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28

October 2014

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Taste of Prague Food and Culture Tour

Written by , Posted in Restaurants, Travel

‘What was your favorite part of the trip?’ is the question that everyone asked when we returned home from our nearly 3 weeks abroad. Mike and I were very fortunate to have so much time to spend on this trip and we tried our best to squeeze in as much as we possibly could. We did so many fun things and saw so many great places that it’s really hard to pick just one favorite. We both agreed, though, that one of the things that would definitely make the cut onto our favorites list was our Food and Culture Tour with Taste of Prague. One look at their gorgeous website and food blog and I knew this was an absolute must-do in Prague. Add in the fact that Jan, one of the owners and our guide, shares my maiden name – this tour was totally meant to be!

Jan and Zuzi, the owners/tour guides/masterminds behind Taste of Prague, are foodies and travel enthusiasts who were tired of their corporate lives and wanted more. They started Taste of Prague for travelers like themselves who are looking for something other than the typical touristy must-dos. As I read their About page I was literally squealing with excitement as I yelled to Mike in the next room, “MIKE!! I think I just found our Prague besties!! ThisisthemostawesomethingeverandI’mtotallyemailingthemrightthissecond!”. What they do is EXACTLY what I try to do in every city we visit, but all my pre-trip research could never compare to the knowledge and experience of like-minded locals. This was THE tour for us.

I had hoped to book a tour for the day we arrived in Prague but Jan and Zuzi happened to be out of town on our first two days there. Luckily they were back on our last day and had 2 open spots! They want their tours to be as personal and un-touristy as possible and one of the many ways they do that is by capping their groups at 4 people. Word has gotten out that they’re pretty awesome and they have to turn down many more people than they accept, so I was super excited to make the cut. At the end of their tours they always send out a re-cap e-mail along with several fantastic food, sightseeing, and shopping guides that they’ve created and continually update. Since our tour would be on our last night in Prague, they sent me all the guides ahead of time so we could get the most out of our short stay. They even sent me an amazing list of places they love in Berlin when they learned we were there! Did I mention that they’re pretty awesome?

Our tour started at 5pm when we met Jan and our two other tour-mates in Old Town. After introductions and a quick taste of homemade slivovitz (plum brandy) pulled from Jan’s bag, we were on our way to our first stop at Sisters Bistro. At Sisters we tried two of their open-faced sandwiches (chlebicek), the Ham and Potato Salad and the Beet Root Purée with Goat Cheese. Both were delicious (warning – I’m probably going to be using the word delicious a lot in this post) and so cute! I wanted to sample every variety in the display but we had a LOT of food ahead of us so it was on to our next stop at Naše Maso.

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

Naše Maso is a butcher shop that is right next door to Sisters. We sampled bites of their meatloaf, sausage with mustard, and Prague ham. The sausage and ham were simple yet so good and I especially loved the mustard that you can also purchase there to take home. The meatloaf, though, oh the meatloaf. For me, these were probably the best few bites of our entire trip. I’m convinced that no other meatloaf will ever compare. It was fantastic. When Naše Maso first opened the butchers had a contest to see who could make the best meatloaf. The master butcher lost and the recipe of the grandmother one of the other butchers won, so now they make it, and often sell out of it, every day! Served with bread and mustard, this winning mixture of beef and pork (and likely a sprinkle of some sort of magical meatloaf powder) is not to be missed in Prague.

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

From Naše Maso we took a short walk to our next stop, Vinograf. Vinograf is a wine bar and they have 2 locations in Prague – one small, intimate location right around the corner from our apartment near the Charles Bridge, and one larger location at Senovážné náměstí square in New Town. We visited the smaller location twice on our own and the larger location with the group. The “big” Vinograf is a beautiful space with high ceilings, a long bar, and a modern design. Obviously they specialize in wine, but what really makes both Vinograf locations special is that they have the largest selection of Czech and Moravian wines in Prague. You can order by the glass or by the bottle and choose wines from their large wall to bring home as well. It can be a bit intimidating ordering wines you’re unfamiliar with, but their staff is well-trained to help you choose and they never once steered us wrong.

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

From Vinograf we had a slightly longer, pleasant walk to the evening’s main event at Čestr. Čestr is a beautiful steakhouse located in the old Communist Federal Parliament building. It is part of the Ambiente restaurant group which also includes Lokál, our favorite spot for Pilsner Urquell tank beer, and Naše Maso, the butcher shop we stopped at earlier in the tour. At Čestr they also have Pilsner Urquell tank beer and that is how we started our meal. Tank Pilsner Urquell is the only beer I’ve come across where a foamy pour is not a bad thing. They have 3 types of pours that they serve with varying amounts of foam. The foam imparts a bit of sweetness to the beer and it is completely different than the Pilsner Urquell you get in a bottle in the states. If there is anywhere that I can find Pilsner Urquell tank beer in the U.S., please let me know!

With beers in hand we were ready for our meal and once the food began to arrive it seemed to just keep coming! Čestr focuses on cuts of carefully sourced beef and their offerings change on a daily basis based on the cuts that are available. The two cuts that we enjoyed that night were the Beef Neck and Beef Shoulder Clod. The beef neck was slowly stewed in paprika sauce with sour cream and the shoulder was slowly roasted on butter and served with mushrooms. In addition to these dishes we also had the Slow-Grilled Chicken with Truffle Stuffing and juice from the grill with black truffles, Potato Dumplings, Aged Cheese (olomoucke tvaruzky) deep fried in bacon and breadcrumbs and served with homemade mayonnaise, Czech Escargots boiled in root vegetables, baked in mushrooms and served with Sabayonne mousse, Czech Trout roasted on butter with vegetables, Čestr Steak Tartare with quail egg, fried bread, and raw garlic, Potato Milk Mash topped with an amazing Périgord sauce made with demi-glace and truffles, Sautéed Carrots and Spinach, and Beer Ice Cream to finish it all off. Phew! Yea, it was a whole lot of food!

Everything was delicious but my two favorites were the Steak Tartare and the Potato Milk Mash with Périgord sauce. The tartare was Mike’s pick for favorite dish of our entire trip and I could drink that ridiculous Périgord sauce by the glass and pour it over anything and everything! Jan and Zuzi actually have the recipe for the Potato Milk Mash on their blog and the Périgord sauce is one of their 10 Best Bites in Prague. I know what my contribution to this year’s Thanksgiving dinner will be!

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

Prague, Taste of Prague, Cestr, Czech trout

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

After this amazing meal at Čestr we had one final stop on our tour with Taste of Prague – dessert at Café Savoy. Also part of the Ambiente group, Café Savoy is a restaurant and coffee bar with an absolutely stunning interior. They are well-known for their breakfasts as well as their wonderful bakery. At Café Savoy we started with shots of Becherovka as a digestif followed with four Czech sweets: Větrník (round windmill chaux pastry with caramel and cream filling and caramel glaze), Věneček (chaux pastry with vanilla cream with sugar glaze), Apple Strudel, and Laskonka (coconut merengue and chocolate cream). We ate every last crumb but the Větrník was our favorite. Even if it’s a quick stop for a cup of coffee, Café Savoy is definitely worth a visit while you’re in Prague. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to end our stay in this beautiful city!

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

Lion + Maven | Taste of Prague Food Tour

Interested in a tour with Taste of Prague? You can find Jan and Zuzi here:

website:  http://www.tasteofprague.com

blog:  http://www.tasteofprague.com/pragueblog

email: hello@tasteofprague.com

instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/tasteofprague

twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/TasteofPrague

facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/tasteofprague

Tuesday

4

February 2014

12

COMMENTS

Hello There!

Written by , Posted in Blogging

Welcome to Lion + Maven!

For those of me that followed me on my old website, Chi Gal Lauren, thanks for stopping by to check out my new blogging home! For those who just happened to come across my blog, thanks for popping in!

Today is a very exciting day for me because it is the official “launch” of this beautiful new website you see before you, Lion + Maven. I previously had a blog over on wordpress.com called Chi Gal Lauren.  For quite some time I knew that I wanted to make some changes to the site. My blog has grown up so much since I wrote my first post on Blogger back in 2010; the experiences I’ve had and the amazing friends I’ve made along the way have made this thing called “blogging” so much more than just authoring a blog. The things that I share on my blog are some of my true passions in life and I love that I have the opportunity to share those experiences with people all across the world. I also love the fact that I can go back and read my old posts to reminisce a bit, it’s the best journal I could ask for!

So…with my content evolving and maturing I felt that now was the perfect time for Chi Gal Lauren to get a facelift! Enter: Lion + Maven!

LION-AND-MAVEN-HEADER-new-3

Thanks to my wonderful, talented, and very patient friend Laura Nash of LL Creative, my new blogging home www.lionandmaven.com has come alive! Laura and I actually first “met” through commenting on each other’s blogs, just one of the many examples of my little baby, chigallauren.com, bringing really great people into my life. She had my new site up, running, and looking fantastic in a very short amount of time and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you! Chi Gal Lauren will stay up and running for the next month or so until I make sure all the last bits and pieces are transitioned, but all new (and old) content will now appear on Lion + Maven.

Interested in the name? Choosing a new name was no easy task and I spent months mulling over different names and asking friends for help. My friend Lindsey who blogs over at The Garden Apt threw Maven out there and it just stuck. I really liked the word maven and thought it sounded pretty and feminine, but little did I know that the definition of maven is actually expert or connoisseur; a trusted expert in a particular field who seeks to pass knowledge on to others. Not that I really consider myself a “connoisseur” of anything, but it felt like a pretty good fit. Lion comes from the fact that 1) my zodiac sign is Leo and  2) lions are beautiful, strong animals-so why not? And that, in a nutshell, is how Lion + Maven was born!

Lion

 image via 

 So….take a look around my new site and let me know what you think!  Hope you stick around for the exciting things to come!

Tuesday

14

January 2014

0

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Windy City Blogger Collective

Written by , Posted in Chicago

WCBC

photo by Andrea Plecko http://www.chicagoandreacreative.com/

photo by Andrea Plecko http://www.chicagoandreacreative.com/

For those of you that follow me on social media, you may have noticed yesterday’s big announcement that the Windy City Blogger Collective is officially up and running!

Blair, Christine, Erin, Kit and I have been hard at work over the last couple months to get our idea off the ground and we couldn’t have been more excited to see it all finally come together. In a nutshell, WCBC is a blogger collective created by bloggers, for bloggers, with aims to educate, promote and connect bloggers with each other. Blogging has helped us meet so many amazing people and has brought tons of fun opportunities our way so we want to use what we know and what our members know to make the blogging community even better! Membership is open to Chicago-area bloggers only, but our site will have a TON of useful information for bloggers everywhere!

To celebrate the launch, we’re hosting a Happy Hour tomorrow at Trellis  in Lincoln Park from 6p-8p. Stop by to say hi and help us celebrate! Thank you all for your kind words and continuing support, we can’t wait to see all the great things in store for this wonderful group!

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