This past Monday on Travel Channel's Anthony Bourdain No Reservations, one of my all-time favorite cities was featured - Prague, the city in which my sister Kimberly decided to study abroad and Shaun and I deemed the perfect opportunity to catch some Eastern European culture.
From the cobblestone streets to the orange-topped homes, the former Soviet stomping ground just so happens to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world and one in which I could picture myself living. While remnants remain of the Soviet regime - buildings with rowed windows and smokey, underground cave-like clubs and bars – the untouched nature of the city brings an experience of Old World excitement over the history that has passed here. On the famed Charles Bridge, orange rooftops dot the horizon and winding cobblestone streets weave their way through the city.
Oh, and did I mention the food? After watching Tony's recap of the picturesque city in his signature snarky tone that I love so much, I couldn't help but wish I was back there. His completely accurate rundown included the staples of any visit to Praha:
Lots and lots of beer. In fact, Prague is the home of beer. From widely-known Pilsner Urquell to local varieties like Budvar and Staropramen (which by the way, I enjoyed this past summer at Zepplin Hall, the Jersey City Biergarten!) to serious microbrews that are merely numbered or named after someone in the bar, there's never a shortage and there's never a time too early to start drinking.Lots and lots of meat. Sausage, to be specific. I'm not sure what it is about Europe and meat products, but just as we did during our trip to Germany in '06, Shaun and I left Ceska in dire need of a vegetable diet detox to compensate for the extreme overconsumption of pork and venison (a meat served up with whipped cream and berries...really). Consuming this for days on end can really get to ya. Tony travels to the outskirts of Prague, where locals break down entire animals in their own backyards to stock up on meat for the winter...a culturally telling display that was enough to make even a serious carnivore such as myself squirm in my seat.
Lots and lots of fried cheese. At the bottom of Wencelsas Square, a place where KFC and McDonald's fill in the gaps between local eateries, a street cart, the true test of a culture’s food, serves up mayo-slathered fried mozzarella cheese sandwiches so delicious that it’s impossible to eat just one. The cheesy goodness is a standout, not only due to its salty, gooeyness but also due to its reminiscence of high class Jersey Shore fried fare...only at no Jersey Shore I've ever known. Your only concern will be what to wash it down with and the answer inevitably reverberates: hot wine.
Served with a bit of cinnamon bite and a slice of orange, hot wine is the ideal beverage for a city plagued by cool weather for most of the year. It warms from the inside out, just as a good adult beverage should.
Things he neglected to highlight:
Outdoor cafes chock full o'lattes. One of my ultimate loves in Prague is the abundance of outdoor cafes with large heating units, keeping us warm while we sipped on creamy, indulgent lattes in the middle of March. Oh, what a world where this is common practice in the middle of the day.
Our favorite musical quartet. Though Tony does not point this out, one of my, Shaun's and Kim's favorite/most interesting/most mind-boggling memories from the trip was a musical quartet – one man on a cello, one on a clarinet, one on guitar and one keeping the beat by tapping a CD case.
Drums? Who needs ‘em? I should mention that with fried cheese sandwich and alcoholic beverage in hand, there’s nothing left to do but to people watch. After all, the next CD tapping musician could be just around the corner.
So what do you think? Did you watch No Reservations on Monday? Have you been to Prague? Have you traveled anywhere with absolutely amazing or memorable food options?