In response to comments requesting more pictures and discussion of food (as the name of the blog implies it entails); today we have a discussion of TROUT!
The Czechs love fish but being a landlocked country they don’t have access to the ocean fish we’re used to in the states. There is little in the way of tuna or salmon, instead they opt for delicious river fish like trout. This makes perfect sense in a nation that loves outdoor sports (I can name more sports stores than grocery stores in my neighborhood). Here everyone owns a “cottage” outside the city where they spend their weekends amdist the unspoiled nature is still common in Eastern Europe.
Trout is everywhere. It’s served or sold whole (though gutted). The grocery store has tanks of live trout, the 24-hr Mini-Mart has vacume sealed trout in bags, and restaurants post it on their menus only a little less commonly than goulash.
While I was visiting the countryside a few weeks ago I had a chance to sample the fish. We were in the town of Mělník, half an hour north of Prague. It’s a small town, built in the common medieval style featuring a castle at the highest point (bear in mind that the term “castle” is used loosely here: think palace) adjacent to the church and bell tower with the town square and the rest of the town wrapping down on a hill towards water (in this case where the Vlatava River, which flows through Prague, meets the Probostsky River).
After touring the castle and climbing the bell tower; Kate, Lucy, and I had lunch at the castle restaurant where they served wine made from grapes grown on the hill leading up to the castle and trout plucked out of the river we were overlooking.
I can’t imagine a more honest meal served in a lovelier setting. I had the bacon trout, Lucy had the duck (another Czech specialty) and Kate had chicken. We had bought a couple of bottles of wine from the castle but refrained from opening one because Lucy was driving and in the Czech Republic they not only have a zero-tolerance policy, they breathalyze everyone pulled over (“licence, registration, breath here”). Instead of the local wine, I had the local beer: Lobkowicz. They’re one of the big, rich old families in Prague and along with owning the castle, they own a brewery. You can see the “LOB – 1466” on the tablecloth in the picture below.
The fish was delightful. It was so fresh I kept imagining that it came from one of the fishermen working the river below us with their fly rods while we ate. When I opened the belly the steaming white flesh fell away from the delicate bones. Combined with the bacon and lemon it was a lovely summer-afternoon meal for a warm day in September. Once I start cooking again, trout will have to be a dish to attempt: it’s inexpensive, delicious and lovely (but that is a blog for another day).