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 One- Dinner at Mincovna Restaurant


Here am I with Sister #2 toasting our beer heritage at our first dinner in Prague.

Long before we actually landed in Prague, we had been researching the best spots to eat. The way I knew to check out Mincovna was this: I have a friend (who I have never met in real life). We go to the same Mexican Island every year but miss meeting each other. I have been an admirer of her photos of the island for many years and finally had the gumption to introduce myself to her on Facebook. We have kept in touch ever since. When she heard that I was travelling to Prague, she consulted her nephew’s significant other who had once lived there. What came back was an extensive list of her suggestions. Some were out of our way, and we couldn’t get into others without a reservation, but we did visit two of her favourites, Mincovna being one of them.

I had read in advance that Mincovna means “mint” and the 200 year old building that once housed Czechia’s mint was beautifully adorned with posters of Koruna, the Czech currency. Coincidentally, the Royal Canadian mint is situated in Winnipeg where we are from, and they had the pleasure of minting commemorative coins for the Czech Republic in previous years.

I also found out that the Chef’s vision was to prepare tradition meals with a modern twist which I eagerly anticipated. The restaurant also boasts many local and Moravian wines. Moravia is the area that my dad was from but that was not enough to tantalize me away from ordering a Czech beer.

My son who is a brewer back home suggested that I go to a beer spa or at least take one of Prague’s many beer tours. But with limited time and wanting to focus my spending on food, I settled for ordering Pilsner Urguell that evening. I love blonde beer, so I was delighted with my choice.

When Sister #3 told me that she was looking forward to a good goulash I was surprised when she ordered Svickova, but here is Chef David Kalina’s modern twist. Whereas goulash is a Czech meat stew often served with dumplings, Svickova is the name of the root vegetable sauce served with this braised beef and topped with sour cream and cranberries as tradition warrants. The ode to dumplings were the bread and dough towers at the back of the plate. She was in heaven.

Sister # 2 opted for pork tenderloin in brown sauce and was well pleased.

I was concerned about the richness of these gravies and opted instead for Wienerschnitzel. Schnitzel has been a favourite all my life as I remembered my Polish Grandma’s mastery of breading meats. The tender veal came with a side of potato salad which too must have had a Czech twist as it tasted nothing like the potato salad by Norwegian influenced mother-in-law makes.

I was appropriately stuffed after our meal and couldn’t even consider tasting the apple strudel which my sisters shared. I said to myself, “Oh, I will have another chance at strudel” but that chance never came. Lesson learned.

We stayed close enough to the restaurant to walk home, and the stroll helped us digest our hearty meal.

Kath’s quote: “Blessed is the mother who gives birth to a brewer“. -Czech saying, author unknown

Love-that is all.

Day One in Prague-Bus Tour & Charles Bridge


Just around the corner from our apartment was the Hotel Paris. I smugly thought to myself that they had the same distance to walk to the square as we did, and we likely paid a smidgen of what their guests paid. But I digress as I am prone to do…..

We boarded our bus at the edge of the square but had some technical difficulties with our headsets and the app so sat on the bus for two loops to take in the breathtaking sights and to know what they were!

We got off at one of Prague’s many famous bridges. I was never able to capture the shot above, so I have “borrowed” it.

We walked along the bank of the Vlatta River to reach the Charles Bridge and that was a treat in itself. The weather was cool, so we appreciated it whenever the sun broke through the clouds.

Right across from the bridge entrance was the Church of St. Salvador which boldly declared a message to Russia’s Putin! I thought that it was brave of them since the Czech Republic has had its own issues with Russia’s bullying.

The walking bridge of Charles is adorned with many beautiful statues as depicted here. This one is dubbed Madonna and St Bernard. I couldn’t help but picture the material girl walking a large dog.

This bottom sculpture was of St Francis of Assisi. While strolling, it occurred to me that Prague’s society was once of religious characters and beautiful churches but something dramatic must have occurred in the past because Czechia is now one of the most secular counties in the world.

From the bridge we got a better view of Prague Castle perched high above the city. The castle is a glorious sight, and I was able to capture it again in the evening at sunset (stay turned).

This end of the bridge has two names “Bridge Tower of Lesser Town” or the “Mala Strana Bridge Tower”.

We didn’t get to wander through Lesser Town as we were chilly and needed reviving.

So, we reversed directions and walked through the Old Town Bridge Tower

but not before we admired the tower’s detail including the band-aid fix to some of the molding.

We happily came upon this cheerful place called the Peppercorn restaurant.

We all ordered hot drinks including hot mulled wine for moi. And since we were a bit peckish, this order of fried parmesan which we shared. Both Sister #2 and I have tasted the same dish in Quebec City and we agreed the Canadian version was tastier (IMHO).

Stay tuned for our first authentic dinner in Prague at Mincona (a former mint).

Kath’s quote: “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”– Henry Miller

Love-that is all.

Day One in Prague-Old Town Square


As indicated when I left you, we rested up and were ready to hit the ground running.

But first….food. The apartment where we stayed was affiliated with this lovely little restaurant that became our “go to” and landmark for our stay in beautiful Prague. The decor was homey and every morning it was filled with students, families and others visiting the city.

That first morning I tucked into their creamy eggs and hearty bread made into toast. Except (perhaps this was a Czech Republic thing), we had to ask for butter and jam wasn’t offered up either. A good way to maintain my slim figure-ha ha!

Upon leaving the cafe, we spotted this church spire in the distance and thought that it might lead us to the square.

We didn’t know at the time, but this was the steeple of the Basilica of St James.

Just beyond the church was this lovely little square which I will elaborate upon in a moment. But see the two spires at the top of those trees? That was our first peak at the Church of our Lady before Tyn, or simply Tyn Church. We were that close to the square without knowing it at the time.

A couple of our favourite shops were in that square. We had been lured into the first of many glass shops where we got our first look at the lovely blown glass pieces. The place had the feel of a gallery more than a shop and Sister #2 and I spent a lot of time oohing and awing over the displays.

We continued on passed Tyn Church and were in the Old Town Square. It reminded me of the scene in the Wizard of Oz when all of a sudden, the black and white film morphed into the most vivid colours! While the square may not be colourful, it was truly a transformational moment for me.

My husband D had been to Prague many years earlier, when he and our son backpacked Europe together. He knew at that time that I would fall in love with the city and always wanted me to see it. It was he that originally found us the affordable tickets to Dublin which was the basis of months of planning to get us to this very moment.

I twirled around the square with my camera, recognizing Old Town Hall and landmarks I had previously only dreamed of seeing. Being brought back down to earth, was the statue of Jan Hus above, I had read that he was a Czech priest, philosopher and Christian reformer who had been burned at the stake for his threat to Catholic leadership.

I find that travel is both exhilarating and somewhat depressing as you witness the joys and sorrows of a country.

Next up, we were off on a Hop On, Hop Off tour of the city.

Kath’s quote: “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Unknown

Love-that is all.

Europe with my Sistas!


To be honest, at the time it was tough to leave our wonderful summer house and return to the city to prepare for this trip but….our time was beyond our expectations in so many ways! I learn so many things when I travel. On this sojourn I learnt that:

– eastern Europe where my Dad and his family came from is full of rich history and beyond beautiful

-what I love about Mexico is transferrable to Andalusia, Spain. The people, their love of family, their intentional way of life and their food!

-Dubliners, in spite of their history of hardship, are uncharacteristically warm, fun-loving and absolutely delightful.

Our flight from Winnipeg to Toronto and then onto Dublin was largely uneventful except to say that the food on Air Canada was pretty dreadful and did not improve in the TO airport. As a result, when we spent the day at Dublin airport (which we had planned in order to save us taxi fares and overnight costs), we were thrilled by the delicious offerings. Sister #3 and I shared this hearty array of roasted chicken and a variety of veggies including parsnips!

We knew our Prague arrival would be a late one and that we won’t be oriented to our surroundings enough to head out for dinner. Sometimes it is an advantage to always be thinking about food-we had the foresight to shop at the Dublin airport. We bought a trio of creamy Irish cheeses as well as a local jam and crackers made to pair with cheese. We added to all of this, the apple slices and cheddar that had been packed for nibbles from home and voila: a lovely late-night cheese party! I bought a lovely mini mottle of French merlot on the plane that was the perfect night cap.

We snuggled into our new beds and rested up for the next day’s adventure.

Kath’s quote: “Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.” – Al Gore

Love-that is all.

posted under Europe | No Comments »

Blue Bally-Hoo, Isla Mujeres 2022 by Sister #3


For many years the first stop we made on Isla was Ballyhoo.  Straight off the ferry, suitcases in tow, we would stop for a cold beer and a serving of fish tacos. So I was disappointed to hear of it’s closing. 

I was thrilled to hear that last December at the same location, Blue Ballyhoo opened it’s  doors. Totally different ownership, but the same great location. Aesthetically far more beautiful, the restaurant layout has been reconfigured. It now has a nice clean new bathroom, gone are the days of using the one next to the gas station. There are additional tables set out on the beach, that has filled in what used to be water next to the dock, allowing more seating. I love to sit with my feet in the sand when I eat seaside.

There are lovely turquoise lounge chairs where we spent an afternoon enjoying cocktails and yummy guacamole. 

It was wonderful to meet Lilly who is running Blue Ballyhoo. Lilly has deep roots on Isla. Her grandfather, Mr. Lima owns the dock on which the restaurant is located. He owned Zazil ha, now known as Mia, the first hotel on Isla Mujeres. Her dad, Captain Anthony runs their four sport fishing boats, the Lilly M, the Andrea M, named for Lilly and her sister, and the Keen 1 and 2, named for her mom, a well know hotelier on the island. Captain Anthony is all about making fishing a sport and conserving fish species. He works with the BBC, National Geographic, and Guy Harvey. 

Lilly is ever present in the restaurant, building relationships with her customers in order to create an experience that really delivers. She is so grateful for the fisherman who bring in their catch to be cooked up or just stop in for a drink. She enjoys the banter of both old and new fishermen sharing stories of the past and how it used to be whilst talking about the new destinations to go fishing. 

Having lived in Isla her whole life, Lilly is a font of knowledge when it comes to the island and life on the water. Her family is all about serving visitors and providing hospitality. 

On our first visit to Blue Ballyhoo we tried a cocktail called the ‘Mahaché’. Created by Lilly it contained gin, lemonade and blue curaçao. I asked her what Mahaché means and she shared it is a rain storm. I think this talented mixologist should also create a ‘norte’ and a ‘hurricane’ and make them her signature cocktails. Blue Ballyhoo prides itself on an excellent Margarita and of course, everyone wants a marg in Mexico.

For dinner we enjoyed fish tacos. Served with tartar sauce and spicy mayo. The fish portion was more than generous and the batter was crunchy and delicious. I had to eat some of the fish before I could attempt to roll it into a taco.

We also enjoyed the fish in red Guajillo sauce with rice and veggies. The fish was Wahoo caught the previous day. The sauce was flavourful and not at all spicy.  

As a smart restauranteur will do, Lilly has selected strong and talented chefs. You can hear the pride she has in their work when she talks about the food they produce and the impeccable kitchen they run.  The food is excellent! 

The ambiance is great, good music and the vibe is light and fun. Like establishments in countries around the world there is a shortage of serving personal available. The servers were attentive but pretty new to their roles. They were trying their best. You might encounter a bit of a communication challenge but with pointing to the menu and a few hand gestures, you’ll get by. I looked at it as an excellent chance to practice my Spanish. 

I’ve always wondered what Ballyhoo meant. Lilly explained; a Ballyhoo is the fish that is used as bait for Sail-fishing, and since Isla Mujeres is a big sport-fishing hotspot and the main customers are fishermen and captains, Blue Ballyhoo just seemed to suit the place .

I wish nothing but the best to this local family and the Blue Ballyhoo. They are now open for breakfast and from the pictures I’ve seen the food looks spectacular. 

Kath’s quote: “In the hands of an able cook, fish can become an inexhaustible source of perpetual delight.”Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Love-that is all.

« Older EntriesNewer Entries »