It is quince season again and there was a tray of them in the greengrocers yesterday.

I bought three with the intention of using them in a stew of some sort.

Back at home I went through the books to see if I could find some inspiration.

Pleasingly I found three books that gave me almost the exact same recipe; Jane Grigson’s Good Things, Claudia Roden’s A Book of Middle Eastern Food and then more recently Sabrina Ghayour’s Sirocco.

All of them required lamb and onion to be cooked in oil, then seasoned (this evening – cinnamon, saffron and turmeric), covered in water and cooked slowly for an hour or so.

In the meantime quince, peeled, cored and quartered, was fried in butter until it took on some colour. It was then added to the lamb for the final half hour.

We ate it with rice.

It was good food to be had with the darkening late afternoon after I had reconstructed a pond and done my bit for global warming with a fire of dried leaves.

72 hours in Prague

Sadly I could not spend the rest of the afternoon in my new favourite bar as I had a destination with lunch.

We had gone to U Medvidku a couple of years ago and I was determined to go back. Last time we were there we had made the mistake of sitting down in the vast beer hall downstairs only to be pointed towards the back and up some stairs in order to find where the beer was made.

This time I was able to stride through the bar hall without the need of direction. Most of the tables seemed to be full of  people eating a hearty lunch but I had other things on my mind.

In the small room upstairs I was able to find a seat directly opposite one of the wooden barrels where beer was being made. A man in an apron asked me what I wanted and so I asked for a glass of Oldgott. He marked a piece of paper with a pencil stroke and put it on the table and walked five yards to the end of the room from where he poured the beer from  one of the small copper taps poking out of a wooden counter. He brought it over and put it in front of me together with a menu.


The food was mostly meat of one sort or other with dumplings or cabbage. I had deer in a rosehip sauce with red cabbage. Every so often I looked up at the man as he walked past and he would walk back with another glass and make another pencil mark on the piece of paper on my table.

An hour or so later and replete with Oldgott I walked out into the light. It had been raining as I ate my lunch and the tourists were wrapped in bright plastic. I glided past them and through the crowds around the Old Clock Tower and the incessant taking of pictures with selfie sticks across the Charles Bridge.

And then despite the crowds and the rain there was time to take in some of the beauty of the place.

72 hours in Prague

Of course some of the time was spent building up the Prague Belly.

It must be in the beer but this seems to manifest itself in something more round and pert than the normal five pint a night beer belly.

Maybe it has something to do with the typical Prague beer glass which is a bit like an old pint glass with a handle that has been pushed down by an inch so as to make it more rotund, more like a football strapped around your waist than a sack of potatoes.

it will take a few more visits to get used to all the etiquette that can be had around spending time in a Prague pub. the first of my problems was trying to ask for another pint only to be presented with the bill. There is of course no need to articulate the asking, all it takes is the catch of an eye and the tap of a finger on the rim of the empty glass, and as if by magic another full glass will be there.

What was pleasing this time was that despite the thick wads of tourist around the King Charles Bridge running up to the Old Clock Tower it was still possible to find places where time seemed to have stopped thirty years ago and they still hugged close to the smell of tobacco.

I managed to find the first of them around midday on Saturday. I had had my first pint walking through the market by the side of the river and I felt in need of a coffee. There were plenty of places that sold it but they all were all too close to the beaten track. There was no great aim a I wandered and at one stage I found myself back up round a corner to avoid a man who looked like he might have designs at shouting at me.

Having made my escape and walked back around the corner I found myself in front of a nondescript door stuck with old posters. I pushed it open and found myself in a bar of dour green and wood. music was playing softly and from somewhere bowls of soup were being brought out and put on tables. I was clearly an outsider but also felt that this was just what I had been looking for.

I got my coffee and sat down at one on the empty tables.

I was alone with the coffee. All the other tables were inhabited with clear glasses filled with shades of brown and gold.

It took me a while to linger over my coffee but once I had doe so and got over whether or not I wanted to pay a clear squat glass of beer was put in front of me.

By now it was about 10 minutes past twelve and suddenly I found myself in an environment that could quite easily take uptake rest of the afternoon.

72 hours in Prague

One on the many highlights of a weekend in Prague came as I found myself wandering through a crowded food market set up along the side of the river.

It was 11.30 in the still morning but there were plenty of people walking along with a pint in their hands dispensed from one of the makeshift stalls. Inevitably I felt obliged to join them.

Having done done so I found myself having to juggle the pint with a camera in order to capture some of the activity surrounding a stall selling river fish.

Next to the stall was the back of a wagon on which had been perched a large dark green plastic container.

As an order for fish came in a man stepped on a footstool so as to be able to dip a net into the container. It was full of water and fish and it didn’t take much more than a twist of the net in the water before it came out wriggling with a couple of fish.

Once they were out they were tipped into a metal tray and given a sharp tap on the back of the head before being tipped into a second metal tray for weighing before being passed over to be gutted. It was all done so quickly there was hardly time to catch what was going on.