Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Winter Hungries

It's amazing how winter gets the tummy rumbling. Whenever His Lordship and I have travelled in the past it's always been during the summer months. Europe in June/July can be pretty hot - I remember one time in Rome it was 40 degrees; an absolute scorcher! This holiday is such a breath of fresh air for me because I simply love the cold. Add snow, hot toddies and man-sized meals and I'm simply in heaven. However, it seems in Prague walking the tourist track is considerably more pleasurable than wearing the boots of a working Czech. On our first day in Prague, while walking the streets in search of a cosy lunch retreat, we passed some poor sod handing out his business card trying top get customers into the restaurant he was promoting. I later learned he would only be paid commission if we actually went into the restaurant and ordered a meal. It was freezing cold that day and he looked as though he was almost turning blue. Tough way to make a crown.

Prague is a haven for foodies. We dined out every lunch, dinner and in-between meal snacks. Each day was kick-started with a generous continental breakfast consisting of bread rolls, sliced meats and cheeses washed down with a hot beverage - daily ritual which took place in our hotel's cosy dining room. Although our bellies were always full after breakfast it's amazing how often you're inspired to duck into a restaurant or cafe or tavern for a quick bite to eat, glass or two of red and platter of mixed cheeses.

Marie Teresie Restaurant is a wonderful introduction to Prague fare. Their menu is extensive, presented in six languages, and each dish is numbered so there's no possible mix-up when the waiter is taking your order. We opted for traditional Czech cuisine.

His Lordship ordered the veprovy gulas krusovice (hearty pork goulash) and I chose selska veprova (a big slab of cooked-to-perfection farmer's roast leg of pork served with white and red cabbage); we also added houskove (white bread dumplings) to our dishes. These plump doughy additions helped to mop up the left-over gravy on our plates.

Another food destination we highly recommend is Potrefena Husa - a Czech pub with lashings of modernity. We heard of the pub through staff at our hotel - this is their local 'watering hole' and the place where they meet their friends after work. On a snow-laden winter's night there's nothing better than tucking into a cob of bread that has had it's soft centre removed and replaced by a generous serve of hot, thick potato soup. His Lordship ordered a goulash version - sensational! (pictured) Needless to say, after a feast of that size we both opted to take a leisurely walk across Charles Bridge. Although there were other equally good eating places (namely Old Town Square's Hotel Cerna Liska - for pea & pork knuckle soup; Pivnice U Kata which is conveniently next door to our hotel Tri Bubnu - for soup that was so thick you could stick a spoon in and it would almost stay upright on its own; and for a quick pick-me-up afternoon glass of red and cheese plate U Pavouka - it is wonderful medieval tavern) on our last night in Prague we returned to Potrefena Husa to try the house specialties - I chose the 1-kilo pork knuckle (that's right ... and no, I couldn't finish it all) served with a crunchy crackling crust, mustard, gherkin and fresh horseradish and His Lordship opted for the grilled duck breast with glazed shallots, mashed potatoes and plumb sauce. We washed this huge meal down with a few glasses of Frankovaka red and went to bed feeling well and truly bursting at the sides. Although we happily succumbed to every restaurant's goulash or port offering, after one week of this winter food I was looking forward to our next destination for a change of pace.

Just a thought: most of the restaurants mentioned above should have websites if you're keen to check them out.

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