Countlan Magazine + Other Exciting News

I have two exciting things to share with you today:

1. I launched a digital magazine called Countlan, yesterday.  Stuart Woods designed the layout and branding and Alina Kotova handled all the lovely illustrations. Check it out and let me know what you think…

Photo Sources: 1, 2,

2. I will be writing a monthly post on cafes in Prague on, a local portal for what’s going on around the city. Stay tuned for my first article in September.

Fun times + less than two weeks away to the wedding!


Good Morning Breakfast Date

Good morning!

Have you ever gone on a breakfast date with someone?

And I don’t mean a breakfast meeting.  I mean a weekday date, for breakfast.

I tried this `breakfast date`concept last Friday morning and it was great.

My fiance and I have been working a lot lately and haven’t had much of a chance to go on a date.

So what did we do?  We woke up early on Friday morning and walked down the street to our local coffee shop, Muj Salek Kavy,  to go on a breakfast date.  Him and I. No business talk.

He had ham and eggs, (in Czech, that is written “Hemenex“) and I had the pancakes with spiced plums, sour cream and syrup. It was simple, quick, fun and romantic.


This was a recommended experience!  Has anyone been on one?



Speaking of Coffee: I Need Coffee!

Do good things come in twos or threes?  Today, good things come in twos as I am blogging about another coffee shop.  To extend the coffee theme a bit further from yesterday’s coffee post…. I visited I Need Coffee last week.  It’s the new coffee shop just south of Karlovo Namesti (Na Moráni 7)  in Prague.  One day after lecturing, I took the tram en route to the farmer’s market by the river when I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a new spot opened on the corner.  I made a mental note to come back and stop in for a visit.

I love this coffee shop’s interior design.  They went all minimal-industrial-Scandinavian with poured concrete floors, lots of light wood seen in their counters and bar stools, one big blackboard wall and the rest, stark white!  They play a mix of rock + indie music and have funky, bright posters on their wall.

I sampled some home made ice tea and next time I will try some of their yogurt and perhaps a cookie.  My partner in crime had the coffee and said it was decent.  Since I Need Coffee! has two big windows facing the street, this is an ideal place to people watch or daydream or both!


Lunch at Chateau Mcely

Before moving to Europe, lunch was neither a meal I would look forward to nor a meal that could last a couple of hours.  Maybe it is a Canadian thing but we don’t do long lunches.  I can eat a sandwich and salad in under 30 minutes and continue on with my day.  Not here.  I am slowly learning that long lunches are celebrated around Europe.  Long, leisurely lunches are certainly not a weekly occurrence in my life but a couple weekends ago,  some friends and I decided to dress up, and venture out of the city for a special dining experience: Lunch at Chateau Mcely.

I had afternoon tea at Chateau Mcely once before and after such a positive experience, I was curious about their non-sugary fare.  My guests and I each ordered a starter and a main (no, all the food you just looked at was not just for me!) and the consensus was that everyone enjoyed their meals.  The service was a bit slow and overly formal, however we were at a “Chateau” so I guess formal service is expected.  I ordered the carrot and sweet potato soup and fish that was sliced in half and “filled” with roasted root vegetables (see photo above)- both were fresh, flavourful and light.

Our meal + mini road trip was a really nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  If you haven’t done something like this before, I would highly recommend it.  In some cases, long lunches beat long dinners.

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I have been giving some thought to what makes a neighbourhood amazing. What things does a community need to make its residents feel proud of where they live?

I admit, my philosophical questions are directly influenced from the strong urban planning bent of my favourite print magazine, Monocle.  Monocle’s July/August issue did a great job discussing this topic and even put forth a hand picked fictitious neighbourhood containing the best services, stores and restaurants from around the world.  I think a large portion of creating a welcoming street vibe comes down to having an optimal retail and service mix (not too many chain stores and lots of interesting local businesses) plus green space and landscaping.  People are on the street from morning till night in my neighbourhood because there are things to keep people engaged.

One business that just made my neighbourhood a little bit cooler is a wine bar named Veltlin.  Every community needs one of these: An adorable, themed, wine bar with fabulous furniture, modern lighting and a beautifully illustrated mural.  Fortunately for me, one such wine bar opened in my neighbourhood within the past two months.  The business name Veltlin, comes from an important grape in the Central European wine growing region: the Gruner Veltliner, a white grape that is grown in Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.

Veltlin is a wine bar that is themed on the wine regions from the former Hapsburg empire in Central Europe.  I have been to Veltlin several times since it opened and each time, the chatty staff were happy to help me navigate the regional wines by the glass or by the bottle. I watched this place like a hawk while it was under renovation (pre-opening).  I could tell it was going to be something cool when I saw the mural, wall paper and lights go up.  The mural, as the owner explained to me, was illustrated by a local artist and is a map of the Hapsburg empire.  You then have smaller vignettes on the wallpaper around the bar that give the joint a modern feel.  Another interesting aspect that I appreciated was the actual bar: it is a plexiglass case made up of various soils from around the wine growing regions Veltlin carries.

This is a great little spot to stop in for a glass of wine when the evenings are hots.  They also serve small snacks, which I haven’t tried yet but will report back when I do.  I noticed there is another retail slot being renovated across the street from Veltlin and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be a bakery or green grocery- two things Karlin is missing.

Veltlin’s Facebook Page: here

Veltlin’s Website/E-commerce: here


Polka Gelato

I think I am in gelato withdraw from my mini-getaway in Vienna.  I kid you not, I ate gelato every day I was in Vienna and on one particular day, when it was 38 degrees and I went bike riding for three hours, I ate gelato twice in one day (and it was double-delicious). The gelato scene in Prague is decent.  There are a couple spots around town that make a good cone, such as Vanille on Namesti Miru, but most gelato shops are not conveniently located in my neighbourhood, so I often don’t indulge!

Polka Gelato in London (pictures below), looks fabulous.  Vonsung, the design firm behind this space certainly created a designer-ific interior.  Nothing like poured concrete says gelato!! The branding and logo is simple and bold and the black and white works so well to make the bright hand crafted artisan ice cream pop out of the case.

Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Polka Gelato has three categories of ice cream: Gelato (matcha, vanilla, coffee, torrone, chilli chocolate….), sorbet (strawberry + balsamic, mojito, pink lemonade sherbert….) and super sonic (superfood based ice cream like goji berries, and pomegranate). In addition to ice cream based treats, they also carry ice pops, gelato cakes, ice cream to go (take home tubs) and light lunch.

Has anyone tried something from Polka lately? I’m sure this place will be rammed as the Olympics gets underway in the city.

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