Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Taste of Prague

Pineapple Dessert at CottoCrudo PragueThe meat and potatoes diet of the locals in Prague is quickly being supplemented with fine dining options from other parts of Europe.  The city's first Michelin-starred restaurant, Allegro, was located at the Four Seasons hotel where I stayed during this visit.  Sadly, Allegro is now closed but its successor, CottoCrudo, turned out to be pretty good.  I particularly remember the pineapple dessert during one lunch here that was especially delightful!

Prague is a great place for beer lovers.  This is not merely a country that boasts of high beer consumption - the Czech Republic has a long history in inventing the best techniques of brewing beers.  Budweiser, a name synonymous with American bottled beer, is actually a name that originated in this region as early as in the 18th century.

Walking through Prague

Pilsner too has began in this country.  The name comes from the town of Pilsen where this pale lager was first created and subsequently copied around the world.  One evening, I took a recommendation from the concierge of my hotel and walked into a beer-bar owned by Staropramen, one of the largest beer companies in the Czech Republic.

Staropramen beer bar in Prague

Along with a large mug of draught beer, I also ordered some local bar food.  The Sausages in Dark Beer had prime sausages, onions and hot peppers steamed in dark beer and were fabulous!  Traditional dishes such as home-made Svickova, Beer Goulash and tender Beef Goulash were also on the menu.  Overall, these beer-bars are a great place to watch people and taste local comfort food.

Sausages in Dark Beer at Prague

On another day, we took a cruise on the River Vltava.  There was a time when the river would completely freeze during the winters and people would cut away large chunks of ice to cool their beers and foods in underground vaults for the rest of the year.

Lobster at Celeste Prague

After the cruise, we strolled into one of Prague's more innovative French restaurants.  Celeste is located at the top of Prague's dramatic Dancing House building.   We sipped champagne admiring stunning views of the city from the rooftop terrace and then moved back into our dining room for a wonderful evening of wine and food.

The starter was clearly the standout dish of the night: a half of Canadian lobster, celeriac salad with palourdes (a variety of clams), shellfish and herb sauce. Absolutely fantastic!

Pigeon at Celeste Prague

My entree of whole roasted Anjou pigeon with daikon, offals, croutons and horseradish jus was a tad underwhelming; the dish had also been unevenly cooked.

Relbochon at Celeste, Prague

The cheese that followed, a raw milk Reblochon, was pretty good with its nutty after-taste.  As was the dessert of a duet of chocolate and tonka with tonka bean ice-cream.

Chocolate and Tonka Dessert at Celeste, Prague

On my final evening at Prague, I took a long walk through the Old Town as the sun went down over its iconic Church of Our Lady Before Tyn and the City Hall Astronomical Clock.

Church of Our Lady Before Tyn in Prague

Old Astronomical Clock at Prague

Prague is a wonderful little city with lots of history, also evident within its interesting shops full of handcrafted wood, beautiful glass, crystal ware and Bohemian antiques.  You can see Communist-era Russian imports such as the Matryoshka dolls at every tourist trap - which of course have nothing to do with this city at all!


Sameer Kumar said...

Another excellent post! I read your blog regularly and quite enjoy your writing. Do keep up the good work.

Shantanu said...

@Sameer: Thanks!

Shantanu said...

@Sameer: Thanks!