The historic Prague pastry shop and café Erhartova Cukrárna has expanded to the other side of the Vltava River, within an inviting curved corner space in Vinohrady. The orignial site dates back to the First Czechoslovak Republic, and is as famous for its high quality assortment of cakes and confections as it is for its striking functionalist-style interior.
Noshing your way around the gardens below Prague Castle; trying tidbits of food from the country’s best restaurants – add it to your to-do list for this weekend. The Prague Food Festival, now in its sixth year, runs May 25-27, offering 50 gourmet stalls, three tasting tents and space for 500 seats, all in the beautiful Royal Gardens of Prague Castle. Participating restaurants are featured in Maurer’s Grand Restaurant guide; a locally produced guide to the country’s best restaurants.
December saw the official reopening of the former cloister wine bar, an event participated in by Cardinal Vlk amongst others. The establishment is now run by Coloseum Restaurants. Regulars of the original wine bar may be in for a surprise. Only the name – Il Convento, or cloister – is reminiscent of their original hangout, and even then you’d need a knowledge of Romance languages to realize it.
In Prague’s Náměstí Míru, one finds a café that’s been around for about a year and a half, and perfectly suited for when there’s only time for a small, quick snack. That café is called Deserterie, and serves not only desserts, but also soups and a variety of savory bites.
The Anglo-Asian restaurant Sansho has already had a monument to its fame raised in the media, and for good reason. We visited it with one thing in mind: either to 1) festoon the monument with yet more flowers, or 2) furnish it with a more accurate inscription.
For most Czechs, Easter is largely a secular event. Boys and men whip women and girls with willow pomlázka, receiving painted eggs or shots of alcohol in return. For many among the Czech Republic’s large Ukrainian community, Easter – or Pascha as they know it – is a more solemn occasion.
Here in the Czech Republic, the two classic Easter baked goods are mazanec and beránek. Mazanec is a sweet, though not cloyingly so, bread filled with raisins and often topped with almonds. Beránek is a cake baked in the shape of a lamb. Many commercial varieties are covered in chocolate.
New York is known as a melting pot of cultures, especially when it comes to food — but Czech food is notably absent. A quick Internet search pinpointed a few possibilities in Manhattan, but just one had any Czech pub standards on the menu: Café Prague in the trendy Chelsea neighborhood.
If you go back far enough, you’ll find a pagan root for anything. But that doesn’t explain the continuing popularity among Czechs for baking Christmas sweets, from chocolate-topped baskets filled with nuts, to gingerbread fish, dusted vanilla rolls, and doughy wasp-nests oozing egg-liqueur. Just make sure you hold out on sampling them until Dec. 24 — legend says you’d be inviting misfortune.
Carp is undoubtedly an important symbol of Christmas in the Czech Republic, but favorable opinions on the taste of the fish are far from universal, with some avoiding it completely throughout the year, and opting for schnitzel at the holiday table. But how did the bottom feeder come to capture the hearts and minds (if not the stomachs) of the nation?