Feb 19, 2012

Prague Cuisine: Czech It Out

Whenever our family travel we try to sample traditional cuisine a particular country has to offer. On our first night in Prague, we tried the famous beef goulash with bread dumpling.  We liked it except for the fresh onions.  Jun, River and I agreed that it tasted somewhat like "kalderetang Batangas" so we loved the Czech cuisine on our first try.  On our second day, Jun and I feasted on traditional Czech mixed grill platter for two which consisted  of pork, sausage, beef, chicken and duck with french fries, veg salad  and a basket of bread.   It tasted so good and we had a pig-out, the serving is so big that we had to share some of it with our kids.

Our last day in Prague was rainy and oh so cold.  We had the option to just stay in the hotel as we already covered the best places Bohemian style - never worrying about time and getting lost.  We covered Prague only by walking, just absorbing all its unique beauty and wonder.  We were unmindful of the map because each wrong turn leads to yet another unforgettable journey.  We were not surprised that the alleys and stone cobbled streets of Prague were still full of tourists when we ventured out armed with our umbrellas. When the cold got unbearable, we stopped for coffee - not in Starbucks or Costa - but in McCafe. Check out the coolest McDonald's outlet I have visited that offers Bohemia wine, candle-lit cozy tables, elaborate coffee designs and delicious Czech pastries.

On the way to the Lesser Quarter from Charles Bridge no one will miss the spot of a small pastry shop because of the sweet smell of fresh Trdelnik that permeates the air. If you visit Prague, don't forget to try this delicious treat.

The kids didn't want to join their Dad and me in roaming around souvenir shops so hubby and I ended the souvenir-hunting with a hearty early dinner date at the street restaurant of Hotel U Zlateho Stromu in King Road just a few steps from Charles Bridge.  The restaurant is very well-heated - each table has its own heater and customers can request for blanket.  We even had to ask the waiter to minimize the heat for our table even if the temperature was -4 ! We ordered Czech specialty - traditional roast pork made from fillet of pork with red cabbage and speck dumplings for me and a roasted pork knee for Jun.  He ordered Czech beer  (it will be rude to order Tuborg or Heineken) and that was my chance to try the hot wine (svarene vino) which I must say is superb.

Insiders tip:  
Check the beer prices in restaurants or pubs to get an idea about best food prices. Lower beer price = lower  meal prices :)

The food was great and the serving is big.  The roasted pork tasted great and quite unexpectedly, I liked the red cabbage.  I was not a big fan of the Czech bread / speck dumpling - it is so rich for me that imagining it now while writing this makes my jaw contract.  Oh, I love the pork knee! It was so tender, it melts in the mouth. Jun and I felt that we were in Philippines while savoring the food.  It was really quite nice of the waiter to ask if we wanted our photo to be taken :)

I learned that restaurants set up hot wine and hot chocolate stands like the one shown below during winter to attract shivering tourists :)  You have to inform them if you will have it in the restaurant or will take the order with you because it makes a difference in the price.

If you go to Prague, be aware that it is quite normal for restaurants to include a 15% service charge (servis) in your bill. So next time you are computing how much your food will cost, always add a 15% service charge so that you won't end up like a handful tourists that we saw arguing with the waiter or waitress. Some restaurants may add a cover charge (couvert) for bread and water which is typically a fixed amount per head at a table.  While waiting for our order, we received a basket of bread with butter which was not part of the order so cover charge is for that.

When in doubt of what to eat, there will always be a McDonald's for sure!

I recommend that you include Prague in your Places to Visit Before You Die list. You will never regret it.




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