Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
This week, we found ourselves in Central Europe– Czechia, to be exact. I think I’ve sorted out that Czechia is the shorthand/nickname for Czech Republic. Please correct me if that’s wrong. While I’ve never been to Czechia, linds has! Read all about her time there. When I chatted with her about her experience and read her post, I knew I’d have to go someday. I guess for now trying to cook their food will have to suffice. The country looks absolutely magical:
When I started to research traditional and popular foods in Czechia, there was one dish that appeared on every single list: Svíčková. It was #6 on this list by Taste Atlas, #2 on this list by Nomad Paradise, and #1 on this list by Culture Trip, as well as being listed on multiple Wikipedia pages on the topic of Czech food and culture. The Czech word Svíčková translates to sirloin, because this meat cut is the main feature of the dish. Some of the posts I read described Svíčková as a challenging dish to make, but I actually had the opposite experience. It’s not a basic dish, but it’s also not overly complicated or time-consuming. This is the recipe we used:
I did have to make a few ingredient swaps in this recipe. Turnip was swapped for root celeriac and parsnip was swapped for parsley root due to lack of availability in the town we live in in Northern Alberta. We also swapped thyme for bay leaves just because we didn’t have bay leaves on hand. Otherwise, the ingredients in this recipe are pretty basic and available.
We started by chopping the veggies and marinating everything the night before. Yes, this recipe does need to marinate– but if you marinate everything in an oven-safe dish, it’s super easy to prep it all and then pop the pot in the oven the next day.
We cooked everything the next day for two hours. The smell throughout the house was amazing. I could hardly wait!!
This recipe gave me an excuse to buy a kitchen gadget I’ve been wanting for quite some time: an immersion blender. Since moving to Alberta, I haven’t had a blender. I’ve been debating between splurging on a blender, cheaping-out and buying a magic bullet, or meeting somewhere in the middle and buying an immersion blender with extra attachments. And then came this recipe so… I bought the immersion blender and it was SO fun and easy to use.
While we cooked, we listened to this playlist on Spotify:
Traditionally, Svíčková is served with bread dumplings, whipped cream, and cranberry sauce. I was able to make whipped cream, but I’m not a dumpling fan so I skipped those and opted for buttered toast instead. Also, I don’t really love cranberry sauce, so we had a delicious beet and horseradish relish from our local farmer’s market. It paired perfectly.
This recipe has lots of butter and cream. It is also reminiscent of a traditional beef stew and the tastes and smells reminded me a lot of Newfoundland comfort food. It was also snowing the day we made this meal (yes, it’s mid-October, this is Northern Canada) so the root vegetables with everything else made for a real cozy fall/winter indulgence. I absolutely LOVED this dish. I will totally be making it again in the future. Dare I say… it’s my favourite country so far?!
Have you been to Czechia? Tried Svíčková? Let us know in the comments and stay tuned for next weeks country!