Friday, March 21, 2014

Food in the Czech Republic

We visited the Czech Republic in the spring of 2012. It was an interesting time for me because I had just recently gone completely vegan, a month or so before, a very difficult thing for a meat lover. Being among this regional food and not being able to partake of much of it was stretching my will power to the limits.

In Old Town Square, Prague, huge Prague hams were roasting on spits in various stalls. I saw people with juicy slices of ham sliced from them and walked closely several times to ogle and drool.
Prague ham on a spit.

At the bottom of Wenceslas Square in New Town, Prague, there were several sausage vendors. Warm sausages, red and spicy and white and mild, spooned together on warming grills with a large container of sauerkraut separating them. Linked sausages hung among bunches of garlic and onion overhead and various styles of mustard and drinks loomed in the background. Reddish brown pork Old Prague, Wenceslas and Prague sausages, whitish veal Bavarian and Nuremberg sausages, and then the ones that were really singing to me, the darker lamb sausages tucked behind the sauerkraut. I love lamb. I'm sure the lamb sausages were sort of hidden and preserved, just for me. I walked by these booths six or seven times, as we walked to and from Old Town, and my inner glutton and new vegan veneer engaged in bitter combat. My brother-in-law Stan, the last day, bought one of the sausages, a lamb one I believe, tucked in a large toasted bun under sauerkraut with some mustard. He offered me a bite. I stared and drooled and resisted, and lost five years of my life in the process. Even today, with no vegan veneer battling me, looking at the picture of that sausage sandwich makes me hungry.   
Sausage vendor with hanging sausages.
The spicier reddish sausages.
The lighter milder sausages, and behind the sauerkraut, the dark lamb sausages.
Stan's sausage sandwich.
We visited the Zlaty Dvur Restaurant in Prague, currently ranked 1,816 out of 2,730 restaurants in Prague on Trip Advisor. The pictures for signs to the restaurant do not look the same and I can't believe the restaurant we went to would have been ranked so poorly, because what we had was pretty good - or at least what the others had was pretty good.  We were outside in a court yard, under umbrellas, in a nice restful setting. I got grilled vegetables with sheep cheese, which looked to be feta, and a mixed vegetable salad with Italian dressing. I gave the cheese chunks to my companions and particularly enjoyed the grilled veggies, could have eaten substantially more of them. I suppose that when you are yearning for what is on the plates near you, it is not as satisfying. Judy and Stan both got roast pork with purple cabbage and dumplings and shared some of their purple cabbage with me. It was great. Chris got roasted chicken breast with vegetables in a cream sauce. Speaking for the collective we, it was a nice, but not spectacular meal.
Restaurant Zlaty Dvur
Eating outside under umbrellas.
Roast pork and several types of dumplings. 
Purple cabbage that came with it.
Chicken in cream sauce and vegetables.
Grilled vegetables with feta cheese.
Vegetable salad
The others condescended to visit the Country Life Vegetarian Restaurant with me which is actually currently ranked 150 out of the 2,730 restaurants in Prague on Trip Advisor. I think the others did okay with it. I was in vegan, or at least vegetarion - close-enough for Europe, mother-lode. It was buffet style where everything was weighed at the end and purchased by weight. I don't remember everything I had, but there were lots of options, cooked and raw vegetables, meat substitutes, soups, breads, salads, casseroles. I would have eaten every meal there had I been by myself. I nice refuge for my vegan veneer which was getting battle scarred.
Country Life Vegetarian Restaurant
Just off Old Town Square
Plate full of good-for-you foods.

One of the other plates with some foods that were beyond what I was trying at that point.
Finally, we took a train to Kutna Hora where we toured the Sedlec Ossuary, Saint Barbara's Church and some other fun places. Toward the end, we visited Dacicky restaurant, currently ranked 1 out of 22 restaurants in Kutna Hora on Trip Advisor. This was our most fun meal. Dacicky is named after Nicholas Dacicky, a Renaissance writer, drinker and lover of women who lived from 1555 to 1626 and lived in Kutna Hora. The decor mirrors the theme and offers a traditional Czech cuisine, including lots of dishes with venison, wild boar, goose and duck. I'm not sure I'd previously seen goose or wild boar as options in a restaurant. Judy got a plate with goose breast, cabbage, bacon dumplings and mashed potatoes. The dumplings were different than anything I'd seen before and I wish I could have tried them. Stan got wild boar stew with cranberries and gingerbread dumplings. Again, the dumpling were very different, even from Judy's dumplings. Chris got smoked pork (ham) with spinach and potato dumplings. Her dish was a little less exciting in my eyes, but the potato dumplings were very different from the other dumplings. What I got was quite unexciting, by comparison and otherwise. It was balls of barley with some pickles and mushroom, potato and root vegetable soup. The barley actually tasted better than it looked and the soup was quite good. But the wild boar and goose where really stirring my inner carnivore. 
Dacicky Restaurant: a little bit down an alley.
A quill and inkwell represent Nicholas Dacicky's writing, the stein represents his drinking and it appears he liked his pipe as well.
Yes, he liked to drink.
And to eat, and his women.
Goose and bacon dumplings. 
Wild boar stew and gingerbread dumplings.
Ham and potato dumplings.
Mushroom, potato and root vegetable soup.
So I got some glimpses of traditional Czech cuisine, but need to go back and try it. It looked like a cuisine that would fit my palate quite nicely. 


  1. Yes, that duck at the last place was marvelous. And yes, while you cramped our eating style on that trip, we did somehow manage to come up with some compromises that worked.

  2. I'm pretty sure you're going to have to revisit all of these places and sample some of the food you missed.