Monday, September 13, 2010

My first Burčák

First things first, pictures of my new apartment and neighborhood are up:

Well the move went well! I happened to move on the warmest day Prague has seen in months - it was only 72! LOL. It was fairly easy to move - only took 4 tram trips. Too bad I had to go uphill to the tram station with my full suitcases. Oh well, it was a good workout! I got settled in on Saturday and even made a trip to IKEA to get bedding and pillows. What a relief to finally feel settled in my new home! I just need something to hang on the walls, and I'll feel a bit more at home. I need to print out some pictures to hang up. :) But I have to figure out how and where to do that first! One thing I'm learning is that everything takes what feels like 10 times longer to do anything here! I'm sure that'll get easier once I know the city and the stores a bit better. For now, there's not much one can do!

I spent the rest of the weekend sleeping, unpacking and exploring my new neighborhood. Pictures of my apartment and neighborhood are on Picasa (link above). It's generally easier to post pictures there than on the blog. The one thing I don't seem to have patience for these days is technology, so I'll have to figure out how to make that easier one of these days.

Today was the first day of training. We met out front of a church to do teambuilding, and I had extreme RA training flashbacks! Although, this time instead of being the one leading the activities, I was doing them. It was especially interesting to have a group of Czech homeless people sitting near us heckling us. After just a few activities and none too embarrassing, we went to lunch at 11 am. None of us were hungry, but the schedule said we'd eat, so we did. :) After a traditional Czech lunch of soup, chicken, and czech dumplings (kind of like steamed bread - not amazing in my opinion). The rest of the food was great!

Then we went to a cafe for our training. We did more games that we can use in our classrooms and then started to talk about teaching, but we ran out of time so we'll talk more tomorrow. I still don't have many details about what I'm going to be doing, but it'll be ok.

My co-workers are pretty cool. Most of us will be teaching in Prague, but about 5 of the 13 teachers will be in other areas of CR. It's nice to make friends in those areas with free places to stay! Many of us enjoy similar things in terms of outdoor activities, so I can see some hiking adventures coming up. Most of the group are younger than me, but there are a couple of us "old folks" in our early 30s. The younger crowd is cool too, and we all went out for a drink after training to get to know each other more. It really was a fun day and a fun group!

The two teachers who are returning to Prague, told us that we had to go have some Burčák. It's a young wine that is only available for a certain time and is alleged to have health benefits. I found this article on the website (one of the expat sites in prague) with more info below. It was quite good! Pretty sweet...very drinkable!

Beware of the Burčák
By Sam Beckwith

Burčák looks and tastes a little like orange juice but trying to drink burčák as if it were a soft drink is probably ill-advised.

Burčák is partially fermented young wine, which hits the wine bars of Prague in August, slightly ahead of vinobraní, the traditional festival celebrating the new wine harvest.

The opaque, yellowy-orange liquid is surprisingly drinkable, leading the unsuspecting drinker into a false sense of security.

Because burčák is so sweet, it doesn’t really taste like an alcoholic beverage, even though the alcohol content is between 5% and 8%.

Some even claim that because it’s only partially fermented, it’s possible for burčák to carry on fermenting in the blood stream, though this is, in fact, scientifically impossible.

Either way, it can provide a little more merriness than you’ve bargained for.

Burčák production is shrouded in mystery, with each winemaker closely guarding the secrets of their own particular technique, but the basics remain the same across the country.

Burčák is derived from fermenting grape juice, known as must, shortly after the grapes have been crushed. At a point determined by the winegrower, the must is deemed worthy of consumption and a part of it is sold as burčák. The rest is allowed to mature into adult wine.

In common with most other alcoholic drinks produced in the Czech Republic, burčák is supposed to offer great health benefits. In this case, however, the drink’s proponents might actually have a point: Burčák is rich in vitamins, particularly Vitamin B, and certain essential minerals.

You’ll have to move fast to reap those benefits, however: Because of its short shelf-life, burčák can only legally be sold between the 1st August and 30th November.

While the country’s best burčák – and, indeed, the best Czech wine – is found in Moravia (the eastern half of the Czech Republic), Prague gets its share of the golden liquid.

The city’s fancier wine bars are all likely to offer burčák, but for an authentically Czech experience, we’d recommend the cavernous halls of Vinárna U Sudu.

If nothing else, U Sudu will challenge any preconceptions you have about wine being the sole domain of the sophisticate, housing seven subterranean rooms stuffed with increasingly rowdy (and suspiciously young-looking) burčák quaffers.

Na zdraví!

1 comment:

  1. Love that you went to IKEA! Also, love the pictures... it looks like such a beautiful area. I'll have to send some pics your way to hang on the wall. :)