Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Gingerbread Crusade Begins: Czech Rebublic

It was finally time to make my dreams come true and make trip to old Europe, where gingerbread guilds and towns were part of history since medieval times and is alive tradition today too. My first visit was at Czech Rebublic, where I had opportunity to meet Oldrich Kvapil and Ales Vostrez.

Cookie mold carver Oldrich Kvapil.

Ales Vostrez as gingerbread witch.
My trip focused mostly on getting good understanding how to work with wooden cookie molds and recipe used by Ales. These gingerbreads are hard but design remains very well, so they are perhaps too dazzling to start with even think to be eaten. Problem was that I didn't understand quite well several parts of technique due translation difficulties. Thanks to this visit I was able to get good picture how things should be done correctly! Naturally after my lessons, a lot practise is still required. In a way it was funny how I felt getting educated by master baker similar like I do get teached in my job by professional chef.

So there will be no much to tell about which restaurant I would suggest or where beer is good. But I can suggest taking a look at history and art of Prague and smaller towns too. At Czech rebublic you can easily just walk into some medieval castle, even when you are staying smaller village. Or landscape itself can be quite breathtaking. I must had very good luck with weather during my travel, because it was every morning such a refreshing and empowering moment to enjoy atmosphere of Pernikova Chaloupka. 

Pernikova Chaloupka is gingerbread museum build in old hunting lodge. If you see Mr. Ludeck, owner of the Pernikova Chaloupka, remember to ask from him if he still remembers how to say witch in finnish! You can also check it during tour at museum, because first museum rooms contains Hansel and Gretel books in different languages. Including finnish after my visit :)

Second museum room is dark forest, which gives visitors chance to feel how Hansel and Gretel felt. After small jorney you will find door, and request for entrance is asked by tour guide. You will be welcomed to warm and cozy kitchen with gingerbread. 

Here you can see Ales Vostrez perform as gingerbread witch. He will show how to form gingerbread and eventually bake it after drying it few days. For kids there will be some funy moments too, but I'll leave that for people to find out. Despite I have none skills in czetch language, it was pleasure to follow Ales performance. Not only he is masterful baker and cookie mold carver, he really gives character for warmhearted gingerbread witch at Pernikova Chaloupka. 

Room after kitchen will introcude more cookie molds, gingerbreads and decorated gingerbreads. You can also buy gingerbreads baked by Ales here. There will be quite range to choose from, small frogs, little stars or huge, biblical themed window screen sized gingerbreads. 

Forest aroud Pernikova Chaloupka is worth of checkig out too, because just few steps away above is medieval castle, which is worth of climbing to see. Kunichova Hora is like Cinderally style fairytale castle, above small hill.

Here are some pictures from Prague, Bäry (Pernikova Chaloupka and Kunichova Hora) and Hradec Králové.

My deepest gratitude and thanks goes to every person who helped a lot with my travel and made my first part of gingerbread crusade quite a adventure. Thanks Olda and mrs. Kvapil, Ales, Mr. ad Mrs. Ludeck, Lovely Ladies of the Pernikova Chaloupka, Jiri, Eva and Michelle for souveniers and other things!