Monthly Archives: May 2017

Let’s go LEGO!

We walked into the museum and paused, allowing our jaws to gently drop to the floor. Ahead of us was a room filled with glass, behind which lay bricks, lovingly shaped and turned into different scenes. To the left was a section dedicated to Formula racing, further ahead were cranes and construction sites, followed by trains and  finally, other vehicles. The middle section was like a city in itself with little houses, a police station, trains, factories and little people going about their daily work. 

It was a veritable treasure trove of LEGO at Prague’s LEGO museum. 

Once we picked up our jaws off the floor, we walked through the two floors, marvelling at some of the structures, pressing switches and button that made the planes and trains move and exclaiming in delight like little children. 

Here’s what to find: 

Star Wars 

If you’re one of the millions of people who worship the cult space saga, the museum’s top floor is where you can go and pay homage. There are battleships, beloved characters and scenes from the menu. I am not a fan but was impressed at the intricacy and the detailing of the structures. My friend though, was like a kid in a candy store (he loved LEGO and Star Wars), even pressing his nose  against the glass for a glimpse of the battleships. 

 

Harry Potter

As a Potterhead, I consume the Harry Potter world in every possible form. I was excited on hearing the museum had scenes from the book and was expecting a grand Hogwarts Castle. What we did see can only be described as cute – giant spiders, Hagrid’s hut, Quidditch, the classrooms, the Gryffindor tower and the characters. None of it was inspiring enough to wow me, but I did spend a happy few minutes trying to guess the exact scenes displayed. 

 

Famous (heritage) structures 

It was all there, from the pristine white Taj Mahal, the shades of red in the Kremlin to the inspiring Golden Gate Bridge. Each structure is accompanied by small snippets about how/ when it was built and other trivia. For instance: the Taj Mahal is the biggest factory set Lego has ever made, with 5,922 bricks. 

Our favourites were the Prague monuments especially the Charles Bridge – the five meter long monument was too big to capture in a single frame and was decorated with 1000 figurines. We were encouraged to look closer and observe the minute details, find our favourite Star Wars characters/ animals in it or count the coins in beggars’ bowls. The National Museum was a two meter wide model built of 1,00,000 bricks. As impressive as it was from the front, looking at it from the behind revealed different floors, visitors and exhibits too! 

Beloved characters

The museum had many popular children’s characters, from books and television – Batman, Captain Jack Sparrow, Blue Beard and well, Barbie and Ken. 

If you haven’t had your fill of these blocks, there is a separate play room containing stations where you can create your own masterpieces. And, like us, you can also buy your fill of LEGO characters or blocks – their selection of keychains featuring characters like Batman, Darth Vader and Wonderwoman is impressive.
The museum is located at Praha, Národní 362/31; it is open from 10 am to 8 pm; the nearest tram stop and metro station is Narodni Trida; log on to Lego Museum
 
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Egg-squisite Easter markets

Eggs are easy. You know what they taste like and look like – a thin skin, a goeey centre and an oval shape. Now, imagine this delicate thing decorated with beads, or embroidery, or painted with pictures or just. Add a bunch of these together and you have an Easter Egg Market. Look closely in that crowded market and you will find me in the middle of it, gazing at the stacks of eggs around me in wonder. 

Vienna’s Christmas market has always been on my wishlist. So when my holiday plan included Easter, I figured it was time to check out the city’s second best markets: the Easter ones. Research threw up two places – the market in front of Schönbrunn Palace and at Freyung. 

Schönbrunn

The palace and grounds were breathtaking; the market not as much. It felt like a hipster space created to satisfy tourists who thronged it on Easter Sunday. Cute wooden stalls sold jewellery, pottery, toys, clothes and curios. One area had a band crooning classic English numbers. People were ambling about, sipping wine or beer, munching on (quite average) food and taking selfies. It was noisy and crowded and felt like a Bombay market. The only saving grace was the view of the palace up ahead. 

GETTING THERE: Schönbrunn station is the nearest metro/ tram station – it’s a 15 minute walk from there. Log on Ostermarkt.

Freyung

On Easter Monday, we visited the Old Viennese Easter Market on Freyung, a pretty square in the city. There, we hunted for what some blogs said was the biggest tower of painted Easter eggs (40,000). There was no tower, just a giant painted egg, but the small market had enough charm to make up for it. In the centre was a display of just Easter eggs – painted ones, embroidered ones, beaded ones. There were eggs with lattice work, gold trimmings, ribbons, cloth and more. 

We couldn’t help admire the craftmanship and thought that went into decorating those eggs. The market, we were told, also had workshops for children and musical performances in the evening.  

Aside: History lesson – In 1990, the first Osterreichische Ostermarkt was held in Freyung, as a counterpart to the Christmas market (Christkindlmarkt), in 1990. Freyung in the early days was a thoroughfare, and was always used as a market place.  

The stack of eggs apart, there were stalls selling handmade crockery, wooden toys, organic food and even a food truck serving alcohol. We gravitated towards a hot chocolate shop with the idea of warming ourselves up a bit (it was too early for alcohol). The shop sold chocolate bars, which once chosen were dissolved in cups of milk and served hot. Quite a lovely find. 

GETTING THERE: Schottentor is the nearest metro/ tram station – it’s a five minute walk from there, down Schottengasse. Log on Altwiener-markt.at.

Mag St Bread Co: Dough good

It was a thing of beauty: a round, bowl-like bread, heavy in weight but soft at the touch. It had lines carved into it, a weathered, beaten look and a dusting of flour – the white providing a stark contrast with the dark, caramel-ly crust. The hard shell revealed a softer, mildly sour bread inside. This was the Mag St Sourdough Loaf (Rs 350), one of the products of Mag St. Bread Co.

 

If you follow head baker Rachelle Andrade’s Instagram feed, you will know that this is one of their specialty products, one that she takes immense pride in baking.  

Mag St. Bread Co. (MSBC), the bakery arm of Magazine St Kitchen, launched their first retail space in November last year, at the entrance of Le Sutra hotel, next to the new Out of the Blue. I visited them soon after their launch. Spoilt for choice, I tried one of everything and walked out with paper bags filled with baked goodies and wishing I could go on a picnic. 

 

The Almond Croissant (Rs 125) was a sweet but delicious overdose of almonds, from the crunchy slivered nuts on the top to the frangipani spread on the inside. Of the four Pullman Loaves, the Brioche Pullman Loaf (Rs 150) was a soft, buttery bread with the darkest crust. It tasted good plain or just dipped into my evening tea.

From the Viennoiserie section, I tried the Cruffin with Vanilla Custard (Rs 125) and Kouign Amann (Rs 125). The Cruffin was a favourite, that hybrid of a croissant and muffin hybrid, stuffed with sweet, creamy custard and dusted with sugar. It was sweet, but not overpoweringly so. The Kouign Amann was a roundish crusty bread containing layers of butter and sugar folded in to create a melt in the mouth, crumbly texture and flavour. The Roasted Tomato Foccacia (Rs 70) had a hint of sourness from the roasted tomato and a faint garlicky aftertaste. Every mouthful was a fresh burst of tomatoes.

 

 Every ingredient used in the bread is locally sourced. The shelf life is 48 hours (not refrigerated) preferably wrapped in butter paper; the sweeter breads have a shorter shelf life. Give us this day our daily bread, indeed.

Mag St Bread Co is located at Out of the Blue, Union Park, Khar (W); open from 9 am to 1 am or till stocks run out; log on to www.facebook.com/MagStreetKitchen