Have you ever been to Bristol – Let’s eat & drink ’till the cows come home!

An English breakfast at Brooks GuestHouse in Bristol.

Heigh Ho. I went to Bristol!

And what a marvellous time I had. If you recall, a few weeks ago, I told you that I was going on an independent press trip.

In England.

Yes, I was the guest of Visit Bristol who were incredible as were the very people of Bristol themselves and as a result, my press trip was personally designed with my interests and passions in mind.

Thank you so much for your generosity and allowing me press access to various sights and venues.

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO BRISTOL?

At Bristol Planetarium & Bristol Cathedral. @Bristol
At Bristol Planetarium & Bristol Cathedral.
@Bristol

When tourists and travellers think of England, they think of destinations such as London and Big Ben, Manchester (yay!) and textile powerhouses. They think of OxBridge and a history of intellectual minds. They think of Avon and Shakespeare, the Beatles and Liverpool. But do they ever think of places such as the Lake District, the Peak Districts, the Yorkshire Dales, the Isle of Wight or the Cotswolds?

Do they ever think of Bristol?

Ah. Bristol?

But where is it?

The Llandoger Trow in Bristol.
The Llandoger Trow in Bristol.

Well, Bristol is a county in South West England. It is England’s sixth (6th) most populous city and has a population of about 400,000 people. It began life as a village Brycgstow in Anglo-Saxon times and changed to Brigg stow – Bristol sometime in the 10th century.

Bristol’s history as a trading and important river location stretches back to 1051 when it was listed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. By the 14th century, Bristol was trading with Spain, Portugal and Iceland, and ships were leaving Bristol to find colonies in the New World and for sadly, that awful blot, that was to become known as the slave trade. In the last two hundred (200) years, Bristol has transformed and grown into a busy commercial port and in modern times, a striving destination to visit due to the Harbourside’s renaissance with contemporary art, theatre performances, literature, history and heritage of the local people. It has also begun to fuse it’s historically elegant Georgian and Victorian architecture with contemporary modernity.

England, UK.

My goal was to visit and introduce a new destination that perhaps many of you have never heard of, so in the next few weeks, I will be introducing you to the delights of an English weekend and how to have it all, and some, in just 48 hours!

I wanted to see for myself if indeed, Bristol would burst with character and charm. If Bristol would be enveloped within the home of a historical harbour as well as the modern setting of a young university city. If Bristol would be able to offer fascinating attractions, interesting culture, as well as impressive shopping, so I’m going to go backwards and start with the food and then next week, I’m going to tell you what to do in Bristol and where to stay. Get ready for surprises!

©VisitBritain Joanna Henderson
©VisitBritain
Joanna Henderson

So back to food.

Yum! Yum! Yum!

One of the reasons that I wanted to go to Bristol was to try out the food.

If you recall, I live in Germany and yes, Germany has a reputation for stodge and yes, even though Berlin is a continental hot-spot, crammed with international restaurants over-flowing with cosmopolitan flair, we hardly have anything British at all!

We only have a single restaurant called East London.

A single restaurant!!

I know!

It’s a scandal!

It’s no surprise that I was desperate for some English nosh and Bristol is where I got it!

Here we go:

GO FORTH AND HAVE AN ENGLISH BREAKFAST!

Jams and preserves at breakfast. In Bristol.

I stayed at a rather exciting boutique B&B called Brooks Guest House and I slept in a stylish rooftop caravan rocket. Yep! I went glamping, but more about that next week!

Part of what made my visit a success was the breakfast that I had every morning.

It was lovely.

The breakfast staff took some time to warm up to me but by the evening, we were the best of friends, and they were eager to accommodate changes in the breakfast delivery!

And what did I have?

More to the point what should you have whenever you’re in England or anywhere else in Ireland or the British Isles? A Full English, Irish, Welsh or Scottish. That’s what?

A full English breakfast in Bristol!

How about a plate of crispy smoked streaky bacon, sausages, fried mushrooms, fried tomatoes and fried eggs?

 An English breakfast in Bristol.

Perhaps smoked streaky bacon with scrambled eggs on sour dough bread?

An English breakfast in Bristol.

What say you to a steaming bowl of porridge dribbled over with honey, slices of strawberries, raspberries and blue berries? Mmm!

A healthy breakfast in Bristol.

And if that doesn’t take your fancy, how about a refreshing glass of Scottish Cranacha – a mixture of whipped cream or yoghurt, jam, honey, toasted oatmeal or home-made muesli with fruit and a little bit of whisky! Since I don’t eat nuts, I had the cream, with jam, cornflakes and fruit.

I left out the whisky LOL!

LUNCH TIME SNACKS

A Marks & Spencers prawn and cocktail sandwich!

Whenever I’m in England, I like to have a lunchtime snack of prawn and cocktail sandwiches, so I went to the High Street on Broadmead and bought some at Marks & Spencers (M&S).

Oh, I do love my sarnies!

A portion of chips in Bristol.

And if I’m being particularly naughty, I go ahead and get myself a portion of chips. I found a pretty good ration on the Harbourside at a local place called Brunel’s Buttery. Let me tell you, chips (not fries!) are best eaten with salt and vinegar and if I’m lucky, wrapped up in newspaper LOL!

Fresh sausage rolls. ©VisitBritain Joanna Henderson
Fresh sausage rolls.
©VisitBritain Joanna Henderson

My highlight however, were not “real” chips but actually, a sausage roll. Yes, a bit of pork rolled up in pastry and served warmly. A sausage roll with the crumbs gently rolling into my mouth! Heeeeeaven!

AFTERNOON TEA

The Avon Gorge © Walter-Dirks
The Avon Gorge
© Walter-Dirks

On my last afternoon in Bristol, I decided to walk to Bristol’s most exclusive suburb – Clifton Village. Now I didn’t actually plan to walk all the way there originally. It sort of just happened and well, you know how I like a good walk! Clifton Village features pretty streets, fine boutiques, vintage shopping and the University of Bristol. It was raining but I still spent quite an energetic afternoon darting in and out of second-hand book shops whilst, looking for gifts, trying to avoid getting too wet, and wheezing my way all the way up to (ironically) The Downs!

Cliftonwood © Andy Maybury
Cliftonwood
© Andy Maybury

The Downs has amazing views over the Avon Gorge and a few minutes away was the Avon Gorge Hotel where a reservation had been made on my behalf!

Now I don’t know about you but when having a meal in a classy hotel, one of the things that makes it so, is the sight perspective that it affords whether of the people, or it’s surroundings. The Avon Gorge Hotel has one of the best settings in the UK as it offers unparalleled views of Brunel’s grade-one-listed Clifton Suspension Bridge. A bridge said to be one of the greatest bridges in the world!

A glass of champagne at the Avon Gorge Hotel, Bristol.

I was here to indulge in the luxury of Afternoon Tea in a historic setting.

I was given a really good table and even though it was pouring down, I still had a marvellous view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. There were a wide variety of Afternoon Teas to choose from starting from toasted Clifton tea cake, butter & jam, to the luxurious Bridge Café Champagne Afternoon Tea.

Afternoon Tea at the Avon Gorge Hotel, Bristol.

The Afternoon Tea was brilliant.

I chose the Champagne Afternoon Tea.

No surprises there!!

There was a selection of finger sandwiches filled with ham, cheese, salmon and cucumber. I also had two huge home-made scones, a pot of strawberry jam, a huge pot of yummy clotted cream, cream cheese and watercress leaves stuffed in a ball, a slice of chocolate, a slice of orange polenta and a delicious fruit pavlova.

A pot of tea at the Avon Gorge Hotel, Bristol.

And of course, your choice of a pot of tea.

The selection was presented on a wooden board (certainly different!) and the combination of sandwiches, scones and little cake slices was pleasurable.

Afternoon Tea at the Avon Gorge Hotel, Bristol.

I loved it and was utterly stuffed, so much so, that I had to discreetly ask the hotel staff to arrange half of the stuff as a bit of a take-away! They happily obliged. The Afternoon Tea was everything I expected and more.

The premises were in a lovely hotel and was reasonably priced. All around were tables of groups, friends and couples and the staff were attentive and friendly, constantly checking that I was OK, as I was dining alone.

Cost – £21.95 or €31.15 per person.

Would I recommend it?

Absolutely!

EVENING DINNER

The Cowshed restaurant in Bristol

I was going to the theatre at the Bristol Old Vic to see an outstanding performance of The Crucible so it was imperative that I had an early pre-theatre dinner. I chose to chomp some excellent nosh at a restaurant called The Cowshed.

The Cowshed is a restaurant whose motto is plain and simple – to serve good, British food with an emphasis on quality, locally sourced ingredients, in a relaxed and comfortable environment.

I arrived at 18:00 by taxi, and reserved another one to take me to the theatre after dinner…!

The Cowshed Restaurant in Bristol.

The Cowshed was in a really nice area not far from Bristol University in Clifton! The restaurant was very nicely furnished with distressed brick walls, attractive staff, an open kitchen and their partner – Ruby & White Butchers – next door.

I was given a window seat so I used my seating optimisation to observe others around me.

It’s a cool trendy place with a mixed clientele. On the one hand, I saw a hipster father with his two teenaged children and on the other hand, I saw a group of young professionals who came in straight from work and various couples in their mid-20’s!

By 18:30, the restaurant began to fill up and I took the time to look outside the window as well.

British elves in Bristol!
British elves in Bristol!

Honestly! You know you’re in England when you see about ten (10) girls dressed up as elves disembark from a taxi, or about twenty (20) young people wearing ponchos and sombrero hats, and walking calmly down the street LOL!

My wood pigeon breast served with pigeon leg, scotched egg, beetroot with a bacon crumb, at the Cowshed Restaurant in Bristol.

I’m so sorry about the awful picture. I hope to find another one. Perhaps the description below would better suffice!

I had the wood pigeon breast served with pigeon leg, scotched egg, beetroot with a bacon crumb. It was served on a wooden board and decorated stretched across with dollops of cream in two places, the beetroot cut into triangles like an ancient sundial, the pigeon breast served delicate and tender, with a scotch egg.

I have absolutely no idea the last time I actually had a scotch egg!

For the British food virgins among you, a scotch egg is a (usually) hard-boiled egg wrapped in pork sausage meat mixed with herbs and spices, coated and rolled in breadcrumbs and baked or deeply fried. It used to be the bane of my childhood but here I was actually enjoying it!

My starter also had the bacon crumbs sprinkled with freshly cut herbs.

Deeeeelish!

Cost – £6.50 or €9.21.

The Cowshed is best known for it’s locally reared, hand-picked organic meat and for those of you who like steak, you’ll be in heaven! I’m not a vegetarian of course, but I’m not big on beef either, lamb on the other hand…

I digress.

My Roasted Guinea Fowl Breast 19.50 Served with a Confit Leg Dumpling, Salt Baked Beetroot, Thyme Potatoes, Mirabelle Plum and topped. Without Truffled Hazelnuts at the Cowshed restaurant in Bristol.

For my main dish, I had the roasted guinea fowl breast served with a confit leg dumpling, salt baked beetroot, thyme potatoes, and mirabelle plum. Without the truffled hazelnuts! The guinea fowl was softly firm and tasted nice and sweet with chunks of beetroot, square-cubed potatoes, a stuffed cabbage ball, with a swirling of plum sauce and gravy!

The floor manager was a laugh and had me in stitches such that I spent most of the time chatting away rather than eating, and ended up having to rush my way through the main course and dessert as I had a booked taxi waiting! I made it though, with 10 minutes to spare!

 

Cost – £19.50 or €27.55.

My Lemon & Raspberry Parfait served in a White Chocolate Pyramid with Meringue Tears and Lemon Gel, at the Cowshed in Bristol.

For my dessert, I had the lemon and raspberry parfait served in a white chocolate pyramid with meringue tears and lemon gel. I don’t like chocolate but this, I could absolutely live with!

Just look at that delicate swirl of raspberry and the bite of white chocolate ice-cream with a raspberry centre crunch!

Cost – £6.50 or €9.21.

Nom! Nom! Nom!

Would I recommend it?

OMG. What!!?

That’s it for now.

p.s. My thoughts and condolences to the people of France over the horrors that took place in Paris. On Friday.

St. Nicholas Market Board. © Graham-Flack
St. Nicholas Market Board.
© Graham-Flack

Even though I was invited on this trip as a guest of Visit Bristol, all opinions and the exquisite delicate pigeon breast that I devoured, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you so I will be writing more about Bristol next week!

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

November is beginning to be another summer!

Watch this space!

Oysters and stout on a wooden table outside a pub, England UK - ©VisitBritain Daniel Bosworth
Oysters and stout on a wooden table outside a pub, England UK –
©VisitBritain Daniel Bosworth

Have you ever had an English Breakfast? Would you like some Afternoon Tea?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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The magic drink of Latvia is Balsam and I drank it!

The mighty Latvian sausage in Riga.

Right now, I’m running around like a headless chicken because I’m in Spain.

In Baaaaaarcelona.

OK. That’s not entirely true.

I’m really at a seaside resort on the Costa Brava. A place called Lloret de Mar.

But I spent a lovely day in Barcelona too, but more about that in a few weeks LOL!

So last week I wrote a lovely post about how gorgeous I found Latvia to be, and with the help of Linda the Irish Queen, the post ran through Facebook like wildfire. My post went live on Monday and on Tuesday I had 4,000 hits for the day.

On Wednesday, I had almost 7,500 hits on the day alone! And it kept on growing.

Latvia was the gift that just kept on giving.

I couldn’t believe it.

I am amazed at how many people, in this case, the Latvian people, really loved my post.

Source: serendipitymc.com
Source: serendipitymc.com

Thank you so much everyone!

So for those of you who don’t know and are coming to The British Berliner for the very first time, we were on an independent trip around the Baltic Region. This journey was an adventure of fifteen (15) days in total:

  • Three (3) days in Vilnius (Lithuania).
  • Three (3) days in Riga (Latvia).
  • Three (3) days in Tallinn (Estonia).
  • Two (2) days in (Helsinki) Finland.
  • One (1) more day in Tallinn (Estonia) again.

This is what I have written about them so far:

A European Capital of Culture.
A European Capital of Culture.

We travelled around the above four (4) countries by coach-bus and we were extremely lucky to be on a part-sponsorship of the largest international express route coach-bus operator in the Baltic region. An Estonian company called Lux Express, taking us through the Baltic Region by road from Germany, all the way through to Estonia, and back again!

And why?

Basically because the region has not really been discovered by tourists and travellers, and I’m also slightly eccentric LOL!

The Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland are countries based in Europe and their capital cities have stories of richness, history and grandeur, unspoilt by the full-board package set and the larger louts of stag and hen nights. They are sparsely populated, and not your typical cheap and friendly destination.

My mantra has always been, why not?

That’s why!

And quite frankly, even though you might have heard a whisper of these countries, nobody really knows anything about them, and hardly anyone you know, has actually been there.

It’s time to change all that.

Photo@ J-O Eriksson

When I said that Riga was beautiful, I absolutely meant it!

And that included the food.

Do you remember the musical number from Oliver Twist:

“Food, glorious food!
We’re anxious to try it.
Three banquets a day
Our favooooooourite diet!”

You can find what I wrote about food in other countries right here but food from Latvia was something else.

Yep!

Being that Riga and therefore, Latvia is in an unknown part of the world, it stands to reason that it’s food and drink culture would be similar so.

So now that you know how fascinating I find food posts, here comes the feast of Latvia!

A LATVIAN BREAKFAST:

Exotic seafood in Riga, Latvia.

The item above my good man, was breakfast.

Yes, breakfast. And let me just say, it was one of the best part breakfast items we ever had on our journey, and not because it was most unusual, even though it was, but because it was seafood.

In this case fish.

I loooooove fish!

But just look at that dish above. Is it not just delish? As I write this piece, my mouth is watering and I’m trying quite hard not to swallow my spittle!

It’s a wonderful plate of salmon with a dollop of mustard and dill creamy sauce, flakes of smoked herring, radishes, green peppers, baby pickled onions and bean sprouts!

Do you see what I mean?

Breakfast in Riga, Latvia.

The dish above (if you’re vegetarian or vegan, don’t look!) is a plate of grilled sausages, slices of bacon, peas, cucumber, peppers, sweet corn, radishes, onions and tomato ketchup.

This delicious wonder was part of the very generous breakfast buffet served by our rather lovely four-star boutique hotel  –  Hotel Justus. As I told you last week, Hotel Justus is located right within the architectural UNESCO protected area, and has just 48 rooms designed to embrace the architectural charm and historical delight of Riga.

Small enough to feel intimate and large enough to get all the benefits of a well-run boutique hotel.

Cost – Nothing at all. Included as part of the sleeping overnight fee!

A slice of toasty and a pasty in Riga, Latvia.

A slice of buttery toasty and a pastry.

Yum!

Cost – A part of the breakfast package!

A LATVIAN STARTER:

You all know how I very much like soup.

It was raining buckets and we found a tiny little bar/restaurant in which we were pretty much the only guests. Well, we decided to try something different.

Green soup from Riga, Latvia.

We had this green soup and a basket of brown bread.

It was absolutely awful. I felt as if I wanted to vomit and then I asked what exactly it was.

It was hemp! What the ?!&%!!

Yuck!

I didn’t choose another starter!

Cost – Between €1 – €2.00.

Shredded cabbage and pickles in Riga, Latvia.

We were introduced to the Riga Central Market and we absolutely loved it.

We liked it so much that we came back again the next day! Markets are such good ways to find the culture of a people. In fact, markets are really good ways to find the people! They’re all at the markets hanging out LOL!

Above you can see shredded cabbage and pickles.

Carrots, turnips, swede, spring onions, shallots and other strange vegetables found at the farmers’ food market in Riga, Latvia.

Carrots, turnips, swede, spring onions, shallots and other strange vegetables found at the farmers’ food market. Does anyone know what the purple round vegetable is, or is a beet? Beetroot perhaps?!

A basket of soft home-made herb bread with a sort of green olive sauce in Riga, Latvia.

A basket of soft home-made herb bread with a sort of green olive sauce. It was classified as “soup of the day” but was completely scrummy!

Cost – €1.50

LATVIAN MAIN DISHES:

Suckling pig in Riga, Latvia.

Oh yeah baby!

We went to this really nice place called Folkklubs Ala Sia.

Let me just tell you that the lip-smacking meal above is a 24 hour sautéed suckling pig! A suckling pig rolled onto crispy smoked pork potato mash, spring greens, crumbled traditional country cheese, oven baked tomatoes and a sautéed sauce.

Cost – €7.60.

Flounder fillet in Riga, Latvia.

Flounder fillet sprinkled with onions and bean sprouts combined with pan-seared asparagus and cauliflower puree served with creamy-Riga-sparkling-wine sauce!

Cost – €16.50.

 lovely meal of pork (?), red cabbage, some gravy in Riga, Latvia.This meal was from the little place that I can’t remember. There was nobody there but it didn’t really disturb us as by this time, we just wanted to find a place, chill out, eat and relax and the guy at the bar was pretty friendly so we did just that!

After the disgusting soup of hemp, we ordered this lovely meal of pork (?), red cabbage, some gravy and a side salad of felt salad which you recall in the Czech Republic, seems to be very common in this part of the world!

Cost – I can’t remember!

 

how much I like the sausage!

You know how much I like the sausage! Well, “The Tall Young Gentleman” had a wonderful meal of grilled pork sausages, white cabbage, mashed potatoes and a couple of tomato slices. Delish!

Cost – If only I could remember where we ate it!

 

a spicy tomato and cream dip!

Followed by a spicy tomato and cream dip!

Cost – Dip! Dip! Dip!

 

Because caviar. In Riga, Latvia.

Because caviar.

OMG. I don’t know if it was the real stuff but we constantly saw prices at the Riga Central Market that would pop your eyes out!

But look at that trout. See how fresh it is.

It was so fresh that we constantly saw batches of live seafood wriggling around, freshly caught.

The Music Producer was a little upset that the fish would feel the pain of life coming to an end, and would suffer. What do you think?

Cost for the caviar – You really don’t want to know. Even in Latvia! Cost for the trout – €7.90!

LATVIAN AFTERS:

 

A cupcake and a muffin!

As I said earlier, we went back to the Riga Central Market and discovered a hell of a lot more delightful little things such as:

A strawberry cream tart covered with flakes of strawberry icing and a custard-covered muffin with a sprinkling of hundreds and thousands!

Cost €0.28 & €0.26 respectively.

Cream puffs in Latvia, Riga.

Pastry cones filled with cream.

Cost – €0.36.

 

Sugary puffs filled with clotted custard cream and covered with castor sugar in Riga, Latvia.

Sugary puffs filled with clotted custard cream and covered with castor sugar.

Cost – €0.26

 

Cupcakes in Riga, Latvia.

Not at the Riga Central Market but we had them for breakfast! I have included it here as cupcakes aren’t really for the first meal of the day unless you live on the Continent where they follow the philosophy, “If it’s nice. Include it in the breakfast buffet” school of thought LOL!

Cost – Dream on!

 THE MAGIC DRINKS OF LATVIA

 

The delights of a Latvian brewery.

We went to a really jolly place called “Vina Teatris” or Peter’s Brewhouse. The brewery is known as the only one of it’s kind in the Old Town and is locally owned and operated.

It was our last night so we decided to go for it and really get into the delights of Latvian breweries.

I drink beer but I’m not a strong beer-drinker as one beer in the summer sun and I’m dancing on a festival float! Hand me one sugary glühwein and I go flat on the floor!

Just give me a couple of glasses of bubbly, nice fruity cocktails, a couple of ice-cold vodka shots and you’ve got a badge of approval by The British Berliner!

The Music Producer ordered the “Beer Tasting” set of three (3) beers which came with a huge bowl of aniseed.

We didn’t know what to do with it so we chewed it anyway LOL!

Cost – €7.50

My glass of wine and the seeds in Riga, Latvia.
My glass of wine and the seeds!

Cost – €3.60

 

The Latvian Balsam.

So Riga Black Balsam is a traditional herbal liqueur similar to the Czech Becherovka and is made with lots of ingredients mixed into vodka and other stuff!

I decided to “treat” my husband to the delights of a Latvian speciality – the Latvian Balsam. Now, I had heard so much about it in fact, Heather from Ferreting Out the Fun had even gone on a tour of how to make it. We didn’t have time to do such frolics so I thought taking a few shots would be the next best thing. We went to a “tourist” place called As Lido or Alus Sēta.

I was up for an adventure so the bar man gave me two varieties: the real balsam and the blackcurrant one.

I tasted the blackcurrant one and it was quite OK and then we decided to go for the original one too.

Swallow!

And oh no.

Not swallow!

Throw up!

I’m sorry to say this, but the original balsam was bloody awful!

We couldn’t believe it.

Was it an acquired taste like oysters? (I love oysters!).

Did you have to drink it in a particular way like tequila? Ha! I have stories I could tell. But not today LOL!

Or was it that we just didn’t like it?

Ah well!

Cost – €1.30

 

Riga Black Balsam.

Well, that’s it. I told you that the food in Latvia was fascinating. Go see for yourself and if you have any questions or need any help, let me know!

This article is not sponsored, but all opinions and the wonderful cupcakes and seafood that I was fascinated by, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Stay tuned!

Next week, I’ll be writing about the very interesting Estonia and what we did in Tallinn, Estonia with the help of the Tallinn Card, what the view was like on the ferry crossing from Estonia to Finland with TALLINK SLJA LINE and what we thought about Helsinki in Finland!

Eddie Izzard will be back in Germany and will be front-lining a killer international night of comedy at the Admirals Palast on 08.05.15.

The Berlin Music Video Awards will be taking place from May 27.05.15 – 30.05.15. Anybody can apply!

The Berlin Fashion Film Festival will be taking place on 05.06.15.

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin right now, then you ought to!

May is going to be exciting.

Watch this space!

 

A pig's snout!

Have you ever been to Riga? Would you ever try a pig’s snout or would you stick with Riga Black Balsam?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

I didn’t kiss a girl but I ate fried cheese in the Czech Republic. And I liked it!

Blueberry sponge cake.
Blueberry sponge cake.

We’re almost at the end of our Czech Republic skiing week.

I have introduced you to that little village in the Bohemian mountains called Rokytnice nad Jizerou and I told you of how I almost killed myself and fell off the skilift!

But you know, countries in this part of Europe are not known for having exquisite food. They’re not France you know! Even Germany has an image of cabbage and stodge and the Czech Republic is no different, so I’m going to introduce you to some Czech delights.

Horka Cokolada or Hot Chocolate with Cream!
Horka Cokolada or Hot Chocolate with Cream!

Our family-run hotel – Hotel Stary Mlyn had an excellent bargain of half board. That half-board was a combination of a buffet breakfast and a three (3) course evening meal consisting of a soup starter, a main-meal and a dessert. You can choose either to pre-book as soon as you get there or to choose whenever you felt like eating at the hotel. In our case, it was a godsend as it meant that we didn’t have to go into “town”. However, there are many restaurants and fast-food joints to choose from if you so desire, but reserving a table is recommended as only 3,000 people actually live in Rokytnice nad Jizerou!

I used to live in Prague and in those days I used to go an American-style trendy restaurant-bar-club that only served vegetarian food. That hip joint was called Radost FX. I used to go for the weekend brunch and as a creature of habit, I always ordered the same dish called “The Big Brain Scram”. It cost 135kc or €4.90 / $5.40 and consisted of three eggs scrambled with fresh spinach and enclosed in potatoes. It was yum!

Smažený sýr or Czech fried cheese!
Smažený Sýr or Czech fried cheese!

Czech food in the 90’s wasn’t that good.

In fact, it was downright awful!

I wasn’t a vegetarian but meat-dishes were slightly dodgy and you needed stomachs of steel. In fact, we all used to eat a cheese based dish called Smažený Sýr. Quite literally it was slices of cheese covered in breadcrumbs, and fried.

In oil.

Lots and lots of oil.

Smažený sýr being fried again and again and again!
Smažený Sýr being fried again and again and again!

For months, I had fried cheese for lunch and fried cheese for dinner. After I left the Czech Republic, I couldn’t even see cheese without wanting to throw up!

Happily that has changed. I still don’t think you’re going to get gourmet, but hardy rustic food in the cold of winter, and costing peanuts, never did anyone any harm. It might even make a man or woman out of you yet!

Get ready to lick your chops!

A CZECH BREAKFAST:

European tea with a slice of lemon or honey!
European tea with a slice of lemon or honey!

As I told you earlier, I used to live in the Czech Republic. In the 90’s. I was much younger then and in order to be able to live in a place, you’ve got to do as the locals do n’est–ce pas?!

So I was in a side street local cafe ordering a breakfast of bread, a boiled egg, and a cup of tea. I’m British, that’s what we do! Anyway, an old-ish man saw this and asked me what I was drinking. I told him.

He was disgusted.

“In Prague” he told me, “we drink beer and a little something to start the day.” He sent over a bottle of Czech beer (Staropramen if you must know), and a shot of Becherovka. He watched me as I downed it.

It was 9:30 a.m.

Becherovka, a type of herbal, spicy, aniseed Czech liquor!
Becherovka, a type of herbal, spicy, aniseed Czech liquor!

I looked around. Everyone was drinking beer and shots. And as ridiculously cheap as beer was, a cup of tea was by far, much more expensive!

I wanted to be “a local”. I joined in.

I did this for two years!?!!!!

That’s rock and roll baby. Rock and roll!

I’m a light-weight. I didn’t even drink alcohol at all until I left university. Then I moved to Prague and everything changed….!

But somehow it all seemed to work and fit together and so when I went back to England, I also went back to my one pint that could last two hours. And cocktails.

I’m quite controlled except for when I’m not. And I’m still a lightweight!

We had a "healthier" Czech breakfast of sort of scrambed egg pancake ball, some Czech sausage, cucumbers, tomatoes, and some ketchup!
We had a “healthier” Czech breakfast of sort of scrambled egg pancake ball, some Czech sausage, cucumbers, tomatoes, and some ketchup!

At Hotel Stary Mlyn we had a healthier breakfast that included eggs, Czech sausages, cucumbers, tomatoes, varieties of ham, salami, and cheese, lots of cake and bread and paté accompanied by a variety of breakfast cereals, juices, tea and coffee.

CZECH SOUPS:

Because soup!
Because soup!

I was ill in our week of skiing and at first all I could stomach was soup. Bowls and bowls of hot, steaming soup, and the kitchen didn’t disappoint. The soup above is called “Farmers’ Soup” and consisted of clear broth, mushrooms, scrambled egg and cheese!

Czech vegetable soup.
Czech vegetable soup.

I had clear vegetable soup that consisted of onions, carrots sprinkled with parsley and came served with white Czech rolls and Czech brown sliced bread. They are much harder to chew than English or American bread and come without butter, so I always had to order butter as “extra.”

Czech Onion Soup.
Czech Onion Soup.

I had Czech onion soup with croûtons. The croûtons were a bit thicker than normal and slightly salty or maybe they weren’t, I can’t be sure as I dislike extra salt added to my food!

Czech Potato Soup.
Czech Potato Soup.

Neither of us liked the Czech potato soup. It was filled with dices of potatoes, carrots, leeks, and some sort of herb that I couldn’t identity. To be honest, it looked liked vomit and tasted like vomit too!

Ah well!

CZECH MAIN COURSES:

A hearty Czech Potato Pancake Omelette!
A hearty Czech Potato pancake Omelette!

We always had dinner at the hotel and sometimes we had lunch too. They usually cost about 150kc or €5.50 / $6.00 and were enormously filling. In some cases leaving hardly any room for dinner but since I had a growing lad, a full lunch it sometimes had to be LOL!

The Czech potato pancake omelette above was a lunch item covered with chicken strips, mushrooms, cocktail tomatoes and Feltsalat also known as Rapunzel, lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, or mâche, and sprinkled with parsley.

I don’t like potato pancakes in any form but “The Tall Young Gentleman” found this meal impressive!

Czech Steaks.
Czech Steaks.

Oh yeah! Just look at those juicy steaks. This was another lunch item. I mean, if this was lunch what would dinner be like? We were completely and utterly spoilt! What a lovely dish of steak in a sort of mint sauce, fried potatoes, fried onions, and boiled potatoes sprinkled with parley. I couldn’t have any as it would have ruined my dinner, so I looked on and sipped my tea in earnest!

Czech pasta bake.
Czech pasta bake.

We both loved this Czech pasta bake filled with cream cheese, bacon, onions and peas, and accompanied by slices of sour gherkins also known as Czech cucumbers! It was a bit over-cooked but nevertheless, delightful. We could both have done with an extra serving, but there was no more to be had.

Pity!

Czech Dumplings.
Czech Dumplings.

We didn’t like the Czech dumplings.

I have never liked the Czech dumplings.

They taste like milk sop. You know the type you’d either give to a baby or somebody completely toothless!

Our main course was Czech dumplings with beef and dill sauce.

The dill sauce tasted weird.

Imagine a dish of milk sop covered in sop. We were both downcast and disappointed but thankfully, dessert saved the day!

CZECH DESSERT:

It's ice-cream, and you know it!
It’s ice-cream, and you know it!

I hardly think any explanation is needed but this hotel had a whole flurry of ice-cream sundaes, which you could order at lunch-time. I told you we were spoilt for choice. At dinner-time, dessert came in smaller portions but nevertheless up to par!

And so, vanilla ice-cream scoops with small-enough-chocolate-sprinkles-that-I-can-eat-it-even-though-I-can-still-see-them, and dollops of clotted cream!

Sourcherry Sponge Cake.
Sourcherry Sponge Cake.

Just look at that sponge cake with sour cherries sprinkled with castor sugar. Doesn’t it look delish?!

Who said that Czech food was only stodgy? Who said that Czech food was only rustic? Who said…?

Never mind, but would you take a look at that! So soft, so spongy, so…yum!

Czech Doughnuts.
Czech Doughnuts.

Czech doughnuts or Vdolky filled with jam and covered in castor sugar. These doughnuts were actually served for breakfast rather than dessert, and many years on the European Continent as opposed to on the British Isles, has taught me that just because it’s sweet doesn’t mean that you can’t have it for breakfast LOL!

It was all going so well when desserts of this nature turned up…

Chocolate Pudding.
Chocolate Pudding.

It was described on the menu as “vanilla pudding” but actually it was chocolate pudding with bananas hidden in each bowl.

CHOCOLATE PUDDING and BANANAS!

Yuk!

You all know my relationship with chocolate and how much I hate bananas. “The Tall Young Gentleman” is a cut of the same cloth and was of the exact same opinion! Doesn’t it all just look like poo!

And what about this horrible feature?

Ginger Chocolate Cake with Coconut.
Ginger Chocolate Cake with Coconut.

I mean, chocolate cake with berries.

Disgusting!

Why?

And with coconut too. You’re going to kill me!

For all of you who can actually eat this well, eat your heart out LOL and just hand over the fruit salad.

Fruit Salad Bowl.
Fruit Salad Bowl.

This mixed fruit salad bowl filled with the Vitamin C goodness of apple and oranges might not look as enticing as the chocolate sponge cake covered in coconut sprinkles, and dribbled over with I-don’t-know-what-berries-and-sauce, but at least, I won’t fall, choke, end up in rashes, or have difficulty in breathing, and die earlier than expected because of the shock!

OTHER CZECH STUFF:

Czech bread, butter & jam!
Czech bread, butter & jam!

The Czech Republic has a large variety of bread and the one you see above are Czech rolls with Czech Gouda cheese and Czech blueberry jam.

Czech Mixed Vegetable Salad.
Czech Mixed Vegetable Salad.

This Czech mixed salad was also put out in the evening for half-board hotel guests to completely help themselves with, before dinner started. A salad filed with the goodness of lettuce, tomatoes, green, red and yellow peppers, cucumber and lettuce.

Fish Fillet.
Fish Fillet.

There weren’t a lot of vegetarian dishes but you can’t go wrong with fried cheese LOL!

On a serious note, if you’re looking for something more substantial, we also had fish fillet for dinner with mashed peas and potatoes topped with red peppers and Feltsalat also known as Rapunzel, lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, or mâche, with a buttery sauce.

Tasting Czech Beer.
Tasting Czech Beer.

And lastly, you can’t be in the Czech Republic if you haven’t at least tried and tasted some of the good ol’ Czech beer or Pivo.

That’s right beer made from pale lagers or pilsner such as my favourite Staropramen, Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, Radegast, Krušovice and Budweiser Budvar (the Czech one not the American version!) and dark ales.

Prosím!

You’re welcome!

Ice, Ice Baby!
Ice, Ice Baby!

This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the fabulously enticing Czech dishes that I devoured, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Next week, I’ll be participating in the pre-ITB Berlin party organised by Travel Massive on 03.03.15. This year the party is going to be in one of Berlin’s leading electronic music venues – @clubGRETCHEN – for an evening celebrating the travel industry. If you’re a blogger or just fancy a knees-up, register then come and meet us. It’s going to be so much fun!

I’ll also be at the International Travel Trade Fair – ITB taking place from 04.03.15 – 08.03.15 and after that I’ll be off travelling to the next destination which I will reveal next week!

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in March, you’re in the wrong place!

March is going to be hopping.

Watch this space!

Czech food at it's most mouth-watering finest!
Czech food at it’s most mouth-watering finest!

Have you ever had Czech food or drink? What did you think of it?

See you in Berlin.

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