We’ve just spent the Easter weekend in Prague, and what an unexpectedly delectable trip it turned out to be. Even the humdrum hotel breakfast had dense bread rife with pumpkin seeds (bread that went some way to excusing the square sheets of yellow rubber, glistening pink ham and dubious-looking pâté laid out for us to put on it).
I’d been told that eating out in Prague is tricky – any place on a main road is to be avoided, bills need to combed acutely for mysterious additions and special tourist prices sometimes apply. Our Czech friends gave it to us straight: if they don’t smile at you as you enter, turn around and walk back out. Luckily, they also gave us a list of fail-safe places to try.
First up was a museum café, Klub Arkitektu. I was expecting a National Trust-style clattering canteen and imagined us in a queue holding wet trays, waiting for ladles of hot food, then choosing from a stodgy selection of solid-looking cakes before reaching the till. (You never know how close others’ version of ‘a nice meal’ is to your own unless you’ve eaten out with them, and in the case of these friends, we hadn’t.) However, I was proved decidedly wrong when we walked into a trendily furnished, dimly lit, low-ceilinged stone cavern and were served two hearty courses each for ₤16 all-in: a pungent cream of garlic soup with smoked cheese on toast and honey and almond cake for me, a spicy and tender beef goulash with (the first of many helpings of) dumplings, then apple strüdel for my date.
Posted in gluttony, restaurants
Tagged beef goulash, bread, breakfast, cake, duck, dumplings, garlic soup, lamb, Nutella, Prague, salad, sauerkraut, smoked cheese, strudel, sugar
Recently I’ve become addicted to sitting with one fist in my mouth and the fingers of my other hand splayed over my eyes while I watch the childbirthing antics on Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute. This is part of a personal exercise in confronting the idea that one day I could be writhing helplessly on a hospital bed, lowing like cattle and waiting for an infant who will resemble a tiny, slime-covered version of myself to make a painful and dignity-stripping appearance.
This weekly shriek and sob-athon is compulsive viewing that never fails to leave me gibbering and rocking starry-eyed on the sofa. How do these women endure the marathon of birth? Most cling to the grim knowledge that there’s no choice: their baby has to come out somehow.
The teenage mother that starred this week was the exception to this rule. There she was with her mum and boyfriend, wailing and shaking and thoroughly petrified at her body’s revolt. ‘I can’t do this!’ she convinced herself over and over. ‘Yes you can,’ said her mum kindly. ‘When this is over, I’ll buy you a sausage and egg McMuffin – how does that sound?’
I’m not going to answer that question. OK, I am – I can’t help myself. It sounded so gross I had to cover my eyes again.
Late Saturday morning and I’m in my pyjamas, nursing a light hangover. I fell for crumpets in a big way the other week, as I do every year when the weather gets chilly. I pop a couple in the toaster and go to the fridge, when – disaster strikes. A flashback of me scraping the last ounce of butter from its paper the night before. And now, there is nothing to spread on my breakfast treat, and I am bereft.
I toy with my options. I could put on the outfit I reserve specially for a quick dash to the corner shop: white baggy branded jogging bottoms, an enormous bright red hoodie and my battered trainers (I fancy that they think I’ve been jogging – ha! – and am popping into the shop on the way back…) But I still have the imprint of where my pillow squished into my face, so there’s no way I can pull that off today. I could try crumpets ‘with a twist’? I cast my eye around for any fat I have to hand. Olive oil? No. Vegetable oil? An involuntary shudder. I can’t do it to the crumpet, let alone my taste buds. What about un crumpet au nature, naked of butter, but doused in honey? Unacceptable.
What to do? The clock is ticking. The edges of the crumpets are starting to curl and crisp in the toaster, indicating that they’re ready to invite lashings of melted butter into their bottomless wells. This really is going to ruin my morning. I need to act quickly.
A fantastic foodie day, nay – weekend.
Friday night: baked homemade sourdough bread for the first time, then lamented that it had taken me until so late in life to get around to doing such a ludicrously easy and smugly satisfying thing. The friends I’d invited over for dinner mistook me for a domestic goddess because, due to a hectic week that had led me to put off the baking again and again, the timing of the freshly baked bread coming out of the oven coincided exactly with their arrival. I insisted that it was my first time and by no means a regular occurrence, but they swatted away my protestations as modesty. Hey ho, goddess it is then. We sliced it and dipped it in homemade pesto as a starter and it was heaven.
Saturday am: spolit said friends by whipping up scrambled eggs on sourdough toast for breakfast. They’re sensitive gluttons – unwilling to resist delicious food but equally unwilling to think about what devilish ingredients have made it so damn edible. So I hid diligently in the kitchen to pour in the tub of cream and coax the eggs to fluffy perfection. The sensitive gluttons only saw the cold knob of butter being stirred in at the end and so enjoyed the finished dish unquestioningly. The sourdough made great toast too.
Posted in daily bread, gluttony
Tagged Au Lac, bread, breakfast, cake, courgette, hazelnut, homemade, Le Creuset, pesto, Racine, restaurants, sensitive gluttons, sourdough, Vietnamese