Czech Republic turned out to be quite a tasty country to explore. If you’re heading there for the first time, here’s a handy list of some foods and drinks that are worth trying.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but rather just a taste that will get you started.
My favourite discovery in Czech Republic. Burčák is a young, still fermenting wine. It is slightly fizzy so, despite being sweet, it tastes quite refreshing. Unfortunately, it’s not available all year round – to be legally called burčák, it can be sold only between August and November. It’s rather low on alcohol, 2-8%, but rich on vitamins B.
I found it at Náplavka Market in Prague, at Trhy na Zelňáku in Brno and in many wine shops in Prague (once they have it in stock, they put huge banners advertising it or write it on the windows – but be quick, they sell out pretty quick).
One of the most popular Czech dishes, svíčková na smetaně, is a beef sirloin with cream sauce and bread dumplings. The sauce is slightly sweet and thick, meat slow cooked, the bread dumplings soak up the sauce beautifully. The dish is simple, comforting and goes great with beer.
3. Ovocne knedličky
Boiled, ball-shaped dumplings filled with fruits. Often served with sweetened cottage cheese on top. The dumpling dough can be made with potatoes, which isn’t as dry as a regular one. Similar to Polish pierogi with fruits, they have a quintessential summer taste to me.
4. (proper) Pilsner
While I’m a huge fan of beer, I almost never choose pilsners, usually going for something “heavier”. In Czech Republic, it’s the most popular brew so there was no way I could avoid it. And I’m glad – it tastes completely different from other pilsners. It’s not watery, has a beautiful golden colour and a foamy head.
Sweet round pastries available pretty much everywhere – in bakeries, sweets shops, cafes and supermarkets. The centre usually has either fruits, sweet cheese, jam or sweet poppy seed paste (and sometimes all of them next to each other). The sizes vary, from about 5cm to 20cm diameter. If you’ve never had one and you’re not sure which flavour to try first, I recommend a plum (or plum jam), it’s a crowd pleaser.
Kind of a pâté but better. It’s a meat paste with coarse pieces of meat, mushrooms, bacon, nuts etc added to it. Some home-made ones I got to try were especially amazing (also spreading them on excellent European sourdough bread makes it even better).
7. Beer Snacks aka Czech Tapas
In Czech Republic almost everything goes well with beer (look at 2, 5 and 6 above) but Czech Tapas tops it all. Utopenec (pickled sausage served cold with onion, capsicum and chilli), nakládaný hermelín (pickled soft cheese with chilli), grilled sausages and various cuts of cured meat, served with bread and paired with couple of cold beers – it makes for a great evening.
8. South Moravian wine
Czech Republic may be well known for its beer but South Moravia is all about wine. It’s a region of sun with the highest amount of sunshine in the country as well as warm climate which makes it a perfect place for wine making. Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pálava, Chardonnay – these are just some of the wines you can find there.
Good source of information about Czech wines is wineofczechrepublic.cz website.
A delicious herbal liqueur that has an interesting gingerbread-like aftertaste. It can be enjoyed chilled and on its own or infused with butter (as it was served to us at Super Panda Circus in Brno) but for us beton was a winner. Beton is easy to make and is refreshing on hot summer afternoons – it simply combines Becherovka and Tonic, hence the name. Add to that some ice and slice of lemon and you got yourself a perfect drink.
10. Studentská pečeť
Only the best chocolate in the world. Back in my early teenage days it was a love at first taste. Milk chocolate with nuts, orange jelly pieces and raisins.
Currently, there are many kinds and flavour combos of Studentská pečeť but the original always wins for me (although the one with pear comes pretty close 2nd).
During our month in Prague we ate our weight in Studentská and I guess that’s where a lot of budget went that month too. Tip: regular supermarket price of those is around 65 CZK (4 AUD) but when they’re on sale they’re ⅓ of that price so stock up then.