Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

Prague Day 4, Part 1-The Old Town Square (again)


We were winding down our stay in Prague for still had some lovely sights and eats ahead.

We started the day with one of our last opportunities to connect with our lovely server for the Pekny Restaurant. She was so patient with us when we kept asking for butter for our toast and ketchup for our eggs. We saw her when she was there in the evening and then early the next morning. She was such a hard worker, and we would have loved to have caught her on a break so we could truly get to know her.

In the midst of our strolling and shopping, we stopped for a morning refreshment. We had heard the rumour and could substantiate by that time, that Coca Coola and bottled water were more expensive than draft beer and some house wines. Coffee varied in price too depending upon whether you ordered an American (expresso diluted with water), regular coffee that was sometimes instant Nescafe and a cappuccino or latte as I had selected above.

Sister #2 had some more shopping to do in this lovely square that was so close to our apartment. When the sun was out the weather was glorious. I was usually warm with my black raincoat that had an enormous hood which protected me from spurts of wind or rain, but my sisters who packed lighter than I did were often chilly. Conversely, when we were covering ground in the many airports that we flew in and out of, my coat was a cumbersome burden-I found I couldn’t free up a hand to get onto an escalator and I had a heck of time remembering where everything was when I had to produce a boarding pass or passport. So there you have it-the pros and cons of packing light on a, October European vacation.

I didn’t have many pre-conceived notions of buildings that I didn’t want to miss, with one exception. A tour guide had told us earlier that the last building standing in Europe that hosted the composer Mozart was just down from the square on a side street. I wanted to see it and was so glad I did, but not because of the building itself.

This fascinating sculpture commemorated the premier of Mozart’s Don Giovani in 1787. Canada wasn’t even a country then!

As we strolled back towards Old Town Square, I was surprised to see this North American Institution-Hooters. Good grief. What a shame.

We did another lap around the square and Sister #2 realised that she was hungry. We didn’t want to dine without Sister #3 who was back at the aprtment, so she decided to pick up a Kubasa on a bun that she had been eyeing up. The line was long. She was content with the Czech klobásy, a version of a favourite from home. The Canadian sausage is always pork seasoned with garlic in a natural casing. My Polish/Czech Dad loved it when he was alive!

As I mentioned, our time was winding down and we were certainly going to miss Prague, so each photo of the square became more and more precious.

PS. We had a panini maker in our apartment so Sister #3 made me this delicious ham and gouda sandwich when we got home! Bonus.

Kath’s quote: “Hlad je nejlepší kuchař”. Translation:Hunger is the best cook.” 

Love-that is all.

Prague Day 3-The Best Day of All


On this day Sister #3 stayed back at the apartment and Sister #2 and I headed out for another wander around beautiful Prague.

We noticed an increased Police presence and a crowd accumulating in the square. Students systematically took turns voicing their issues while others, mostly tourists I would imagine, politely listened and supported them with clapping and chanting.

A couple of hours later we came upon the gathering, marching through the streets in an organized and respectful manner. When I thought about the trucker protests back in Canada last winter, I was very impressed by the Czech protest and equally embarrassed about the disorderly protests back home. But this was not the highlight of our day.

If you recognize these unusual photos of life size porcelain livestock affixed to the ceiling, you will know that we could only be one place in Prague-Vinohradsky Parlament Restaurant!

The successful local restaurant was designed with a perfect mix of tradition and modern design. In the large main hall, pigs and cattle look out from the ceiling. In the back rooms there is a greenhouse for herbs and salad. The additional success of the restaurant is its partnership with a local brewery. The open kitchen is both modern and traditional. As I read on their website: “No frothy food to be added, but pleasant portions at a fair price”.

Once we settled in with refreshing beers, we carefully perused the menu. After all, this was likely our one visit to this lovely restaurant. Game and beef dominated the selections but there were a number of vegetarian choices as well.

This dish was beer battered cauliflower which seemed like a resourceful menu item when you were connected to a brewery. It was said to be light and crispy and was enough for a couple of lighter eaters to share.

The chicken and pea risotto was my selection. I have sometimes made easy risotto recipes at home using Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay’s recipes. I like the latter’s concoction the best. In this case though, the peas themselves became the “rice” which made it even heartier and more nutritious. The skin-on chicken breast was a lovely treat as I typically remove the skin, but not in this case! It was crispy and fragrant with herbs and spices.

Sister #3 chose the Venison Goulash where the Vinohradsky Chef also made this version his own. Even though goulash is typically a stew of meat and vegetables, the venison went solo in this case and floated in a paprika gravy. Alongside were sliced bread dumplings which served the purpose of soaking up the deep and delicious gravy.

Sister #2 who is a somewhat less adventurous eater (we didn’t know this until we travelled with her) selected beef in gravy. She too was well pleased.

You might guess that the piece de resistance were the plum dumplings that were singled out for dessert. They certainly brought back a flood of memories of my Polish/Czech Grandma Felicia who made prune dumplings in her little farmhouse in rural Saskatchewan. One of these was a potato dumpling with poppy seeds and the other was a more traditional bread dumpling. Both were satisfying and so delicious.

I must admit though, that by this time I wasn’t really focused on the food anymore. To make a hundred-year story short, we were dining with Czech relatives that we didn’t even know we had until Sister #3 tracked them down on Facebook!

The handsome elderly gentleman really reminded of us of our Poppa and his grandson who was our find on Facebook, resembles our nephews and my own son! If the mannerisms and physical appearance had not been enough to associate them with our Dad’s family, the fact that they were from the precise area in Moravia where he was from, cinched it! We shared gifts, embraces and instantaneous love! That is why this dinner and evening will be forever etched in our most cherished memories.

Kath’s quote: “So much of what is best in us is bound up in our love of family, that it remains our measure of our stability because it measures our sense of loyalty. All other pacts of love or fear derive from it and are modeled upon it.”-Haniel Long

Love-that is all.

Prague Day 2, Part 4-Light dinner at Sisters Bistro


Sister #3 is an expert food and restaurant researcher. I would say that I am pretty good too when I am not busy with my Media Chef work (my media consulting company) and it just so happened that I was happily busy before our Europe departure! As a result, Sister #3 had a short list of places that she wanted to check out including Sisters Bistro above. Perhaps she was sentimental that the three sisters were on this monumental trip together, perhaps it was our fondness for gourmet open face sandwiches…

We started the evening with a quick stop at a gorgeous floral store. We were going to meet family the next evening and we wanted to pick up something for them that would remind them of us, so we chose a dried grass arrangement which included oats, barley and wheat all grown on the Canadian prairies.

Coincidently there was another item for sale in the shop that reminded me of home. This beautifully fashioned dream catcher. Dream Catchers originate with the indigenous people of North America, hand made to protect infants from illness and evil spirits. But I digress….to the food!

At Sisters Bistro, we allowed Sister #3 to order for us and were delighted when the six different “oblozene chlebicky” arrived for the three for us to share. Since we come from a family of six (three girls and three boys), we have always known how to share fairly. My Momma instructed us that if one person cuts the portions and the other people get first choice, the person doing the apportioning is sure to the make the cuts are equal as possible. And so, it was….

The sandwiches, in addition to being delectable to the eye were the perfect combinations of food enhanced by their accouterments. They included roast beef, egg with sun dried tomato, smoked turkey, beet root and goat cheese, Hungarian salami and Parma ham. We were in heaven!

We were considering the purchase of another Czech treat that we had seen in and around the square. We had spotted “trdelniks” – a pastry shaped like a spiraled cone in the bakery section of the bistro and were very tempted, but we opted for an even more traditional Czech dessert, one we remembered being made by our Polish/Czech grandma who passed decades ago in her 90s.

We made the quick stroll pack to “our” Pekdy Bistro as Sister #3 had spotted “Medovik” (Honey Cake) on the menu. I had never attempted to make it and didn’t remember even tasting it. That was likely because I was such a picky eater as a kid that had my Grandma Felicia had ever offered me a slice, I would have balked at the sweetened cream of wheat which separates the layers. I will immediately hear from Sister #3 if I have gotten this recipe incorrectly.

Sisters #2 and 3 were smitten with the cake and appreciated that it was delicious without being too sweet which is not the case with many North Amercian desserts. In fact, every confection that we tasted in Europe we were struck by this including my choice that evening: carrot cake chock full of raisins and spices.

Soon after, we headed the short distance home to get our beauty sleep, for after all, we had many more eating adventures ahead.

Kath’s quote: “Dessert is to a meal what a dress is to a woman.”- Beatrice Peltre

15 Heart Shaped Valentine's Day Desserts - OMG Chocolate ...

Love-that is all.

Prague, Day 2, Part 3- Boat Tour


Later that same day we headed down to the Vltava River again. this time to join the boat tour that was included in our Hop On Hop Off ticket (the Jewish Quarter ticket was included too). We embarked by the Manes Bridge but were soon floating under one of the many bridges, where I got this shot of Prague Castle.

We captured other views of the Charles Bridge too, having walked over it our first day in the city. We certainly understand why Prague is one of the most beautiful river front cities in the world.

We also got another view of the Old Town Bridge Tower and its stunning Gothic design.

Both Sister #3 and I were intrigue by this adornment on the Charles Bridge, but a Google Lens Search did not pull up a name for the sculpture or an artist.

We were soon passing the building which houses the Czech Ministry of Industry and Travel. Constructed in 1920 I imagined the sun that streamed into the building through the windowed dome.

Once the boat made a turn in the river, we were able to enjoy the beautiful changing colours of autumn since we were missing a similar show back home.

Almost simultaneously I spotted this unusual site-a giant metronome. I was intrigued by it there and found out that it is directly on the spot that a gigantic monument to Joseph Stalin once was perched. That was demolished by dynamite in 1962 and this was installed instead in 1991 to be a symbol of the new world.

As we approached the shore to disembark, we passed another sightseeing boat and a gaggle of white swans.

The cruise was relaxing and enjoyable and we devised a plan to return to the river in a couple of days hence.

Kath’s quote: “To move, to breathe, to fly, to boat, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live.”-Author unknown

Love-that is all.

Prague Day Two, Part 2-Guided Tour of the Jewish Quarter


We met our entertaining and informative tour guide on the square and after his pre-amble we arrived at our first stop: the Maisel Synagogue (top) which was built in 1590-1592 by the former mayor of the Jewish Quarter Mordechai Maisel, who also funded the extensive reconstruction of the ghetto. The synagogue is now a Jewish Museum.

A short stroll away was our second stop at the Ceremonial House and

the New Jewish cemetery in the 3rd district. The building once housed the “The Holy Brotherhood of Those Who Perform Charitable Deeds”. 700 years ago, the brotherhood ensured that Jewish burial traditions were followed for its deceased members. The honoured society still performs these ceremonies today.

Illustrated in the bottom picture is the wall of the cemetery which is many meters high. We were told that there are many layers of bodies that lie in this resting place. The cemetery is one of the largest of its kind in Europe and one of the most important Jewish historical monuments in Prague. It served its purpose from the first half of the 15th century until 1786.

I was fascinated! And then our tour guide told us the fascinating story that the Australian rock band had once filmed a video in this very spot. Old meets new. Open this link to check it out. If the link doesn’t work go to Youtube and search for INXS video shot in Prague.

Along the way, we also stopped at the Pinkas Synagogue. In the early 16th century, it was built as a private house of prayer for the family of Aaron Meshulam Horowitz. After the Nazi occupation of Prague, the synagogue was vacated and converted into a warehouse of confiscated Jewish property. The Pinkas synagogue when restored in 1954-60 to stand as a memorial for more than 78,000 Jewish victims of the Shoah from the Czech lands.

The Old-New Synagogue was one of our final stops. Built during the 13th century it is the oldest building in Jewish Town and one of Europe’s oldest synagogues still in use.

I read this information from a Prague tour site later: Designed by Christians because Jews were not permitted to build, the Old-New Synagogue has witnessed many pogroms …it dominated the quarter of mostly one-story buildings during the Middle Ages. Imagine its walls streak with blood: during the pogroms of 1389, some 3,000 Jews met their deaths, many of whom were trying to take refuge in the synagogue. The blood stains remained on the walls until its restoration in 1618.

Witnessing this, my sisters and I, always sympathetic to Jewish communities, were mostly silent and somber the rest of the day. We all had trouble dreams that night. Travel is indeed meant to transform you.

Just across a lane from the synagogue was this beautiful Art Nouveau residential building on Parizska Street-the widest street of the Old Town of Prague. The building is the entrance to the old Jewish quarter and the street is dotted with high end designer boutiques making the rents amongst the highest in Eastern Europe. Ironic, don’t you think?

Kath’s quote: “It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.”-writer unknown

Love-that is all.

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