A Fussy Eater Abroad: surviving Prague

Prague’s a pushover

As travel destinations go, Prague is not a tricky one to survive as a fussy eater. It’s a tourist hotspot so just about every taste is catered for.

In the most touristy areas such as the Old Town, it’s hard to come by traditional Czech food. The grandiose street are dominated by a mix of Turkish street vendors, American theme bars, curry houses and steak restaurants. If you like meat, cheese, or eggs, you shouldn’t have a problem anywhere, but there are vegetarian, and vegan friendly places too.

Omlette that is in fact, just several fried eggs.

“Egg Omlette Grandma’s Style”

The trusty omlette – like many European countries, the Czechs love their red meat and cheese. If that’s not for you then you may end up eating a few of these. ‘Grandma’s style’ is essentially chunks of potato nestling within some fried eggs.

Czech Goulash with Bread Dumplings

Czech Goulash with Bread Dumplings

Beef Guláš – tender, if a little fatty (so I’m told), beef goulash, a dish borrowed from the Hungarians. Bread dumplings however, or knedliky, are a traditional Czech side dish made from wheat or potato flour, boiled in water as a roll, then sliced and served hot. They’re quite doughy, but good for soaking up the tasty rich sauce.

Time For Tea

It can get pretty chilly in the Czech Republic (my whole face was chapped for a week) so hot drinks are a must and, well, GREAT!

Take a break from the cold in a swanky bar, or just warm your hands on a cup of something cheeky from a street vendor.

Hot Wine

Hot Wine

Hot wine – another delicacy shared with the Hungarians and almost worth a city break alone. It’s simpler and less sickly than mulled wine. I’ve found a recipe for it here, but it won’t taste as good without the dramatic gothic architecture.

Hot cherry or apple – fruit liqueurs with hot water.

Hot cider – I’m sure you can figure that one out.

Grog

Grog

Grog – rum, hot water and a squeeze of lemon or orange. This is quite strong and varies in taste depending on the rum used, it’s usually pretty horrible.

Hot milk with a lump of chocolate to melt on a stick

Hot Chocolate On A Stick

Hot chocolate – familiar to us all, but have you ever had it with a tot of amaretto or rum, or more bizarrely, on a stick?

* If your thinking of heading to Prague I’d suggest a cheap deal that will take you there out of season (some time around January). Not only will you save a lot of money, you’ll avoid marauding Stags and Hens, but no matter when you go you will get hassled by promo teams.

Wrapped mints named Bye Polar

Feeling a bit menthol

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Tibits London: a fussy eater’s dream

Tibits London

Tucked away just off Regent Street, Tibits is the perfect spot to feed a hungry fusspot.

Think fast food meets swanky restaurant with a hint of salad bar. It’s a welcome break from tired vegetarian restaurant staples – not a single yoga mat or hemp jumper in sight.

Pick a table, grab a bowl and help yourself to any number of colourful delights from the food boat, a sort of buffet counter. So, it’s a bit more like a fancy canteen than a normal sit down meal but don’t let that put you off. Besides the plush fabric lampshades and trendy wooden furniture, refreshingly, it’s the food that makes this place special.

The buffet bar at Tibits London

Catching the Food Boat

Dishes vary in both ingredients and cuisine. Indian inspired dishes sit comfortably alongside Chinese and Mexican, and although it’s strictly veggie, there’s something for everyone with perhaps thirty different dishes on offer at any one time.

Definitely no mushroom mishaps

You can see the food before you commit to eating it, for a picky eater this is a godsend. No embarrassing ‘oh dear, that ingredient wasn’t mentioned on the menu’ moments – for once you can just relax and enjoy the meal.

Tibits are creative with their food and offer a well-rounded variety, which on the veggie food circuit is like getting Jamie XX after a lifetime of being fed Coldplay; vibrant ideas replace clichés, predictable ingredients are brushed aside for surprising ones and you’ll be more than happy to tell your friends you’re a fan.

Reservations are a no no as Tibits like to keep things simple. Just drop in any time between 9 am and 10:30 pm weekdays, midnight at weekends, and if they can’t find a table for you, there’s always take-away. The food is charged by weight, so you just pay for what you can eat and the drinks are reasonably priced for central London.

14-18 Heddon Street London W1B 4DA

020 7758 4110

(Thanks to Spoonfed and The Prickly Margarita for the pictures.)

Sunday, no lunch

A very small piece of brocolli on an otherwise empty plate.

“That’ll be £12 please.”

There is nothing quite as British as a good old Sunday roast

Whether it’s a family affair – partners, siblings, aunties, sitting awkwardly around an over-filled table, forcing smiles at recycled jokes, hiding their tot of whisky, their hangover, and the Yorkshire pud that fell on the floor – or a chance to meet with friends, there’s no more satisfyingly patriotic way to spend an afternoon.

If cooking is just not on the agenda, there’s always the pub. Dodging the prams and pregnant women to find a corner where you can sit, giddy, exhausted, still slightly drunk from the night before, to await your majestic feast.

The food arrives glistening: meat dripping with roasted nectar, crisp potatoes, crunchy broccoli. And for the vegetarian? Chips and mayonnaise. Great.

white_bread1130.jpg

You know who you are – The Park Tavern in Southfields, London

There are nearly four million vegetarians in the UK, the third highest amount in the EU, and we are one of the few countries where there are laws in place about the clear labeling of suitably dead-animal-free food.

There are a further number, an estimated 23% of the population, who are meat reducers, the ‘non-veggie vegetarians’, who prefer to eat less meat for health and environmental reasons.

With twice as many women as men avoiding meat, and Sunday pub lunch becoming a firm favourite of families and girly ‘we’ve got babies’ groups since the smoking ban, wouldn’t it make sense to acknowledge these glaringly obvious facts if you are trying to sell them food?

For some reason the thought of vegetarian food, aside from the obligatory goat’s cheese tart and mushroom slop, seems to baffle kitchens. A few local eateries offer a dry nut roast. Many seem to have always sold out “just before you walked in the door”, and others will make a special dispensation to remove the meat and gravy, but still charge the full price for a plate of dry veg.

The lack of imagination is almost awe inspiring, where is the Elizabeth David spirit of adventure?

Come on pubs – don’t let ‘quintessentially British’ be synonymous with ‘crap’.