A Travellerspoint blog

October 2013

What's To Eat? Potatoes And Meat!

semi-overcast 20 °C
View Euro trip 2013 on travellinglise's travel map.

"If God did not intend for us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?" - John Cleese

Foodie moment

Welcome to the land of pork and potatoes! On first stepping out of the subway station in the main square of Prague, we were presented with a cacophony of traditional Czech foods. Little huts with touristy priced dishes filled the air with the salivating smells of spit roast pork, wiener sausages, sauerkraut and fried potatoes. I (Mark) was in food heaven! Straight after checking in at our hotel, we went right back to the food square and got a potato pancake! I'm not sure what exactly was in it (potato obviously!), but it was crunchy and delicious!

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For dinner we hopped into a little traditional restaurant called U Balbinu, which served a large assortment of Czech foods with locally made beers (you may notice the word 'beer' will appear quite a lot over the next few blogs). They had huge tanks of beer lining the walls (known creatively as Tank Beer) and a very warm atmosphere. We started with 2 beers, a wheat beer which was very nice and a dark beer, which was our first introduction to the deliciously chocolatey dark Czech beers which I will miss the most!

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For mains we had the tenderloin with sour cream (not sour cream actually, whipped cream more like!), cranberries and home made dumplings and the roasted neck of pork with cabbage, spinach and dumplings. We also got a shopska salad for old times sake. These first dishes on our long journey of meat, dumplings and cabbage were really really good (if not a bit strange with the cream on meat and all).

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Cultural moment

Absinthe, the green and highly alcoholic spirit, also known as the Green Fairy, is prevalent to say the least throughout Prague. Every corner store displays it in their front window in all sorts of bottles of different sizes. There are also Absinthe bars that specialise in serving only Absinthe cocktails, beers, ice creams and in the more traditional way which involves sugar cubes, ice cold spring water and fire! The history of Absinthe goes way back to Switzerland in the late 18th century where it rose to popularity among artists and writers because of its supposed creativity inspiring hallucinogenic properties. While it does contain trace amounts of thujone, the affects have been proven to be no different from any other spirit and over exaggerated. I may or may not have bought a bottle for myself.

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Wow moment

Its no secret that Prague is a beautiful city, with thousands of tourists trekking there each year. It has a very prestigious and chic feel while still maintaining its traditional beauty with all of the original Gothic architecture. This is multiplied at night when the sun goes down and the town is lit up. Everywhere you look is another amazing Gothic building flooded in light against the black sky. It really is breathtaking, from the fairytale cathedrals to the cruise boats on the Vltava river against the backdrop of the Charles bridge.

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What we learnt today

In Prague is an amazing clock known as the astronomical clock. It was built in 1410 by clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadaň and Jan Šindel. It is the oldest working astronomical clock in the world. The clock is made up of 3 parts, the dial which has the positions of the Sun and the Moon, "The Walk of the Apostles" mechanical puppet show and a calendar which has medallions representing the months. The puppet show happens every hour and has been described as one of the most overrated attractions in Europe, we kind of agree with that. However, the clock itself to just look at is really quite amazing. There is a legend that states that the clockmaker was intentionally blinded after he finished the clock so that he would never create another one as amazing. He then placed a curse on it so that it would stop working for 50 years, which apparently actually happened. The clock then mysteriously started working again once the curse had expired. True story, I swear!

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Posted by travellinglise 09:56 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged prague meat absinthe Comments (0)

Clambering through Constable Country

sunny 22 °C

‘I accept not everyone will agree with my decisions. But I object to swearing, tattoos and dogs sitting on chairs. If I was going to take my mother to dinner there I would not wish her to be exposed to that sort of thing....I’m not trying to be difficult. I’m thinking of the 98 per cent, not the 2 per cent.’ - Marco Pierre White

Foodie moment

Finding an affordable pub in Lavenham is not easy, its popularity with tourists and the B&B crowd have made it an expensive location. We decided on the pub in the main square as the bar menu appealed to us, and were surprised to find out it was Marco Pierre White's pub The Angel. He had recently taken over the 600 yr old pub, and was certainly trying to make it a bit more than a local village pub. I read that he recently removed Fosters and Strongbow from his taps (yes, apparently this was a bad thing according to locals! Personally I agree that Fosters should not be drunk!) and the bar menu was quite expensive for what was on offer. Having said that, it was a spectacular steak sandwich, delicious chips (cute presentation too in the tiny saucepan) and probably the only time I will financially be able to eat at one of his restaurants!

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Cultural moment

A drive with Barbara to explore the bordering shire of Suffolk took us to the historical town of Lavenham. It's a very cute town jam-packed with half-timbered medieval cottages and a large, impressive 15th-century church. The half-timbered cottages are really interesting to look at, as not only are they painted in all sorts of bright colours, but most of them seem to lean forward or to the side at quite an alarming angle. This is because the timbers in the house have warped over time leaving the house set at unusual angles. I wouldn't want to try and furnish a room with those angled walls!

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Wow moment

On the way back to Colchester from Lavenham we stopped at Dedham, Essex. A lovely walk through the fields next to the river Stour (dodging the cows!) lead us to the heart of 'Constable country'. John Constable was a famous English Romantic painter in the early 19th Century. He grew up in the Dedham area, and his most famous paintings are of the Dedham countryside, the Dedham Mill and the Parish church. You can see why he chose to paint the area. It really is beautiful countryside, especially on a sunny day like the day we visited when the riverbanks are covered with people having picnics, people rent rowboats to take down the river and children are paddling in the water.

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What we learnt today

The Hay Wain is one of the most famous paintings by John Constable, finished in 1821. It depicts a rural scene on the River Stour in Suffolk. It hangs in the National Gallery in London and is regarded as one of the greatest and most popular English paintings. It was impossible to recreate it accurately in a photograph as the area and countryside has changed... but we gave it a go!

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Posted by travellinglise 10:05 Archived in England Tagged dedham lavenham Comments (0)

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