Ahoj! (ahoy - hello) from the Czech Republic!
I find that traveling evokes all the senses at once, but my favorite has to be taste. A country's cuisine is a direct expression of their culture. It's basically a story in a dish. And boy do I love their stories.
Here are my top 9 bites and libations that I recommend you try to really let yourself (and your taste buds) experience Prague the right way!
1. Sip on Svařák
If you find yourself in Prague on a chilly winter's night, my ULTIMATE recommendation is to allow yourself this indulgence: Svařák - hot or mulled wine. You'll find vendors popped up on every street corner with this belly warming drink. I found a lot of vendors flavoring their wines with different spices like cinnamon or slices of orange. Below you'll see me holding my first ever hot wine - I was soon never to be found walking the streets without one. And it was only 40 Czech Crowns ($1.6 USD) to boot!
2. Experience Trdelník
What you'll also see in my hand is Trdelník, a hollow, rolled crispy bread also very popular with street vendors. They have all kinds of sprinklings like sesame seeds, nuts, even cinnamon sugar. I believe in the summer months you can find them rolled into a cone shape and filled with ice cream (UM, YES).
3. Pick up some Haluski - Slovakian Street Food
I can't even tell you what some of the rest of these street food dishes are called, only that if you see one of these vendors - run straight toward it - immediately - and sample as many as you can! Most of them are hearty potato (brambory) and pasta dishes.
4. The Kielbasa. SHUT UP.
If you watched the video above you will see my lovely Czech friend Dana partaking in my favorite savory street food of all time: Kielbasa. I don't know if it was the freezing cold or my hollow tummy but I DEVOURED this non-kosher delight in a hot second. The fresh meat, tart kraut, the soft, chewy roll and sweet ketchup... oh it was heavenly.
5. Savor Every Bite of Svíčková
If you're craving a heartier winter dish you must try Svíčková. I had this dish probably 3 times, including once when Dana's mom made it for us from scratch (heck yes she spoiled us). Below I captured a video of her slicing her own homemade bread dumplings.
This dish sits heavy and warm in your tummy, perfect for when your padding around the streets of Prague on those cold, winter nights. There are all kind of variations to this dish, but the best way to describe my favorite kind was a thick and creamy orange sauce (just in color, not flavor) with tender beef hidden beneath dense, soft bread dumplings. I even had it served with a bit of cranberry and whip at a favorite restaurant we discovered, a place called u šemíka on New Years Eve.
6. Get Yourself Some Hot Love (Horká Láska)
Only in the Czech Republic (so far) have I found this simplistic yet singularly divine dessert of hot raspberries and raspberry sauce topped with vanilla ice cream. The combination of the tart raspberry and warmth of the sauce with the cold and sweet vanilla ice cream is remarkable. Especially as the ice cream begins to melt and seeps into the raspberry sauce... I'm salivating just thinking about it!
7. I Demand You Demand Strudel
Another dessert Prague just does right is apple strudel (jablečný závin). Think of a thin flaky crust that houses cinnamon doused apples topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. I can't even talk about these desserts anymore without a pang of desire.
8. Imbibe with Slivo
And here you thought I wouldn't mention Slivo... Or post an embarrassing video...
Slivovitz is what Ouzo is to the Greeks or Pálinka to the Hungarians. I'm not going to lie to you, it has a pretty harsh bite - as you can tell from my face in the video! But... when in Prague, right? Don't forget to shout a big Na zdravi! (Naz-drah vi) - cheers! - as you kick one back!
9. Ahoj, Pivo!
Also don't forget to pick up some Pivo - Czech beer of course! You can't leave the country without trying a famous beer or two.