You know you’re working too hard when you miss a vegan festival so you can go into the office! Fortunately, I lived vicariously through Dr HH, and now you can too…
Who doesn’t enjoy a good bank holiday? The giddiness of having a four day working week and a long weekend, oh the joys that May and August bring! Upon moving to Europe I was jolted out of these delightful patterns when I realised they just have the holiday on a fixed date every year. A little readjust, no long weekend, but at least it’s still a four day working week (unless the holiday falls on a weekend – disaster!). Fortunately, this year’s May bank holidays fell on Wednesdays, phew! What is the best way to spend a mid-week public holiday? At an outdoor vegan food festival, of course!
Veggie Naplavka is a regular festival held along the Vltava river and is one of the largest open-air vegan festivals in Europe. This part of the river is glorious when the weather is good, making for a lovely waterside stroll with a view of many of Prague’s historic sites as you wander along. If you get tired, there are plenty of boats and riverside spots where you can stop for a drink.
The festival normally pops up twice a year and for the last two years the spring/summer edition has been on May 1st. This year Ms. HH decided to go in to work and use the quiet office to achieve maximum efficiency, so I embarked upon this nomming odyssey solo.
Come festival day, this previously idyllic strolling spot turns into a teeming mass of bodies to battle through, and as I fought through the crowds I had one rule in mind: don’t eat from any stalls where I could just as easily go and visit the restaurant. I skipped the Prague favourites (and the long queues that come with them): Forky’s, Plevel, Chutnej, Forrest, Loving Hut, Country Life, Sri Lankan Curry House, Creme de la Creme, VeganGrill, Radost…not today!
First up on my list were the chickpea and seitan wings with dip from Ovegano. From what I could glean from their website, Ovegano are based in Brno, where they do some pop up events and also sell some of their products at a few different restaurants and cafes in the city. I was initially drawn to this stand on my first wander through, but as I got closer most of the branding I could see on the tent was for a raw cafe. Raw wings sounded a lot less appealing! On my second pass I spotted a fryer in the back, so I dived right in.
They were excellent: a glorious crunchy coating (I assume this is where the chickpeas came in to play) and perfectly seasoned seitan with a good bite to it. They were a wee bit dry to be nommed alone, so I was glad to see some dip. Unfortunately it was the tiniest thimble of creamy dip, so I had to ration it carefully. On the whole, I was happy to overlook this dip-saster for these glorious crunchy wings.
Once the starter had been dispatched, I tackled a plate of dumplings from Yara Street Food. They are usually found at Farmer’s market at Dejvice on Saturday mornings and are not usually all vegan. For this festival they had a selection of four different types of steamed dumpling, a noodle dish, and a sweet mango hotdog. Whilst in the queue I was thinking long and hard about which flavour of dumplings to have, before I spotted the mixed plate option. I tucked into an exciting looking plate of four dumplings with some pickled vegetables and bits of salads.
The pea, cabbage, and spring onion was a pureed filling that was a little bit uninspiring and didn’t have a particularly strong taste. The chickpea curry flavour was a little disappointing – the curry didn’t have a huge amount of flavour and I am glad I didn’t go with my original idea to just get a plate of those. The next one on the plate was sweet potato and garden vegetable (my translation may be slightly off there), which was enjoyable with a good sweet potato flavour, but I couldn’t really pick out much else. Last of all was the cauliflower, ginger, and coconut. This was the other flavour I was considering just getting a whole plate of, and it did not disappoint. It was a pureed filling bursting with flavour from the ginger and coconut.
Overall, it was a bit of a mixed bag on the different flavours and I felt the dough on the dumplings themselves was a bit on the thick side, but I could definitely see myself getting a plate of the cauliflower, coconut, and ginger dumplings again.
At this stage I was starting to get a full belly but I thought I could sneak in one more little savoury before moving on to pudding, so I opted for some fries with garlic sauce from Sinea. Sinea are a Czech (I think) company that sells a wide range of pre-made vegan goodies, and this stall seemed to be primarily aimed at selling sauces and sides (potato salads and the like). The chips were excellent, chunky, crispy, and had the skins still on (and there were certainly more than it looks like in the picture). The garlic sauce was a bit sweet and not garlicky enough, so they had failed in their attempt to hawk me some sauce, but I would buy chips from them again without hesitation!
Finally, to pudding! I had already decided to pass on Creme de la Creme, even though for the first time in Naplavka history the queue was not obscenely long. I was tempted by Rolls Bros, but figured I knew I could taste their wares elsewhere. I eventually decided on a little stall with no visible sign (later research led to me believe that this was Juicee) that was selling ice cream on a stick, dipped in chocolate, and topped with nuts. This immediately brought back fond memories of StickHaus in Venice. There were a few fruit flavours on offer: mango, strawberry and raspberry. I opted for the raspberry with chocolate and peanuts. It wasn’t the delightful creamy treat I was hoping for, and was more of an ice lolly than an ice cream, but it was tasty nonetheless. The combination of raspberry and dark chocolate was well balanced and the peanuts gave it a nice crunch.
After that I was satisfied and ready to head home. I had been providing live updates to Ms. HH throughout the afternoon after she missed out on all of the fun [and much appreciated they were too – Ms HH]. I was of course under strict instructions to pick her up a nommy treat and I obliged by popping to an old favourite, Donut Shop. They had a lemon iced donut with a brownie on top that I hadn’t seen in the shop before (but have seen since), so I grabbed two of those for breakfast the next day [not pictured, alas]. The chocolate from the brownie and the bit of sharpness from the lemon made for a good combination, but it didn’t challenge the other well-established vegan options for the top spot.
I wasn’t done with picking up nommy treats just yet, and stopped off at a Prague vegan food festival favourite, Nebeske Dorticky. I picked up four cupcakes from here for some evening treats: two Ferrero Rocher, a Rafaello, and, a chocolate and cherry. I am happy to report that these cakes lived up the usual high level, perfectly baked cupcakes with delicious icing. Ms. HH ranked the Rafaello the best of the bunch, and I ranked the Ferrero Rocher ahead of the chocolate and cherry.
That is the end of my nomming odyssey. I was happy to see how the festival has expanded, and there seemed to be more choice than ever. It was great to have several small plates of food and not have to rely on a getting a vegan burger or something from the Linda McCartney stand.
I look forward to the next edition and the exciting new options it may bring!