Going Back to Prague
One of my favorite travel experiences was, of all things, a food tour in Prague. I was there in 2016 with my wife Yvonne, daughter Maggie, and sister-in-law Maria. Yvonne, always in search of fine dining, had reserved places for us on a food tour she had read about.
What we discovered over the next four hours was not just food, but the heart and history of a people. Czechs, ruled for most of the twentieth century by Nazi Germany and then the Soviet Union, had been independent for just 25 years, and their spirit was bursting forth in all kinds of ways, including in the food.
It seemed that traditional Czech dishes had been stomped out during the Soviet era, and now young people were reclaiming them. They researched recipes, discovered forgotten dishes, and recreated them with a contemporary flair.
The tour was given by Jan at Taste of Prague Food Tours (shown here, second from the left, with his fellow tour guides). Jan took us to five places, including ground zero for the movement, a bar called Lokal. There, we were served small plates of unique, exquisite food, along with the main attraction…beer.
Pilsner Urquell, the granddaddy of Czech beers, was brewed just down the road, and each morning a tanker truck would travel from the brewery to Lokal with a new supply. This meant that any beer you drank there had been made in the last 24 hours.
Special Czech taps did three different pours, including the famous “milk pour,” consisting of all foam. It turned out this wasn’t your average beer foam (which I don’t like), but a rich, thick, creamy substance almost like nectar.
After our visit, I decided the word bar didn’t do justice to that place. It was more like a shrine.
What brought Lokal to mind? When visiting family in Denver last weekend, I was taken by my niece’s husband Jeff, a beer maker in his own right, to a new brewery called Cohesion. The owners, Eric and Lisa Larkin, had traveled to Prague much as we did, were inspired by Czech brewing methods, and had returned to create Cohesion as a tribute. Jeff and I tried their take on Pilsner Urquell, including a milk pour from authentic Czech taps.
Five years ago I traveled to Prague. Last weekend I went back.