The Eat with Locals Food Tour was recommended by our Airbnb host, Zuzanna. We should say at the outset, we do not usually take tours, preferring to find out about a city ourselves but this is an absolute must do. We chose to do the Old Town Food Tour and we were lucky to have a cool but sunny winters day to wander through the city, visiting places that are both traditional and trendy but most definitely not the usual tourist haunts.
We booked and paid for our tour online and received an email with instructions on where to meet our guide and helpfully a photo so we could recognise her. The tours have up to 8 people on them but as we were travelling in the off season, it was just the 2 of us.
We met our guide, Míša at the appointed time and were delighted to find that she was an interesting, multi lingual, charming 30 something, who freelances as a tour guide and writer in her home town. We were quickly underway via hidden passages reminiscent of the Passages in Paris, Míša chatted away, providing us with information about the history and culture of the city and the next restaurant we were heading toward.
The following is a list of restaurants and meals eaten in them from our tour, by the end of which, we resembled a couple of overfed penguins wandering the streets of this magnificent city;
1/ Sisters, chlebíčky – modern “chlebíček” (open faced sandwiches) with an egg mayonnaise spread and celery salad spread. This is one of the local office workers favourite spots for a quick, healthy, low cost lunch and it was quite busy. We vowed to make these at home and Míša assured us that the recipes are easy to find and easily made.
2/ Naše Maso – is both a butcher shop and restaurant. We had the traditional “tatarák” (beef tartar) and homemade meatloaf on Czech bread. We were both a bit taken aback by the steak tartar, but feeling adventurous we ploughed in and it was a delight of beef, chilli, onion and of course garlic. Nase Maos were apparently very much on the cutting edge of Czech cuisine when they insisted that Czech beef was good enough to eat and now own the farm and deliver the end products. So glad they did it. Fabulous tasty treats.
3/ Katr restaurant – is a bbq and grill restaurant which is also a specialist beer house and the Czech’s take their beer very seriously. We were served “small beer dishes” such as “nakládaný hermelín” (pickled cheese) and “tlačenka” (aspic / headcheese), together with salmon with seasonal vegetable and potatoes / grilled goat cheese on beetroot and Urquell Pilsner beer. It was here that we learnt about “melch”, a Czech beer drinking tradition, be sure to ask about it. We could have and probably should have stopped eating after this meal, as we were both quite full, but no there was more just up the road!
4/ Czech Slivovitz – is an alcoholic drink made of plums (the best brand: “Žufánek” and you can get it at Bartida Bar & Shop), Míša surprised us by stopping in a small square in the Jewish quarter across the road from the Spanish Synagogue and Kafka memorial statue, for a “little liquid gift” from her bag and assured us her grandmother says “Slivovitz is for when you feel ill, when you feel well, when you feel sad or when you feel happy! It is the medicine of life!” Before drinking it though, we were advised to say Na Zdorovie, as we looked into each other’s eyes, otherwise we would have bad sex for the rest of our lives. Phew! That was a close one…
We had previously tasted a supermarket version of this local spirit and it was like petrol. Clearly spending a bit is quite a good idea, as it was very nice and we were warmed and primed for the next bit of the walk.
5/ Mincovna restaurant – is in the old mint building located on the main square and as Míša explained, locals took a long while to warm to a restaurant located near all the tourist places around the square, however once they had tasted the food getting a table was now tricky. We had 3 tasting courses which were made up of
- fried “Romadur” cheese with cranberries, a smelly but delicious cheese
- “svíčková” – roasted beef with traditional sweet sour creamy sauce and Carlsbad bun dumpling, washed down with dark ‘ladies’ beer Velkopopovický Kozel.
- apple strudel, served with Becherovka, a Czech digestif liquor, made of a secret combination of herbs and spices.
Only 2 people in the family who make the digestif spirit are able to know the recipe and like the royal family they can not fly together! The liquor broke through the sweet traditional apple strudel and whipped cream beautifully and we were left with a warm fuzzy feeling for our stroll; lets be honest it was a waddle, to the next destination.
6/ Choco Café Red Chair – You would never find this cafe on your own and in fact we probably couldn’t find it again. We were presented with more dessert, a unique Czech “Hořické trubičky” (Hořice rolls) filled with fresh whipped cream dipped in a hot chocolate. Not needed but very quickly devoured, food babies were forming on our fronts.
7/ Red Pif Wine Bar– a funky little venue located in a small street not far from the river with a selection of Czech & Moravian wines. We tasted white, rose and red wine. The white and rose were ok, maybe a little sweet for our taste but the red, Kolos, was super. We spent a good hour or so chatting with Míša and having a second glass of the superb red wine before we purchased a bottle to take home.
A future visit to Moravia may very well be on the cards as Míša let us in on her favourite weekend away, the cellar hop in the district of the Milan Nestarec winery.
This is not a budget travel activity but we would highly recommend the “Eat like a Local” tours and if you have the chance, request Míša as your guide. We felt like friends by the end of the day and she kindly escorted us back to the river, which as it turned out was only a couple of blocks, but we would have been seriously lost in the winding cobbled passages of the Old City without her.
NB This is not a sponsored post and we have not received any payment from the tour operator mentioned, we just loved it
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