Wednesday, April 27, 2011

White Asparagus & Ricotta "Mini Malfatti" with a Ramp & Pea Pesto for the April 5 Star Makeover

The theme for the April 5 Star Makeover - hosted by the always-fabulous Natasha of 5 Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! - centers around a quintessential spring ingredient, white asparagus. As Natasha rightly points out, in Germany people are going nuts right about now for both the white and green varieties, and having just returned from a too-brief two days in Vienna, I can tell you that the Viennese are also asparagus-mad. It was easy to get inspired for this challenge being around so much asparagus love!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beer & Adventure at an Old Scool Prague Pub: U Zlatého Tygra (At the Golden Tiger)

The Real Deal:
There are countless reasons to visit U Zlatého Tygra (the Golden Tiger) in Prague's Old Town. For beer lovers, there's the unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell, which connoisseurs consider  to be among the best in the world. Literati love the fact that Czech novelist Bohumil Hrabel,  one of the great writers of the 20th century, was a regular here until his death in 1997. History buffs can imagine that they are sitting at the same table occupied by then-president Bill Clinton and former Czech leader Vaclav Havel when Havel brought Clinton here  to show him what life in Prague was all about.

And for those (like me) who eschew tour groups and live to explore and discover things on their own, it is nice to know that a few authentic, history-soaked Czech drinking establishments like this still exist, just off of one of the most touristy thoroughfares in Europe. This is not to say that tourists don't eat and drink at the Golden Tiger; they do, but no concessions are made for them. There is no gift shop. The experience is not pre-packaged.  The staff is not all smiles and condescension - in fact, they can be more than a bit cranky. Seating preference is in this order: regulars, Czechs, and everyone else. If you fall into the category of "everyone else" and you want to get a seat at night (rather than in the afternoon) you may wait for a very long time - if you even get to sit.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Grilled Portabella Mushrooms with a Garlicky Carrot Puree, Wheat Berries, & Cranberry Creme Fraiche: a Lighter Version of a Czech Classic

I always return home from traveling filled with ideas and inspiration for dishes I want to make. And while I loved, loved, loved the traditional Czech meals I ate in Prague, a number of my favorites make more sense in the context of the chilly early spring of Central and Eastern Europe than they do in what's turning out to be a balmy East Coast April.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eating Prague, Part 1: Traditional Czech Cuisine (and the Cookbook Giveaway Winner!)

Hanging out in a tower in the Old City Hall in Prague's Old Town Square ... and thinking about all the good food down there. The smells of smoky cooked pork were actually wafting up from below. For real.
While Prague is undoubtedly a top tier sightseeing, cultural, and historical destination for many travelers,  it is not generally mentioned along with the other great culinary meccas of Europe. I think that's a shame. Many people assume that traditional Czech cuisine is an unvarying parade of hearty and heavy variations on the same theme of big piles of meat.  But the traditional Czech cuisine I had in Prague was anything but monotonous, as its unfounded reputation would seem to imply.  Is the food hearty? Sure. Meaty? Often! Heavy? Sometimes. But unvarying or boring? Not at all, as you'll see here. (Of course, Poppa and I didn't only eat traditional Czech food. We had some very surprising meals, as you'll see in future posts.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sugared Mexican Buns and a Nick Malgieri Cookbook Giveaway

As this posts, Poppa Trix and I are somewhere in Krakow ... drinking beer, eating at a milk bar, devouring kielbasa, or simply sleeping it all off. But I didn't want you to miss me too much! So, because you didn't get to come on vacation with me, I am giving away a copy of Nick Malgieri's latest book, Bake!, to one lucky reader!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Minted Mushy Pea Croquettes

In a continuing testament to the apparently boundless limits of my obsessive-compulsive disorder, this is the second of three posts  that I've set to go up while I'm still on vacation. Thanks for stopping by!

In my last post, I shared a fish and chips makeover with salmon poached in Belgian framboise lambic, buttermilk celeriac puree, and these delectable minted pea croquettes. Remember?
I would love to give you the link to that post, but since I'm scheduling posts in advance and, as I write this, none of them have gone up yet, I don't have the link ... thanks to the "genius" of Blogger. Drat!

Anyway. You don't need to make a whole involved meal to enjoy these croquettes - they would be fabulous on their own as a snack.