Eating and travelling are two of my great loves and combining both of them together is my favourite thing of all. During our recent trip to Prague, S and I wanted to familiarize ourselves with Czech cuisine and we knew from past experience that taking a local food tour would be just the way to do that. We learned about the Prague-based food tour company Eat with Locals whose goal is to help visitors discover local tastes as well as learn about Czech culture. After finding out that they had tours available during our planned trip, we eagerly booked an Eat with Locals food tour in Prague.
Eat with Locals offers two main food tours – an Old Town Food Tour and a Karlin Foodie Tour, Karlin being one of the neighbourhoods of Prague located just off of the Old Town. They also offer a shorter surprise foodie lunch or dinner for anyone who would like to sample the best of Czech cuisine in one delicious meal. We had a hard time choosing a tour since they all sounded fabulous, but in the end we decided on the Karlin Foodie Tour since we had already planned to do a lot of sightseeing in the Old Town and wanted to discover Karlin, the area of Prague with the most dynamic gastronomic scene.
Prior to the tour, our lovely guide Lenka sent us not only details about our upcoming food tour, but also helpful guides of her recommended eateries all over Prague, as well as tips for visiting authentic souvenir and design shops. Lenka’s guides made eating out in Prague so much easier to plan and we visited several of her top recommendations during our trip.
On the day of our tour, we met Lenka in Karlin and were surprised to learn that we would be having a private food tour just the three of us – what a treat! Lenka greeted us warmly and we had the immediate feeling as if we were meeting up with our long-lost foodie friend in Prague.
The day of our tour was particularly cold and snowy, so after introducing ourselves, we quickly made our way to the first restaurant stop at Nejen Bistro. Nejen means ‘not only’ in Czech, so we were visiting not only a bistro, but rather a modern, open and innovative Czech eatery.
We settled in to our reserved table and Lenka placed our orders. Not long after sitting down, we had the chance to taste our first Czech beer from Dalešice brewery. I’m not normally a beer drinker but had heard so many good reviews of Czech beer that I had to try some for myself. Though Germany is well-known for its beer consumption, I was surprised to learn that the Czech Republic actually has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. The Czech Republic is also one of the few countries in the world where beer is cheaper than water, so I suppose this statistic makes sense! S and I both enjoyed our pilsner, which was smooth, foamy and refreshing.
Our dishes appeared shortly afterward – raw beef tartare with chili mayo and tanned veal marrow, homemade pork jelly with Czech bread and smoked butter, duck sausage with fried onions and mustard sauce, and beetroot carpaccio with fresh sheep cheese.
Lenka explained that Nejen Bistro’s philosophy is to serve traditional Czech food and ingredients with a modern and fresh interpretation. For example, traditional beef tartare is normally served simply seasoned and with a raw egg yolk and small pieces of toasted rye bread on the side. Nejen Bistro’s version of beef tartare is seasoned with chili mayo, served with a fried quail egg and sandwiched between two thin slices of curved toast. In the same creative vein, their beet carpaccio celebrates fresh local beets, a deviation from the usual Czech pickled beet.
During our meal, Lenka told us about the high time in Czech gastronomy during the 1920s and 1930s. Young apprentice chefs were training overseas and bringing new ideas and techniques to the Czech food scene. During the communist regime, food experimentation came to a halt as food supply and quality diminished. Only now, roughly two decades after the Iron Curtain was lifted, are the Czech people rediscovering their cherished traditional recipes and breathing new life into them.