Recently a friend and I spent a lovely weekend in Prague before heading down south to Croatia. It was the perfect start to our vacation. There was plenty to see in the city and it eased us into a relaxing holiday vibe. It always takes me a while to unwind so I prefer to start in a city with plenty of site-seeing before moving onto the more relaxing phases. Plus - I get to use three different names for one place. Win! Prague | Praha | Praga.
On Saturday morning we woke up ready to walk around the main sites: the Castle, Old Town Square, and the Charles Bridge (they are really close to each other so it's not difficult to see them all in one afternoon! Also - if you can be at the clock tower on a Saturday afternoon, you won't want to miss the awesome light show demonstrating Prague's history). We even had time for little fishies to eat our feet skin. It was the worst thing ever. Don't do it!And to see the Charles Bridge at night. Beautiful. On our way we saw huge swaths of women in hand decorated pink T shirts clouding the streets. It took a while for us to figure out that this was a race for the cure event in Prague! Since it was about 11 am we figured they must have already run the race and now were enjoying the post race celebration. How cool would it have been to start the day running through closed off streets in the beautiful old city? There were large Avon balloon canopies, pink port-o-poties and lots of milling around. Ha! Silly Americans. It didn't take long for us to realize they had not begun. They were just about to start on their WALK for the cure, cigarettes in hand. Oh Europe.And of course we had to try some local Absinthe. We were lucky enough to have Anna Food Pioneer lead us through the town providing an historical overview of the Czech food culture through delicious cafes. It is incredible to see a country transforming their food culture so quickly. She told us stories of giant cookbooks made to feed 500 and large cafeterias that all served the same food. There was no food diversity... if one cafe had goulash for lunch, so did every other cafe. Caput. The decline of creative cooking and the loss of recipes and food culture is something I personally never thought of as a side affect of communism during the cold war era. For someone older than me, this probably is obvious, but for me it was an incredible new way to look at the journey of food and its relationship to a people and a culture and politics.
Throughout the tour we saw traditional Czech food alongside a new scene for healthy, vegetarian-friendly cafes with the slow food movement at heart. Considering that sausage might be the number one staple, that is huge! They are moving to save the pigs, support local farmers and embrace farm life and wine making. They even had gluten free bread!
And I've never eaten so much sausage in my entire life. I'm sure the glutamine healed my gut just a little bit 🙂
Here are some highlights of what and where we ate. I also highly highly, highly recommend checking out Taste of Prague if you ever visit. They were very accommodating for gluten-free and dairy-free options (although I couldn't eat everything, at least I could enjoy most things!) It was the best part of my trip in Prague and I will definitely go again if I find myself back in the city. However, my next trip to the Czech Republic will have to include some wine country!
The first stop was the amazing little Sisters Bistro that had gluten free toasts! The rest of the crew also enjoyed some fine local cheese on their toasts. They made great gluten free and dairy free options for me though! This butcher Nase Maso believes in nose to tail responsible and sustainable ranching. Think head cheese and the cutest meatloaf I've ever seen. The Lokal is laid-back dive-barry sort of place, where locals gather to drink pints, eat comfort food and watch a game. I got a local "soda" which tasted like a carbonated herbal drink. Almost like ginger beer meets root beer meats herbal tea. It was pretty neat. Fresh Banh-mi bowls (bun bo nam bo) were a fresh and welcome reprise from the plates of meat on meat on meat. And what food tour is complete without wine? This local Bokovka Wine Bar makes all of their wines using Czech grapes and has some awesome traditional method wines. This hip new joint is in the newer more hipster part of town. Eska is vegetarian and super crunchy. I loved everything about it. Here is a shot of the fresh herbs and ferments they grow outside the restaurant, an egg and mushroom dish on very cool handmade pottery, and a gluten-free dairy free dessert of asparagus and fresh strawberries. Yum!Mulled wine and the Sausage that did me in. I couldn't eat sausage for weeks after that weekend! Too many. Fancy cocktails at Hemminway's Bar near the bridge. Something that I thought was really cool, and was not around last time we went to Prague (about 4 years ago) was these little posters to help people of different languages identify and communicate food allergies. It made eating gluten and dairy free so easy! I wish more places would do this!