Eva guided our group of 9 on a food adventure around Prague. There were 3 food stops in Old Town and 3 in New Town with places to sit down at most of the stops. Our meeting point, and initial taste of our tour was Perníčkův sen (meaning Gingerbread Man's Dream). We had arrived early to the shop and took advantage of the time by purchasing a bunch of beautifully decorated gingerbread to go. We are glad we did because apparently this shop does not seem to keep normal hours, and friends of ours arrived not once but twice during business hours to find the shop closed early. Even though our first food stop was a gingerbread shop, we didn't actually sample the gingerbread during the tour. We were given an adorable beer mug-shaped gingerbread to take home for later, and sampled a few other pastries instead. The first is Sakrajda (which translates to "dammit cake"), a thin dough rolled with walnuts and plum jam. It's slightly chewy with thick sticky jam and crunchy nuts. This medieval recipe was very delicious! I'm on the lookout for a good recipe! Next we sampled their version of koláče (kolache) made with gingerbread dough (traditionally this is a yeast dough), garnished with poppy seeds and an almond. The gingerbread base was tender, and not too sweet. Last but not least was the vanilkový rohlíček (same as the German & Austrian Vanillekipferl), described to us as "vanilla rolls." These crescents with Austro-Hungarian roots are made with loads of butter and ground almonds, and are crumbly and sweet. They are soooooooo good. You can really taste the richness of the butter. It's epic, and already on my list to make as Christmas cookies this year!
Next we headed through a hidden passage (there are many like it in the city) called Gurmet Pasáž. This particular passage between streets is full of gastronomical delights. We paused midway through the passage and stood around a table while Eva told us a bit about the next 2 stops which are located across from each other at the far end of the passage. She brought out trays one after another for us to sample. The first selection is from Sisters. I was very excited to try Sisters' modern take on Czech open-faced sandwiches or "garnished breads" called obložené chlebíčky or simply chlebíčky. The menu changes periodically so those on the tour or visiting the restaurant on their own will likely have other offerings in the future. We sampled 3 different varieties currently on their menu. All were served on thin, dense breads (similar to cocktail bread in thickness and density) with various toppings.
Next up was a laden platter of deliciousness from Naše maso (which translates to "our meat"). First of all, it was truly glorious peeking through the windows of this shop at all the awesome meat. Everything they sell is made in house (the hams, sausages, and even mustard, etc) and ingredients are sourced locally in the Czech Republic. It's easy to see why this is the most popular butcher shop in Prague. Our smörgåsbord included Pražská šunka (Prague ham), tourist salami (called this because travelers would carry it in their backpacks for sandwiches), přeštická klobása (Přeštice sausage), Prague-ham-style beef, Johnny's pickles (or Jansa's pickles), homemade mustard, and rye bread. I loved literally every bite! This was truly an epic charcuterie board to really experience the meat of Prague.
So far, everything we tasted was wonderful, and we were only halfway through the food stops. We digested as we walked from Old Town to New Town for the next portion of our walking and eating tour.
Our next stop was Špejle, which literally translates to skewer. For our tasting pleasure we were served Špejle's bite-sized version of a Czech classic, duck with red cabbage and potato dumplings (a dish I had for dinner 2 nights ago before attending the opera!). Sous vide duck breast is served with a potato dumpling stuffed with red sauerkraut, coated in gingerbread crumbs, and topped with fried onion. This creative rendition is a great combination of textures and flavors, and was definitely a hit! We also had a choice of drinks here, including beer or one of Špejle's unique lemonades.
Next on the menu would be our main course served at Café Louvre. Here we tasted Svíčková, a traditional Czech dish featuring braised beef sirloin cloaked in a flavorful vegetable cream sauce, topped with a dollop of cranberry compote, and served with boiled bread dumplings. The dish is surprisingly not very heavy considering it's red meat with a creamy sauce, and real whipped cream ("not from a can!" as Eva would say). Visually this is a very unflattering dish but it is actually delicious!
Last but certainly not least we are heading across the street for dessert at Crème de la Crème - Zmrzlinový salon. We sampled a seasonal sorbet flavor, plum and cinnamon, as well as hazelnut gelato. Both were AMAZING. The hazelnut tasted like eating straight hazelnuts. It had such intense hazelnut flavor, and was so creamy and decadent! Wow. The sorbet was absolutely delicious! It wasn’t too cinnamony but had a great balance and was sweet but not cloying, and surprisingly creamy for a sorbet. It was unbelievably good!
The Prague food tour is a tour of the city and its history and culture and certainly not just food tastings. We saw the location of massive student protests to communism, which were captured on video and shared with the world, sparking the start of the Velvet Revolution and the end of communism. We also saw the balcony from which the Czech Republic’s first president waved to the crowds of Wenceslas Square when he first took over leadership of the government. We visited the Upside-Down Statue of King Wenceslas Riding a Dead Horse and the lovely Franciscan Garden hidden between buildings and accessible by pasáže or “passages.” We learned about engraved metal sidewalk stones placed in front of homes of Jews who were killed during WWII. All kinds of bonuses we may not know if not for this tour. Overall I think the tour was very well-paced, and the amount of food was just right. I was full but not overstuffed, and felt sated both gastronomically and culturally. Two major thumbs up for the Prague Food Tour by Eating Europe. I would definitely consider another food tour by this organization in another European city in the future!