Today, I suggested to Hugo that we go find Šusta Štrúdl, which I’d read about online. Travel writer Samantha Brown was told it was ‘the best strudel in Europe’. I had to find out. Since it would be the only strudel I’d had in Europe in thirty years, I couldn’t really judge if it was ‘the best’, but I knew I wanted to eat it. I was a bit disappointed to see that the Prague Food Blog (an amazingly delicious blog!) disagreed, but that wasn’t going to stop us. Note that the pics on Food Blog are better than mine because of the light at lunch time.
First, google maps is a big fat liar. They either use Olympians or giants when they calculate the time it takes to walk somewhere. They also ignore streetlights, mile-long escalators in metros, and time waiting for trains when the journey involves other transport. Admittedly, they were only five or so minutes off in this instance, but never ever count on what google maps tell you.
I was so excited to see that the strudel shop was only about 15 minutes from our place on foot (+five or ten …). We saw a couple of other very interesting things on the short walk, but I want to share the strudel experience with you first.
It really is a little hole in a wall. According to the Food Blog, the house was built in the seventies, and the bakery is in a room that was originally intended for the storage of baby carriages.
The Food Blog says that there are three kinds: apple, poppyseed, and cottage cheese. Each strudel weighs 480 grams—solid! They cost between 42 and 48 crowns, the upper limit being just on $2 USD. There was a fourth kind today: apricot.
Our original evil plan was to buy one of every kind and take a few days (yep…) to eat them. Unfortunately the baker (who spoke some English—phew!) said they only had apple and apricot left. We could wait twenty minutes, but we opted to just go with what he had. We would come back another day, given the dangerous proximity of the shop to our house.
We bought two apple and one apricot, and we ate the apple one on the way home. It was tasty. Hugo thought it was a little dry. It was just fruit and flavour inside. I think he might be more used to a little custard or layers of pastry inside. I thought it was pretty good.
The shock was the apricot strudel. Oh. My. Goodness. I cut into it at home and tasted it. Incredible. I think it was filled with almost whole apricots—a little tart, deliciously floral, and slightly spiced. Because the fruit pieces were so large, it was very moist. It was delicious. I didn’t expect to like it, since I’m not mad about apricots—meh, they’re okay, but it was fantastic. I’m not even sure Hugo will get to taste it. Can’t wait to try the cottage cheese:) Not sure what will be in the poppyseed one, but I will report! (Note: Those pretty flowers are from the friends from church we invited to dinner last night.)
On the way we, we saw a beautiful old building which is some kind of council office, or maybe a police station. I google-translated the writing, and it said ‘District’. There were a few police cars outside. The building had the most beautiful, intricately designed doors. We also came across Skoba. The sign says, ‘Handcrafted hard and soft cover notebooks, diaries and sketchbooks from original recycled materials.’ It also advertises neighbourhood events.
Skoba is about a block from our place. A 100 metres beyond it is the Zizkov Tower. For the first time today, I noticed the babies. They’re huge. Not sure how I missed them before. I guess I wasn’t expecting them.
The tower was built between 1985 and 1982. Locals considered it an eyesore in such a beautiful neighbourhood of historic buildings, not to mention the fact that in order to build it, the Soviets destroyed some of the Jewish Cemetery dating from the seventeenth century when the plague devastated Prague.
Locals also believe the communists used it to block western tv and radio signals from nearby Germany. For many today it is a reminder of Soviet rule—a dark period.
The fibreglass babies were added by Czech artist David Černý in 2000. They were supposed to be temporary, but stayed. The tower’s website boasts three claims to fame:
- The highest building in the Czech Republic
- The highest observatory in the Czech Republic
- The second ugliest building in the Czech Republic
They’re proud of number 3! Can’t wait to find the ugliest building in the CR. I’ll tell you when I do. The website also says that since refurbishment in 2011, there is a one-room hotel and a couple of restaurants. Must go one day. Apparently the views are great!
Mildly relevant aside: When we were in the Eiffel Tower restaurant celebrating Alex’s 18th birthday in 2008, the waiter told us that many locals fought its construction. When a famous opponent was spotted eating in the tower’s restaurant, he explained himself: “This is the only place in Paris where I don’t have to look at it.”
We’re off to see some jousting at the castle tomorrow!