I’m back! From Europe anyway. May is the month of travel for me (I suppose it’s good preparation for the part of my life where I travel the world for 6ish months starting later this year…), and it started with a trip to the Czech Republic with my mom. We were there for just over a week, and spent most of our time in Prague, with a two night trip to Cesky Krumlov, a World Heritage site about 3 hours south of Prague. We spent our days mostly walking, whether on our own through the Kampa Garden and Museum, on a food tour, or on a tour through the Jewish Quarter. It was the perfect balance of sight-seeing, learning, and relaxing – what can I say, we know how to do a vacation. Read on to find out about the culinary highlights of our trip!
Our first day in Prague started at Cafe Savoy, a French inspired cafe in Mala Strana that serves Czech pastries (in addition to coffee, tea, wine, breakfast, lunch, etc.). While we did have to wait a while to get a seat, my mom was very happy with her apple strudel, and the pastries and ambiance were just as lovely. For dinner our first evening we went to V Zátiší, an Indian/Czech restaurant a short walk from our hotel. I had an incredible play on a traditional duck dish, with herbed dumplings and pureed red cabbage, while Mom enjoyed her Tandoori prawns with delicious seasoned rice and chutneys.
Perhaps the highlight of the trip for me was our tour with Prague Food Tours. We did the Scrumptious tour, which was outside of the tourist area of town in Prague 8, a neighborhood called Karlin. Our guide Leona was so incredibly knowledgeable, and we learned not just about the food but also about the culture behind it. It was a small group, 6 of us total, and it was an educational and delicious way to spend the day. We tried some traditional Czech pastries, visited a more modern restaurant called Eska (more on that later), drank beers and ate beef tartare and schnitzel at Lokal, and had a fried cheese slider and a donut for dessert at Maso A Kobliha.
Upon our arrival to Cesky Krumlov we decided to eat at Jakub Restaurant for dinner, which was a fantastic choice. While it wasn’t anything extremely unique or mind-blowing, it was really solid food. We had a carp croquette and salad to start, and then shared a dish from their spring asparagus menu and spaetzle with rabbit for dinner. Four dishes and four glasses of wine later, our bill only ended up being the equivalent of about $50 USD.
We went all out on our last day in Prague, especially because it was Mother’s Day! I had to make it happen for my mama. After a long morning strolling around the Prague Castle, we crossed the river for lunch at La Bottega di Finestra, a fancy deli spot with a fancy sister restaurant next door. After a week of pretty heavy Czech food, we went with a plate of assorted salads and each one was extremely delicious. For dessert we strolled another ten minutes to wait in line at Angelato, supposedly the best gelato in Prague. It did not disappoint – I don’t know if I’ve ever had more heavenly gelato (and maybe even ice cream!). Mom got their pistachio and banana, both of which actually tasted like their namesake ingredient instead of a fake rendition of it, and I indulged in chocolate and rhubarb flavors, which were superb.
For our final dinner we went back to Eska, which was the second stop on our food tour earlier that week. Eska is a restaurant focused on hyperlocal ingredients, cooked in modern ways but based in traditional techniques like fire-roasting and fermentation. The dish that sealed the deal on our food tour and that we were lucky enough to eat again when we ordered the tasting menu was a small potato cooked in ash, surrounded by a buttermilk kefir, smoked carp, and topped with cured egg yolk. It was one of those perfect bites: the smokiness of the carp and the potato balanced delicately with the creaminess and tanginess of the buttermilk kefir. While the rest of the meal was exquisite – buttermilk ice cream with savory granola and herbs, white asparagus with buckwheat crisps and brown butter, zander with kohlrabi – that dish will be the one that I remember.
Other recommendations that either weren’t food related or were good but I didn’t have space to write about include: Museum Kampa, Maitrea (vegetarian restaurant), Wittmann Tours (we did the Jewish Quarter tour led by Barbara, who was fantastic), Krumlov Tours, Omnes Caffe for chocolates, Apotheka Bar.