Every culture has its pancake — be it the paper-thin crêpe of French tradition, the tubular fruit-filled Czech palačinky, or the great American stack, all of which can be enjoyed at the Prague café of your choice.
But given the Czech capital’s large Ukrainian community (Ukrainians number 116,998 in Prague, accounting, along with Slovaks, for over forty percent of the foreign population), the Ukrainian/Russian answer to the pancake, blini, hasn’t shown up on the city’s culinary radar, until recently.
Husband-and-wife Ukrainian entrepreneurs Denys Kuchevskyi and Oksana Gumenyuk opened Blin Prague, a blini take-away joint, in Žižkov this summer, to positive reviews.
Speaking recently to health-food magazine Vitalia, Kuchevskyi pointed out the major differences between Czech palačinky and their Eastern cousins.
“Our blinis are not as thin as a crêpe and are not like Czech palačinky. Our blins are soft and supple [and won’t break when filled],” says Kuchevskyi who incorporates whole wheat and buckwheat flours into his dough for a sturdier pancake.
In Ukraine, blinis are typically filled with chicken, mushrooms, or potato purée and topped with shredded carrots dressed in vinegar, oil, and pepper. In Russia, bliny are filled with caviar or crab meat and sour cream.
Mini blinis, in Russian oladyi, are also served as finger food; at Blin, however — “blin” is the more accurate singular form — they are about 40 centimeters in diameter in order to accommodate all manner of fillings, from savory salmon and spinach with a creamy sauce to cream cheese, fig, and pear or an explosion of sprinkles, Nutella, and ice cream.
Early reviewers recommend Blin, which also serves waffles, as a cheap and filling brunch option in Žižkov.
Another small business dedicated to a Ukrainian delicacy that has popped up in Prague in recent years is Pelmeňárna the Czech capital’s first takeaway counter selling the sweet-and-savory filled dumplings of Ukranian and Russian tradition.