svičková. it’s amazing. probably my absolute favorite czech food ever. ok now granted, that wasn’t a difficult contest to win. on the whole, czech food is nothing grand or impressive. still, svičková (that’s sveech-koh-va) is pretty much amazing. i know you’re wondering what this stuff is. you’re probably thinking… “that goop looks nasty!” i can relate. i’m a big time offender when it comes to the crime of “won’t eat it if it looks questionable,” but trust me guys, you’ll never be sorry. here’s the basic idea of what svičková is. it’s knedliky (which means “dumplings” and is like a soft, white bread) with beef gravy on top of it. but they must do something crazy with it, because it’s the best gravy i’ve ever had. a lot of times they’ll put some kind of beef on the side also, but that’s optional. if you’re feeling adventurous here’s the recipe. there are also other great czech recipes at that site if you’re interested. best place in the city for this stuff? well if you’re traveling and don’t have the luxury of having it homemade (which is phenomenal), there’s a place just off of Wenceslas Square if you turn the corner where McDonald’s is and walk down straight until you hit the I.P. Pavlova metro stop. from there turn left until you get to the end of that block, then turn right and you’ll see the restaurant right there. you can’t and will not want to miss out on that one. did i mention it’s cheap?
as you can see from the picture, guláš is similar to svičkova. it’s also next on my list of czech greats in the food genre. basically the only difference is the flavor of the gravy and the addition of… more beef. you’ll come to realize if you’re ever in Prague for a while that they’re big beef-lovers. in fact, it’s really all they eat. it blew my mind that chicken was hardly ever on their menus and most czechs don’t even like chicken. oh, and vegetarianism? unheard of. no self-respecting czech would EVER go vege. ever. but back to the guláš. this is a dish that’s found it’s way into other cultures for sure, but there are different ways to make guláš and, in my humble opinion, czech guláš is tops. i don’t know what they do different and even an Internet search on that issue hasn’t filled me in. maybe it’s just the czech air. either way, don’t pass it up. in my opinion the best place to get guláš is in a restaurant on Wenceslas Square right across the street from the big casino that’s there. i wish i could remember the name. alas, i cannot. search. it’s worth it.
i’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite things about Prague is their festivals. this is only helped by the fact that great food is involved. trdlo (turd-low), though it sounds disgusting, is actually quite great. it’s a Czech desert that i suppose could best be described as a cinnamon bun without the sticky stuff. it’s a bread that’s put onto a revolving pole until the dough is cooked. then it’s slid off of the pole and rolled into a cinnamon-sugar mixture. it’s given to you hot after being cooked right in front of you. plus it’s only about 25 crowns (about the equivalent of $1 U.S…. at least that was the conversion when i was there). the down side? it only shows up around holidays. any holiday will do, though. Easter, Christmas, St. Nicolas Day… any holiday. and when it’s around, it’s everywhere!