Category Archives: Restaurants

Na Pekárně: Pedal to Foodieville

When it comes to beauty, Praguers are privileged in more than one way. To be here, means you will hardly escape it. You can, of course, get on a bike and pedal to the outskirts, to Modřany, Jížní město or Černý most, where the communists’ abstract dreams of perfect housing turned into concrete nightmares. But by the time, you’re there, the endorphines will take the grey away. Within a little while, beauty is back, and it’s all green again. The rest of the trip is the best appatizer one can imagine. And the only one not to add any calories to the meal you’re going to enjoy.

napekkEspecially, if you’re going to Na Pekárně, be sure to burn some fat along the way. The little country inn, owned by awarded Czech chef Václav Fryč (http://napekarne.com/sefkuchar.php), is not the place you would opt for when on a diet. On the contrary. They serve large portions there, excelling in roast pork, poultry, venison, home made dumplings and sauces as sweat, the bees could envy them. If you ever wondered, how Czech cuisine became famous within the foodie Austro-Hungarian Empire, this trip will take you closer to the answer. Having said that, keep in mind, it’s a simple countryside pub, just an extremely good one. You will be just as likely to sit next to a table of Czech businessmen with their foreign partners as to local polititians or villagers stopping in for a pint.

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Talking about sitting: It’s highly recommandable to make reservations in time, the place is popular. When we went there on a late Thursday afternoon in rainy April, most tables where taken. They have a reservation form on their website and speak English, so it shouldn’t be any problem. Another good thing about Na Pekárně is, they are bike friendly, meaning you can show up in any old sports outfit without getting funny looks, and park your bike safely at the stands in front of the house, a refurbished Central Bohemian cottage from the 19th century.

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As to getting there and back, there are various options. My favourite round trip combines cycling and public transport, Prague Metro and train. Instead of climbing the hill up to Prosek, I take my bike on the Metro to Letňany (red line), then cycle to Kbely (Prague Aviation Museum), pass Ctěnice (baroque castle) and follow the small country lanes (ordinary Czech life) among fields and through villages down to Zaryby by the Elbe river. There, turn left and follow the bike path to Kostelec na Labem and pedal aonother 6km southwest to Čelakovičky, where anybody would give you directions to Na Pekárně, the only attraction of this village of 160 (yes) inhabitants. If you’re getting thirsty along the way. stop in any village pub you’ll find. Or wait until you get to Kostelec nad Labem, where they have a public still/sparkling water machine by the bus station. For half a litre of soda water you pay Czk 2 (1 Euro = Czk 27). Bring your own bottle, though. Czech sideways are unbelievable.

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If, after your meal, you still feel like cycling, take the same way back to Prague. Or, which I would suggest, take the train back from Neratovice, just some 5k away from Čelakovičky.

The tour

Start: Prague Letňany Metro stop (C line)  – cycle to Čakovičky, then to Neratovice railway station and take te train back to Prague (appr. 1hr to the main station), ticket appr. Czk 56 per person and bike

total length: 70k, of which 34 cycling

type: easy to moderate, mostly on cycle paths or side roads with little traffic

Tour impressions

Useful links

Czech railway connections: http://jizdnirady.idnes.cz/vlaky/spojeni/

Prague public transport info: http://www.dpp.cz/

Czech online map: http://www.mapy.cz/

Restaurant website: http://www.napekarne.com

Tour oveview (click for details on Mapy.cz)

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Slow Food at Slowpec (near Prague)

Food and cycling are among the highest pleasures you can aspire to, with your clothes on, as an adult. If you combine both, that’s as close to paradise as you will probably get any time soon. This is, in a nutshell, the idea behind the “Bike and Dine” project.

Roast duck, beef or pork stews, dumplings, soups and kompots: Czech food is not exactly what you would call a light diet, just as its relatives in Austria and Bavaria. However, thanks to providence, it comes along with the pretty much hilliest terrains you can have in Central Europe. So if a cyclist seeks a nice energy-neutral lunch or dinner, he or her will always find some elevation to burn calories. Just as the less ambitioned among us would find easier itineraries. Either way, you will have fun and do more for your health than taking a cab.

Just Out of Prague

If Prague is getting a better destination for gourmets with every new farmer’s market, micro brewery and Guide Michelin award, there are still good reasons for foodies to leave the city for the countryside. Within 30 to 40 kilometres from the city centre, there are various wonderful and absolutely unique restaurants and inns to be discovered. Travelling by bike, you will not only make sure you deserve the meals you are to taste, but find unexpected beauty in landscapes, architecture and nature. The bike will take you through places not even all locals know.

A good starter, so to speak, would be a trip to Líšnice. Situated at the edge of the Brdy massif, high above between the valleys of the Vltava (Moldau) and Berounka rivers, this is a village typical for Central Bohemia with its little duck pond in the centre and a nice renaissance church, where nobody goes.

Spectacularly unspectacular

2It’s so unspectacular, it took a simple restaurant to make it famous – at least in the fast growing Czech slow food community. Slowpec, a Czenglish wordplay (slow, péct = to cook/bake, sloupec/k evokes “column”), is a small restaurant with the shortest menu you can find in Europe north of the Alps: a couple of starters and soups, three or four main dishes, salads and desert. The main menu changes every season, four times a year, with regular updates every week, and weekend specials. Try their sous-vide (specially, slowly poached), for example. The owners also produce cider and juices from their orchards nearby.

Slowpec, a Czenglish wordplay (slow, péct = to cook/bake, sloupec/k evokes “column”), is a small restaurant with the shortest menu you can find in Europe north of the Alps: a couple of starters and soups, three or four main dishes, salads and desert. The main menu changes every season, four times a year, with regular updates every week, and weekend specials.

There are various routes to bike from Prague to Líšnice, more or less demanding, but most of us could do a round trip in less than a day without being too exhausted. The more ambitioned can take the way along the Vltava and Berounka rivers to Černošice and climb the steep hill between Všenory and Řitka (40 km one way). The easier way, but not less beautiful, is following the Vltava river up to Vranné nad Vlt., then take the local train for about 20 minutes to Klínec or Bojanovice, and than cycle another 4-5 km to the restaurant. This will get you across the dam, which you can’t do by bike or on foot, and through a beautiful landscape of forests, creeks and waterfalls.

Useful links

Czech railway connections: http://jizdnirady.idnes.cz/vlaky/spojeni/

Prague public transport info: http://www.dpp.cz/

Czech online map: http://www.mapy.cz/

Restaurant website: http://www.slowpec.cz

The tour

Distance: 75 km, of which 40 km cycling, rest train

Type: road or hybrid bike cycling, easy to moderate

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