- Posted February 24, 2013 by
Prague, Czech Republic
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The MasterChef is in Amade Restaurant
"Is Mr Subrt here?" I asked at the door.
"He's on his way."
"I have an appointment at 11:00" I explained. The waiter turned away and went on his business. I found a table and sat down. Fortunately they were late, not me.
Mr Subrt, and Ana Pibliva settled opposite me. Soon Mr Subrt moved off. Ana remained answering questions, identifying faces and explaining things.
Mr Subrt owns the Amade Restaurant near Novetneho Lavka on the Smetana Embankment. The restaurant is in the Baroque Pachta Palace where Mozart stayed, giving the restaurant its name. The artful interior is illumined by windows on two sides of the dining hall. Without being presumptious, the atmosphere is elegant and gracious. I felt out of place. Dressed casually in t-shirts and jeans, layered to the fourth degree to combat the cold outside, Ana reassured me.
Amatuer chefs compete for a million crowns in the MasterChef is a reality show. There are no consolation prizes. Cooks are given ingredients with an hour to present the judges an edible solution. Mr Subrt is one of three judges. Every month, he organizes a special event to generate community interest. Today eight of the top twenty MasterChef contestants present a six course menu. They are ordinary people.
MasterChef contestants submitted menu ideas but Radek Subrt made the final selection. Yesterday they prepared it; today they serve it. The first guest arrives at 12:00; the last guest at 10:30pm. Beer is flowing. Eight cooks squished in a kitchen made for three. The camaraderie is infectious.
Afterwards, it's party time at Sokol in Riegerova Park in Prague Vinohrady. In March, there's wine-tasting. Details pending.
Two dishes arrive together. It's a challenge: taste and shoot.
Sophisticated food comes intimidating names, sliding off tongues better speaking French. I savor creative cuisine.
The Amuse Bouche is exquisite, carefully centered on a dimpled plate. Plates are works of art, framing the food for the Louvre. Henri Matisse would approve of color, texture and lines. Art for the tongue, melting with an overtone of Parmesan-- smooth with cream. Flavor broadens as it slithers to the stomach. Dainty come vigorous.
Ham in dark beer with pineapple and ginger chutney arrives. Dry a tad, but the chutney redeems it from damnation. I dabble ham in the sumptious beer sauce. The mix of tangy and tart delights.
The crowning glory of the food :is orange-carrot soup. Zany contemporary orange delight belongs in an abstract exhibition alongside Tinguely. It has a fresh tangy zip with immaculate smoothness. I prowl about the table with the camera, looking for the ideal angle, the perfect shot. I stalk food like Hemingway once shot lions, looking for the perfect moment in the blissful air bubbles appearing on the surface of the serenely orange soup. An ideal summer treat, it's served up in winter drabness just to cheer me. It astounds with a freshness that breath mints fail to deliver. This is it. If I die now, this day, I will have had the best. The rest shall be overshadowed by the amazing orange plate. It's the color, it's the taste, it's the smoothness, it's the roundness of the plate. I delight in it. Euphoria begins with "O".
"O" is not "Ocean perch" which floats along next. Pale, limpid white, a slab of unidentifiable fish. I guess halibut, but told it's ocean perch, perched on a patty of bulgur impersonating lentils. I am not impressed. Too bland, too nondescript, the fish lacks character after a charismatic soup. The bulgur wheat is heavy, overwhelming the fish. The fish is a bit rubbery from sitting in the bathtub too long or is seasoned for a crime scene in a B-rated murder mystery. It smacks of Satre and Nausea. I nibble like an insecure trout and poke it with my fork, leaving it broken into rubble heaps like a condemned house under the wrecking ball. The problem is I come from the sea. I worked in a fish cannery. I know the intimate secrets of fish fresh from Alaska and this is not it. It's disappointing, it is. Easy to be a critic. What would I have done?
Well, fish should be light and airy. Something that melts in the mouth, floats on the plate like puffs of egg white, delicate with lemon and scented thyme.
Chocolate fudge brownie compensates the disappointing fish. It's more than decadence in sweet, sticky blackberry and raspberry forest fruit syrup. A hint of mint, but not enough to give a small snap. Nevertheless, it's art, and artfully I devour it. A shame to leave it on the plate.
I didn't mean to stay the day, but here I am, still in the Amade. My feet grew like roots into the floor, It's good I came. MasterChef contestants create cuisine suitable for a museum.
My head swims with tastes and textures. I'm making humming sounds like Pooh's Tigger. Amade is a place for culinary exploration with good hosts, indulgent serving staff and amiable owner greeting guests. They don't look at your shoes; you don't need a tie, but take an appetite because the food is good.
Jan Rambousek and Vaclav Riha, MasterChef cooks.
Ham in dark beer with pineapple and ginger chutney
Alice Vacikova and Jana Podana, MasterChef cooks.
Adriana Ihringova, MasterChef cook.
Ocean perch with bulgar
Petra Liskova and Tomas Kucera, MasterChef cooks.
Beata Karelova, MasterChef cook. Her husband, Pavel Duda , prepared the dessert, Chocolate Fudge Brownie with blackberry and raspberry syrup, so makes a sweet relationship.
Radek Subrt (pronounced Schubert) owner, Amade Resturant
Anna Píbilova Amade management assistant