Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Prague Veg Life, Berlin blunders, & Testing time!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

The final phase of our European holiday brought us to the Czech Republic to explore Prague, known by the locals as Praha. One would think vegan food would be nonexistent in a city that's specialty is "Roasted Pork Knees", but once again, many vegan options are available. In fact, we didn't get a chance to go to all of them!

The most common place people mention is Country Life, a restaurant & grocery store run by Seventh Day Adventists. With two locations, one eat-in & one take-out, it's likely you'll find yourself nearby one of them at some point. We opted for the eat-in location & were greeted with a large vegan buffet of salads, soup, pre-packaged sandwiches, hot dishes, & desserts. I opted for a little bit of everything on my plate, while Ryan tried a tofu burger & a salad. Nothing here is amazing, but it's certainly nice to have a large selection of items to choose from.

After our meals, we headed in to the grocery shop to check out the goods & buy some items to take back to our place. While I found quite a few interesting things, I was surprised to find not everything was vegan; lots of honey & milk powder to be found! Luckily, all of the food is in the restaurant is vegan, but it makes you wonder, doesn't it?!

On another day, we popped in to Country Life again for a quick snack. Ryan went crazy for the goulash, while I opted for soup &.. you guessed it, a dessert!

Fruit Tart- A nice, lightly sweetened, slightly flaky crust with a sweet jelly-like filling, topped with fruit. Despite the seeded grapes canned pineapple, unrecognizable berries, this was nice & refreshing! 4 stars

Country Life is located at
Melantrichova 15, Praha 1 (dine-in) & Jungmannova 1, Praha 1 (take-out).

A far less known place for vegan food just happened to be right down the street from the apartment we rented. Veganka is easily missed when walking by & even once you enter the building, it's a bit confusing to figure out where to go! This tiny little teahouse serves a rotating all vegan menu, as well as a selection of baked goods & in addition to the extensive tea options. There's no English menu, so hopefully you'll have the same luck we did & have someone at a nearby table give you some guidance! We both ended up with soy schnitzel, as we couldn't quite figure out our other options. While it was a bit greasy for our tastes, the side of potato salad was downright delicious! I decided to try an assortment of their dessert options, not knowing what any of them were in advance; you only live once, right?!

Black Currant Pastry- A bland bread base with an interesting, but mushy & seemingly flavorless topping, the center was nice & sweet from what I thought were dates, but turned out to be black currants. 2 stars

Apple & Blueberry Muffin- Still a bit warm from the oven, this wheaty muffin filled with apple & blueberries bits was surprisingly unsweetened, except for the confectioners sugar on top. 2 ½ stars

"Banán steplou ćoko-polevou"- Who knew this meant banana slices with warm chocolate sauce?! Surely not I! After a bit of a laugh, we dug in & were pleasantly surprised that something so simple could be so delicious. 4 stars

Veganka is located at Hálkova 8, Praha 2.

Another place to dine with vegan options is Clear Head, also known as Lehka Hlava. Down a side street in Prague's "Old Town" is where you'll find this dimly lit oasis with faux starry sky ceilings. It's a nice place to have an evening out, as the atmosphere is bit fancier than the other veg offerings we experienced. Menus are available in English & everything is vegetarian with the vegan items clearly marked & not lacking in selection. We opted to share two entrees & very much enjoyed them both; a bulgar risotto with fresh vegetables & smoky tempeh strips & an Asian inspired stir fry with peanut sauce & fluffy rice. Another thing we shared was a dessert, the carrot cake is made vegan by removing the chocolate sauce & adding caramel flavored soy pudding.

Carrot cake- This was chewy & nutty, filled with coconut, ginger, raisins, & crunchy seeds, we wondered if it was a raw dessert, as we were expecting cake! The flavors in this were far too overpowering & we found it to be overly moist & have a strange texture. 1½ stars

Clear Head / Lehka Hlava is located at
Boršov 2/280, Praha 1.

Still in Prague & having been away for so long, we were a bit sick of dining out, so we opted to stay in our rented apartment for a few meals. Mornings started with a fresh fruit salad of apples, oranges, pears, & pineapple were amazingly refreshing after weeks of restaurant food. We found rice cakes covered in carob at Country Life & inspired by VeggieGirl, we picked them up & ended up loving them! I also stowed a can of Heinz Beans from Germany, so we had beans over toast as we hid from the falling snow outside. Overall, Prague was gorgeous, but a bit tourist heavy for our tastes. It's worth exploring at some point in your travels, but is easily completed in just a few days, so is best as a place to pass through on a larger trip.

Based on my previous post, I noticed many people's shock at the veg friendliness of Berlin. While there's plenty of vegan foods to eat there, it's not all Vöner & Cupcakes! Check out these two vehicles I saw packed on the street & was less than impressed by. You can't get much clearer than "CARNIVORE", especially when it has a knife right through it & somehow I don't think this pig wants to be pimping herself out?! That being said, Berlin is an awesome city & I highly recommend going there if given the chance. Like I've mentioned, I've been dreaming of moving there or at least spending the summer riding bikes & having veg picnics in the park!

While that concludes our European vegan coverage, there's plenty more I'll be writing about in the coming weeks. My list of things to share with you has been growing daily, especially having been back for a month now. I've been tasting & testing a lot, including a Lemon Vinaigrette for a new book from Joanna Vaught of Yellow Rose Recipes. I drizzled the tangy vinaigrette over Asparagus laying on a bed of Celeriac Puree, yum yum! Also, Isa Chandra Moskowitz has been throwing down Indian inspired brunch fare such as Samosa Mashed Potato Pancakes & a Curried Cauliflower Frittata that converted my tofu-for-breakfast hating husband in to a lover, not a fighter! Until next time!


Celine said...

it's disappointing to see that those beautiful pastries weren't exactly out-of-this-world good. ah well.
hey M, I was thinking that since you have a bread maker now, you need to make your sweetheart that peanut butter I've been blabbering about, he loves PB so much from what you've told me. ;p

VeggieGirl said...

Ahh, if only those pastries tasted as good as they look :0( But hey, I'd say the rest of the food was fabulous! :0)

You purchased carob!!!!!!!! Melisser, you made my day :0D

Vegan_Noodle said...

Melisser you have no idea how much I've enjoyed your European trip posts. I spent about 6 months living in Germany/England before starting work after college and this has reminded me of some amazing travels!!

I remember liking goulash in Prague... good to know there's a veggie version! I remember not being very excited about any of the food. It's nice to stay in a place where you have the option to cook for yourself a bit. I think Prague has started to be overrun with tourists. When I was there it seems like it was just getting going. Next time I'm over in eastern Europe I'd like to check out Hungary, still cheap but not as touristy!
Anyhow, loved the post and can't wait to see what all you've been up to!

Lucy said...

But tourism has good effect on Prague too. for example, with growing number of tourists literally “invading” Prague every season, the food industry did its best to keep pace. At the beginning with a timid pace, lacking good personnel, dinning places started to grow in number and diversity, therefore nowadays, it’s easy to find Prague restaurants for all tastes and pockets all over Prague. Of course, like in every tourist city of the world, the rule “the further from the centre, the better prices you get” is still valid.:)

Leigh said...

Wow, I had no idea those Country Life restaurants were all over the globe! I've been to one in Chattanooga, of all places.
...and yeah, that van with the pig is frightening.

Rural Vegan said...

Soy schnitzel and goulash? I'm in heaven! Thanks so much for your vegan review of Prague. I've not been there yet as a vegan and I can hardly wait now!

Cakespy said...

I just can't get over that fruit tart. Is Carmen Miranda stuck in it??!? It looks awesome! So do the bananas with chocolate (I agree--sometimes simple can be so amazing!

meghan: sugar-shock.blogspot.com said...

i forgot about Country Life...I went to that exact one! yum!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

woah, the chocolate-covered bananas look especially good… as does that carrot cake. Yum, times 100000!

pleasantly plump vegan said...

that fruit tart is beautiful!

Erin said...

That fruit tart is gorgeous!

Melisser, thanks for sharing your posts- it has been like a beautiful vegan foodie travelogue. I am sad it is all over now.

Jess - The Domestic Vegan said...

I can't believe what great luck you had finding vegan food on your trip! Even though it was a little hit or miss, it seems. It all certainly LOOKS fabulous!

Warm chocolate sauce over bananas = HEAVEN!

Bianca said...

That fruit tart looks so pretty! Even if some of it did come from a can. :-) You're really making me want to leave the country and head to Europe!

shannie cakes said...

Joanna Vaught has to be one of my favorite vegan chef's these days. I made the tofu marsala from yellow rose and my husband fell in love with me all over again.

To think she lives just a hop skip and a jump from me!

I'm glad to see some European vegan options, my husband is looking into post doctoral work in Spain & Australia, needless to say I'm worried about what we're gonna eat! It's at least 4 years away, I'll worry about it then I guess.

Wheeler's Frozen Dessert said...

Awesome! My friend just returned to the States after studying abroad in Praha. You must be having an great time! (And that food looks delicious, by the way. Too bad about the pastries though.)

Hannah said...

The ads on those trucks are both hilarious and completely disturbing at the same time! It's a good thing that your food didn't reflect that at all, although it's a shame that the baked goods were a bit sub par.

robotslingshot said...

Wow, I had no idea Prague was so veg-friendly. I lived in former East Germany and was relegated to the Turkish places, mostly.

Thanks for the post!

julie hasson said...

I love reading about your travels Melisser! You should write a vegan travel guide.

Bee Roach said...

The words "large vegan buffet" send chills up my spine :)

bazu said...

that fruit tart looks amazing! and that Indian brunch dish is making me very very sad that I'm not a tester for the brunch book!

shannie cakes said...

the introduction of endensoy "spy" milk into my diet-- wow it's pretty amazing-- until i realized 5 grams of fat a glass! i've been drinking like 3 glasses of chocolate "spy" milk a night... oh no! I'm hooked!

i thank you. my waist line on the other hand? ah hell, who cares!

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prague hotel said...

Wow I think I'm goin' to love the Fruit Tart it seems yummy..I want to experience this food very interesting...