Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Veggin' Out

Halfway through our week of no meat, and so far, so good. The urge to cram sausages down my face has only hit about three times, which is quite an improvement over my normal state. Today I tried out a variation on Daikon Curry soup and made Thai Cauliflower Curry soup. Also delish. Roomie whipped up some chimichurri portabellos and a big salad for dinner - amazing. Found a massive farmer's market at the (terribly racist named) Yellow Market where we were strolling around feeling very smug about our new-found healthiness.

Conversations largely sounded like this:

L: I just feel, like, I don't know. Lighter. There's more of a spring in my step. I'm not trudging along like I normally am, where I feel like the person in that article and people are asking themselves why I am making so much noise as I saunter down the road.
P: Okay, I'm glad you said that because I was thinking the same thing and we don't want to be those people.
L: Those people who are always preachy about why meat is awful and veggies are so good and look at how fabulous I look after yoga and blah blah blah?
P: Yes, those people.
L: No, we definitely don't want to be those people. Though I have to say that I look really skinny this week.
P: Okay, we are those people.

Whatever. We can be obnoxious to each other.

Lunch at Maitrea tomorrow - very, very much looking forward to it!

And yes, I realize there are very important posts that are getting long overdue, but I am too busy being productive :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Trail of Tear(drop Earrings)

The horrendous freeze has left us and I have been running around the city, leaving a trail of single earrings in my wake. Mysteriously, it seems that it is only the gold earrings that my body rejects. Which is a terrible, terrible shame as am currently on a major gold kick and now must constantly stop at the mall to keep buying the same pair of earrings over and over and over again. I realize this is a total #firstworldproblems rant, and so I will shut up.

We've been keeping quite busy, doing all types of wonderful fun things all over the city in the past few weeks. I dragged a somewhat reluctant Peej to see one of my former student's bands play at a club called Futurum. It was the CD "baptism" party for them & another band - both of whom were amazing. You can check out my student's band at (use Google Chrome as is all in Czech) - I have been blasting "Ugly Boy" on my iPod ever since. Peej & I looked totally out of place - we were dressed to impress (well, me especially) while everyone else was rocking out in neon and sneakers and completely sensible clothes for such an event. Whatever - one can never be overdressed or overeducated (thank you, Oscar Wilde). In addition to great music, there was also a fashion show, during which the pair of us nearly died of laughter. The models were very... intense. Yes, that's a nice way to put it. Intense. Some people have watched Zoolander a bit too much - it's not reference material people! (Though it needs to be said, again: Czech women are ridiculously, insanely, hate-inducingly gorgeous. Lucky bitches.)

Next up was a bearded birthday surprise dinner for our favorite fuzzy faced roommate, Andrew. We headed to Restaurace Adriatico for Italian noms and fake beards created by Meghan and Tara in the birthday boy's honor. Some of us seemed a bit tooooo comfortable in them...

Last Thursday we all enjoyed a very leisurely lunch at Maitrea, a vegetarian restaurant in Old Town. Now, anyone who knows me knows I am quite the fan of a junior bacon cheeseburger and would probably be the world's crankiest pain in the ass if I never ate meat, but this place is amazing. The food is insanely good, the portions are huge, and the prices are cheap. Had Thai eggplant with jasmine rice and seared tofu and it may have been the best thing I've eaten since I got here. Am also very happy that I have somewhere to take Nikki when she comes to visit the land of sausages and fried cheese. :)

Later that night, a few of us went to what we thought was a hockey party but ended up being a club, Sacre Coeur. The space was awesome - it's a huge church that is totally gorgeous, and all the lasers and fog made it rather eery, but in a cool way. The crowd, however, was rather interesting. Ignoring the fact that I was the oldest person there other than the (horrendous) DJ, we hit every single type of person - prepsters, metal heads, skaters, punks, glamazons, nerds - you name it, they were all there. Crazy cheap drinks and dancing but way too late of a night when you have an 8am class the next day!

Friday was speed dating. There are so many things that I can say about this that it's going to require it's own post, so expect that shortly. To summarize though, it was exactly as funny and ridiculous and awful as I expected it to be.

As it is now 00:03, my vegetarian week with Peej officially kicks off. I don't know if we are doing this for health reasons, to counteract all the deep-fried food Andrew's been whipping up with his new birthday present, or to have a legitimate excuse to go to Maitrea on a daily basis, but we'll see how it goes. I cooked a family dinner tonight as our meaty send-off. Had chicken in a brown sugar, ginger and garlicky marinade with rice and mass amounts of salad. Was delish. Also made Daikon Curried soup today, which sounds rather exotic but is largely the result of a lack of resources. It was originally meant to be Cauliflower Curry soup, but could not find cauliflower. Daikon, however, not a problem. I didn't actually know what it was when I picked it up at the potraviny - it was just white, which for some reason was a good enough reason for me. Luckily, it turned out fabulously, and it's super easy so I am going to make it all the time. Perhaps with other mystery veggies from the potraviny as well...

Daikon Curried Soup:

  • Chop one onion (mine was rather small) and put in a stock pot with three cups of water and some salt and pepper. Add one tablespoon of minced ginger and simmer/boil until the onions are tender (about 10 minutes).
  • Add in two cups of chopped daikon (or whatever mystery vegetable strikes your fancy) and cook through. 
  • Add one tablespoon of curry powder and one cup of coconut milk.
  • Remove from heat and puree in a blender til smooth & creamy. 
I topped mine with a bit more salt and some red pepper flakes, but cilantro would be delish, maybe some lime, whatever. Nomnomnom. 

Now have to come up with some vegetarian recipes as have no intention of spending the whole week living off pasta and salad. Any suggestions anyone?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

And I Shall Never Be Warm Again

The big chill of 2012 finally caught up with me, and spent a very sickly Thursday and Friday camped out in bed, popping Coldrex and Advil in mass quantities and willing my body to regain the ability to breath properly. This was largely unsuccessful, but on Saturday, I hopped on the bus and trekked out to České Budějovice, and from there to Hluboká nad Vltavou with the girls for a day of sightseeing. This was probably not the smartest idea given that the temps were clocking in at approximately -15*C, but well worth it. 

Hluboká has been the site of a castle since the 13th century, but it's current form is due to a reconstruction in the mid 1800s by Prince Jan Adolf II of Schwarzenberg, who modeled it after Windsor Castle. Hluboká is exactly what little American girls think of when they hear the word castle - it looks more like a Disney creation than an old hunting palace. We got off the bus and walked through (somewhat disturbingly) quiet streets up to the castle, feeling that there were probably lots of eyes watching from behind curtains wondering what these crazy Americans were doing in their little town on one of the coldest days of the year. And then boom - there it is.

We took the Winter Tour, which at 230kc is a bit of a rip-off for the handful of rooms and twenty minutes it took, but there are lots of interesting things to see in there and I'm sure the full tour in the summer season is much more impressive. Our tour was followed up with hot wine and fish soup at Restaurace KA-PR in town as we waited for the bus back to České Budějovice.

České Budějovice is the home of Budvar (Budweis to Germans - look familiar Americans?) Back in the city, we navigated to the city center and grabbed an excellent glass of the town's claim to fame (full of amino acids and Vitamin B, so felt like it was healthy) in a very cozy pub as we waited for our bus back to Prague. Cute little city, though I'm sure it's much more charming in the summer when it's not painfully cold and icy. Though that seems to be the theme of this winter's travels! 

The Language of Laska

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I would share with all of you my most recent adventures of the romantic variety.

A few weeks ago, we were out trolling the city for respectable men (let it be said that trolling is a very appropriate word here, as that is about all one is likely to find) in unrespectable places, namely Nebe (which means Heaven. Which is ironic, because Nebe is a cavelike subterranean mecca for terribly frightening characters, and tourists). It was in this den of iniquity after probably too many overpriced beers that I met who we shall refer to as CB1. The following is a summary of our conversation...

"I love you. Your eyes are beautiful. You are very sexy - not like other fat Americans. I cannot wait to have a family. My heart was broken five months ago by an evil Russian and I have met no other, until now. Now I do not have a problem to care." This was followed by some extremely unfortunate dancing, during which time I had to look away to stop from laughing/cringing. But he seemed very nice & so I agreed to see him again.

We meet up later the next week and I appreciate that he's actually put together a plan. Seems very nice and grown up and mature. We walk around the city a bit before heading inside for some wine, and then he cooks me dinner. I notice that the conversation is quickly turning into very Serious Important Discussions territory and am trying to derail this when boom: Will you be my girlfriend?

There are about 2109382098 reasons why this is completely and utterly wrong. Let's start with the obvious. First, we are not in middle school. No one asks that. What's next, asking if you can hold my hand? Secondly, this is our first date. I don't know you. I am not about to commit to a relationship with a stranger. Thirdly, where is the mystery?! Half the fun of dating is the excitement, the unknown. The "does he like me" mini panics and the thrill of the chase.

Obviously, my answer was no. Instead, I proposed that we hang out a few more times and see how things go. Though, in my head, this was already the seal of death. Dom dom dommmmm. And yet, when a few days had passed, I agreed to see CB1 again - largely in an effort to talk myself out of feeling like a huge bitch. Here is a nice, interesting, intelligent man and I am completely irked by him? Had a terrible feeling this said more about what was wrong with me than him.

That feeling didn't last.

I can respect cultural differences. I understand that Czechs and Americans have much different approaches to dating. I get that we have completely different views on things. I cannot get though why the following is acceptable: pop quizzes on Czech history. Pop quizzes on Canadian geography (?). Repeated American fat jokes. Numerous conversations on why our friends have not met yet. Again with the girlfriend thing. Just, enough. The smitten kitten needs to slow his roll.

There is obviously much much more to this story but I cannot bring myself to share all the horrid details.

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day full of love and chocolate! Objetí a polibky - hugs & kisses!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bon Anniversaire!

Six months! Will recap when not feeling so poorly (see: arctic weather report below) :0)

Update: all that cold medicine clearly addled my brain, as February was 5 months. Obviously cannot do math, hence why I am an English teacher.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Big Chill

I know that it has been entirely too long since I've posted anything, and I wish I could say it was because I have been so busy, but realistically, it's been because my fingers have been permanently frozen. Yes, it's time for the obligatory weather post. I apologize.

Prague was enjoying a very mild (and very unusual) winter, which I was totally fine with. Skipping about perfectly content, imagining the spring that was bound to arrive very, very shortly and admiring the crocuses (croci?) that had already began to sprout in Stromovka. Then boom. Enter Winter 2012, finally.

Temps throughout Europe have dropped dramatically over in the last week, with catastrophic results. I thought last year's winter in NJ had toughened me up. Haaaaa. Was sorely mistaken. There is nothing like negative temps when you're running for trams or stomping down to the metro. Throw a river in the middle and it's downright icy. However, despite painfully cold mornings, Prague has been fairly lucky overall. Parts of Europe have been completely caught off guard by the sudden drops and snowfall that some areas have gotten. People have been completely cut off in some parts with no access to gas or electricity. ATMs have been failing. Homeless people, without access to long-term weather reports and caught completely unawares, have been freezing to death in the streets, and the death toll has hit over 300 people. Today Prague got it's first real bit of snow in the city center, though this has sadly already become a muddy slushy mess in our hallway.

There are tons of photos showing what's going on around - thought I'd round some up for you:

Coppet, Switzerland (from MSNBC)

Versoix, Switzerland (from 2OceansVibe)

Somewhere else real cold (from AfroCosmopolitan)

Trafalgar Square, London (from The Australian)

Home sweet home. Temps hit -19.5C/-3.1F today, but in the Sumava Mountains in Southern Bohemia,
temps fell to -39.4C/-38.92F. Holy.Crap. (from The Atlantic)

So, until further notice, you can find me camped out under my Snuggie with the heat on sipping hot chocolate. 

Keep warm everyone!