Back in Prague, we stumbled off the train and headed for the Cupcake Palace and, more importantly, dinner. It was nearing 9pm at this point, and we weren’t up to the task of sniffing out a new hidden gem, since that generally takes some time and we were hungry now. So we went to Cartello Alto, the old fail-safe pizza place a block down the street from the Palace. This was our third time there, and as usual, everything was top-notch. I got a calzone the size of a small ironing board, Sarah had some cheesy pasta, and Jim opted for mushroom pizza. And, also as usual, we consumed it all while watching glittery pop music videos on the overhead TV. Laughed our way home and fell into carb-induced slumbers.
The next couple days in Prague would be our last, with Sarah heading back to the States on Monday and Jim and I leaving for Poland on Tuesday, so we resolved to spend our last few days eating and drinking as much as we possibly could (a dangerous pact to uphold in the Czech Republic). Jim had to spend a little time working at first, which meant Sarah and I got to wander around and visit the Prague Beer Museum!
Since the Prague Beer Museum is really just a bar with a lot of taps, we decided to go with a sample tray and I, the dutiful girlfriend, took copious notes for Jim (the homebrewer)’s perusal. I’ll spare you the mundane details, but the Merlin was delish, the Sweetheart tastes like candied sugar, and the IPA, which I was so excited for, lacked any floral hop character in favor of dry bitterness. Serves me right for expecting a Northwest-style IPA in Europe, I suppose.
The next day was particularly indulgent, which is really saying something in this town. The three of us walked across the Vltava at an unfamiliar point, stopping at what we would soon deem a deeply disappointing breakfast spot (which shall remain nameless on the chance that they were just having an off day). Its food and service were so glumly administered with such unsatisfying results that we ate, paid, and left to find another spot to fill what Jim called “the potato-shaped hole” in his heart. We found a suitable spot in short order, and filled other holes in our hearts that were in the shape of beer and onion rings as well.
From there we continued north until we started recognizing landmarks, like the Church of the Infant of Prague. We knew the Charles Bridge was near, so we headed towards it. Apparently someone still had a potato hole in their heart because suddenly we were passing around a paper cone full of freshly-fried potato chips as we crossed the bridge.
Not content to stop there, we wandered into the Square and hit up the trdelník stand once more.
Jim got a cup of hot punch, which did not pass the test, so we ditched it and went for the sure bet of hot wine. Feeling tremendously hedonistic, we then headed for home and nap-time.
That night, we wanted to eat at a restaurant we found while coming down from Vysehrad: a Mexican restaurant called El Paisa. The idea of Czech Mexican food (or “Czech-Mex” as we started to call it) was curiously irresistible and so we hiked back up the hill, found the restaurant, and sat down.
The server (host? owner?) greeted us immediately and asked if we spoke Czech, English, or Spanish. Spanish! I haven’t had a chance to speak Spanish since we were in Argentina four years ago, so I leapt at the opportunity, as did Jim (mind you, I hardly speak it, but I’m proficient enough in a restaurant setting).
The menu is not overly expansive, tacos being the main feature, but I did see one item that I had to order, for my mother’s sake.
Incidentally, we also ordered the cilantro cream soup (partially visible behind the giant nacho plate) and it was simply out-of-this-world amazing. On the chance that you find yourselves in this part of Prague, go to this restaurant and order it. Assuming you’re the type who likes cilantro, it will change your life.
That night, we went back to MegaSportBar with Conor & Co., for more Street Basketball and pinball. Our mojo wasn’t working so well this time around, and many of my rounds with Sarah devolved into hysterical giggle fits. Oh well.
The next morning, we wanted to plan to get out to Kutná Hora to see the Bone Church, but we got a pretty late start. Jim had some work to do, and I had some schoolwork to finish, so we had to find a breakfast spot that was close, fast, and with a reliable internet connection. The quickest answer: Pod Slavínem.
I’ve mentioned “Pod Slav” in passing, but its epic Czech offerings really do deserve a more thorough description. The first time we went there, I ordered a bacon omelette that was the size of a large pizza, with thick pieces of ham and a pile of cheese on top, and a generous bathing of olive oil throughout. I couldn’t finish it, not even close. Second time there, I went with ham and sauerkraut on a pile of homemade dumplings, maybe the size of a breadbox. Couldn’t finish it. This time, I learned my lesson. Jim and I decided to split a potato pancake. In case that doesn’t sound like much, this is what a Pod Slav potato pancake looks like.
We also decided to split a piece of apple strudel, but of course, because it’s this place, it was no mere piece of strudel.
And for her part, Sarah went with svíčková (svitch-kova), which is braised beef served in some kind of orange sauce, topped with (what else?) whipped cream.
It was after this meal that we decided we could no longer eat like the Czechs. Our bodies were starting to reject even the idea of more meat/ cabbage/ potatoes/ pastries. After a day trip to the Bone Church (more on that later), we celebrated Sarah’s last night in town at Maitrea, a vegetarian restaurant with incense burning and Enya playing in the background, lots of bamboo accents, trickling water features, and a general lightness in ambience that was very welcome after the ton of gastronomical bricks we’d been hit by over the last few days.
Up next: the Bone Church.