Mediterranean Mezes

Mezes

We expanded the definition of “Meze” on Tuesday night to include the western Mediterranean as well as the east which is the part of the Med typically associated with the word.  It was a sort of perfect storm of food that just happened to show up in our fridge after a few shopping trips – some near, some far.   There was Manchego cheese from Barcelona mixed with green apple, garlic and olive oil for a tasty salad.  There were feta and filo puffs from the Greek Society specialty shop in Prague 6.  Add to that grilled eggplant and yellow peppers  finished with Istrian olive oil, flanked by grilled veal sausage from the Little Italy deli just down the street.  The plate was begging for a sprig of parsley and sliced cherry tomato for aesthetics but on a Tuesday night, garnishes seemed superfluous.

It was really a great combo of flavors.  The acidity of the apple in the Manchego salad served as the perfect palate cleanser between bites of the smokey eggplant and rustic veal sausage.  Oh, and the sausage – it was perfectly seasoned, bold and grilled open until the edges were slightly crispy.  I’m about to fill my freezer with this stuff on my next trip back to the Little Italy deli.  The filo-feta puffs are sort of a high-class pizza roll.  It’s hard not to pop the entire thing in your mouth and enjoy smoothness of the feta with the flakiness of the crust in one bite.

I really love eating this way.  Preparation was very simple, consisting of some washing and slicing.  The rest was just a warm oven and hot grill.  All that was missing was the lap of the Mediterranean outside our window.  I guess you can’t have everything!

Da Emanuel’s “Little Italy” Deli in Prague 6

I used to spend my free time looking for obscure music in obscure record stores.  But the music industry has changed and so have I.  Now I buy 99% of my music on-line.  The days of the mom and pop record store have gone by the wayside.  Not to mention, living in Prague where a CD is usually around $20, it has become prohibitively expensive.  So, I’ve managed to switch the focus of my field trips.  I’ve switched from the staple of music to something equally as important – food.

We spent most of the past weekend around the house which always has a tendency to breed hyperactivity in our two-year-old and me.  We both get cranky (I get over caffeinated and she just gets bored).  So, in order to get out of the house and do something semi-productive on Saturday, we headed a few blocks down the street to Prague 6’s “Little Italy” deli.

Or at least that’s what I think it is called.  I mean, that’s what it says on the awning outside.  I can’t find mention of it on the web under any name.  Of course, it is right next to the Da Emanuel restaurant.  Da Emanuel has been an institution in Prague 6 for years and all of the reviews I’ve read usually find something to love.  Admittedly, I’ve never eaten there but I think some of the genius must waft next door into the Little Italy deli.

It’s a boon for Prague 6 foodies.  They have a great (if pricey) selection of Italian wines, more Italian products in jars than one could imagine, a deli counter with fresh meats and cheeses, dried pasta and sweets – all from the country shaped like a boot.  Then, there’s the focaccia.  Fresh made, about the size of a steering wheel and as good as anything you’ll find in Cinque Terre.  Little NH and I picked up a still-warm chunk on Saturday and proceeded to go home and freeze it in small portions for later enjoyment.  We also got turned on to a nice wedge of fresh fontina.  Finally, the lady behind the counter (in a charming mix of English, Italian and Czech) recommended the veal sausages just in from Italy.  They’ll be on my grill sometime very soon.

The only thing Little Italy lacks is fresh pasta.  I can only imaging how my food bill and belly would balloon if I could stop by on a Saturday morning and pick up fresh ravioli, wine, cheese and focaccia for dinner.  Now that would rock.  Still, this place is as close as you get to gourmet convenience in Prague.  It’s a quick walk, something to look forward to for a couple of hyperactive Americans and a lot tastier than a stack of CD’s.