Monday, June 4, 2012

A Potato Pancake As Big As Your Plate?

Yes, potato pancakes the size of your dinner plate do exist in the magical Czech Republic! If you can stomach the secondhand smoke, something living in no-smoking-indoors-and-near-doorways California did not prepare me for, the pub food in Prague is what all other pub food should be based upon: it's hearty, tasty, goes well with beer, and cheap! Adorning that giant potato pancake are two types of sweet and sour cabbage, and many slices of roast pork.

Although Pilsner Urquell is the dominant brand of beer there, not much of it passed my lips. Us travelers called it "pissy Urquell." Thankfully, there's a strong (and growing!) microbrew movement there, as evidenced by this technicolor beer sampler from the famous Pivovarsky Dum.

The green beer at 3 o'clock is stinging nettle beer. There's also a sour cherry, a banana, and a coffee beer here.

I also sampled many variations of svikova, larded beef with a sour cream sauce that is traditionally served with the densest potato dumplings I have ever had. Every restaurant seemed to outdo itself in the "who can make the densest potato dumpling?" category, but I am not a fan. I was served them a lot in Germany, and I also pushed them aside there. Oh, what I wouldn't have given for a serving of brown rice to sop up all that gravy instead of those blasted dumplings (again, exposing my CA roots).

Showing off my Flaming June in Cesky Krumlov

Chandelier made from human bones at the Sedlec Ossuary
Besides eating, we rafted, walked a ton, visited a creepy ossuary in Kunta Hora, got lost, got found, rode bikes and almost died in Ghent, and made a beer pilgrimage to Belgium. We ended our trip with a (unintended, due to the holiday) 8-mile hike to the Trappist Westvleteren Brewery. Yes, the theme was beer (for him) and food (for me). 

Hiking through the hop fields

I can see the appeal of traveling the world - discovering at least 20 new things each day is addicting, and it makes it very hard to slip back into everyday life. Traveling for an hour and having the language switch from French, to Flemish (basically, Dutch), to Czech was unbalanced, but exciting in an odd way. Too bad I kept on trying to speak Spanish to everyone. Apparently my brain categorizes all foreign language into my Spanish speaking compartment. But, I am happy to be home because of my cats, my dogs, and my washer and dryer.


  1. Sounds like an exciting trip! I think we'll be heading to Amsterdam, Bruges, and Paris later this year. Tell me your favorite things!

    My brain thinks all foreign languages are French, so I understand what you're saying there. In Nicaragua I kept trying to speak French instead of Spanish. My brain even subs French for Chinese!

  2. It was a wondrous trip! We went to Bruges for a day, and enjoyed it. Make sure to watch "In Bruges" before you go. ;) It clears up a lot later in the evening when the tourist buses leave. I ate at a fish market that was amazing, but I can't remember the name right now. De Garre sells a few beers you can only get there - just ask the host. Also, the Struise tasting room is there. It's the 2nd best brewery after Westvleteren according to some polls.

    Paris is worth at least a week between the museums and all the bistros! In Paris, the best food deal around is the cafe at the Musee d'Orsay. I enjoyed the catacombs, too, but don't go if you're claustrophobic. The Metro is very easy to navigate, and so is the train from the airport to the main city. I never take a cab when I'm in Paris because the public transportation is so cheap, quick, and easy.

    We were really close to Amsterdam when we were in Antwerp, and I still really wish we would have taken a day trip there. I think we'll do a Berlin/Amsterdam trip next.

  3. Looks like you had a great time! I love potato pancakes (just posted about them, in fact) but the Czech ones really are not light at all!

  4. Foodycat, I'll have to check out your recipe! Although I loved the chewiness of the potato pancakes, it isn't something I would want to make and eat myself.

  5. Mmm... I love eating potato pancakes with applesauce in Germany. I don't care for dumplings though. They make these gross ones called knoedel. Ugh!

  6. Meera, those dumplings were basically knoedel. I remember hating them in Germany, too! Dense, dense, dense.

  7. Looks like an incredible trip! I bet those hop fields are amazing once they fill in.

    I love, love, love potato pancakes. The ones I make (mom's, grandma's) are made from shredded potatoes rather than mashed and aren't nearly as heavy. My husband grew up with mashed and has made them before...too heavy for me but a good way to use up leftovers.



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