Sunday, June 29, 2008

not Taipei: Prague, Czech Republic

Hi everyone! So part of the reason I have not been a prolific, hardworking blogger this month is that I've been traveling and had spotty internet. I went to Europe for the first time in my life and found lots of good food in Prague. We ate everything from a local sweet- Trdelnik- in a touristy spot at Old Town Square (pictured above!) to fried chicken + mashed potatoes + coleslaw from KFC on the way to the airport (They have KFC in Taipei, but not the mashed potatoes and coleslaw which I actually miss sometimes). Everything I ate was pretty good- maybe it was the escape from Chinese food 24/7- or maybe I had good luck, but here is a little culinary postcard to you guys from my trip to the Czech Republic.

day 1
dinner at Restaurant Mustek in Prague

I don't know how touristy or not this place is (located in a touristy area), but we were starving and wanted to try something "local." The pork, dumplings and goulash was good (above), but the pork medallions and grilled tomatoes and mozzarella (below) were even better.

The steak skewer (St. Charles) was a bit dry, so I'd stick to the less showy stuff. The mushroom risotto was also surprisingly good, but the pasta was bland. Both the chicken and potato soups were good and as I discovered, the potato soup is pretty traditional here.

day 2
breakfast buffet at Marriott's Brasserie Praha

I had been craving a good waffle for the LONGEST time and finally got one here, even though it was part of a breakfast buffet. Though on the pricey side, the buffet was huge, with lots of fresh fruit, breads/pastries, made to order omelettes/waffles, cheeses, cereals- everything you'd want in a western breakfast. Even though there are a lot of great bakeries in Taipei, it was just a different spread in Europe. Probably because a lot of the bakeries in Taipei are still influenced by the Japanese/Chinese flavors, even if it's bread.

lunch buffet at Ambiente Restaurante Brasileiro, my first time at Brazilian BBQ

I've never had brazilian bbq before, so I don't know how authentic Ambiente is... but it was GOOD. If you are a meat lover, then you should definitely look for one near you. You basically just watch the servers come to your table with huge racks of meat and say "yes please" or "no, I'm stuffed!" There's also a salad/appetizer/sushi buffet as well as sides you can order. My favorite was the fried bananas (sort of like plantains) and fried onions. I ate wayy too much, but all the meat was tender, flavorful and worth the calories.

day 5
afternoon snack: coffee and crepes at a cafe in the main square of Pardubice

There are so many little cafes all over Czech... it's a refreshing change from seeing Starbucks on every corner. The funny thing is that they do have a local coffee chain, Coffee Heaven and Starbucks is slowly making its mark, but it feels more romantic to sit in a random cafe, sipping a latte. We got a chance to sit down and have coffee and dessert. The coffee seems stronger here (since I'm not a big coffee drinker) and you don't always know what you are going to get.

day 6
snack: Trdelnik in Old Town Square

A lighter, fresher distant cousin of the Cinnabun- a trdelnik is a pastry made from rolling dough over a stick, covered with cinnamon, sugar and nuts and baked over heat. The smell got to me as we were walking around and I just had to try it. I peeled off pieces to eat and it's crispy on the outside and a bit softer/doughy on the inside.

Interestingly enough, I did spot Chinese restaurants here and there, but we didn't stop to eat at any. I wonder how the Chinese food is there!

There were also a ton of gelato places everywhere...


I could have eaten a lot more than I did, but there wasn't any more room. Plus everything was om the expensive side-- the US dollar is just not strong anymore. I'm looking forward to going back again someday and exploring more of Europe!!

in Wenceslas Square
Na Mustku 8, 110 00 Praha 1
Phone: 420 224 219 974

at Prague Marriott Hotel
V Celnici 8
Prague, 111 21 Czech Republic
Phone: 420 2 2288 8888

AMBIENTE Restaurante Brasileiro
Na Příkopě 22, 110 00 Praha 1
tel.: +420 221 451 200

in Main Square, Pardubice

Trdelnik vendor
in Old Town Square/in front of Astrological Clock

Monday, June 16, 2008

dessert/bakery: i strongly recommend the cookies from SUBWAY

I never thought I'd be so happy to eat something from Subway, but if you are craving white chocolate chip macademia nut cookie, this is the place to go.

I'd actually been craving (Mrs. Field's style) soft baked chocolate cookies for quite awhile, but most of the cookies here are thin and dry and more like crackers. So sad.

I even bought the oversized tin of cookies from Costco but their cookies are TOO sweet, believe it or not.

So when my aunt said that we should eat Subway for dinner, and by the way, have I tried their freshly baked cookies and how delicious they are? I said, yes!!!

And it was melt in your mouth goodness with the butter and sugar and crunchiness of the nuts and the sweetness of the white chocolate chips.

I don't like raisins, but they also have Oatmeal Chocolate Chip as well as a Candy chocolate chip (NT$17). There's also a price break if you order more. If you eat it in the store, sometimes you can catch it out of the oven!

But it's bad for the waistline. I think I ate two in one sitting and then inhaled another three in the next few days. YUM.

If you've been craving cookies too, check my other Subway review for addresses.

Monday, June 09, 2008

my kitchen: guacamole

Hey everyone! Sorry for being away so long without updates... did you miss me??

I had a huge new project that took over my life and I didn't even have a lot of time to be online, much less writing posts. I'll try to not let it go so long again without posts. Lately, I have been eating out less (or at least at new places) and have been having crazy cravings for sweets, especially chocolate chip cookies like you would get in the states. Then I'd want to eat something savory. Then something sweet again. Sigh.

I think avocados is one of those things you love or hate. I used to hate it until I met guacamole!

But I still can't get a handle on avocado milk which is popular here.. ugh..the thought of it makes me think that it's just WRONG.

While making your own guacamole is not that hard, there are a lot of variations to all the basic elements that make it taste slightly different- the amount of avocados, garlic, onions, tomatoes, lime/lemon juice and spices. I like it best with Haas avocados from Costco and chips!

I basically followed the recipe on the bag, but altered it for 1 avocado since it doesn't keep that well and I was just making it for myself. The first time, I didn't chop the onions fine enough and it was too strong. I learned my lesson the next time!

Anyone have any killer recipes to point me to?