt was delicate, fruity, and unusual.

Traditional Czech cuisine is hearty and satisfying. Rich meat stews, dumplings and highly un-diet-like desserts are what it is best known for. The traditional Czech dumplings are called knedliki (singular knedlik). These are often made with no filling and used as a side for meat stews (see picture above). A variety of gulash, a rich beef stew with vegetables, is also very popular. Knedliki, gulash, Pilsner Urquell and a splendid view of the famous Charles Bridge - make for a great vacation, indeed :)

Knedliki can also be made with a fruit filling for a traditional meal-sized dessert. Another staple dessert is called kolache (singular kolach), and is a pastry with a variety of scrumptious fillings. There are many other dishes we did not try, or know about. But in our blog we tried to post a small selection of traditional Czech foods:

Fruit-Filled Knedliky - Czech Dumplings

Kolache - Czech Pastries

Czech Cucumbers Stuffed with Meat

Czech Meat and Cabbage Loaf

In Cafe Savoy
We ate both in restaurants and at home, in our rented apartment in the heart of Old Town. When eating out, we tried to please both sight and taste senses. In Prague it is easy since beauty is as abundant as the places to eat. Waiters in Prague can more or less speak a few languages, and food is served fast (10% tip is always appreciated :). All food we tried was cooked home style: no decorations, simply presented, and delicious.
We took advantage of the moment and drank 0.5l Pilsner Urquell draft at each dinner out. Prague is a real paradise for a beer lover:  beer is on every corner and priced very differently: make a step to a side street - and you will get it half price.

Trdelnik on Karlova Street
Among street food trdelnik should be mentioned. It is a traditional Czech pastry sold in a few places around Old Town and made right in front of you: dough is rolled out, cut in strips, and "baked" over grill on metal cylinders. Ready trdelniks are generously sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon, nuts, and what not. Walking along narrow stoned streets, staring at architectural beauty, and nibbling on your trdelnik - nice...

R e c i p e
Make pancakes.
 To serve: shred pancakes, arrange on a plate with jam, fruit, whipped cream, and voila! - you have Czech Shredded Pancakes with Fruit and Whipped Cream, served in Grand Café Slavia in Prague this summer.

The Green Fairy can inspire...
Located along the bank of Vltava River, Café Slavia has a warm romantic atmosphere, with live piano music, good inexpensive food, and the view of the Prague Castle. Masha is pictured with a famous original painting on the background - Absinthe Drinker by Victor Oliva.

Prague is a magical city where fascinating visual surprises await you every step of the way. You feel attached, then overwhelmed, and Kafka's words become a reality: "The city has claws, it holds, and doesn't let go."

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