College Girl eats Prague-The 1st Month

Prague, Czech Republic, the special city where I’m spending 3 and a half months studying abroad, is the perfect place for a college student with a limited budget but refined palate. Prague definitely does not have a reputation for having world class food, but I’ve found plenty of awesome, hole-in-the wall spots since being here. Even better, it’s not rare to have a comprehensive sushi dinner and a glass of wine or a burger, fries, and beer for under $15 per person. To keep you from having to spend hours salivating over photos of every single Czech delicacy I’ve enjoyed, I’ve consolidated a list of my 5 favorite culinary experiences had thus far in Prague. Read below, and proceed to book a one way ticket to Praha:

1. Tridelnik

Tridelnik

Tridelnik are a donut/funnel cake/fried dessert fiend’s dream. Every busy street corner in Prague has a tridelnik stand where these little tubes of heaven rotate on an open fire like meat on an open spit. When you order your tridelnik, the ladies at the stand cut a tube of the fried dough off of the spit, sprinkle it with extra cinnamon sugar, and give it a generous spread of Nutella. 70 crowns, less than $3, is a small price for the immense happiness you get out of peeling layer after layer of light, fried dough and getting Nutella and cinnamon sugar all over your face.

2. Brunch at Cafe Savoy Soft boiled eggs with chive and parmesan//Fried eggs with black truffle

A lot of the time, our best food memories take place with the people we love most. Never has that been truer than in Europe. When one of my best friends came to visit me a few weeks ago, she convinced me to splurge a little and try Cafe Savoy, a brunch landmark in Prague. I am SO glad I did, because I got to try my first soft-boiled egg; velvety, rich egg yolk served in the cutest little glass and topped with parmesan (literally parmesan makes everything better) and chive. Obviously, plenty of bread was provided on the side to sop up all of the yolky goodness. My friend let me snag a bite of her unreal black truffle flake topped fried eggs. As if this wasn’t enough, I was convinced to order an apple strudel as well. We left truffle/soft boiled egg high and ready to take on our day of exploring.

3. Pho Vietnam

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All I have to say about this was that this massive bowl of soup and a side of fried heaven-sticks was $4 and it was un-f’ing real. Oh, and it’s around the corner from my apartment. I’ll be back.

4. YAMI. 

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Good sushi exists in Prague!!!! And not just good sushi, but pretty great sushi that tops anything you can find in Ann Arbor. For under $15, I had a glass of Chardonnay, split a delicious roll, and had melt-in-your-mouth pieces of yellowtail and tamago nigiri. The vibe is cute and cozy, the service is fast, and the food reminds you of home in the best way possible. This will most definitely be a regularly visited spot while I’m here in Prague.

5. Bakeshop Pumpkin Feta Quiche 

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I honestly never usually see quiche on an American menu and say to myself, “Ooh, I’m really craving a QUICHE right now and this one sounds soo good!” In Prague, however, it’s a different story. The quiche here is damn good, and none is better than the variety found at Bakeshop in Stare Mesto. This quiche was life-changing. You won’t think about quiche in the same way after tasting this flaky pastry base filled with salty blocks of feta, creamy pumpkin, and fresh herbs. My advice? Bakeshop is on the pricier side, a treat for a college student, so go with a friend, split the quiche, and if you’re feeling extra hungry, split a buttery almond croissant afterwards.

Creperie U Kajetana (for Tridelnik)

Nerudova 278/17, 118 00 Praha 1

Cafe Savoy

Vítězná 124/5, 150 00 Praha 5

Pho Vietnam

Anglická, 120 00 Praha 2

Yami Sushi

Masná 1051/3, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město

Bakeshop

Kozí 918/1, 110 00 Praha 1-Staré Město

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LA LA Land

I am seriously in my happy place. On Friday, me, Cara and Emily (both East-coasters) finally escaped Ann Arbor’s cold, snowy wrath for a turbulent flight to Los Angeles. All I have to say, and I think Cara would agree with me on this one, is thank god for Delta’s seat-back TVs with movies like Sex and the City and Dreamgirls that we have seen close to 15 times each to distract us from the nausea resulting from the roller-coaster like flight.

The trip thus far has felt like it has been catered to please a foodie like me; somewhat unintentionally, our days have revolved around the ridiculously delicious meals we’ve enjoyed. Because of the time change, by the time we landed, it was dinnertime in California but 11:30 at night in Michigan and we were STARVING. Lucky for us, Amina and Roni were our knight in shining armors to whisk us away to the magical land of Umami Burger. This cool spot offered Asian spins on American burger and fry classics. We started with tempura fried onion rings, sweet potato fries coated in sugary goodness, and BOMB truffle fries. My burger, topped with homemade ketchup and a parmesan tuille, was obvi great, but those truffle fries, coated in a rich truffle glaze, topped any measly-truffle dusted fries of my past. Try not to drool on your computer keys as you stare at the photo below:

The next day, after a beautiful morning run along the beach and a little shopping, we headed to Venice for brunch at Gjelina, a trendy brunch spot on Abbot Kinney. The wait was a little long, so inevitably we had to grab a few short rib tacos from Koji, a Korean-Mexican fusion food truck that Roni and Amina insisted we were #blessed to stumble upon.

Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any celebs Gjelina (last time Amina was there, so was Dennis Quaid!), but the food absolutely made up for it. It was so fun to be out with a group of girls that seriously appreciate food. We started with a Gruyere, Fromage Blanc, Caramellized Onion, and Arugula Pizza that we obviously had to top with a Sunny-Side up egg. The egg was perfectly cooked and runny, and the salty cheeses complemented the sweet onions. We were all obsessed after one bite. For my main, I followed my new love of duck and ordered the duck confit potato hash with a sunny duck egg. Imagine a corned beef hash with crispy potatoes and replace that average beef flavor with the elevated flavor of duck fat, and you get a dish unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.

DUCK CONFIT HASH that egg tho....

I’ll leave you with that image of pure beauty…more (FOOD) to come soon!! Deuces from LA!!

Little Goat

Thus far, “Piece of Cake” has been dedicated solely to sharing recipes that appeal to college foodies, or any foodies for that matter, seeking affordable, convenient, simple, and delicious eats. It’s time to switch things up a bit. Sometimes college foodies crave a night out. To satisfy that craving, I will be posting reviews of restaurants that are unique and not over-the-top expensive. College foodies everywhere, rejoice!

First stop? Little Goat. This was no hidden treasure or dive. Chicago food magazines have been singing Little Goat’s praises for months. But my friends and I had to wait out an agonizing (ok, a bit of an exaggeration, although we were dying to get there) few months to eat at Little Goat until we were home from school for the summer. I was especially excited, being a huge Top Chef fan and more specifically a huge Stephanie Izard fan. Izard won Top Chef and went on to create The Girl and the Goat and it’s more affordable companion, Little Goat.

My friends and I caravanned down to the city on a mild, gorgeous Thursday night in late July. Parking wasn’t a problem seeing as valet wasn’t ridiculously pricey (especially split amongst the 6 of us). When we walked up to the hostess, she informed us that the current wait time was about an hour (it was around 8:00 PM) and that she would text us when our table was ready. Randolph street provided a fun little area to walk around while we waited. In addition to The Girl and the Goat, other trendy restaurants like g.e.b. and and Nellcote were fun eye candy.

When my phone buzzed about 40 mins. later with a text letting us know our table would be ready in a few minutes, we were ecstatic. We power walked back to the restaurant and back up to the hostess stand, but she informed us that it would be another few minutes. Ok, no big deal, we thought collectively. But after another 15 minutes of a rotating staff of hostesses telling us it would be just another few minutes for the table, we were visibly frustrated. We were finally seated at a comfortable booth next to a window about 20 minutes after we received the text that our table was ready.

With grumbling bellies echoing, my friends and I decided onion rings and fried pickles were needed, ASAP. Our fried plethora arrived hot and plentiful, and no one hesitated to dig in. The onion rings, while nothing special taste-wise, had a perfect crispy texture and were hot, hot, hot, just the way I like them. The fried pickles were above standard pickles because the pickle flavor really shown through even through a thick layer of breading.

We put in our orders with our very perky waitress (when we told her she resembled Emma Stone she got so excited that she looked like she could run right outside the restaurant and run a miles long victory lap) and began to wait it out for our food. The people watching and celeb spotting (my dancer friend pointed out a “very well known” Joeffrey Ballet Dancer) only lasted so long, and soon frustration kicked in. It had been about a half hour with no food or waitress in sight. A very friendly manager came over to apologize and let us know that the kitchen had a pancake-batter malfunction and that they were sending out some hot food to hold us over, all “on them.” With those magic words the grumbling in our bellies seemed to subdue. Free food is never a bad thing for a college foodie.

Soon, bowls of rich, creamy, macaroni and cheese and biscuits topped with more creamy cheese and broccoli filled the table. While it was a very nice thought by the kitchen, these foods meant to hold us over until our food was ready were cheese and cheesier, and we were left craving a little variety.

Finally, our food arrived. My friend Lauren and I both ordered the Chickpea Salad, and were surprised with the volume of food we received. That salad definitely delivers bang for its buck. It was chock full of kale, chopped veggies, a creamy goat-like cheese, hearty falafel, and came with a tsaziki sauce and a light dressing on the side. We were both left with enough salad to make a delicious lunch the next day, which I know we both took advantage of.

My friends Lena and Ellie took advantage of the “breakfast served all day” wonderfulness and ordered the blueberry pancakes. These were no ordinary blueberry pancakes. The pancakes filled a plate with about an 8 inch radius and were stacked about 10 high. A fluffy, rich cream cheese butter with a taste similar to a cream cheese frosting but less frosting-y was perched on top of the pancake tower. And the most unexpectedly best part was the oatmeal crumble generously topping the stack. Why didn’t I think of crumbling oatmeal cookies on top of my blueberry pancakes at home?! Genius. All of us were eating off of Lena and Ellie’s plates.

Fran and Lauren G. (yes, I have two friends named Lauren) ordered less exciting fish tostada and egg dishes, respectively. My advice for ordering at Little Goat? The more outrageous and unique sounding entrees on the menu are often the most surprisingly delicious.

We were stuffed. And after being at the restaurant for over two hours, we were ready to go. But Emma Stone aka our waitress peppily announced that Danny was treating us to dessert. My dad had been in the area and had stopped by the restaurant earlier in the meal. He had somehow sneakily found a way to treat us to dessert.

Soon, we were feasting on sundaes, milkshakes, and mini pies. The cookie pie was a classic skillet cookie dish. The blueberry mini pie, however, was made unique by being topped with goat cheese gelato. YUM. The “Cheet-It” Sundae, which was described on the menu as “peanut butter chocolate. strawberry. yum” was exactly that. I have NO idea what was in it, but it was filled with crunchy and smooth textures and one of the most amazing strawberry ice creams I have ever eaten.

Taste wise, Little Goat lives up to the hype. The menu items are unique, the flavor combinations inventive, and the portions generous. However, for a college foodie short on time and money, the long wait time and pricey foods would make Little Goat more of a special occasion destination.