Ditch the heavy jacket, spring is here! After a cold dreary Czech winter, it’s time to party in Prague. We were lucky enough to be in Prague in May and join in on the fun – and there was lots to be had: festivals of all sorts were happening around the city during our stay. We tried to take part in as many as we could.
The Prague Beer Festival
You can’t spend any amount of time in Prague and not taste some of the wonderful handcrafted beer here. One of the best places to sample a bunch of varieties all in one place is at the Prague Beer Festival. There was no way we could skip this event, which takes place over two weeks in May. The beer hall was tucked away under a huge tent on a field on Letna Park by the Sparta stop in Prague 7. When we first arrived I wondered, “is this the right place?” But after walking through the entry there was no doubt that we had found beer mecca . The tent was packed beer hall-style with benches and tables, with dozens of taps of specialty beers dotting the perimeter. While sampling some local brews, we also tried some artisan food from one of the many food stands set up by local restaurants under the tent. Chef Steven Trumpfheller, owner and chef at restaurant U Emy Destinnové served us up grilled swordfish, octopus salad, and an amazing chocolate mousse. Not a bad way to enjoy a Spring day (or any day for that matter).
What happens when the best dessert and pastry chefs in the city all get together and ask you to taste their treats and decide whose is the best? A cheesecake festival, now an annual event in Prague. The event was tucked away in an out-of-the-way warehouse area, and I hesitated a little looking around wondering if we hadn’t wandered into an auto body shop. The venue was actually a funky converted building that operates as an “open office” – a co-working space offering wifi and coffee. For this event the place had been taken over by bakers giving out samples of their cheesecake, with hopes to be crowned festival champion. We offered up our palettes (and stomachs) for the cause, and our favorite actually surprised us: a vegan raw cheesecake with a list of ingredients that I can’t recall. None of them sounded like they would work separately at all, but together, magic.
This one totally surprised me. But after learning a little about Czech history it made perfect sense. While under communist rule, a worker exchange program with Viet Nam allowed workers to easily travel between communist nations. Over time the a thriving Vietnamese community has grown here. And with it, they have brought their traditions, and, to our delight, their food. Which they shared with us in large portions at the festival. There were long lines, but to be rewarded by the best Banh Mi sandwich you have ever eaten? Definitely worth it.
Saturday Farmer’s Market
If there is any doubt about the Czech love of the outdoors and food, lay it to rest right here. The Náplavka Market is held on the riverfront of the Vltava River every Saturday. It’s packed with local artisans offering up fresh grown vegetables, locally produced beer and wine, and lots of freshly prepared food. I wish I had another stomach and a month’s worth of Saturdays to come back again and again. If you only have one weekend in Prague, don’t miss this market which draws visitors and locals alike.