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Pilsen - A Hidden Foodie Haven

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View Euro trip 2013 on travellinglise's travel map.

"I am not a glutton - I am an explorer of food" - Erma Bombeck

Foodie moment

Although the town of Pilsen did not match with our expectations, the food there blew them out of the water. The brewery company Plzensky Prazdroj own three restaurants in the town of Pilsen. After being recommended one and having a great meal at another we decided to dedicate our anniversary celebrations to trying all three!

Na Spilce Restaurant is situated at the Plzeňský Prazdroj brewery. The restaurant is held in the former fermentation cellar and is the largest pub in Bohemia, seating 550 people. Mark had been eyeing off the Goulash served in bread loaf in a few places, so he ordered that here. This was the only meal we had in this chain of restaurants which was a little disappointing. I ordered the recommended dish from the front of the menu, which was to become a tradition for me in each of the restaurants, and was a sure winner every time. I had Pork cubes roasted with onion and dark beer, křimice cabbage and red cabbage, potato and Bohemian dumplings with onion. The dumplings were the best I had tasted in our whole trip and when the whole meal came to $11 AU total we couldn't complain!!

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Na Parkánu Bar was a recommendation from Trip Advisor and we decided to go here for our 2 yr Anniversary meal. After not being able to reserve a table booking (there was a football match between the local side and Manchester city on so everything was full) we decided to just turn up whilst the match was on (and hence the supporters were at the game) and see if they would slot us in. Sure enough the place was pretty quiet and we were told as long as we left by 10.30 pm when the match ended and the tables were all reserved for post match drinking, we could use a table. We ordered The Brewers Platter (Stewed smoked pork loin end, roast sausage, roast pork, white sausage, mustard, horseradish and spicy cabbage) and a 500g Roasted pork belly on the bone with mustard, pickle, horseradish and spicy cabbage. Typical traditional Czech fare, still sticking with lots of cabbage and pork, but the best cabbage and pork we had had!! We rolled out with very full tummies as the Man City supporters rolled in to celebrate their win.

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Finding no reason to not complete the trifecta we sought out the final restaurant in the chain for lunch the next day. U Salzmannů Restaurant is in the centre of the town of Pilsen and touts itself as the oldest restaurant in Pilsen. Once again the food served up was exceptional and the delicious dark Czech beer made for a great farewell to Pilsen, our unexpected foodie haven! This time we had Honey-glazed pork ribs roasted with onion served with garlic and spicy sauce and Pork tenderloin strips with heavy cream sauce with beer, cheese and spring onion. I could have eaten a tub of the garlic sauce on its own!! These were probably our favourite dishes of our time in Pilsen. Yummy!!!!! (I want it now!)

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Cultural moment

As mentioned earlier there was a Champions league match between Pilsen and Manchester City on whilst we were in town. This meant this otherwise sleepy small town was suddenly full to the brim with loud, excitable Mancunians chanting, drinking and shouting. On the other side though we saw (and heard) very few Pilsen supporters around town before the match. A few small groups walking to the ground and some groups in the pub quietly watching the game while we ate dinner. I'm sure there were plenty of Pilsen supporters at the game but they were either massively outnumbered or significant quieter than their counterparts from England!! I could hazard a guess at which of those scenarios is most likely....

Wow moment

The number one thing to do in Pilsen, and the place that originally put it on the map, is to visit the Pilsner Urquell Brewery. Its is a huge beer factory that has been operating since 1839. Its so large in size that while on the tour we had to catch a bus to get around the brewery grounds. We started our tour in the new part of the factory where the beer is bottled and put into cans and bottles via giant automated machines.

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We then travelled to another part which was the older building (a new multi million euro building is being used now) where they made the beer. In here we got to see the giant copper vats in which the beer is fermented. There was also an interactive museum where we learnt about the processes involved in making the beer.

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Finally we headed into the underground tunnels, which stretched for miles and miles under the brewery and town. Here we were able to see all of the beer fermenting in the traditional wooden barrels, and even got to try some open barrel fermented beer especially brewed for tour groups only. The whole experience was a blast, and learning and seeing the entire beer process was really interesting.

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What we learnt today

Whilst dining at Na Splice we found our new favourite beer. It wasn't the famous Pilsner Urquell lager (which we weren't actually a huge fan of) but instead it was the Velkopopovický Kozel dark beer. It opened my eyes to the 'dark' side of beer and I haven't looked back since!

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Posted by travellinglise 08:35 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged pilsen plsen pilsner_urquell_brewery

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