Before leaving on our Uniworld River cruise, my husband thought it would be best to settle in and get over jet lag before I had to get camera ready for our filming days ahead. So we arrived in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic 2 days in advance of our scheduled time with the cruise line. This was November and although I wasn’t looking forward to cold weather, I was prepared with boots, wool coat and gloves. Happily, the day we arrived the weather was a really nice 50 something degrees and the sun was attempting to shine. I had been to Prague once before, many years ago and so I was anxious to see what I would remember and what had changed.
We walked down the pretty cobble stoned streets to the touristy old square where one of the world’s oldest working astronomical clock is located. We happened to be there just as the clock did it’s hourly mechanical show of the 12 apostles. Woo hoo. As we continued to the famous Charles Bridge, I was astonished at the crowds of people everywhere even at this time of year. We wound our way around the slopey streets below the Prague castle and found a beautiful spot above the town’s oldest vineyard to have a drink and take in the magnificent views surrounding us.
Back in town that night, we met up with Vladimir from Praguefoodies.com who not only arranged all the places we’d be filming but would also be my companion on camera. He took us to a Vietnamese restaurant around the corner from the hotel and this was my first observation of how the food scene in Prague has changed.
The next day after our crew arrived and they had a short rest, Vladimir had arranged for a visit to one of Prague’s newest microbreweries called Vinohradksy Pivovar in the Vinohrady neighborhood a short distance out of the city center. The owners were intent on producing excellent beer and ales and their space is ideal as it once was a fermentation building and the only remaining structure after a major fire back in 2000. They also serve some incredible Czech dishes to accompany the beer and I munched on some super tasty venison and duck.
Heading back to town, Vladimir informed us that we were invited for a drink at this restaurant called Red Pif, where we’d be filming the next day. Although tired and worn out from traveling and filming how could we refuse. We met the owner who was thrilled to have us there and immediately popped open a bottle of wine for us. About 4 or so bottles later, we were then whisked off to Hemingway’s Pub where we were talked into
trying absinthe and even given a lesson in the proper method of serving the green liqour. (I actually loved it!) Somehow we all managed to stumble our way back to the hotel.
Our next day of filming began in the hotel itself at the beautiful Cafe Imperial. This stunning art nouveau restaurant is an elegant and popular grand cafe that dates back 100 years. The Chef, Zdenek Pohlreich owns and runs about 4 restaurants and is also a major tv personality in the Czech Republic. I got to sit down with him and talk to him about his very busy life while enjoying his most delicious signature lamb dish.
Vladimir was now excited that I agreed to venture out of town again, this time to a residential neighborhood and a restaurant called Story. There I met the humble owner and Chef, Michal Cerny who was meticulously preparing my meal with the freshest and specially chosen ingredients. I was impressed to hear that the young owner creates and prepares every single dish that leaves his kitchen. I asked why he chose this unassuming space and he said that good food was needed outside of the city center too. It’s definitely a trip worth making.
Our final stop was back to Red Pif, this time to cook with the Chef, Stephen Senewiratnel. I was given a personalized apron that they had made for me (how thoughtful is that?) and followed the Chef into his kitchen. Being from Sri Lanka he loves to create new flavorful dishes so he was doing a lot of experimenting at the restaurant. He told me he’d be making me a whole bunch of dishes tha t would be paired with wine. The restaurant is known for their incredible selection of natural wines (no pesticides, sulfites etc.) all from small wine makers. 5 dishes and 5 wines later, the night was over and my time in Prague was done.
To think this was the beginning of this European food odyssey is quite hard to believe. But, tomorrow it’s off to Nuremberg, Germany.
Cheers and all the best,