A Foodie is Born in Prague.
The first time I visited Prague was on a 3-day layover during our RTW and hubby and I ran around the city trying to see everything TripAdvisor suggested. From the Prague Castle to the Jewish Quarter to the beautifully ornate Astronomical Clock and its ridiculous hourly “Walk of the Apostles” where hundreds of tourists, while eating Tdelniks, pack themselves in to watch unknown Catholic saints twirl around for a minute. Most of us having no clue what any of it means. Box checked.
The last time I was in Prague budget dictated everything we did and at 7 months in, the budget was thin.
This time, almost a year to the day of my last visit, I would step foot in Prague again, tagging along on Hernan's business trip, determined, this time would be different. This time it would be all about the food. Budget be damned.
Yes, I would be alone the entire time since hubby would be working 14-hour days, but a little nugget about me, I enjoy traveling alone and was looking forward to wandering the city sans spouse.
Considering that Prague was under communist rule from 1948 to 1989 and during that time culinary growth (or any other for that matter) ceased, I was delighted to discover a lively and modern food scene steeped in tradition.
Here are some of the highlights of my food journey through Prague.
The first thing I did was sign up for a food tour. How else would I be able to try a lot of food in a short amount of time. I have never gone on a food tour because they seem stuffy, most are presented in a very business-like manner, and I’m not interested in going to a food “class”. Plus, they’re not cheap. But when I came across the Taste of Prague with their casual manner on how to discover food in the Prague, I was in.
The Taste of Prague Foodie Tour was everything I wished for. Martin, our guide, was more like a friend of a friend who agreed to show you around the best spots locals frequent, spots you might otherwise miss. To their credit, it didn’t feel like we were on a “tour” but a small group of new friends exploring the town. No one wore a name tag or carried a flag and we weren't herded from restaurant to restaurant.
We visited 6 unique places where we sampled around 20 different modern and traditional foods and beverages. I could not have imagined being able to do this on my own. If you’re ever in Prague, let the guys from Taste of Prague show you around. Check out some of my favorite foods and places from the tour.
My first experience at a set tasting menu was 7 years ago at La Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar in Buenos Aires, Argentina (now closed) and I loved it. The entire experience. There is a theatrical feel to this type of dining that I really enjoy so when I found out I could have this experience in Prague, I made a reservation right away.
Luckily, Hernan was able to join me for this experience. Although I had psyched myself up to dine alone, it’s much more fun to share the experience.
La Degustation Boheme Bourgoise.
La Degustation is an upscale, Michelin-star restaurant serving only an 8-course preset tasting menu of traditional Czech food presented in a modern way. All of the ingredients are locally sourced and the dishes are paired mostly with local wines and complete with Top Chef-style pea foams and pumpkin dollops.
Despite the price tag and the fancy accolades, the food is fun, light and absolutely delicious. The overall dining atmosphere is relaxed and cosy. The staff was friendly and knowledgable with a sense of humor. We were fortunate to be seated close to the open kitchen so we could observe the chefs at work but found ourselves delighting more in the eating and discussing of the food.
What I love about a preset menu is that you get what you get. If given a choice I tend to make the safe one. Never would I choose a dish of beetroot and goat kefir even if it is with blueberries and rum. And I would have missed out on one of the best spoonfuls of deliciousness I’ve ever had.
There are many farmers markets in Prague. I went on a Saturday to the Naplavka Farmers Market which winds along the Vltava river just south of the Dancing House (that’s the landmark I used to get there). It was an easy 20-min walk from my hotel.
I arrived later than recommended, market starts at 8:00am, by 10:00am it’s pretty crowded so when I arrived around noon, it was packed and since spring had sprung early it seemed like everyone was there. Once I reached the market stalls, I grabbed a local craft beer and wandered along the waterfront browsing the food and jewelry stalls and sampling everything from BBQ spare ribs and cheese to cured meats and pastries. Some of the lines were very long but worth the wait.
I even watched a man literally net a bunch of fish, drop them into a plastic bin, knock them over the head with a wooden stick thing, and sell them to the man next to me. I mean, the soul of the fish hadn’t even left the body yet and the man was carrying it off to a grill somewhere.
Farmers Markets are a great way to try a lot of different street foods and snacks. It’s not just schnitzel and sauerkraut.