Restaurace Kulový Blesk – Praha, CZE


Restaurace Kulový Blesk
Sokolská 13, Praha 2
Czech Republic
Tel: +420 721/420 859

Beer is central to the lives of Czechs to a degree that few, if any, countries can match.  One recent study shows that per capita, Czechs drink the most beer in the world, and it’s not all that close. They consume 20% more beer per person than the second place country, Ireland, with Germany a close third. I’ve always liked Czech pilsners that is far and away the most popular style with their dry, bitter clean flavor.  I still remember the revelatory experience of trying Staropramen on tap for the first time at the outstanding pub Lucky Baldwin’s in Old Town Pasadena in the mid-90s. I finally understood what the inspiration was for all these American beer giants whose main purpose appears to be selling lifestyle or image rather than flavor.

Like in many European countries, however, the beer industry is dominated by a small handful of national (to international) brands such as  Pilsner Urquell, Budweiser Budvar, Krušovice, Gambrinus and Staropramen  (I prefer Budvar and Staropramen from the above list).  I knew from a past visit that there are smaller, local breweries. Years ago I had visited the generally well-regarded tourist trap U Fleků which showed to me a different side of Czech beer, and on a recent visit I figured I’d try to learn more about the small artisinal producers in a country with a rich brewing history. A quick search led me to Restaurace Kulový Blesk, which is a fairly easy 15 minute walk (or one metro stop ride) from Wenceslas Square in central Prague. They pride themselves on a fairly extensive selection of beer only from small Czech producers.

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Chez Mamane – Paris, FRA


Chez Mamane
23 rue des Cinq Diamants
75013 Paris
+33 1 45 89 58 87
Metro: Corvisart (0.1 km); Tolbiac (0.5 km)

The many immigrant communities that make up Paris have brought cuisines from all over the world – some of which are poorly represented in major cities in North America. My favorite discovery during my time there this summer was couscous, a typical north African dish that has regional subtlties (Moroccan vs Algerian vs Tunisian vs…) that I didn’t have nearly enough time to explore and decipher.

I started digging in before remembering to take pictures!

My favorite couscous spot was Chez Mamane, a small Moroccan style joint in the generally tourist-free and very cool little neighborhood of La Butte aux Cailles (“quail hill”) not far from Place d’Italie in the 13th arrondissement.  There are plenty of bars (Le Diamant was my favorite, but those with more experience recommend La Folie en Tête) and restaurants (among others, Chez Gladines is a very popular budget Basque restaurant) in this area, with a crowd that was decidedly local.  Chez Mamane was recommended to me by a friend who grew up in this neighborhood as having the best couscous in Paris and it sure seemed plausible to me.

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foodography – booze from the dprk


Apologies first of all for the crappy image quality, but it was shot with an older cellphone. Not sure if any of you have seen alcohol made and bottled (more on this later) in this politically isolated east Asian country. A blueberry-based alcohol, almost wine like is what this is. Purchasing it and carrying it around for a while in a bag, something strange was noticed. The outer box started to feel damp. Oh darn, was the glass broken? A quick check. Nope. A while later, some obvious liquid was showing up in the same bag and the label was now damp. Perhaps from all the movement in the hand carry? Was it really broken?

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Foodosophy of Morning Meals (on the road)…


Breakfast.

While the simplest of the day’s standard trio of meals, it is often my favorite time to eat when I’m traveling internationally. Reasons why include its generally easy, I can enjoy it on my own (if I am with others who are not as inclined for morning walkabouts, and the reasonable charges for morning meals makes wonderful meals all the more appreciated (or in the case they bomb, not too hard on the pocketbook, so regrets are tempered).

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that more often than not, something interesting to eat always lurks around the corner not long after the sun has come up and when I’m abroad in unfamiliar surroundings. I look at these impromptu discoveries as my personal reward. For taking the time and effort to traverse a new locale on foot. Meandering down random streets and alleys taking in the native sights, sounds and often smells, in my never-ending quest to learn more about where I am and this beautiful world in which we live.

My usual wandering (aimlessly and map-less) when I explore a new village, town, or city for the first time can lead me to interact with unknown strangers on the street – language and sometimes cultural barriers included. At times they are helpful. Especially with suggestions about what I might enjoy trying to eat. Local, with some variety, and a “what would you have?” are my usual parameters that I try to get across to my sometimes puzzled conversation mates, achieved in part with some physical gestures and drastically simplified English.

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The Foodosophy of Food Gift Giving


This post is another reflection from my summer travels to Asia and in particular the two weeks I spent in South Korea.

The tradition of bringing back some local treats and gifts when one travels in an Asian country, especially when you have been to a more rural area and the city folk you left behind want to know what’s there, is one that I enjoy.  Especially when I’m one of those who are stuck in the rat race and urban jungle, and get to taste some goodies brought back from someone’s travels.  On this particular trip, it was the other way around, as I decided to purchase some sweet snacks that were reputed to be the best representation of what Gyeongju has, and I was told, would be appreciated by the Seoulites who would be on the receiving end of my generosity.

As with many food gifts, packaging is key, especially when one is challenged by a large display full of various types.  As people “eat with their eyes”, I can see why so much effort is spent on making the containers, boxes, etc. as appealing as possible and thus help boost sales.  Convenience for me is often key (especially when I’m traveling by air) and so a slim package such as the one above is much favored.  This particular pair of items was bought in a gift shop just before departing Gyeongju city.  A last stop kind of place to get your fill of this resort area before returning to the more populous (and non-touristy) places around the peninsula.

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Kyochon Chicken – Namyangju, KOR


Kyochon Chicken
Namyangju, KOR

After a busy day this past summer checking out various tourist sights in Seoul, I hopped back onto a train back to the suburbs to where I was spending some nights sleeping early on in my journey.   On the short walk back to the residence from the station, I noticed a boisterous establishment that seemingly was a pub/fried chicken kind of joint. I suggested to my travel mate that we go check it out – despite having finished eating a hearty dinner an hour before – but was told there was a better place they knew about, and the family I was staying with vouched for it. Sounded good to me.  It allowed some more time to digest our dinner and was really convenient too, as all it required was a phone call, as they delivered!   A change into some more comfortable clothes later and soon enough the door bell was ringing.

Reportedly there is an outpost of this popular Korean-style fried chicken known as Kyochon Chicken in Koreatown (Los Angeles) as well, but its the first I’d heard of it.  Not being able to read anything around me probably had something to do with it.  The logo I’d seen before though around the Korean capital city.  It seems to be mainly a delivery/takeaway kind of business model.  I think the places that serve Korean chicken that I’ve seen here in the GVRD are kind of like that (lots of “to-go” orders), but have seating areas as well where the beer (that goes so well with these things) flow freely.  As this was a second dinner, I just asked that we get a dozen or so and I wanted to try the original flavor, so not enhanced with the sweet-spicy sauce that really makes Korean-style chicken so yummy.

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