Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year (šťastný nový rok)!

We spent New Year's Eve in Trebon, one of our favorite small cities here in South Bohemia, where the Institute of Botany is located and some of our dear, wonderful hosts live. As we headed over to Trebon from Ceske Budejovice, it was cloudy and somewhat foggy on the way over in the morning with the tree and shrubs shrouded in white: 

First, we headed to the Institute of Botany where two of our hosts, Jan and Štěpán, had prepared a feast of goodies and wines to start the celebrations....a joyous couple of hours spent talking about the bounties of 2010, our fun adventures collecting Phalaris and the promises/hopes for new joys in the Czech Republic and scientific discoveries in 2011.

Then we head to Jan and Radka's house for several hours of traditional holiday feasting and delights. First, it was dining on the traditional Black Carp...a recipe dating back several hundred years in Jan's family (we'll post the recipe later, after it is translated!). Locally grown carp from the historic fish ponds in the Trebon area is cooked in dark Bohemian beer, along with red wine, allspice, almonds (blanched). After poaching in this for awhile it is thickened with ginger bread, making a fantastic flavorful black sauce.

It is served with home-made dumplings and tender Czech sauerkraut spiced with caraway seeds (Note:  Czech sauerkraut...much of it locally, is divine!).
Neil highly approves of this! We had been waiting to try this, after hearing is a fantastic recipe that we will have to try and recreate soon. The sauce is out of this world, rich and flavorful!
After this, our conversations and chatter cover many nuances of this dish, its history and onwards towards the New Year.  Later, other friends join us for conversations....connections cemented together with Bohemian beer and more delectable food: Czech potato salad (every family has their own recipe filled with favorite things, but always starting with one of the many Czech potato cultivars--of which there are more than 180!; Wienerschnitzel (chicken); a sampling of cold cuts and Czech pickles and then a tart with fresh fruit and vanilla creme.  We refresh after that with a bit of delectable coffee and more holiday treats! One leaves the old year with a full stomach...
We head back home to avoid any traffic snarls and the night drifts on....with continuous fireworks outside (all night long!) in every direction. At midnight, we open Bohemian Sekt (seco), light some sparklers and wish each other and you a very Happy New Year (šťastný nový rok)!  May 2011 be the best ever, full of joy, happiness, health, and plenty of time to enjoy all three!

Disclaimer: This blog is not an official University of Minnesota or Fulbright Program blog. The views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations, or the University of Minnesota.

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