Veg/Veggie/Vegan/Vegetarian

Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to cut out meat? Are you feeling sad for all the animals being killed just because of pleasure on your plate? This month I will show where to feast meat-free (and animal by-product free) and not just because of Lent.

My favorite place is called Pastva restaurant&café, probably because it’s located right in front of my house. They have unique daily menus, consisting of a choice of three meals and a soup. The food I ate there was always delicious and full of new tastes. Price range is also very friendly and as a plus, they also have delicious organic lemonades. The place is quite small, so it can be difficult to find a seat during lunch hour, especially when you are a bigger group of people, but it is really worth waiting a while for a table.

photo / www.pastva-restaurant.cz
photo / www.pastva-restaurant.cz

If you are in the city centre desperately looking for something nutritious and all you see around are fast foods, look no further! There is a chain of vegan and vegetarian restaurants called Loving hut and Dhaba beas, respectively. In terms of taste, you could find better spots, but if you are vegan you can eat fine there for nice price, right in the city centre. If I were you I would mark those restaurant spots on your map, to always know where the nearest is. They often serve food as a buffet, so you can pick just the stuff you like. The best part: free water, no paying extra for still drinks!

photo / www.beas-dhaba.cz
photo / www.beas-dhaba.cz

Now moving on to hipster town: Have you heard of Krymská Street? No? Krymská is the most hip street Prague (it’s common knowledge, no one knows why).  And what kind of a hip street would it be without a vegan restaurant? Plevel restaurant has even been awarded an exceptional star from one of the most famous Czech chefs, Zdeněk Pohlreich. Their speciality is fruit/veg smoothies and also innovate every day, with unique daily menus.

photo / http://restauraceplevel.cz
photo / http://restauraceplevel.cz

Now for the Sun of all stars: Etnosvět.
This restaurant gem is pricier than most of the restaurants that I previously mentioned. I strongly recommend having a reservation as the restaurant is quite small, and frequently filled. This place is also family friendly, so an ideal location for a celebration. Their menu is a fusion of the world’s most famous cuisines and the best meal I had there so far was their creamy Thai curry. It is not on their current menu, but maybe you’ll luck out and find it on one of their their daily menus.

photo / http://etnosvet.cz/en
photo / http://etnosvet.cz/en

Do not fancy beer? Here are your options…

This time we will go against the flow. The Czech Republic may be well known as a country of beer, but a lot of people do appreciate a good glass of wine. Moravia, the part of the Czech Republic that is almost never visited by any tourists (as most of the parts outside Prague), produces quite a lot of wine for the size of our country.

Firstly, I would like to give you some basic tips, in case you just want to buy a bottle in a supermarket. You can buy some very cheap wines that are often surprisingly good (around 100 CZK per bottle), BUT that does not apply to Czech wine! The usual price range for good foreign wines is around 100-300 CZK. Most of the more expensive bottles are overpriced  as the quality doesn’t increase much. On the other hand, cheap Czech wines are not drinkable. Generally,  if you prefer to go local, go for white wine or rosé.  The country doesn’t have enough sunlight for producing quality red wines and thus many reds often contain added sugar, which may cause headaches. To my knowledge, the price range for good Czech wine is 200-400 CZK.

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Don’t know where to go to enjoy a nice glass or two or three? If you want great wine with your lunch, try Kavárna ad Astra. They have the best table wine I have ever tasted  offered  for an incredibly low price (less than 50 CZK for a glass). As it is a French style café,  their menu mostly consists of crépes and galettes, but during lunchtime, you can also get a typical Czech meal.

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photo / fb @cafeAdAstra

Right around the corner from ad Astra, there is one of my favorite wineries to stop by in the summer, Na břehu Rhony. You can choose from a wide selection of lovely wines to pour yourself straight from the shelf or opt for a bottle for a romantic evening with your loved one. The staff is always very helpful and in case you are indecisive like myself, they will help you pick the wine that will best suit your taste or you can go all in and try as many as you can. You can admire the Provence-style interior or sit outside and enjoy the atmosphere of Náplavka. Soak in the rays of sun as it sets over the stunning Prague castle panorama by continuing to one of the Prague boat tours on the Vltava river.

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photo / fb Pas à pas, s.r.o. – Víno s tělem i duší

The last place that I mention should for sure end up the last on your list. It is the elegant  Monarch Gastrobar. This newly renovated wine bar allows you to discover the marvelous tastes of liquid grapes and comes with a range of great tapas to choose from. I especially recommend their patés and cheeses. They are the kind that you could eat all the time and still ask for more! Another great feature is that the bar is located right next to Národní třída area, which is the go to place for most of Prague’s young and hip.

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photo / fb @MonarchGastrobar

Today’s topic is breakfast, so dig in!

Welcome to another of our Prague excursions, this time we will focus on the most important meal of the day, and that is, my friends, breakfast. 

Now, what do Czechs typically eat for breakfast? It is a tricky question because despite being a native Czech, I cannot recall one particular meal for breakfast. Many people like salty meals in the morning, like bread with cheese and ham or eggs prepared in various ways. Others prefer pancakes, cereal or marble cake.

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Then we have all these special breakfast recipes for curing hangover. In this case, you might want to head to one of my favourite places – Café Louvre. Their menu includes meals such as morning goulash or beef broth. And yes, they do work! I am sure that a lot you will be looking for a quick fix after a long night in Prague, so try it yourself and then let us if it worked for you.

Apart from these delicious and effective hangover remedies, I also wanted to mention the typical Czech pancakes called “lívance”. But be careful, these melt-in-your-mouth fluffy waffle-like cakes with raspberry sauce are highly addictive! Just a heads up for those of you who do not fancy sweet things, they can also be prepared salty with smoked salmon and cream cheese and served with champagne!

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Another place that I must recommend is the restaurant Eska in Karlín serving fresh home-made bread every day.  Don’t expect anything fancy, you will get bread with a spread or a selection of home-made marmalades. No complex dishes, just enjoy the atmosphere. If you are looking for a different type of culinary experience, I recommend coming to Eska for dinner or lunch but that’s topic for another article. You will also discover an interesting new neighbourhood you wouldn’t otherwise see if it weren’t for this restaurant.

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Finally, a brunch tip. Do you want to celebrate something?  Are you in Prague with your family? Do you like the riverbank? Do you like ports? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then the place for you to be is Port62. In winter, the restaurant and café serves delicious brunches on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., which are different every week. The very friendly price 590CZK/person includes soft drinks and a glass of wine or beer. I have tested this brunch several times and I was always very satisfied. Make sure you get a table right next to the window, so that you can enjoy the calming view of the river with swans sometimes coming by to say hello. This is exactly how I imagine the ultimate Sunday relax should look like.

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Hello Steak, Nice to MEAT You!

My fellow gourmands, this time, I must apologize to all the vegetarians among you, but you might want to avert your eyes. I previously talked about finding food for a fair price and will do so again today; you‘ll just need to dig a little deeper in your pockets. So let’s talk steak. 

I don’t think that it needs mentioning that the best is to look for places where you can choose your cut, where they follow your wishes and make you feel divine. One of those places is Naše Maso (“our meat”) which is a small butcher‘s shop where you can find EVERYTHING, and if they do not have what you are looking for at that moment, they will do their best accommodate you and order it. I cannot recall any better customer service at a butcher‘s shop than here.

image credits / www.michaelatomiskova.com

For a fee you can have your cut of meat prepared right there and you can likewise enjoy a burger or pastrami from their daily menu. The only disadvantage is that they do not have many places for seating and the place always seems to be at peak capacity. Yet they have a solution for that too. Every evening, after they close the shop, they have something called “večeře u řezníka” (dinner at the butcher‘s), where for 1000 CZK (excluding drinks) you can sample some of their best dishes. There are only 6 seats at the table available and I recommend reserving with a bunch of your closest friends for maximum enjoyment.

image credits / www.tasteofprague.com
image credits / www.tasteofprague.com

Furthermore, when speaking of Naše maso, we should note it is a member of the Ambiente group, which has a diverse repertoire of restaurants, all of which have the same amazing standard in meat. For steaks I recommend the specialized Čestr (abbreviation for Czech mottled cattle) or Brasilero which offers Churrasco rodízio, both of which are members of this group.

image credits / http://cestr.ambi.cz
image credits / http://cestr.ambi.cz

Moving on to their biggest rival and, in my opinion, the second best choice is The Real Meat Society. The meat here is more accessible with slightly friendlier prices. They also have their own signature butcher‘s shop with a “restaurant” called Maso a Kobliha (“Meat and doughnut”), however, with stronger stress on the doughnut! Don’t get me wrong, their meat is beyond delicious, but their lamb is preferable to their good old beef steak.

image credits / www.masoakobliha.cz
image credits / www.masoakobliha.cz

Last but not least, we have George Prime Steak. Personally, this is a one time experience unless you you have a soft spot for snobbery and the expensive atmosphere. They claim to give you the best dry-aged steak in Prague, but it‘s up to you if you to believe them. Their prices are definitely worth the glory served on your plate, and if you are celebrating a life milestone, this is the place to go. However, that does not necessarily mean comparable steaks cannot be achieved at home.

image credits / http://georgeprimesteak.com
image credits / http://georgeprimesteak.com

Though you can have a steak in almost any restaurant in Prague, if you are a true bon vivant, you’ll appreciate a little hint where to find something refreshingly different to the usual beef on your plate.

5 Home style cooking places in Prague you need to go right now

We all know those expensive restaurants all around the world that offer something “special”. Consider, for instance, molecular cuisine: no one is exactly sure what you are eating and you end up with a slice of bread with a tiny bit of infused butter that will mesmerize your taste buds but you will also have to dig deep into your pocket. So are there places where you can eat well, not spend a fortune and still truly enjoy that little something on your plate? The answer is YES! Fortunately, trends in modern cuisine are changing and places offering “home style cooking” are on the rise.

Let’s start with the basics: soups

With the onset of low temperatures and rainy days, sometimes associated with depression resulting from short days with little sunlight, many of us start craving soups. Well, at least in my case. The soup restaurant Polévkárna paní Mančo is one of the places to visit if you’re a soup lover. Their daily menu includes thick soups as well as broths to warm you up and keep you well hydrated. Each soup is special and cooked with love, which is something I found very refreshing.

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photo: www.polevkarnamanco.cz

Bistros Home Kitchen also offer very good soups. There are four of them in Prague and they change their soup menu every week. You can either order a small soup as a starter before the main course or a big one, which will do as a whole lunch. From time to time, they also offer the typical Czech meal called “Buchtičky se šodó” (small cakes with custard), which I highly recommend.

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photo: www.homekitchen.cz

Moving on to restaurants…

The beautiful restaurant Osteria da Clara, though a bit further from the city centre, is definitely worth the short tram ride. There are very few places that offer authentic Italian cuisine. Don’t get discouraged by their website because none of us is perfect and I value that they know what they’re doing in the kitchen rather than their IT skills. In my experience, they have fresh fish on to menu at least three times a week and you can also treat yourself to great spaghetti, delicious soups or the finest panna cotta. Unsurprisingly, they also serve great wine and coffee.

photo: www.daclara.com
photo: www.daclara.com

…And finishing off by desserts and coffee

My favourite cafe in Prague is the newly opened Kavárna co hledá jméno (“café looking for a name”). Located in a reconstructed factory building, the place has a unique atmosphere. I wouldn’t really recommend going there to work unless you’re a Mac owner as it seems to be some kind of a secret code to fit in. Be that as it may, their coffee is absolutely fantastic and they offer a different kind every week.

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photo: www.nasekavarny.cz

You may also enrich your experience by homemade desserts. I personally recommend trying their carrot cake. It’s pure heaven. And speaking of “pure things”, you might also want to visit Puro Gelato, ice cream parlour specialized in gelato. There are two parlours in Prague: in Výtoň and in Kaprova Street in the very centre of the city. Apart from awesome gelatos, they also offer mind-blowing waffles, genuine Italian espresso and other tasty desserts.

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photo: www.veronikad.com

I hope I have inspired you to try out home style cooking in Prague and I am looking forward to sharing our experience.

Pastrami – the NYC delicacy finally in Prague

The meat product pastrami, which has been popular in snack bars all over the world for years, has finally reached Prague.

History

Pastrami is a meat delicacy that has its origin in Romanian and Turkish cuisines. The word “pastrami” is derived from the Romanian verb “a pǎstra”, which means “preserve”. Carpathian villagers have been preserving meat by smoking since a long time ago. The Turkish meal called “pastirma” might be another predecessor of this dish but in this case the meat was dried, not smoked. However, pastrami is much more often associated with Jewish cuisine as it has become a popular kosher meal. It was introduced to the United States together with the two million Jewish immigrants who came to the country in the 1930s. They opened snack bars and specialised shops called “deli”, where pastrami and other delicacies are still sold today. Such places have always held the community together and reminded the people of their home through traditional cuisine but at the same time, they have always been opened to everyone.  The family businesses are passed from one generation to another. Click on the link to learn more about one such traditional “deli” on Manhattan – Katz’s Delicatessen, http://katzsdelicatessen.com/, VIDEO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEHrI0FGOOQ

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Preparation

Pastrami is made from beef brisket or short ribs. Pastrami from lamb, poultry and fish is also popular, while pork is rather rare. Preparing pastrami is quite a time-consuming and demanding process. Well rested meat (if beef is used) must be brined for at least 7 to 10 days, depending on the thickness and weight of the meat. Cooks are very protective of their original brine recipes. The cured meat is cooked at low temperature and then in steam in order to get rid of the unnecessary salt  and finally, the meat is smoked. Pastrami is traditionally served with rye bread, mustard and pickles (cucumbers, sweet pepper, cabbage…). In pastrami delis, sandwiches with a thick layer of meat and vegetables, dressings and other ingredients are extremely popular.

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Where can I get pastrami in Prague?

There are several places in Prague, where pastrami sandwiches are served from time to time, for example at the deli Lahůdkářství Sváček, http://www.lahudkarstvisvacek.cz/ or Naše maso, http://nasemaso.ambi.cz/cz/. The only specialised deli offering a wide range of pastrami sandwiches and other delicacies in Prague is La Bibiche, https://www.facebook.com/labibicheprague. The nice small bistro in the quarter Vinohrady on 21, Francouzská Street has been opened for already two years. They offer the usual pastrami dishes with coriander and ginger mustard, cabbage and cucumbers. Apart from these sandwiches, their daily menu includes warm pastrami meals (with jalapenos, homemade truffle mayonnaise, omelettes and others), seasonal pastrami, pastrami wraps and croissants. La Bibiche is not only about meat, they also have soups, salads, homemade pies and lemonades, beers from small breweries, special wines and choice coffee espressos on their menu.  The bistro also offers various vegetarian meals.

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La Bibiche, 21, Francouzská Street, Prague 2 (TRAM stop Jana Masaryka), MON- FRI 9:30 am – 7:00 pm, tel. 728 796 707, labibicheprague@gmail.com, https://www.facebook.com/labibicheprague

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6 great coffee shops in Prague you don’t want to miss

Twenty years ago, it was impossible to find a coffee shop in Prague. Let alone a good coffee shop. Times have changed and specialty coffee shops are experiencing a boom around the world and Europe. Prague is no different. Think Prague gives thumbs up and love to these six coffee shops for you to choose from; both new and established on the Prague coffee scene.

 

Barry Higgel’s coffeehouse | Prague 7

These guys bring their coffee from London’s Workshop Coffee and with the sleek minimalistic design, they are the much-needed addition to Holešovice neighborhood. Barry’s Coffeehouse has an incredible potential to become the neighborhood’s top spot. Excellent coffee with healthy food options. With breakfast granolas, sandwiches, and soups, there is plenty to choose from.

Photo: Barry Higgel’s coffeehouse

 

Twenty7 | Prague 7

A rather serious affair, Twenty7 is an excellent good choice for an afternoon coffee or an early evening glass of wine. Cozy with modern design, rich menu, and coffee the way it’s meant to be. A place like this was needed in Prague a long time ago.

Photo | IG: @tanya_akulova
Photo | IG: @wnb_mischa

 

The Kavárna | Prague 2

They said “don’t open any more coffee shops in Vinohrady”, so the duo behind Coffee Break & Cake went ahead and did just that. Minimalist design, beans from Mamacoffee, and a whole list of drinks and food options; you can’t do wrong with The Kavárna.

Photo | IG: @nasekavarny

 

Ema Espresso Bar | Prague 1

The talk of the town. That’s Ema Espresso Bar. Hardly a new coffee shop in Prague, yet the hype has not worn off. Long queues outside of their doors speak for the coffee and the lack of cakes in the afternoon for their scrumptious sweets. They disappear fast and with a good reason. The only negative? No healthy food options. Go for the coffee and not for the cakes, unless you plan on hitting the gym.

Photo | IG: @pereguinn

 

Kavárna co hledá jméno | Prague 5

These guys definitely stirred up the pot. Newly opened on the left-side of the river, this coffee shop is a little bit of everything: an art gallery, a working space, a garden, and your business meeting point. Rustic details and a spacious main area set this place from the rest. Sweet cherry on top: the coffee is from Nordbeans. Although with its bitterness it might not be for everyone.

Photo | IG: @kavarnacohledajmeno

 

Můj Šálek Kávy | Prague 8

It seems like they do everything right: excellent coffee, food, locale, and they are open on Sundays! Go for the breakfast and cappuccino or a flat white, if you prefer your coffee stronger. Quality beans from Doubleshot do not disappoint. Get ready to wait for a seat or call in for a reservation in advance. You won’t be disappointed, though.

Photo | IG: @janlosert