The other day, we were downloading photos from the riverboat trip we took on the Danube last fall from our smartphones. We figured it was about time we documented that wonderful journey, which began in Budapest and ended with a few “bonus” days in Prague, in some sort of album.
Our collection of photos is brimming with castles and landscapes and churches and people. There also are numerous pictures of food — the dishes we enjoyed at each stop along the way as we did everything in our power to avoid McDonalds or any other symbol of Western culture (with the exception of Starbucks; hey, everyone has their limit).
This is a picture of a dish I enjoyed in Prague not once but, because it was so amazing, twice. You’re looking at cauliflower patties known in the Czech language as květákove karbanátky. Thankfully, the menu included an English translation: cauliflower pancakes.
We found this dish at a restaurant that was within walking distance of our hotel, and the decision to make a return visit was made easy by the very cool air temperature on the last night of our stay.
We ended up with the same server as two evenings prior, who remembered that I’d had the cauliflower pancakes and asked if I wanted to try something different. I was tempted, but the memory of just how good those pancakes were — accompanied by something resembling tartar sauce, a scoop of creamy potatoes, and a dish of halved grape tomatoes and sliced onions — motivated me to order them again.
Since there were three of us, we ordered a bottle of wine to accompany our meals. Following our “When in Rome…” policy of dining, we ordered a Zweigelt from Stift Goettweig, produced at the Gottweig Abbey in Austria — a wine we’d never encounter in the United States. It reminded me of a Pinot Noir from California’s North Coast region, and paired perfectly with the pancakes.
Another inspired pairing would be Chenin Blanc, and still another would be a creamy Chardonnay.
Since returning home, we’ve tried a few times to replicate that amazing dish. We’ve gotten close, but I suspect we’ll never get it 100 percent correct. After all, “being there” is a big part of the culinary experience when traveling.
Here’s the best recipe we’ve come up with — so far…
CZECH CAULIFLOWER PANCAKES
- 1 whole cauliflower, broken into smaller florets
- 2 large eggs
- 4 Tbsp. flour
- 1 Tbsp. bread crumbs
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Olive oil
- Boil the cauliflower florets in water for 11 minutes until soft.
- Drain and mash the softened cauliflower.
- Whisk the eggs and mix with the flour, bread crumbs and salt.
- Pour the mixture over the cauliflower.
- Add pepper and additional salt (if desired) to taste.
- Form the seasoned mixture into patties, about half-an-inch thick.
- Fry the patties in olive oil (medium-high heat) for approximately 5 minutes on each side, until browned.
- Remove patties from skillet and drain on paper towels before serving.