While the country’s name might have officially changed from the Czech Republic to Czechia, its capital Prague still offers travellers a whole lot of things to see, do and yes…eat. Raul Dias gives you a taste of a few iconic pastries of Prague
While there is very little doubt that Amsterdam in The Netherlands rules the roost as far as being Europe’s undisputed party capital, Prague comes a close second. The capital city of the newly christened country of Czechia—that was formerly known as the Czech Republic—is THE place to go for those on the prowl of a rollicking good time. All this, in a city steeped in history and culture and one where the party is on 24X7.
Here, beer flows like water. Quite literally! Yes, beer is cheaper to buy than bottled water in Prague. But this piece isn’t about Prague’s legendary beer bars and how to scope them out. Enough has been written about that. Au contraire, it is about what to do post a tryst with said bars, when the munchies kick in and all you need is a big, comforting sugar rush.
So, in no particular order is my list of the top five sweet treats Prague has in store for you:
It would be sacrilegious of me to kick start this list without a bit about the ‘ruling monarch’ of all of Prague’s pastries. Never mind the tongue-twister of a name, having a trdelník in Prague is a must-do. A traditional Slovak rolled pastry originating from the Hungarian-speaking region of Transylvania, the trdelník is usually served warm and topped with a dusting of sugar, nuts or cinnamon. Also known as a chimney stack cake, this delectable treat that can be found at almost every street corner in the city is made by wrapping the pastry dough around a wooden or metal stick, roasting it over an open flame and coated with sugar or cinnamon. I had a superb chocolate one at Krusta in Drazickeho Square. But, psst…for those of you in Mumbai, The Chimney Factory does a fairly decent iteration of the trdelník at its two branches in Bandra and Shivaji Park!
Though they may look similar to French crepes, these thin Czech pancakes are made very differently using a different batter. Typically rolled up and served with fillings such as jam, fruit, cream or nuts, it is an ideal treat for those post binge drinking sessions. This scrumptious treat can be found easily in cafes like Café Creperie Pod Věží around the city centre, as well as at food carts around the city. If you happen to find yourself in Prague during the months of November and December, you will see scores of stalls set up at the city’s many Christmas markets dishing out thousands of steaming hot palačinkys. And for those sad souls who don’t like the sweet side of life, you can even opt for savoury stuffings of meat, cheese and spinach to go with your pancake.
While the idea of eating a fruit dumpling might seem strange, trust me when I say that a plate of these babies will take you straight to gastronomic heaven! Along with the trdelník and the palačinky, the ovocné knedlíky completes the trifecta of Prague’s favourite sweet dishes. Made from milk, butter, flour, eggs, salt, and dry cottage cheese, these dumplings are commonly filled with strawberries, apricots, plums, or plum jam and served alongside a dollop of whipped cream. Café Savoy in Vítězná that has been around since 1893, makes the best ovocné knedlíky in my humble opinion.
You don’t need to look hard to find these yummy sweet treats. Your nose will scope them out for you. Now, while gingerbread might seem ubiquitous in Central Europe, the Czechia version really is something special. It has roots stretching back centuries, to when it was made only with honey, butter, and nuts—which you can still find in certain special places in Prague. Nowadays, you will see beautifully decorated, iced gingerbread all over the place. But do head down to Perníčkův Sen bakery in Haštalská for the best perníky you’ll ever eat in Prague.
Shortened down to just ‘kolach’ this iconic Prague pastry (that’s similar to a Danish pastry) is diminutive in size and the perfect pairing with tea or coffee. The original kolach boasts a filling of some sort contained by a rim of brioche-like yeasted dough. Though not as easily found as the other pastries on this list, I had a divine one at the Artisan Café & Bistrot in Vejvodova, where the dough was a pleasantly slightly sour yeast-based one, and the filling was made of sweet poppy seed paste.
Raul Dias a Mumbai-based food and travel writer and restaurant reviewer. Follow Raul on Instagram @rauldias123