Michelin Star Experience, Castles and More
Trip Start Jul 12, 2013
18Trip End Aug 23, 2013
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We have had a wonderful time in Prague. The tall spires and contrasts of so many different styles of architecture really makes you feel like you are in the location of a fairytale! This has been one of the most 'touristy' spots that we have been to so far. The streets and the attractions have been crammed full of people and a babble of different languages. There are Prague souvenir shops spilling out of every nook and cranny in the old streets and ice cream vendors and people selling Czech pasteries lining the pavement (not that we are complaining about the later of course!)
By far the highlight of our time here has been our 'honeymoon' dinner at a local Czech restaurant called La Degustation Boheme Bourgeois which is Michelin starred. If you are interested, here is the link to their website: http://www.ladegustation.cz/en/ we had a twelve course tasting menu with wines to accompany each dish and it was absolutely outstanding
We decided to try and spread out our tourist things a big more this time as we have a few days to spend in Prague. On the first morning we headed into the central square and joined a free walking tour. Our guide told us a lot about Czech history (rather like a lecturer! He was very knowledgable) and we walked around some of the most famous parts of the Old Town in Prague. We saw the Astronomical Clock, the main churches on this side of the river, the concert hall where Mozart came to conduct the premiere of Don Giovanni, and many other historical buildings. After about two hours (only part way through the tour) when we had been standing still for around 20 minutes listening to our guide talk about different aspects of Czech history and politics in the searing heat, we decided that he had too much to say for us and we slipped off back to the hotel!
In the afternoon we went out exploring the town ourselves and wandered through the mazes of little streets looking in shops. We booked some tickets for a boat cruise (the following day) and then went home to get ready for our epic meal
Day two has been a tourism-heavy day. This morning we walked to the other side of the city and up a rather large hill to the complex that is Prague Castle. There are so many historical buildings and sites within this complex. We decided to do a 'short' visit for an hour to see the five most famous historical buildings. The stand out for us was St Vitus Cathedral. This was an absolutely huge place, it seemed much bigger than Notre Dame and many other major European cathedrals. The stained glass windows were brilliantly coloured, not really done justice by our little camera, sorry, but hopefully you can get some kind of idea! We visited St George's Basilica as well; this is over 1000 years old and has been a central part of Bohemian history.
On the second afternoon we had a salad lunch in the street and then jumped on a boat to go for a cruise on the Vlata River. It was nice to get out of the sun and into the shade of the boat for a while. The evening was a quieter one, just doing some admin, some reading and of course the blog update. We went out for a wander in the streets to find some streets food for dinner and had some delicious traditional food - a huge chunk of spit roasted Prague ham and a potato/onion/ham type thing.
On our last morning in Prague we went to see the House of the Black Madonna which is a cubist art gallery/shop and then went to the Museum of Communism. It was really interesting to see such recent history. They had an excellent film that was of archive footage from 1968 Prague spring through until the liberation from communism in 1989
This afternoon we caught the train to Bratislava. It took four hours and was incredibly hot, humid and smelly with no air-conditioning. It felt like a very long trip!
Lots of love,
THE MICHELIN MEAL: details for the foodies.
1 - When we arrived we were giveen a Kir Royal and a little 'tidbit' to get your palate working. This was served on a chunk of what loooked like basalt rock. It was a little piece of pickeld root vergetable with sage and rock salt. Totally delicious with intense flavours.
We then had the menu delivered to us in sealed envelopes which we were able to open ourselves. The atmosphere in the restaurant was buzzing, mostly due to the fact that they had an open kitchen so we could see the chefs preparing the meal from where we sat. The bench remained spotless throughout the night - Ian would have been so impressed!
2 - Canapees then arrived in a set of three. We had Crispy Catfish Skin with wasabi mayonnaise, carrot puree served on a picklet carrot slice with a carrot crisp and then cream cheese and chive served on a pancake with a layer of jellied pepper.
3 - Pre-dinner taster: Beef tartare on crispy bread. I was a bit wary about trying this - but it was toally delicious!
4 - First course: smoked trebon trout (frozen and turned into a dust) mixed with a cucumber and horseradish snow and served with poppy seeds and edible flowers. This was served with a Czech spakling Chardonnay. We were totally blown away by the skill and execution of this dish as well as the amazing flavours. Despite the complexity the taste took me right back to being a small child sitting in the garage with Dad smoking trout in the old smoker! Delicious.
5 - Course two: Stugeon Cavier with green peas served with Chablis 1er Cru. This was definitely my first encounter with cavier (and I was dubious) but this was another absolutely stunning dish.
6 - Course three: Onion Apple and Lard served with Frankvka Rose. This was a stunning combination of flavours. The lard was delicious and was sliced so thinly it was almost transparent across the top of the dish - it had a really smoky flavour. The dish was topped with a dried onion and apple dust and served with grilled and baked onions on a bed of shallots.
7 - Course four: Prague ham, potato skulbanky, lovage and kefir served with Vermintino Mavriana 2011. We weren't quite sure what we were in for with this one. This was a traditional style dish made up of tiny potato dumplings. The dish was hot but the sauces on top were served cold - we found this really unusual!
8 - Course five: South Bohemian Catfish, riesling wine sauce and cauliflower served with Cuvee Chardonnay and Pinot 2012. I was a little unsure about eating catfish (especially considering that I have a little catfish in our fishtank at home!)
9 - Course six: Foie Gras, cherries and pistachio nuts served with Riesling Auslese 1999. This was the stand out course of the evening, we both totally loved it! It tasted more like a dessert than a savoury course. The foie gras had somehow been termed into a very soft snow-like texture but was not overly chilled. It was served on a bed of cherries soaked in sauce with nuts mixed through it. It was totally delicious. One of the reasons it felt like a dessert was that it was served with such a sweet reisling. The dish looks so simple when you see it but showed absolutely amazing sophistication in flavours and technique. 10/10 from us!
10 - Course seven: Tomato sauce, carrot and mustard with Blanc Pinot Noir 2009. This one sounded a little unusual to begin with! Tom described it as being kind of like a delicious carrot that had been cooked in fresh tomato soup! The carrot was served cut in half (lengthways) on the plate and was seared. It was another nod towards the trendy 'simple clean flavours' movement and everything was about the carrot
11 - Course eight: Mnetes Pigeon and beetroot essence served with Sancerre La Croix du Roy 2008. Last time we had pigeon in a Michelin restaurant we learnt that it is 'proper' to serve pigeon basically raw and we really disliked it. We were both a little concerned about this course but we had no need to be, it was delicious (of course!). Simple pan seared pigeon breast served with some confit leg and a pigeon heart (heart was delicious says Tom .... Emma, I'm afraid, backed out of that one - it still looked like a heart!) The red wine was well matched.
12 - Course nine: Stepanovsko Chicken, egg and semolina puree served with Savignon Blanc Carrique 2009. In an unusual turn we then went back to a white wine (after having just had red) with this chicken dish. The beautifully cooked chicken was served with two burnt egg yolks. Not quite sure how they did it but basically it was a spherical egg yolk (no white) which as soon as you tapped it broke into beautiful delicious runny-ness! The puree was topped with tiny little crisps made out of sweetened cornflakes!
13 - Course ten: Wagyu Beef, chanterelles, juniper and ginger served with Imperial Red 2007. Needless to say, we opted to have this dish without the mushrooms. The chefs did some little variations of beetroot on it instead. This beef was served rare and almost melted away in your mouth.
The wine was delicious and reminded us a lot of the Carrick Excelsior that we had at our NZ wedding.
14 - Elderflower sorbet as a palatte cleanser
15 - Course eleven: Blatacke zlato, redcurrant and gooseberry served with an India pale ale. This was a small cheese course of a delicious cooked local cheese served on the current and gooseberry. It was paried with an ale (very traditional in Czecheslovakia) but a new experience for us as part of a Fine Dining experience! It was delicious!
16 - Course twelve: Strawberry, goat yoghurt, parsley and honey served with a homemade raspberry soda. This was a very fresh dish that wasn't too sweet. Bold raspberry soda made it a really soft, natural dessert and a lovely finish to the evenings main events. The chefs had kindly decorated the edges of our plates with 'Happy Honeymoon'!
17 - Sweets and dessert wine. Didn't quite manage to catch the details of the dessert wine that went with this - it was a local one, very sweet and yummy. We had three little sweet treats; salted caramel, edible chocolate soil and a ginger soda jelly (almost the texture of a soft marble!).
It was a totally wonderful and inspiring evening which we adored. We spoke to the restaurant manager for a while about Ian and told him how he was a keen young chef and hoping to come abroad to learn more about cooking. At the end of the conversation the manager said that he thinks the executive chef would like to hear from Ian as they sometimes offer one and three month placements for young chefs to come and learn and work. We have all the contact details so that Ian can send his CV and a letter to them. Hope he can come here!
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