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Prague: ARTĚL Style

Expert recommendations and insider tips for first-time visitors and locals alike from ARTĚL’s founder, Karen Feldman, who has lived in Prague since 1994. Click on the links below for detailed reviews – from Feldman’s own unique perspective – of all the best that Prague has to offer...

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5 Must-Try Poppy Seed Treats

Published on July 31th, 2014 in Shopping

 

Poppy seeds (mák) are a staple of Czech kitchen cupboards and most home chefs – myself included – own a poppy seed grinder for making flavorful fillings for pancakes, cakes, and strudels. In classic Czech cuisine, poppy seeds are even sprinkled on gnocchi and noodles!

 

The Czech Republic is among the world’s largest producers of poppy seeds, so it’s no surprise that they are highly affordable and frequently put to use in imaginative and delicious ways. If you want to know more about the history of Czechs and poppy seeds, read this wonderful essay from Saveur magazine. I agree with the author: I love them.

 

And because no visit to Prague is complete without trying a poppy seed delight or two, here are 5 of my personal favorites, followed by a recipe for a traditional poppy seed dish for children.

 

 

Poppy Seed Cheesecake, Jiřího z Poděbrad Farmers’ Market

www.farmarsketrziste.cz/en/jirak-en
 

While I would never marry cheesecake and poppy seeds, this poppy seed cheesecake was too intriguing to pass up and I’m so happy that I didn’t as it is divine and is my new absolute favorite item from this particular market, which is my local. I can never seem to leave without buying a slice.

 

 

Poppy Seed Cheesecake at Jiřího z Poděbrad Farmers’ Market

 

Poppy Seed Brownie, Julius Meinl

http://meinlpraha.cz/page.aspx
 

Julius Meinl is a Vienna institution. Whether the recently opened Prague branch at the foot of Wenceslas Square has been a success on the Czech market is up for debate. But the bakery counter of this “gourmet palace” sure does a surprising, intriguing, and decidedly delicious poppy seed brownie and architecture buffs will enjoy browsing international delicacies amid its Art Nouveau splendor.

 

 

Poppy Seed Brownie (photo courtesy of Julius Meinl)

 

Poppy Seed Strudel, Sklizeno or Štrůdl Šusta

www.sklizeno.cz/
https://foursquare.com/strudl-susta/

 

Sklizeno Vodičkova is a gourmet food market in downtown Prague that sells local products, terrific coffee, and a to-die-for poppy seed and sour cherry strudel featuring a thick layer of ground poppy seed that’s so dense, it’s almost fudgy.

 

Farther afield, the “Strudel Man” at Štrůdl Šusta in Žižkov will sell you an entire oven-fresh poppy seed strudel from a tiny window in the bottom floor of a 1970’s panel building.

 

 

Štrůdl Šusta (photo courtesy of Štrůdl Šusta's foursquare page)

 

Plum and Poppy Seed Cake, Simply Good

www.simplygood.cz/ 
 

This tiny bakery in hip Karlín was recommended to me on the Taste of Prague tour. Here you will find plenty of poppy seed favorites among them Moravian poppy seed frgál, which can only be described as a sweet poppy seed pizza, and mini poppy seed tarts (kolačky). But the plum and poppy seed cake (kolač), a Czech classic topped with streusel, is an absolute must. Arrive early in the day for the best selection of baked goods.

 

 

“Frgál” with Poppy Seeds (photos courtesy of Simply Good)

  

Potato Gnocchi with Poppy Seeds and Sugar, Havelská Koruna

www.havelska-koruna.cz/nabidka-jidel
 

This popular cafeteria-style restaurant in Prague’s Old Town promises a fast, cheap meal in retro surrounds. The menu pretty much runs the gamut of Czech fare from soup to desserts and includes a “sweet meals” category. The potato gnocchi topped with ground poppy seeds and vanilla sugar (bramborové šišky s mákem) is true Czech comfort food.

 

 

Bramborové šišky s mákem (photo courtesy of Havelská Koruna)

 

 

 

 

Egg Noodles with Poppy Seeds and Butter (Nudle s mákem)

 

This is Czech nursery food at its finest. Served at schools and on children’s menus at restaurants throughout the Czech Republic, it is a fuss-free dish that adults with an adventurous palate may enjoy as well.

 

Nudle s mákem (photo courtesy of www.mimibazar.cz)

 

Serves 2-4 people

 

Ingredients
6 tbsp ground poppy seed
4 tbsp powdered sugar
1 (400 g) bag of wide egg noodles
1 stick of butter (about 7 tbsp/100 g)

 

Instructions
1. In a small bowl, combine the poppy seeds and sugar. Mix thoroughly.
2. Cook the noodles in salted, boiling water until fork-tender. Drain, rinse, and transfer to plates.
3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
4. Sprinkle the still-warm noodles with the poppy seed-sugar mixture.
5. Drizzle with butter and serve.

 

 

 

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