Classic Czech favourites


A selection of Czech desserts at Vogue Cafe.

A CHANCE to savour Czech cuisine is out of the common here in Kuala Lumpur but the Embassy of the Czech Republic has made it possible by flying in chef Jan Michalek from Prague.

The 55-year-old executive chef of Ski Resort Janske Lazne Pec Pod Sn zkou speaks some English, though not a lot, but he can talk at length about Czech food pausing in between words, when explaining about ingredients required for his dishes.

The Czech Culinary Experience 2015 at Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel featuring indigenous Czech favourites on the buffet line has kept Michalek busy in the kitchen.

To impress guests at the launch of the promotion on Monday, Michalek prepared classic Czech favourites like roulade of chicken stuffed with spinach; chicken ham roll with horseradish and cream cheese; roast beef, creamy vegetable sauce and cranberries; turkey roulade with red cabbage in wine sauce; fillet of smoked trout with a delicate dill mayonnaise and dried apricots; bread dumplings and potato pancakes, just to name a few.

“The food that was served are dishes families have at home, especially for Sunday dinner.

1 Roulade of chicken stuffed with spinach.2 A selection of Czech desserts at Vogue Cafe.
Roulade of chicken stuffed with spinach. 

“Some of the dishes are also served for ceremoninal occasions,” said Michalek.

Czech Republic, he said, experienced varying temperatures with the climatic change in weather with summers of 25°C and -20°C in winter.

“For this reason, Czech cuisine is known for its creamy sauces and meat dishes, to help us replenish energy during winter,” he said.

With its central location in Europe, Czech Republic is bordered by Austria, Germany, Poland and Slovakia and it is understandable that her people consume meats like pork, chicken, beef, turkey, smoked pork, venison and game.

For meat dishes, one can expect some form of gravy to be served alongside such as mushroom, tomato, cream or horseradish sauces.

“In spring, meats are sourced from the younger livestock such as lamb, goat, piglet, chicken.

“And during summer, steak and salads are popular,” said Michalek.

(From left) Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel general manager Robert Frager, Michalek and Hykl at the launch of the Czech Culinary Experience at Vogue Cafe.
From left) Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel general manager Robert Frager, Michalek and Hykl at the launch of the Czech Culinary Experience at Vogue Cafe. 

Czech Republic ambassador to Malaysia Rudolf Hykl was only too happy to promote one of these creamy delights – roast beef, creamy vegetable sauce and cranberries.

“This is a hearty dish as it is very filling and will make you feel sleepy if you eat too much of it. It is like eating a banana leaf meal for lunch and wanting to have a nap after that,” said Hykl.

“It takes many hours to prepare this dish and the cranberry sauce complements it nicely.”

When asked if he had cooked this dish at home, Hykl laughed and said, “I don’t cook but I know how it is made.”

To know more about this Czech favourite, Michalek came to the rescue.

Carrots, celery and onions are sauteed and placed in a casserole dish while beef slices that have been marinated with salt and pepper are pan-seared to seal in the juices.

The beef is then placed in the casserole with all spice, bay leaf, caramel sugar, mustard, Czech vinegar and water added to the pot.

“It is left to cook in the oven for three hours. We remove the meat when it is done and the sauce is blended in a food processor until smooth.

“It is thickened with whipping cream,” said Michalek of the creamy yellow sauce that coats the meat.

The chef however was quick to inject that these days, the Czechs were embracing a healthier lifestyle with lighter meals preferred for lunch and dinner.

“But still, traditional Czech dishes that are high in calories, fat and sugar are still very popular,” said Michalek.

Potatoes maintain their pride of place in the Czech diet and potato pancakes (bramborak) and potato dumpling (bramborove knedlik) were served.

Between the two, the potato pancake, made with coarsely grated potatoes, marjoram, black peppercorn, flour, egg, garlic and salt, and pan-fried until golden brown was simply tasty.

Michalek said the pancake was the perfect bite to have with beer.

The potato dumpling, on the other hand, is made with mashed potatoes, egg, wheat flour, semolina flour and salt.

It is formed into a firm dough, placed into a pot of boiling water and removed when the dumplings float.

The other meat dishes to savour are the roasted veal and roulade of chicken stuffed with spinach.

The Czech desserts are not to be missed as many went back for seconds to enjoy the toothsome treats Michalek had prepared.

The promotion which ends on Sunday is priced from RM34 nett for an a la carte order or RM135 nett per person for buffet dinner and half price for children aged between six and 12 years old.

  • VOGUE CAFE, Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, corner of Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Ampang. (Tel: 03-2716 9388). Business hours: 6am to 10.30pm, daily.
  • This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.
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