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“Let bring you to the market manager” said the Lebanese nuts dealer. And I got a remarkable introduction to the Jiřák farmers’ market in Prague.
So how did it all start? I had already visited Holesovice market, so I read a post on tasteofprague.com and off I went. Subway line A to “Jiřího z Poděbrad” station, up the stairs and across the street and there it is, this beautiful farmers’ market.
What makes it so beautiful? I saw a great mix of stalls: fresh local produce, delicacies from abroad, places to eat and drink including craft beer. Just browsing through I could feel the sense of quality the traders were eager to deliver. The rather well-off neighborhood catered for a good purchasing power making it easier to sell premium products.
I strolled through the alley which separates the two lines of stalls, looked at a nuts stall and the vendor gently and persistently asked me in English to try his Spanish almonds. For what ever reasons I feel uncomfortable to take samples when I have no intention to buy – a mistake. The almonds were great, we started a conversation and soon I found out that he was Lebanese and living in Prague since some years as his wife is Czech. We switched to French and continued our conversation. I got his business card to follow him on social media and went along.
The fish monger had only a few fish, but since 5 years he is preparing a fish & mussel soup on the spot in a large pot. Looks like good home cooking as he was chopping fresh ingredients in front of everybody under a tent. I took a picture and he was making fun of me, guessing loudly if I was a journalist from CNN, Newsweek, Die Welt or other news media. I still have to work hard to make my blog be known 🙂
I went further along, looking at the butchers, flowers, wines, pickles in big buckets, fresh vegetables and fruit, cookies, muesli, coffee, craft beer home made syrups and even a burger stall. Even though I am getting a bit annoyed by all the “hip” burger joints popping up in Europe, only the early hours prevented me to try it together with a craft beer, and beforehand the fish soup of course.
Chat with the market manager
Suddenly the Lebanese nut dealer saw me again and said: “let me bring you to the market manager“. Even though Mrs. Brabcová was in a conversation, she took quite some time to tell me more about the market. The 7 year old Jiřák farmers’ market was managed by a private company, but in February 2017 the city took over. Mrs. Brabcová worked in the private sector beforehand, and now she is running the show.
She gave me a closer look to the nice balance of local and international products at the market in more than 30 stalls. The need to have international products, Gouda cheese amongst others, is also driven by the European expats living in the neighborhood. Still local produce are at the soul of the market and are originated within a radius of 100km.
She sees more potential for this location and is eager to find more producers and traders and has more ideas to make it look better than at this stage. Yes the market is neatly line up along one alley, still it expresses a kind of an urban laissez-faire character with its own charm. Bringing in better equipment is one of her goals to make it look more professional.
At the end she pointed me to the cheese maker a few meters away who even caters for Michelin star restaurants in Prague. This was the perfect bait for me and she could continue her conversation with her friend.
The cheese maker
David Kolman is running with his wife a dairy where they produce cheese as well as yoghurt and kefir. The dairy is located halfway between Prague and Brno. It was his wife, a teacher at the time, who had the idea to start this endeavor. After several years of experiments they made a professional business out of it. Since 5 years he is at the market to sell their products from goat and other milk.
Even though I was still traveling I could not resist to buy some cheese to bring back home. As I had to fly back, he asked me if I was concerned about the cheese smell. Certainly not I answered, I would take the risk of being an unpleasant passenger for the sake of great taste at home. So I got fresh cheese for immediate consumption and an older, more firm one for home. After this experience I give the following advice: do it the same way. I ate the fresh cheese soon after the purchase – delicious. With the older cheese in my luggage I did not get any dirty looks from my dear co-passengers, even after a couple days without fridge. It was worth the “risk” I was rewarded with a great cheese full of character. I have to thank the wife of David Kolman for pushing this idea and making it real and make me a happy gourmet!
Life goes on and unfortunately I had to leave. I had a great time also because I did not expect to see something as refined and diverse as this market in Prague – so much about my prejudices. The market had a very metropolitan touch but still exuded a down to earth, unpretentious feeling. I hope to see it from time to time over the years on how it is developing.
Next time I will eat the fish soup, independent of the day time.
All in all: a beautiful market to enjoy life in Prague and certainly worth more than a visit for all the local and international discoveries
A little link list:
- The official website & the Facebook account
- A nice site of food & farmers’ markets in Prague: tasteofprague.com – a clear recommendation
- Facebook page of the nuts dealer
- The website of David Kolman the cheese maker and a couple videos
- My post on the Holesovice market in Prague