Category Archives: Food & Drink

Tales of travel and adventure in Central Europe

Sorry Moldova, I Tried. I Really Tried

Working as a freelance travel writer for the past seven years, I’ve found that sometimes things just don’t work out, regardless of how hard you try or how good your intentions are. The following post recounts the problems I’ve had this year in convincing travel magazines and websites to consider an article on the Republic of Moldova. It’s both a peek inside the workings of the travel writing industry and an apologia to the folks at USAID for my having failed (so far) to spread the good word on Moldova.

Earlier this year, I heard through the grapevine about a sponsored trip for travel writers to the Republic of Moldova. The program sounded fantastic. We would visit wineries and monasteries and learn about options for travelers to see areas of scenic beauty and to experience genuine Moldovan hospitality via rural home stays and similar. The sponsor was USAID, working through a friendly and thoroughly professional travel consultant named Jack Delf.

The trip would be fully paid for, an arrangement that made it both hard to pass up and nearly equally hard to accept. I came to travel writing via journalism, where travel junkets are frowned upon. The argument goes that if someone is buying your lunch, it’s hard to be objective about the food. I mostly subscribe to this view and, with only two small exceptions, have never taken a freebie as a travel writer. Read More →

A Word on Prague Food and Quick Eats

parek(The following text was adapted from an article I wrote originally for the UK’s Olive magazine. It appeared in print in 2009).

Four decades of communist rule nearly finished off fine dining in Prague. That’s no exaggeration. Restaurant recipes were standardized to the last gram of flour; innovation in the kitchen was stifled. It’s taken time for the dining scene to recover, but the good news is it’s alive and kicking again. Foreign imports like Italian, Mexican and Thai were the first to arrive, and chefs are now rediscovering classic Czech recipes and giving them a modern twist.

Czechs love pork and it forms the basis of many of their best dishes. Dumplings, usually made from flour but occasionally potatoes, make for a reliable side. Add cabbage and you’ve got the national dish: vepřo-knedlo-zelo – roast pork, dumplings and sauerkraut. But look out too for more exotic entrees like duck, rabbit and venison. These can be delicious. Read More →