By Sandy D'Amato

It's Angie's and my last day in Prague. We arrived four days before and have become not only smitten with this beautiful city but worried about withdrawal from the amazing beer.

Growing up in Milwaukee, I've always been partial to suds, having ingested my fill over the years. But the beer in Prague was a revelation that I wasn't expecting. From our first night at U Medviaku, the food was an afterthought as we drained chilled mugs of Budvar (the real Budweiser) and couldn't believe how good they were and how quickly they disappeared. It was smooth, creamy, a bittersweet, perfect balance, and we went from casual beer drinkers to gulpers.

Their secret was tankova, which means that the beer is made and served without pasteurizing, which gives it a brightness and depth that compares, in theory, to unpasteurized cheeses, and even unpasteurized heavy cream, where a lot of the beneficial (flavor-wise) bacteria are not killed.

The two main tankova beers in Prague are Budvar and Pilsner Urquel. After three days of hoisting, we found ourselves at Lokal, a hip hotspot that looks like a transformed '70s Communist beer hall with vaulted cement ceilings and serviceable rectangular overhead lights running the length of the railroad-style room.

As you walk in, there is a striking transparent bar that holds two 3-by-6-foot stainless steel tanks that are the heart and soul of the place; they hold the unpasteurized Pilsner Urquel. The plus here was a simple menu of the greatest hits of classic Czech food, all with a chef-ly twist.

Angie had the Segedin goulash, which was similar to a Polish bigos with the addition of sauerkraut in with the braised meat. I had the butter-fried pork schnitzel, which was crisp and juicy. But the real star was a side of smashed potatoes and onions loaded with fragrant caraway. They were so good that we decided to have an extra beer to celebrate.

Today's recipe is my take on those potatoes with the "smashing" addition of cauliflower and parsley cream. I think you'll find that these are the perfect blend of vegetables and potatoes, and that the only logical embellishment would be a couple of steins of your favorite brew.

Caraway Cauliflower Smashed Potatoes
Makes 8 servings

Prepared potatoes (see recipe)

Prepared cauliflower (see recipe)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

6 cloves (1 ounce) garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

2 large (2 ounces) shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon ground caraway

¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus salt to taste (divided)

¾ teaspoon black pepper, plus freshly ground pepper to taste (divided)

1 large bunch fresh Italian parsley leaves, washed and dried (you'll need ½ ounce or 2 cups loosely packed)

Prepare potatoes. Prepare cauliflower just before making parsley cream.

For parsley cream: Place a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add oil to pan and, when oil is hot, the garlic and shallots and sauté 2 minutes, without browning. Add buttermilk, caraway, the ¾ teaspoon salt and ¾ teaspoon pepper and bring to a simmer. (The buttermilk will break down but will smooth out in the blender.)

Place mixture in a blender along with all but a few of the parsley leaves (reserve a few for garnish) and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine mixture with the potatoes and three-fourths of the cauliflower and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, with salt and pepper. Place in a 1 ½- to 2-quart ovenproof baking dish and garnish top with the remaining cauliflower. Place in preheated oven and bake until hot, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with reserved parsley garnish.


8 to 10 small Yukon Gold potatoes (1 pound total)

1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt

Wash potatoes and cut each in half, then cut each half in half again. Cover with cold water and add salt. Bring to a boil and cook 5 to 8 minutes until tender. Drain into to a bowl and smash coarsely. Cover with plastic wrap until you mix in the parsley cream.


1 pound cauliflower florets, each cut or broken into ½ to 1-inch size

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons whole caraway seeds

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

In a bowl, toss all of the ingredients together. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven 5 minutes. Turn over florets and bake another 3 to 4 minutes, until they are golden and cooked through.

Sanford "Sandy" D'Amato, chef/co-owner of Sanford Restaurant, 1547 N. Jackson St., is a James Beard Award winner. For more information, visit