Monday, March 28, 2011

LIBEN - The town where time stood still



This week we are in Liben and you might be wondering about the strange subtitle and be slightly curious as to what the hell does he mean. Well, when I first came to Prague I was interested in anything which helped me to understand the country and the people, especially as I was training to be an English teacher so for the sake of productive lessons of English without the odd faux pas or 2 I asked lots of questions in my classess and read any books and watched any movies from the CZ and the first book that I read was The town were time stood still which was also turned into a film, which I also watched and like most people thought that the book was far superior. Imagine to my surprise wandering around Liben when we discovered the house were Hrabal used to live ( see photo below ) at and also in the area is the hospital that he died at, apparently he fell from a 5th floor window, sad really. If you haven't read any of his books then I recommend the subtitled title so to speak or When I served the King of England.

In the 19th century before Liben became a part of Prague it was well known as an area for young or old lovers to go to or even young potential soon to fall in love couples as well. It was a very beautiful area and still today there are glimpses of its former glory though in the part of Liben that we ventured around it was not possible to see any evidence of this except for a small area down by the river where there is the art studio of Jan Nemecek who is the son of the more famous Zdenek Nemecek who was famous for his sports sculptures some of which are on display in the gardens of the studio and also further down in the blog as well.

At the end of the 19th century the area along the river became more industrialised and it started to lose some of his mystique and sadly nowadays the area is run down and in need of some re investment.The demise of this area can be put down to one or two factors, the changing times and years of socialist influence and  the floods of 2002, which also took their toll and there are still visible signs on some of the buildings, showing the high points that the river had risen to, though I  understand from unnamed sources that it is the topic of many a discussion concerning Future prime residential and commercial projects along the river and even being compared to the development of the London dock area of canary Wharf, so let's be patient and watch this space.

Review no. 1

Pizzeria Pod Kominem

This place is on my way to work and every time that I see it I say to myself that I have to go and give it a try and finally thanks to this little pet project of mine, I did. The place is what it says. A pizzeria under an old chimney, which in its heyday produced linens but now has had a revival and is the place where we will have our lunch. When we arrived, we had 2 choices to make, smoking downstairs or non smoking upstairs and giving this choice to my daughter, was a pretty easy decision, not that she had realised about the smoking and non smoking option.

My daughter had the Spaghetti Bolognaise and not the kiddies portion but the full size adults portion and it was a pretty generous portion and even more surprising was the fact that she licked the bowl clean and that is pretty special. If you could see how much stress I receive just trying to get her to eat a small plate of my home-made spag bog and I can cook, really I can. My SVG had a Tiramisu and again it was a nice sized portion and home-made so a brownie point for that. The service was friendly and the experience was made more memorable by the fresh octopus sprawled out in a fish tank on a bed of ice, didn't see that on the menu, though I doubt that I would have had the appetite for a whole octopus and I was saving myself for the Thai surprise later on.


                                    www.pizzapodkominem.cz


Review no. 2

As I mentioned in R1 we are at a Japanese/Thai restaurant called Big Thai Oishi, which apparently means yummy in Japanese. Could be a nice tattoo, don't you think?
I went for the Spicy Thai curry with prawns and coconut of course and it has a 3 chilli rating, so very hot, though not hot enough for me, and my SVG had her usual full Thai breakfast, in Thai it is called pad thai tofu. Again the food was nice and good value for money, on one table we noticed the young couple having a large heaped plate of sugar snap peas. What is all that about!! The service was very nice, well it has to be, when there are 2 little monkeys running around playing games with all the decorations and there were a lot of things to spark their curiosity. After 20 mins of asking them to stop I just gave up.

                                   www.bigthaioishi.cz

Other places of interest

Restaurants

Curry House                               Pizzeria Masarycka
www.curryhouse.cz                     www.masarycka.com

Pizzeria and children's corner

Bars

The smallest bar in Europe                         El Corazon
ul. Kotlaska                                               ul. Novakovych 19


Bar Na Mesici                             Wine bar
Nam. Holeho 7                           ul. Na hrazi


Shops

Seeds                                                       Philatelist's
ul. Novakovych                                       ul. Vacinova

Other

Hrabal's house                                        Zdenek Nemecek's sculpture

Sports centre                               Fishing association office
www.scpalmovka.cz                    www.rybsvaz.cz


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

VINOHRADY - wine and dine part 3



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Hello again, so yet again I am traipsing around Vinohrady. It just never ends does it, well not until next week anyway. Admittedly I did my walk around this part of Vinohrady 2 weeks ago, because last week I had to go to the UK to go to my nan's funeral so when I wandered around the streets I had to drag my 2 children around, so that meant taking photos of everything, trust me I mean everything. As a special treat I will also include some of these photos in this posting.

Apart from what I have told you about Vinohrady the streets that we were walking up and down started in Vinohrady and finished in Zizkov but for the sake of this posting I have just labelled it under Vinohrady, so I hope that you don't mind.

I had my children with me for this pilgrimage and David my eldest wanted to hold the map, take the photos and ride his scooter all at the same time so it was a real challenge but we managed to get to all of the streets that we had planned to, so just for that reason I am satisfied though sadly we weren't able to sit down and sample the delights of some of the restaurants in this area, though I promise to add a couple of reviews sooner rather than later.


Review no. 1                                                 coming soon

Bila vrana


Review no. 2                                   coming soon

Wingsclub

                   www.wingsclub.cz

Other places of interest

Restaurants

Highland restaurant                                  Big Daddy's Garage
Lucemburska 1832/38                             www.bdgarage.cz

Cafes

Cafe Chef                                               Millème Boulangerie Pâtisserie Café
Ondrickova 20                                        Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad 4

Shops

Farmers' products                                   Pescheria Adriatico
www.ceskygrunt.cz                                 ul. Borivojova 11

French wines and champagnes    Hand painted fashion

Cars






Monday, March 14, 2011

VINOHRADY – wine and dine part 2





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The 2nd part of my tour around Vinohrady took me around another location where I used to live earlier on during my young, free and single years in Prague around 2002. Admittedly I never used to venture out much in this area so it was interesting to finally get the chance to walk around the streets of my old neighbourhood and see what I had missed out on and I was sad to realise that there were so many interesting places that I could  have spent better use of my time visiting during this period. Instead of heading to the more usual frequented expats haunts in the centre of the city, but you live and learn and another popular cliché that comes to mind, it’s never too late, seems appropriate in this case.

Vinohrady in the past was not part of Prague but like so many of the districts of Prague it was swallowed up in 1922 and divided into what is now Vinohrady, Zizkov and some of Vrsovice though it is hard to imagine that it was ever separate from Prague and it definitely has a lot of interesting parts to it which add a lot of what is Prague’s character today.

Review no. 1

Los v Oslu has a very typical English pubby feel to it and what drew my attention to it was the fact that it had a lot of interesting beers to try, that would not usually be found when going out for a drink or something to eat and also that its speciality are mussels and bottled Belgium beers and lots of them, in fact over 200 to be a little more precise, so there could be another challenge if I so felt like it but I am not that young and reckless anymore, so I keep telling myself anyway.

Los v Oslu is a play on words I was told by one of my students. It can mean the moose in Oslo or the moose in the donkey, which he thought was very funny, though that was most definitely lost in translation.

I started with a 12 degree Lobkowice which is a beer that has been springing up all over Prague recently and my local Haunt Jama the hollow has a large selection of beers from this cooperative brewery. I suppose we could call it this or it is probably more like an alliance of smaller breweries trying to put an alternative to the larger breweries, which I wholeheartedly give a big thumbs up to. After the beautiful refreshing starter which was more filling than I expected I had a traditional pickled cheese or more recognisable in Czech lingo for me  is a nakladany hermelin, basically it is a spicy pickled cheese and goes great with a beer or 2.

The pub/rest/beer club is fairly small. There are about 8 tables, with bar stools and the downstairs Belgium beer club. It is predominantly wood everywhere and dark and very cosy. The staff are very friendly and speak English. The food menu looked interesting, as well as the mussel specialities that were displayed on the board outside.Also on offer are a very nice selection of beers on tap and the large selection downstairs of Belgium beer as well. I give it a big thumbs up and I have been back there since and was not disappointed, though what I did notice was that there was a lot of reservations on the tables for 7.30 so get there early or be Czech smart and reserve a table.



Review no. 2

Being a Brit there are some things from home that I would like to bring to Prague and one of them is a nice Indian restaurant and apart from the overpriced ones in the centre there is very little choice, so when I found 2 in one street I thought that it would be a good opportunity to see if there were some hidden jewels lying around so I was intrigued with the Dilli Delhi cocktail bar/restaurant, well who wouldn’t be right?
As you enter you come face to face with the cocktail bar, but we, well when I say we I mean me and my SVG continued through the back and found the restaurant part. The restaurant is fairly small. It is divided into 2 parts and has about 10 tables. The menu is fairly small but has a nice selection of vegetarian and more interestingly for me are the lamb dishes. I just love lamb. It is just so tasty but quite hard to find in Prague restaurants.
I had the Lamb Vindalhoo, being a Brit you have to always go for one of the hottest dishes on the menu, which I did, though usually back in the UK we usually hit the Indian restaurants at around 12am, after a heavy session on the sauce and get a take away which can be found all over your bedroom the next morning. My SVG had the green peas and paneer curry, both of which were pretty good and at 190 czk for the Lamb Vindalhoo. It was good value for money. It is rare to go to an Indian and have 2 meals with rice and bread with a couple of drinks for under 500czk and as far as Indians go it was pretty good though the menu could do with being a little more extensive, that is if I was going to go there more often, which if I could afford to then I probably would do.



Other places of interest

Restaurants


Restaurant Mozaika                      Greek tavern Kri-Kri
www.restaurantmozaika.cz            www.kri-kri.cz




Tapas bar U Peruna
ul. Perunova 804/17





Cafes


Club cafe Latimerie                       Cafe & workshop Kavarna Maluj
www.latimerieclub.cz                     www.kavarna-maluj.cz




Other


Butcher's                                                    Comics
www.pavlis.cz                                           www.comicspoint.cz


Friends of Scotland                                Tattoo studio
www.skotsko.net                                   www.tattoostanley.cz


Monday, March 7, 2011

VINOHRADY – wine and dine part 1


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I would like to dedicate this post to my dear nan who passed away in her sleep this week. To be honest over the last 2 decades I have spent a lot less time visiting her than makes me feel comfortable, but my memories of her still strike firm in my mind, so this week we hiked around the densely populated area of Vinohrady looking for things that reminded me of the times that we spent together during my childhood which means cukrarnas as when we used to pick her up from the cake shop that she worked at. She would bring home a large assorted box of cakes which me and my sister would happily devour.


Vinohrady is so populated that I decided to split it into 4 parts so that we can reveal a sensible number of interesting sites because it would be unfair as well as too difficult to decide on what should be included and dis-cluded. The name Vinohrady means vineyards and in its history grapes were grown for the production of wine so it would hardly be surprising if we didn't find any wine bars in this area and surprise surprise we were not disappointed. Though what was surprising was the number of bio shops and also more interestingly the majority of the streets in this area are named after countries so we shouldn't have been so surprised to find a lot of shops selling home grown produce which of course we did.

Review no. 1

Vinohrady is chock a block of food and wine related businesses so many that it was hard to choose 2 to review and also the short list that follows. The first choice was a cake shop/cukrana because I wanted to find a place like the shop that my nan used to work at and there was also a strange coincidence that they sell the same strawberry bonbons that my nan loved, personally I favoured the lemon bonbons but that is our little secret. We really liked the place because it was small, individual and you could feel the passion that went into establishing this business.

They had a great choice of cakes, home-made quiches and pastries as well as Italian and Chilean wines, coffees, teas and traditional sweets. We liked the décor, the atmosphere and the general welcome that we received from the owners who were working there. Basically this is a very cool place to go to and the food is really really yummy.



     SVG

Review no. 2

The second place that we visited was admittedly a popular style of restaurant in Prague but we loved it because of its ambience and the quality of its food. It was a Mexican café/restaurant but a lot different from some of the more well known and established ones around and the plan with this pilgrimage is to find places that are under the radar. Although it is predominately a Mexican restaurant they also have steaks and spicy chicken wings but we went 100% Mexicano. I started with the nachos and guacamole which was spicy, chunky and very yummy and tested my heart with a chicken chimichanga which was not the cheapest that I have tried but filling and plenty of chicken all in all a very nice experience, not the sort of place for large groups. It is also a duplex which is great for those who want a modicum of discretion.

                                                                Blond Factor
 www.barracuda-cafe.cz

Special mention

An old school cinema, cafe and restaurant with very cheap Indian food and even friendlier staff. They also advertise beer for dogs:

    Kinokavarna Pilotu
    Donska 19

Other places of interest

Restaurants

Hlucna samota                            Giardino

Doba                                            Zelena zahrada
Namesti Miru 19                         www.zelena-zahrada.eu


Cafes

Mama Coffee                                            Slagr
www.mamacoffee.cz                               www.kavarnaslagr.cz


Wine shops

Wine bar & gallery                                 Winebar
www.winebiss.cz                                    ul. Rybalkova

International food shops

Tesori d'Italia                                          Hungarian specialties
ul. Americka 30                                      ul. Americka

Fruits de France                                      Greek Corner
ul. Belohradska                                       www.greek-corner.com

Bio etc.

Loving Hut                                                Bio Home
www.lovinghut.cz                                     www.biohome.cz

Ecce Eco                                    Bio shop
www.ecceeco.cz                        www.bioobchod.cz

Other

Butcher's                                                 Tea shop
ul. Belohradska                                       www.ecajovna.cz

Guns                                           Beads
www.colosus.cz                         www.rooya.cz

Sea food shop                              Pet shop
ul. Rumunska                              www.u-pejska-a-pejska.cz

Fisherman's shop