The Czech capital Prague has just become the first city in the former eastern bloc to receive a coveted Michelin star. The world-renowned guide to fine dining singled out the city's Allegro restaurant - located inside the Four Seasons Hotel - for dishes such as "yellow-fin tuna caramelised with ginger on panzanella tartar with sesame seeds, red onion and orange and sour tomato sorbet". It's a far cry from goulash and dumplings. But as Rob Cameron finds out in Talking Point, the standard of Czech cuisine is very much on the up.
Recently on the internet I came across the comment that Prague’s days as a consumer black hole were over, making clear, once and for all that mall culture had arrived. That statement couldn’t be more accurate. In the last decade the capital has seen the arrival of shiny new shopping centres at a magnificent rate, changing lifestyles and Czechs’ leisure time like never before. Going out with friends, usually meant just “grabbing one or two at the pub”, but now there are dozens of glossy options to choose from, often under one roof: hanging out at
Thursday’s session of Parliament was like no other. Dozens of deputies exchanged their suits for scout uniforms to mark “den svatého Jiří” or St. George’s Day – St George being the patron saint of scouting. The usual tension between the ruling and opposition benches was absent as deputies showed off their long forgotten scouting skills and recalled their days in the Scouts movement.
Collecting as a hobby is popular in the Czech Republic as it is throughout the world: the country has no shortage of those who collect prints, coins, stamps, and works of art. But the country also boasts a high number of collectors focussed on more unusual items: from pocket diaries to fruit & vegetable labels, from historic puppets to paper tissues. The country’s Curiosity Collectors’ Club, based in Prague, was founded more than 40 years ago, and now has 1,000 members. Recently, I caught up with the group’s chairman Ladislav Likler to learn more
Paris Hilton is in Prague, where her boyfriend Benji Madden is playing a concert with his rock band Good Charlotte on Sunday night. Journalists and photographers had been expecting the American celebrity to arrive by plane, and were surprised when she arrived on the band’s tour bus. Hilton later fell and hurt her chin after being pursued by the press in the city centre.
Now, feeling peckish? Not sure what to have for dinner tonight? How about duck foie gras "au torchon" on a quince compote and spice bread pan-fried escalope with cardamom and white polenta? Or maybe yellow fin tuna caramelized with ginger and tartar with sesame seeds, red onion and orange and sour tomato sorbet? Those are just some of the dishes on the menu at Prague’s Allegro restaurant, which has just become the first restaurant in the former Eastern bloc to receive the coveted Michelin star. Among those who’ve eaten at Allegro – located in the
Olomoucké tvarůžky – famous yellow cheeses produced in the Olomouc region in the Czech Republic – are instantly recognisable for their odour and gummy texture: they are most definitely an acquired taste. But they are also a product of which many Czechs are justifiably proud. Since 2004, representatives have sought EU protection recognising the tvarůžky as a distinct local specialty, something which is not going to happen, at least not yet.
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