One of the best parts of travel is the food. Myles mostly agrees with this, and Brigid this time started to come around to thinking this way, too. She was more adventurous in trying new unfamiliar food than I have ever seen her since she started on solid foods. In three weeks, we ate and drank such a wide variety of things.
On our way to Poland, I begged Randy to tell me that the streets were paved in pierogi. They weren’t, but we did get to eat two suppers of pierogi, both steamed and fried.
Coming from Western Pennsylvania, I have eaten a great number of pierogi in my life. The flavors we usually associate with these dumplings are potato, potato and cheese, and potato and sauerkraut–the way the struggling working class Rusyns made them when they came to Western Pennsylvania. In Kraków, we found new-to-us flavors, like chanterelle and, for Myles, pork.
On the kids’ menu in both restaurants, interestingly, the pierogi choices were sweet, like sweet cottage cheese or apple with cream. Since kids’ menus usually represent a sort of giving in to what kids will eat, I had to wonder if it were the Polish kids who ate sweets for dinner, or just the tourists. In Kraków, too, it was great to warm up with a mug of hot wine.
One surprise was Brigid going nuts over these sausages at breakfast. She has some strong preferences and revulsions, so on this trip I asked her to try one new food every day. I didn’t expect she would actually like anything, and she loved these.
The kids were also very keen to try obwarzanek krakowski, which are sold from carts all over Krakow. I didn’t get any pictures of them, it seems. I thought the kids would like them much more than they did, but I think they thought they would be more like German pretzels, and when they weren’t salty, they were a little disappointed. While we were still planning this trip, I asked a friend of ours (and a former roommate of my sister), for Prague dining recommendations. She had just been there earlier this fall, so I asked her about some of the places she had on her facebook. She gave me a list, and we were able to try two of her favorites.
The first night in Prague, also Myles’ birthday, we went to a Jelica. This Serbian restaurant also specialized in raw vegan food. It was a great choice for our family, a very tasty compromise. Myles didn’t get cake for his birthday, but he did have Serbian lamb cooked in milk.
The second night we ate at another vegetarian restaurant called Maitrea. Here I got to enjoy something that I never thought I would, Czech goulash with bread dumplings. While most everything else on the menu was lighter and healthier, like the Thai eggplant Myles and Randy shared, I could not resist a chance to sample a local specialty in a vegetarian option. Czech goulash is much heavier than the version I grew up with, Slovenian style and served over macaroni. And the bread dumplings were so awesomely soaky-uppy (that’s an actual term, right?)
I washed it down with a hemp beer.
The mornings in Prague were chilly when we were there, but the afternoons warmed up enough that Aperol Spritz was a refreshing accompaniment to my lunch.
In Ústí, I had a starter we saw on menus in many places on this trip, beet carpaccio with goat cheese. I had never seen it before, and here it was "a thing."
Legoland, as I blogged before, had food so much better than we expected for a theme park. Sure, it was Germany, which should have been a clue that we would not just be eating chicken tenders and fries. Instead I filled up at the anti-pasti bar, and we had spätzle and schnitzel.
Talking with a German university student in Changping about this experience when we returned, I made the inevitable comment about alcohol being available at Legoland. He joked that in Germany, that could be said about anywhere, really.
The kids enjoyed their snacks in Villingen while we waited for the museum to open. Brigid ate most of her pretzel, which was, to her satisfaction, salty.
Myles’ tea was served with a timer for a perfect cup.
In Villingen also I realized that Brigid just might eat anything if it is on the kids’ menu, even if we are in a pizzeria and the kids’ menu offers Schnitzel. We were all amused; so many restaurants, regardless of cuisine, offer pizza on the children’s menu. Only in a German pizzeria do they need to offer something other than pizza to children.
Once again, having fondue at Wii-Hüsli in Dielsdorf was amazing. How in the world does bread, dipped in brandy and then in hot cheese taste so amazing? I was actually hesitant to eat here on this trip because after our last visit to Switzerland I declared that meal one of the best things I had ever eaten. Now that I have been there twice, I am certain that my memory is accurate.
In the second part, I’ll blog about Italy, San Sebastian, Aachen, and Leuven.
This post first appeared on Jennifer Ambrose’s blog on December 8, 2014.