Summer can inspire many wonderful distractions to try to battle the heat. You can chill out with an icy drink, a dip in the swimming pool, chilled watermelon slices, or lounge around on a shady terrace. But one method to stay cool rises above all else in its sheer deliciousness and pure joy of participation, and that is a frosty, mouth watering scoop of ice cream.
Prague is no stranger to the joys of ice cream, or zmrzlina in Czech. Practically every city street has a venue which provides some sort of cone, cup, bar, sandwich, or stick of ice cream. The temptation to indulge is nearly impossible to resist on a hot, steamy stroll through the streets in summer.
But not all ice creams are created equal. Some are born as beautiful, luxurious, sophisticated, flavors with an alluring presentation of color and texture that suitors simply cannot resist. Below is a guide to these dens of sweet creamy inequity where those in search of the best of the best can taste a bit of paradise.
Angelato (Rytířská 27) is a welcoming little ice cream shop near the Můstek metro station. A word of warning: do not let the affable and passionate Serbian owner, Bojan Dimitrijević, hear you refer to it as merely ice cream. Dimitrijević explained to me that the term ice cream conjures up the image of a standard, basic, sugary cold lump of frozen cream that can be found in any supermarket and often contains artificial colors and preservatives.
Each morning, he and his cousin make their own fresh gelato and sorbetto, the famous Italian style ice cream which uses only the finest cream and best all-natural ingredients. Their special care allows the flavor to emerge in the most perfect fashion possible.
As a testament to his craft, he scooped up several flavors into two overfilled cups and placed them in front of me. The colors stood out brightly on smooth velvety scoops of pistachio, chocolate, yogurt, raspberry, mango and melon. The appearance was only exceeded by the taste, with each flavor being rich and powerfully delicious.
Dimitrijević says once somebody tastes their ice cream they are hooked for life. At the price of 30 CZK for a small cup, I can see how it might easily become an addiction.
Another highly recommended ice creamery is Cream and Dream which has several locations in the Old Town center including near the Old Jewish Synagogue (Široká 15) and not far from Charles Bridge (Husova 12). Their ice cream is also featured on the menus of some of the finest hotels and restaurants in Prague, including Buddha Bar and Lamborghini.
I was introduced to the Charles Bridge store manager Daniele Combi who has a seemingly encyclopedic amount of knowledge regarding his product. He went into great depth explaining the importance of using the best ingredients, how to make each variety burst with flavor, and about the science behind making the perfect ice cream. After the lesson Combi produced a cup of pistachio gelato and a cup of melon sorbetto. Each flavor hit the mark in its ability to not only capture the natural taste of the ingredients but also enhance them.
Sampling the ice cream at Cream and Dream is a worthwhile experience for any ice cream lover and at the cost of 35 CZK for a small cup, it’s an experience that can be relived over and over without fear of stretching one’s budget. It does however completely disregard the fear of stretching one’s waistline.
Ben and Jerry´s is an ice cream chain that most every American can relate to and happens to be one of Prague´s newest arrivals. The Vermont based ice cream shop has recently opened a small stand in a busy part of the Old Town (Václavské námesti 1) which is sure to appeal to the shoppers on Na Příkopě and those walking to and from Staromestská Square.
To the uninitiated, Ben and Jerry’s offers unique flavors that are unrivaled by any other ice creamery in the Czech Republic, and perhaps the world. Marshmallow swirls, chocolate covered fish cookies, chunks of peanut butter, fudge brownie pieces made only in New York; it´s a celebration of the untraditional that sets it apart from the other brands on offer. With fun flavor names like Cherry Garcia (named after American rock icon Jerry Garcia), Chunky Monkey, Vanilla Toffee Crunch, and Phish Food (named after the American counterculture rock group Phish), a visit to Ben and Jerry’s is always a good and entertaining time.
The price of a small scoop of Ben and Jerry´s goes for 50 CZK which makes it one of the most expensive in the city, but it’s a great choice for those wanting to try something new, or expats longing for a taste from back home.
When thinking about Czech brands of ice cream, number one that comes to mind is Hajek. Found at the Cukrárna Ovocný Světzor and seven other locations in Prague, Hajek is known for its high quality. They offer all the delightful flavors anyone with a sweet tooth might be craving, all at the bargain price of 13 CZK a scoop.
So now that you are in the ice cream know, hurry out and grab yourself a scoop. Hopefully the summer heat will stick around a while longer for you to enjoy this frozen treat.