Monday, April 9, 2012

Snack Time!

"Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps please".

Sure that might be something of a cliché, but it does illustrate that few things go together like beer and snacks. Here I am strictly speaking about snacks rather than some little pretentious morsel, usually in a tower, with a smear of cat's piss jus or some such silliness on the side of a square white plate the size of the City of London. Beer and snacks are just perfectly natural bedfellows, like bacon and egg or fish and chips, everyone I know gets the munchies when they've had a few pints, and on Saturday in honour of Session Beer Day I drank mostly Williams Brothers Scottish Session Ale.

In the pubs I frequent here in Charlottesville, snacks either don't seem to be part of the menu or are a mere dollar cheaper than a sandwich or main course. If I am at Beer Run and get the munchies I will often have their Hogwaller sandwich, which consists of ham AND bacon AND cheese, with a side of potato salad. If the venue happens to be McGrady's then a Philly Cheesesteak wrap with tater tots is in order. While they are both delicious, they are sometimes just too big for my purposes. So this got me thinking about the beer snacks I loved in the Czech Republic, and here are a few of my favourites.

Let's start off with Nakládaný Hermelín, possibly my favourite cheese dish on earth other than just eating straight up extra mature cheddar. Hermelín itself is a soft cheese similar to Camembert or Brie, though normally sold as small wheels of about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. To make nakládaný Hermelín you simply slice a wheel in half, lengthwise, and then marinade it in oil, garlic, onions, peppers and various spices. It takes about 3 days to be ready, though I know some people who wear you have to wait 2 weeks for the full flavour to develop. Once it is ready, spread it on some nice thick cut rye bread and have a pint of the best Pilsner you can find.

The one delicacy that I loved most when living in the Czech Republic was called Škvarková pomazánka. Škvarky are basically bits of fried bacon, though usually they come with a healthy dose of lard as well. Whip it all up with some eggs, onions and mustard and hey presto you have a lard and bacon spread which is utterly delicious on toasted rye bread, and serve with a pint of the finest Pilsner you can find.

Inevitably when you get home, having had many pints of finest Pilsner you can find, you might still have the munchies, and this is where topinky come into their own. Quite simply, take old bread - most Czech bread is rye bread - and fry it in oil. Once it is nicely fried up, rub cloves of garlic on the bread and enjoy. Personally I think this is best done at home rather than in the pub mainly because you don't want to be breathing garlic fumes over your friends, and it is definitely not recommended if you are out on the pull.

So what are your beer snacks of choice?


  1. I spent a month in the great city of Praha in 2010, although I never got to try any of the foods you mention. Whenever I was in a pivnice I always liked the garlic soup as an appetizer, although that's not really a "snack." On the streets I'd generally pick up some fried cheese, which was great after I'd had a few pints of tanku pivo.

    Here in the States I'm usually a fan of starches to go with my drinking. Anything bready or potato-y works. I'm particularly fond of french fries, although there's a beer bar near me that has a popcorn machine and gives out free popcorn to their patrons -- that's very nice.

    Also fried pickles.

  2. Can't beat a good jalapeno pickled egg...really. I also am fond of a good scotch egg with a variety of different beers.


Best Beer Ever!

Shock, horror, a new post at Fuggled! Yes, it has been a while, but mitigating circumstances, I have been heads down writing my first book, ...