02-02-2008

A new restaurant reminiscent of the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire opens in Prague, a young Czech fashion designer makes dresses out of old cassette tapes and, the shortest ever jail term served in the Czech Republic. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Dagmar Havlova and Karel Schwarzenberg, photo: CTKDagmar Havlova and Karel Schwarzenberg, photo: CTK A restaurant reminiscent of the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire opened in Prague this week with great fanfare. Red carpets, soldiers in Austro-Hungarian uniforms at the door, waiters in livery, elegant surroundings and a feats fit for an emperor greeted the guests on opening night at the Monarchy. They were the “crème de la crème” of Czech society – members of the old nobility, diplomats and people from the arts world. The restaurant belongs to the brother of the former Czech president Ivan Havel and his wife Dagmar who said they wanted a restaurant different from any other in town; a restaurant which would not only provide a haven from the fast pace of life in the present day but remind people of their country’s history and traditions. The interior is decorated with heraldic symbols and coats of arms and the food served is the best that Bohemain, Moravian, Slovak, Austrian and Hungarian cuisine has to offer. Some of the recipes are taken from a famous 19th century cookbook by Magdalena Dobromila Rettigová – and all the produce is organic, delivered to the restaurant from a certified bio-farm also belonging to the Havels. One of the guests of honour at the opening night was Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, a member of the old nobility. Mr. Schwarzenberg said he was charmed by Prague’s newest restaurant and hoped that it would provide all the culinary delights of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – “if it does, I can eat here for a year and chose something different every night” he told reporters.

 

Nada Machová is eighteen and studying fashion design. Her summer collection put a smile on the faces of teachers and colleagues alike. Nada’s dresses are breezy, sexy and made of old cassette tapes. “I wanted something really special – something no one had done before and this seemed like a good idea,” she says. The dresses are knitted out of tapes and Nada says she picked legendary material – a mix of ABBA, the Beatles and some Czech classics. Her classic cocktail dresses look very glamorous but there’s one thing you need to be cautious about they are all highly flammable!

 

This week a twenty-year old woman from Brno served the shortest ever jail term in the Czech Republic. The judge sent her to jail for 24 hours for refusing to complete her 50 hours of community service, which the court ordered earlier. The young woman paradoxically served 48 hours but refused to turn up for the remaining two. Her punishment was something of a joke and created more problems for the jailhouse administration that it did for her. Admission to jail – including a health check, paperwork and instruction takes up most of the morning – and the bureaucracy accompanying her release took up most of the remaining time. After a night’s sleep the woman was let out bright and early. "When we heard about the case we knew there could be trouble," the warden said "if she had turned up on a Saturday we would have had to call our administrative staff in to work on Sunday morning in order to process her release."

 

Carp is the most common fish species bred in Czech ponds and lakes and Czechs have boasted some great catches. But Jaroslav Suchý from Mikulov beat all previous records last week when he reeled in an outsize catch in France. He went fishing at the St. Cassien Lake and caught a carp the size of a piglet. The carp weighed 33 kilo and after posing for a photo it was mercifully released. Although Czech anglers are wowed, the Brits have gone one better – a British angler holds the world record in the biggest carp ever caught – and that trophy weighed over 40 kilos.

 

Some of the country’s biggest bank robberies remain unresolved – most notably the one in which a security officer got away with over 500 million crowns. Getting away with a staggering sum appears to be much simpler than robbing a petrol station where the loot is going to be much smaller. An inexperienced twenty-two-year old robber made headlines this week when he bungled a petrol station robbery so badly that he ended up trying to bribe the woman behind the counter, promising to give her two thousand crowns of his own money if she did not report him to the police. In the end the guy fled, leaving behind his leather jacket and all his documents. I know practice makes perfect, but it seems to me that this guy should really turn his hand to something different. .

 

Jan Jiří GrázlJan Jiří Grázl This robber isn’t likely to stay in people’s minds for very long but with Johann Georg Grazsel (also known as Jan Jiří Grázl) it’s an entirely different story. Grazsel was a notorious criminal in his day and age with countless murders and robberies to his name. A man of German parentage, born in the Czech lands, Grazsel commited over 200 serious crimes, most of them on the territory of Austria, for which he was hanged in 1818. Archive materials from the time suggest that Grazsel was a man without scruples who murdered, robbed and even tortured people whenever the opportunity presented itself – not sparing children and widows who crossed his path. The name Grazsel became a synonym for evil and remains so in both Czech and German to this day. His name entered the Czech vocabulary and is still one of the most common ways of saying that someone is a thug and villain.

02-02-2008