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eG Foodblog: Rehovot - Prague: City of a Thousand Forks

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#1 Rehovot

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 05:00 AM

Hello, fair eG folk! Sorry for the late start. (Well, late for Europe; it's lunchtime.) Tracey was right. (However did you guess?!) Welcome to Prague. :smile: My name is Erin, and I live and work here, with my husband (who is Czech), in the city of a thousand spires (which also happen to look a lot like forks, when you're hungry...or so I think).

The first teaser photo is on the far south side of Prague. It's of Cukrak mountain; "cukrak," roughly translated, means "little pastry chef."
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(Cukrak is about an hour from this Prague vista.) :biggrin: Posted Image

The second teaser photo, below, really is in Prague; it's of a fruit and vegetable market in the Ujezd neighborhood. They have the best fruit and veg in town (at least, in my opinion). :wub:
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I'm at work, today and tomorrow, and I'll tell you more about that later, because I spend the business day surrounded by cookbooks... :smile: After that, I have a few days off so I'm planning to roam around Prague and show you some hidden good stuff beyond roast pork, dumplings, and cabbage.

Here's my plan for the week... Ask any questions you like about what you see.
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Unorganized bits of the plan...
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I'll post a bunch of photos later, but I have to warn you that my food photography skills are nowhere near the previous bloggers'.... Kim's blog and Chris's were truly mouthwatering. The good news is that I just discovered Picasa, this morning, so I may be able to spare you my blurry breakfast photos. :smile:

Breakfast: turkey sandwich and coffee. It's about all I can do to assemble this. In fact, this is advanced, for me. :raz: I'm not a morning person at all.
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More anon. :wink:

#2 johnnyd

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 05:15 AM

Welcome Rehovot! I have always wanted to visit Prague so I am looking forward to this foodblog. I see people at the market in jackets - is it still cold there?

Picasa is terrific - my "go-to" photo software for eGullet projects. PM me if you have any questions, but your pics look great so far.

Have fun!
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#3 prasantrin

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 05:22 AM

Very cool! I loved Prague, though I don't think I'd ever go back except under very particular circumstances.

Where are you from originally, and as I like to ask all ex-pats, what do you miss most (foodwise, especially, but any kind of answer is OK!) from wherever it is you're from?

#4 Lior

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 05:28 AM

HEllo!! I spent 3 days in Prague a few years ago- it is a beautiful city! saw a lovely music and light show in the park and of course, the black theatres!! I can't wait for your explanations and all!
l'hitraot! (=bye and see you again)

#5 nakji

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 05:32 AM

Praha! How exciting. I see you're going to a Vietnamese market. When I lived in Vietnam, many of my students had visited Prague (and universally loved it). Are there many Vietnamese people living in Prague? And can you get a decent bowl of pho?

#6 gfron1

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 05:51 AM

Prague has always been high on my travel list, so thanks for taking the time to blog for us. I've always been curious about your avatar - what is it and is there some deep, dark significance?

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#7 Kim Shook

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 05:57 AM

Erin, I'm so glad it's you! I am very excited to see this! Prague is somewhere I'd like to go sometime. Don't forget my neighborhood shots :wink: :biggrin: !
Have fun. I hope you sleep sometime this week :wink: !

#8 Rehovot

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 07:34 AM

Welcome Rehovot!  I have always wanted to visit Prague so I am looking forward to this foodblog.  I see people at the market in jackets - is it still cold there?
Picasa is terrific - my "go-to" photo software for eGullet projects.  PM me if you have any questions, but your pics look great so far.
Have fun!

Hi, johnnyd; the teaser photo of the market is a few weeks old... Not that it's warmed up much, since then. But at least the apple and cherry trees are beginning to blossom. :smile:
Thanks for offering Picasa help; I'm sure I'll take you up on it! (I think the whole slew of photos I took with my phone, on my lunch-break trip to the supermarket, are beyond repair, though; we'll see...)

Very cool!  I loved Prague, though I don't think I'd ever go back except under very particular circumstances. 
Where are you from originally, and as I like to ask all ex-pats, what do you miss most (foodwise, especially, but any kind of answer is OK!) from wherever it is you're from?

Thanks, prasantrin. I'm American, originally from California and Colorado (which is why I lurk on the Southwest threads a lot, where it smells like home). I thus miss Mexican food tremendously, although the ingredients are becoming easier and easier to find, here. And there's a great Colombian restaurant in town where they make fabulous empanadas. :smile:
I miss Cheetos a lot, to be absolutely honest. :blink:

HEllo!! I spent 3 days in Prague a few years ago- it is a beautiful city! saw a lovely music and light show in the park and of course, the black theatres!! I can't wait for your explanations and all!
l'hitraot! (=bye and see you again)

Hi, Lior/Ilona! I'm glad you popped in; my lunch today was from your part of the world. :smile: I think you'll recognize the contents of my pantry, by the way. :biggrin:

Praha! How exciting. I see you're going to a Vietnamese market. When I lived in Vietnam, many of my students had visited Prague (and universally loved it). Are there many Vietnamese people living in Prague? And can you get a decent bowl of pho?

Yes; nakji, I'm so glad you saw this... PHO! :wub: It's part of my quest, this week. There are three big Vietnamese markets in town, and I'm going to one....except (ahem) they're not exactly open to the public... There are a lot of Vietnamese immigrants and Czech Vietnamese; many of them run independent businesses (but no Vietnamese restaurants :sad: ) like the Ujezd vegetable market. All the fruit and veg from these markets are sourced from the three big wholesale ones, which is where all the good stuff--and the good pho stands--are!

Prague has always been high on my travel list, so thanks for taking the time to blog for us.  I've always been curious about your avatar - what is it and is there some deep, dark significance?

Hi, gfron1--my avatar is a pizzelle, one of those Italian cookies... My favorite food memory (to date) is when my family made something like this (or maybe ristrelli?) at home when I was very young. So all my favorite pastries somehow are flat and patterned and dusted with powdered sugar; this cookie had an imprinting effect on me... :biggrin:

Erin, I'm so glad it's you!  I am very excited to see this!  Prague is somewhere I'd like to go sometime.  Don't forget my neighborhood shots  :wink:  :biggrin: !
Have fun.  I hope you sleep sometime this week  :wink: !

Kim, I loved your blog! Those onion rings are my desktop photo. :smile:

I'm meeting my husband for dinner in town at a cafe and will post more photos (lunch, snack #1, snack #s 2-5 :biggrin: ) once I get home.

Edited by Rehovot, 21 April 2008 - 12:36 PM.


#9 Shelby

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 07:54 AM

Hi Rehovot!

I'm from Colorado, too! :smile:

Thank you for taking time to share your upcoming week. I'm looking forward to it!

#10 Rehovot

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 08:00 AM

One of the things I'm looking forward to doing on my days off is going to this exhibit of the world of Prague cafes, which I hope will be full of vintage photos of cafes, coffee, and pastries from places like Kavarna Archa (Kafka's hangout), Kavarna Slavia (which Vaclav Havel helped to restore), and Cafe Louvre (haunt of Einstein and other greats). Posted Image
Erhartova cukrarna, which reopened a couple of months ago after work to restore it to its former 1920s-era gleam, is also on my list...
(Kavarna = cafe. Cukrarna = patisserie/bakery/sweets shop, depending on where you are when you're reading this.) :smile:

#11 therese

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 08:24 AM

How very cool to see you blogging.

Those of you who haven't checked it out should visit Rehovot's usual blog, Smetana's Glasses. There's a link in her sig line, I believe.
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#12 Kouign Aman

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 10:05 AM

Oh Prague!
I'd love to live there for a year or two. I was only there 1 day and two half days, and learned to love the public transportation system that quickly.
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#13 Kent Wang

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 10:18 AM

Will you tell us how you ended up in Prague? What a beautiful city; it's also high on my to do list. Do you speak fluent Czech? Can you get by on just English?

#14 Rehovot

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 12:20 PM

Here's what I forgot to post, this morning... I commute for about an hour to work; I work for a publishing company in an outer suburb of Prague. The only interesting thing on my commute to work, food-wise, are these snack kiosks. (The options from work are much better.) :biggrin:
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Posted ImageSnack kiosk, other side... That man looks like he could use a doughnut.

Posted ImageMinonky! :smile: Dark chocolate + wafers. Very good around 10:00 am with a second cup of coffee.

Posted ImageHere's my reading material, at work. :wink:

Gah...Sorry for the crazy photo sizes! :wacko:

#15 Rehovot

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 12:32 PM

Hi Rehovot!
I'm from Colorado, too!  :smile:
Thank you for taking time to share your upcoming week.  I'm looking forward to it!

Thanks, Shelby! And thanks for the plug, Therese. :wink:

Oh Prague!
I'd love to live there for a year or two. I was only there 1 day and two half days, and learned to love the public transportation system that quickly.

I love it here...and you're right about public transport.

Will you tell us how you ended up in Prague? What a beautiful city; it's also high on my to do list. Do you speak fluent Czech? Can you get by on just English?

I fell in love with a Czech guy when we were both in grad school. Then we got married. Then we moved to Israel (food bliss). Then we moved here (also food bliss, in a different sort of way). That all happened in the last four years. (Two here; two in Israel.)
Mostly, I speak cafe Czech. I wouldn't say I'm fluent in much other than that, but now that I work in a company where the main language is Czech, it's starting to seep in. :biggrin: The Czech language is a tough-to-crack walnut. :wink:

Edited by Rehovot, 21 April 2008 - 12:34 PM.


#16 Rehovot

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 01:23 PM

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My colleague from Slovakia made this for lunch and brought me some, today. :smile: It's Hungarian spread: equal parts softened butter, Boursin, and cream cheese, with chopped parsley or chives, half a chopped red onion, cumin, and some sweet and hot paprika. (Add sour cream if it's too thick.) Very good on toast.

After my lunch snack, I walked to the supermarket near the office... It's enormous, with a whole food court on the second floor.

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The Czech contribution to the world of rolls, Part 1. (These are known as housky.)

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Czech gift to the world of rolls, Part 2. (These are rohliky.)

Every supermarket and grocery store, from mega-marts to little corner shops, have piles of these. You can measure inflation by how much the price of rohliky has increased.

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Czocholate. Studentska, milk and dark chocolate studded with nuts and candied fruit. Tasty! I should eat less of this, but it's addictive. :rolleyes: I blame my husband, who grew up on it.

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Sausages and all manner of hot dogs...

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Welcome to the land of bag and tag your own fruit and veg!

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Zavin (strudel); in this case, poppyseed strudel. I'm beginning to think it's possible to eat your weight in poppy seeds, here, every year; poppy seeds feature prominently in a lot of Cezch pastries.

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Mixed vegetables and herbs for soup...

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Vanocka (a pannettone-like bread mainly eaten at Christmas and Easter but sold year-round).

You're probably saying, "Yes, well, that's all very well and good, but where is the BEER?!" :laugh: So here you are...
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After work, I met my husband downtown for dinner at Cafe-Bar Platyz, which is hidden in a courtyard off of Narodni trida (in Prague 1).
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My husband had linguine with sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, and, in his words, "weeds." :biggrin:
I had palacinky (crepes) with spinach and cheese (with great gooey strands the length of your arm :wub: )... They didn't photograph so well but were pretty good.

We took a twenty-minute tram ride home and had tea and some poppyseed strudel. :smile:
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Ok, I'm exhausted and I didn't cook dinner. :wacko: :smile: Props to you foodbloggers who did this with flair.

Edited to blur a photo a bit more. :wink:

Edited by Rehovot, 21 April 2008 - 03:26 PM.


#17 Chufi

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 01:34 PM

Ok, I'm exhausted and I didn't cook dinner. :wacko:  :smile: Props to you foodbloggers who did this with flair.

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hey, you´re doing great!

There was a Czech intern in my office a couple of years ago. I think she brought a whole suitcase of Becherovka to give away as presents, unfortunately no one in the office liked the stuff much, except for me I LOVED it, so I got to take home all the bottles!

We have bag and tag your own groceries in lots of supermarkets here too. The thing is that even within the same chain, some places weigh at the register and some are bag and tag, so you never know what to do!

#18 miladyinsanity

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 03:29 PM

Oh, Erin, why couldn't you have done this blog BEFORE I went to Prague! LOL.

I was in Prague 2-3 weeks ago, and Erin is just absolutely wonderful. We met, and we bonded over food and the fact that someone made up walk uphill over cobblestones in heels. :smile:
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#19 MarketStEl

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 07:18 PM

Hello and welcome to the ranks of eG foodbloggers! I assume your posting handle derives from your time in Israel? What led you to choose it?

(Rehoboth Beach, Del., is a popular vacation spot for both Philadelphians and Washingtonians. Variant spelling, I realize.)

Here's what I forgot to post, this morning... I commute for about an hour to work; I work  for a publishing company in an outer suburb of Prague. The only interesting thing on my commute to work, food-wise, are these snack kiosks. (The options from work are much better.)  :biggrin:
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Do you live in central Prague?

If so, then greetings, fellow reverse commuter, from eG's resident transit geek.

What do you take? Bus, tram, metro, or suburban train, or some combination of the foregoing? (I know it's somewhat off-topic, but as these foodblogs are part gastronomic diary and part travelogue, if you can work in a Prague tram in your travels, I'd appreciate it.)


Posted Image
My colleague from Slovakia made this for lunch and brought me some, today. :smile: It's Hungarian spread: equal parts softened butter, Boursin, and cream cheese, with chopped parsley or chives, half a chopped red onion, cumin, and some sweet and hot paprika. (Add sour cream if it's too thick.) Very good on toast.


That spread sounds good, and it sounds like something you can make at home. Got a recipe?

Posted Image
The Czech contribution to the world of rolls, Part 1. (These are known as housky.)


And they look something like Kaiser rolls. Are they related?

Posted Image
Czech gift to the world of rolls, Part 2. (These are rohliky.)

Every supermarket and grocery store, from mega-marts to little corner shops, have piles of these. You can measure inflation by how much the price of rohliky has increased.


These resemble mini-sub rolls. How long are they, and how much has their price risen since January?

Posted Image
Welcome to the land of bag and tag your own fruit and veg!


What is the purpose of the photo array behind the scale in this photo?

I also note cases of real Budweiser in your collection of beer photos. I recall reading that Anheuser-Busch has tried to block the brewery in Ceske Budovice from using its name outside the Czech Republic. Has the EU caved in to their pressure? (In the U.S., Budweiser Budvar is sold as Czechvar.)
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#20 dockhl

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 07:45 PM

Posted Image
My colleague from Slovakia made this for lunch and brought me some, today. :smile: It's Hungarian spread: equal parts softened butter, Boursin, and cream cheese, with chopped parsley or chives, half a chopped red onion, cumin, and some sweet and hot paprika. (Add sour cream if it's too thick.) Very good on toast.


Oh my. My mother is Slovak and I inherited her family's love of ALL those things (as my hips will attest :hmmm: ). My grandfather came over the Carpathian Mountains at age 17, on of THOSE stories, to escape the Austro-Hungarian Empire armies. (And draft, I imagine.) I have never been but must visit someday. He was from Uzhhorod, by the River (?) Ung? So much amazing history.

Do you get to travel much? Where did you go to grad school? Is your husband happy to be home ?

So many questions, so little time (no you may not sleep ! :laugh: )

#21 Smithy

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 08:34 PM

Well, all my questions have already been asked, and then some! So welcome to the world of food blogging!

Specifically, I'll repeat some of the questions from upthread:
Do you have a recipe for that fabulous-looking spread?
What's the basis of your screen name?
What has happened to the price of those rolls since January?
Oh, and feel free to expand extravagantly on the American-Budweiser's (:wacko:) attempts to co-opt the name "Budweiser" from the originators.

Are there specifically Czech dishes that you really enjoy? I'd love to see them!

I'll be away during most of your blog, probably not able to participate much - but I do look forward to reading it after the fact. Blog on, and thanks for joining the ranks!

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#22 racheld

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 09:12 PM

More anon. :wink:

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AWWWWW :wub: We're looking forward to it!!!
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#23 Rehovot

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 12:14 AM

Dobry den. :smile: Good morning... I need about three more cups of coffee.
Breakfast photos of yogurt, bananas, and granola are still on my camera, but here are some of what lunch will be: tabbouleh. Tabbouleh purists should avert their eyes toward the end; I add lemon zest. :wink:

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After work, I'm off to the Tynska literary cafe with a colleague; the plans include nakladny hermelin (marinated cheese with onions and peppers) and beer. :smile:

#24 Rehovot

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 01:31 AM

Oh, Erin, why couldn't you have done this blog BEFORE I went to Prague! LOL.

Hi, May--I'm hoping to get back to Passion Chocolat (the really lovely chocolatier in Vinohrady), this week...

Hello and welcome to the ranks of eG foodbloggers!  I assume your posting handle derives from your time in Israel?  What led you to choose it?

Hi, MarketStEl--you're right; my eG moniker means "streets" in Hebrew...mostly because I spent a lot of our time in Israel walking and finding all the great cafes and shuks (which I still miss.) And hauling groceries home. :wacko:

(We live about twenty minutes by tram from the center of Prague. My commute (to a suburb of Prague) is typically bus + metro + bus.)

That spread sounds good, and it sounds like something you can make at home.  Got a recipe?

The recipe is a 1:1:1 ratio of softened butter, Boursin, and cream cheese; the rest (parsley, onion, etc.) is to taste. :smile:

I'll have to do some hands-on roll research to answer those questions... :biggrin: We usually don't buy these and instead go for crusty bread like ciabatta. The housky and rohliky are good if they are very fresh, but they go soft quickly. Crusty bread seems hard to find here.

What is the purpose of the photo array behind the scale in this photo?

Those photos are on buttons attached to the scale; you plunk down your bananas, hit the button with the photo of bananas, and bingo: the machine weighs the item and spits out a price tag for it. :smile: Unless, like me, you buy some obscure thing, can't find the picture or the number for it, and then you hold up everyone else in line. :wink:

I don't think Anheuser-Busch won the case against Budvar in the EU...but I tend to only (and infrequently) drink really dark beer. Clearly, a trip to the Pivovarsky Klub (The Beer Club) is in order; thanks for reminding me. :laugh:

Oh my. My mother is Slovak and I inherited her family's love of ALL those things (as my hips will attest  :hmmm: ).

My Slovak colleague is a great cook; last week, she brought me wild game (marinated in wine) with berry sauce and dumplings, for lunch. Best office lunch EVER. :smile:

Are there specifically Czech dishes that you really enjoy?  I'd love to see them!

Hi, Smithy; I really like these dishes:

Vepro-knedlo-zelo (roast pork with dumplings and cabbage)
Svickova (sirloin with a creamy vegetable sauce, wild-berry jam, and lemon slices on the side, with a dollop of whipped cream)
Smazeny syr (fried cheese)

I'd say these three are on nearly every pub menu in town, in some form... Maybe Gordon Ramsay's local branch of Maze does something sublime with fried cheese.

I also have a deep and abiding love of Czech cakes and pastries (babovka, etc.). Believe me, those are also on the plan for this week.

#25 MarketStEl

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 02:11 AM

Thanks for all your answers, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the week.

(FTR: 55-minute suburban train ride from central Philadelphia to a far suburb, with a five-minute walk at each end of the trip.)

All those Czech foods sound yummy. That sirloin dish sounds like main course and dessert rolled into one, and therefore intriguing. Wonder how the sweetness of the berries and whipped cream plays off the rich, savory flavor of the beef?

But what I'd like to see is:

Smazeny syr (fried cheese)

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Are these anything like fried mozzarella sticks? Or is a softer cheese like cream cheese used?

Speaking of cream cheese: I assume that Philadelphia is widely available in Prague.
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#26 Rehovot

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 02:14 AM

By the way, here's our kitchen. Spacious it ain't, but everything's within reach. :cool:

Posted Image

#27 Rehovot

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 02:44 AM

That sirloin dish sounds like main course and dessert rolled into one, and therefore intriguing.  Wonder how the sweetness of the berries and whipped cream plays off the rich, savory flavor of the beef?

Done well, it's really excellent... There's just a bit of jam and whipped cream, but they're sharp accent notes, I'd say.

Are these anything like fried mozzarella sticks?

Exactly the same consistency and coating but with a different taste; hermelin, the cheese used, is Czech Brie. Instead of marinara on the side, it's served with tartar sauce.

Speaking of cream cheese:  I assume that Philadelphia is widely available in Prague.

Yes, but the local/regional version of cream cheese, tvaroch (known as "topfen" in Germany and Austria, I think), is ubiquitous in dozens of varieties (cherry-flavored, pineapple-flavored, thick, smooth, etc. ad infinitum) and is a lot cheaper.* :wink: The cheesecake-making possibilities with tvaroch are endless.
*(half the cost of Philly)

#28 nakji

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 02:51 AM

In Hanoi, Czech beer halls are really popular. One of the drinking snacks you could get at these places was something called "Russian Cheese". It was long strings of mild cheese that had been braided and smoked. It was usually served with a bit of mayonnaise and strong mustard on the side for dipping. I've never seen anything like it anywhere else. Have you seen anything like it there?

#29 Rehovot

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 03:27 AM

In Hanoi, Czech beer halls are really popular. One of the drinking snacks you could get at these places was something called "Russian Cheese". It was long strings of mild cheese that had been braided and smoked. It was usually served with a bit of mayonnaise and strong mustard on the side for dipping. I've never seen anything like it anywhere else. Have you seen anything like it there?

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Hi, nakji. Yes, we have this at home in the fridge. I forget what it's called in Czech. It's very salty and crisps up nicely under the broiler if you top lasagne or quesadillas with it. (Probably not what the czeesemakers intended, but it works.) :biggrin: Never seen it at a pub, though...but I'll have to try the mustard trick, which sounds very good!

Now I'm starving. :laugh:

#30 nakji

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 04:37 AM

In Hanoi, Czech beer halls are really popular. One of the drinking snacks you could get at these places was something called "Russian Cheese". It was long strings of mild cheese that had been braided and smoked. It was usually served with a bit of mayonnaise and strong mustard on the side for dipping. I've never seen anything like it anywhere else. Have you seen anything like it there?

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Hi, nakji. Yes, we have this at home in the fridge. I forget what it's called in Czech. It's very salty and crisps up nicely under the broiler if you top lasagne or quesadillas with it. (Probably not what the czeesemakers intended, but it works.) :biggrin: Never seen it at a pub, though...but I'll have to try the mustard trick, which sounds very good!

Now I'm starving. :laugh:

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Cool beans! Another great reason to get on a plane to Prague. Yeah, there's nothing better than cheese dipped in mayotard. My husband misses it a lot, and it's on his "must-eat" list for when we go back to Vietnam this summer. You know, some people visit Vietnam for the pho, my husband, he goes for the cheese.....this is why I'm never letting him in to Europe. We'd never leave. I'll tell him about the quesadilla trick - that's what we're having for dinner tonight. I won't hear the end of it, I'm sure - could I impose on you to post a picture so I can torture him? How do the Czechs eat it?





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