Red Corner: Czech Food the Worst?

For quite some time now the British have deservedly suffered under the Worst Food on the Planet moniker. For centuries, the Anglo palate has been mocked, maligned and otherwise dragged through culinary slander.

According to a critic from South Africa, however, another nation has finally dislodged Britain from the dregs of gastronomy: The Czech Republic.

Jeremy Maggs, writing for The Herald, has caused a stir in Prague for suggesting that it is the Czechs who win the award for the world’s worst, “stomach-churning” gruel. The Czech’s “horrendous diet of fat and dumplings” was aptly summed up by the following plate of food served to Maggs;

…four thickly hacked pieces of undercooked pink pork with shining yellow fat rinds which were placed on top of five burst veal sausages, their seeping innards the colour of mud and blood.

Naturally, the Czechs were a little disturbed for having worsted Britain and loudly rejected the claims. Dave Faries of the Prague Post, not only interviewed a handful of local chefs aghast over the accusations, but also offered up some mouth-watering restaurant recommendations to prove Maggs wrong.

In the meantime, there’s always the beer; no one ever argues about Czech beer.

Red Corner: Bizarre Kazakh Pyramid Completed

Megalomania has brought us some very bizarre architecture throughout history. It’s nice to know that the dictator of Kazakhstan is keeping up the tradition.

Visitors to the capital of Astana, can now revel in a freaky new pyramid commissioned by President Nursultan Nazarbayev that has finally been completed.

The president had ordered the capital moved in 1997 to a barren spot in which he could build the perfect city and then went about hiring international architects to transform the wasteland into something progressive and, hopefully impressive.

The Pyramid of Peace and Accord is the first of these grandiose, foreign-designed projects to be completed in the new capital. Conceived by British architect Norman Foster, the pyramid stands 62 meters tall and includes a 1,500 seat opera house, and plenty of glass walls, steep angles and sheer drops.

Critics have been slow to respond. Perhaps they are hesitant to fly all the way to Kazakhstan to dissect a strange building ordered by a bizarre dictator, and yet built by a world-renowned architect.

In the meantime, stay tuned. Astana has a lot more architectural oddities on their way.

Red Corner: Serbian Slopes

It’s getting to be that time of year again and we here at Red Corner want to be sure to point you to the very best behind-the-former-iron-curtain ski locations.

This week, we look at Serbia.

One of the country’s more famous resorts, Kopaonik, was actually visited often during communism by Western Europeans because of the very nice conditions there. The civil war put an end to that, however, and tourism languished until just recently when foreign skiers began to slowly trickle back.

The resort, tucked into the snowy folds of the Balkans, has 21 lifts and fewer crowds than one might find elsewhere. And, in case you want to rub elbows with Serbia’s elite, the resort hosts the popular Suri Restaurant. The food, like the skiing, is affordable and very worthwhile.

Red Corner: A Day in Varna

Yesterday at Red Corner we pointed you in the direction of the new up-and-coming Bulgarian party town of Varna.

Today we’d like to follow up with a great little feature from The Independent: 24 Hours In Varna.

I love this section of the paper because “24 Hours” cuts right to the chase, giving us tourist folk the down-and-dirty on what to see and what to do while seeing it.

In the case of Varna, The Independent guides us to the best way to start the day–viewing the sun rise over the eastern facing water–and then whisks us through the remaining 23 hours with Roman baths, sea gardens, swimming, wine tasting, cocktails, food, and dancing until the next sunrise occurs.

That’s a pretty decent day if you ask me.

Red Corner: Party like a Bulgarian

Even when I visited Varna, Bulgaria in 1991, less than two years after communism fell, the town was a lot of fun.

Situated on the Black Sea, the resort town was a popular vacation spot during the Cold War for those living on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Its popularity quickly faded with the opening of the border, however, as locals began exploring the rest of Europe and leaving the Black Sea coastline to those who couldn’t afford to go anywhere else.

Well, according to an article by Adrian Mourby of The Independent, Varna has returned to the spotlight and is now gaining popularity as a raging party town. “I’ve never met a people with such a zest for life,” Mourby writes. Sure, 70 cent beers probably influenced his perception of the locals a wee bit, but I’m still going to take his word for it and possibly return one of these days.