An important part of our world schooling curriculum is food. It’s a great way for Leah and Jaf to understand cultures of the countries they visit. We chose Europe as our location to start our RV world schooling adventure because Europe is rich in history. Every street has a story to tell, and practically every city varies in its cuisine. It’s a dream come true, for budding kid-foodies, and us veterans.
Going through this year’s blogs, it’s kinda crazy to think how much we’ve all learned. Every city we travel to has an interesting cuisine to discover, and Prague is no different. A city with incredible beauty, bridges, and unforgettable history, Prague is unlike any we’ve been to in Europe. Remnants of its communist dictatorship can still be seen, depending on where you look – for us it was at the restaurants.
Talking to a local about food, you’ll soon find trend: the best Czech cuisine is found at home, not a restaurant. That didn’t bode well for us, considering we don’t have any friends in the Czech Republic that we could ‘conveniently’ surprise at dinner. So, we did what any foodie would have done in our case: look for a Prague food tour!
We’ve had major success with kid-friendly food tours discovering Dutch cuisine in Amsterdam, and local Moroccan restaurants in Marrakech. So, we thought, why not seek out a Prague food tour. And of course, we weren’t disappointed. There are a number of options, but we chose Eating Prague tours because they were highly rated online, and have a pretty comprehensive blog on Czech cuisine, its history, and our favorite, recipes!
Czech cuisine, like much of the surrounding countries, is rich in meats and loaded with carbs. Being Hawaiians, our diets are full of beef, pork, and fish. We find that eating foods that are familiar is very comforting, especially when you’re so far away from home.
The tour started off in the city center, Prague 1, at Perníčkův sen (pronounced Perinichkoov sen), a gingerbread store. The location was perfect for the chilly weather. The small of gingerbread wafted down the street, making it very easy to find – we just followed our noses. 🙂
Once inside, we were greeted by our Prague food tour guide of the day, Jan. He proved to be extremely knowledgable, not just in Czech cuisine, but also in Prague’s history. Though on the day of our tour it was snowing, with temperatures dropping to below freezing (27 to be precise), walking around Prague having Jan explain the city’s growth from as early as the 11th century, through communism, to the current, was an experience that won’t be forgotten.
Those with a sweet tooth will love how the tour starts off…with cookies!
Yummy, delicious, Czech cookies.
We got to taste authentic Czech gingerbread made from honey, butter, nuts, and peppery spices. It was a subtle flavor, much different from the American gingerbread made out of molasses. My favorite of the trio was the poppy-seed kolache, a Czech cookie that holds a fruit puree in the center. If you’ve been to Europe before, you know desserts here are much less sweet compared to their American counterparts, which proves quite dangerous as you always end up eating more!
A quick walk brought us to our next two destinations. Sisters, a modern Czech sandwich shop, and Nase Maso, a butcher shop are both conveniently located right next to each other. Sisters was started by two Czech foodies who wanted to remake the traditional Czech open faced sandwich, known as chlebíčky.
Back in the day, they were topped with cold meats and cheeses, and deviled eggs, of all things!
The ones we tasted were far more innovative: a beet puree open faced sandwich with goat cheese, a mayo-celery root sandwich, and a pickled herring & wasabi sandwich. Sisters stays true to sourcing local ingredients, and is seasonal.
Now that winter has set in, the pickled herring sandwich will be off the menu because radish isn’t available in the winter time. Compared to the herring we tried in Amsterdam, this was way, way milder. Our recommendation is if you haven’t had herring before, try it in Prague first!
Naše Maso is Prague’s attempt to revive butcher shops, and they seem to be on the right track. The store was extremely crowded at lunch! On any given day, the butchers at Naše Maso work directly with local farmers, developing the farm to table approach, and improving the overall quality of meat supplied to restaurants, and the general public.
According to our guide, Jan, Prague ham was the #1 export out of (then) Czechlovakia after the war. The meat is typically dry aged, and seeped in a salty brine. Then, it’s hot smoked, and simmered in water. We also got to try beef ham which was made from 7-week dry aged beef. Steeped in a salty brine, made from the leg, not the typical brisket. To thoroughly enjoy the ham, don’t bite right into it! Instead, place it on your tongue so it warms up, releasing all its flavors.
Our next stop on the tour, was to Jindrisska Tower, a gothic tower that is located on Jindrisska street. This street, since the 1400’s has connected three of Prague’s most important squares, Wenceslas Square, Charles Square, and Senovazne Square. Talk about walking through history!
The tower restaurant is sure to be a kids favorite, because the oldest bell, Maria resides there. It’s not rung anymore which is a relief for anyone seated directly under. We had the restaurant all to ourselves, it’s great if you’re in a group with a lot of children, because it was white tablecloth F-A-N-C-Y.
My favorite part of the tour was our next location, Style A Interieur. Located in a small baroque building, the cafe originally started out as a furniture store. The adults got to taste some delicious mulled wine, so good, that I purchased their spice mixture.
Along with the wine, we got to taste some locally made labneh. Originally introduced to the Czech Republic by the Yugoslavs, the cheese was salty, light, and extremely fresh.
If you’ve never heard of it before, Labneh is cheese, common to the Middle Eastern region that is made by straining yogurt to remove the whey. The resulting mixture is thicker in consistency, but still retains the yogurt’s sourness.
Even though portion-sizes throughout the tour are individualized, they were enough to fill our stomachs! With that said, we were excited for our main and final course, at the famed Café Louvre.This iconic 113-year old cafe, situated in Prague’s city center is an expansive eatery that was known to host guests such as Franz Kafka, Karel Capek, and Albert Einstein when he was a professor in Prague.
It’s where you get to try the famed Czech dish, svíčková (pronounced sveech-covah). Made from sirloin beef in a cream sauce, it’s a classic dish served at family gatherings. The meat is prepared and marinated a day in advance, so you can be sure it melts in your mouth, all while smothered in a delicious, creamy sauce. At Louvre, they stick to traditional, and the dish is served with hearty bread dumplings, garnished with lemon, cranberries and a scoop of whipped cream to mix in. The Czech equivalent of comfort food, and on a cold day, it will hit the spot.
The tour ended with dessert, where we had a filling portion of apple strudel. Our ever informative guide, Jan, told us that the origin of strudel is debated between the Czechs and Austrians.
It was, of course, the dessert of the Habsburgs. What is interesting though is that it was fashionable at the time for rich Viennese families to have Czech cooks. The Czech version is different from the Austrian, but we love both equally…what can we say!
While the tour is welcoming towards vegetarians, we do have to remark that at certain restaurants, the vegetarian options appeared to be lacking.
For example, at the Jindrisska tower, the vegetarian/pescetarian option was an elegantly plated serving of goats cheese, while the rest of the group ate a hearty bowl of soup. Despite Eating Prague requesting better vegetarian options, the restaurants do not want to cater to changing palates, which really is a shame.
That being said, if you, a meat lover, find yourself in Prague, don’t hesitate to book a food tour with Eating Prague Tours. The tours are small in size – our group composed of 8 people – making it easy to ask questions, and not get lost walking through Prague’s crowded streets.
You will not be disappointed – four hours later, we left very content – both with Jan’s historical information, and of course our stuffed bellies.
Disclaimer: Thanks to Prague Food Tours for offering a complimentary tour. However, as always, all opinions expressed on the blog are our own.