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Category Archives: Eat
Seven Hungarian Food and Wine Resolutions for 2017
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 04 January, 2017 in Cook ,Drink ,Eat ,Explore ,

As you might have suspected, at Taste Hungary we’re not big fans of New Year’s resolutions that focus on what we will not eat. We prefer to turn it around and focus on what we will do, rather than what we won’t do. So in 2017 I resolve to do more—more things which will expand my palate, bring joy, teach me something, and help me dig deeper into my favorite topics—Hungarian food, Hungarian wine, and travel.

I spend a lot of time thinking about Hungarian food and wine, talking about it, cooking it, eating and eating it, and writing about it. There is still so much to learn, and so much to appreciate (I’m only reminded how amazing it is that foie gras and Tokaji aszú are pretty much standard fare at any Budapest restaurant when I leave Hungary). So I’ve made some resolutions that will help me (and you!) to further appreciate and discover the rich cuisine and wine of Hungary.

If you are unfamiliar to Hungarian cuisine, I give you one more resolution to start with—make this the year that you dive in and get to know it! Start with George Láng’s Cuisine of Hungary (which is out of print, but many used copies are available), which will also introduce you to Hungary’s fascinating culinary history. Culinaria Hungary, which is full of beautiful photographs as well as recipes, is also a great place to get inspired. You’ll thank yourself at the end of the year after you master dishes like paprikás csirke, lecsó, töltött paprika (stuffed peppers), gulyás, and szilvás gombóc (plum dumplings)!

Here is what I resolve to do more of in 2017. Will you join?

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The Most Rewarding Moments of 2016: Taste Hungary and The Tasting Table Budapest
Posted by Gábor Bánfalvi on 01 January, 2017 in Drink ,Eat ,Explore ,People ,

2016 was such an amazing year for Taste Hungary and The Tasting Table that it was not easy to narrow them down for this post! Many things happened that opened the doors for other things to happen. Now it’s the end of the year (and I am enjoying a glass of Samuel Tinon’s dry szamorodni). I’ll put my plans aside for a few days and will start fresh and motivated for the beginning of 2017. There is so much more we can do that it feels like we’re just getting started …

Building The Taste Hungary Team

We are fortunate that Taste Hungary has been growing nicely and that we have an increasing number of customers every year. To make our offerings more colorful and attractive to a wider range of guests, we frequently develop new tours and offer more services … and we have so many new ideas (and not enough time to follow up on them!). Now that we have around 4,000 guests booking tours with us annually, our team is more important than ever. We’ve put a lot of effort into building a circle of very smart, highly-qualified people who love food and wine (and also beer) as much as we do. We’ve ended up with a team of colorful people, who all bring very different skills and interests into the mix. We all come from different areas of life, and we are all experts at some aspect of food/drink to connect us to Taste Hungary. Since I don’t meet every guest in person, the values that I believe in and share with the team are my way to communicate with guests even without meeting them. These values are the foundation of our team, and they shape us and ensure our commitment to high standards (which results in great service at the end of the day). The importance of our team goes beyond business. Our team is a happy (and growing) community made of people who make this world a better place to live.

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2016—Our Year in Food Memories
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 20 December, 2016 in Eat ,Explore ,People ,

We’ve eaten (and drunk) a lot this year. Hey, it’s part of the job. And we love that. Of course, not everything we’ve eaten has been good (such as a disastrous attempt at kürtőskalács in Seoul, sampled by one of our tour guides). But luckily plenty of it has been very good. We’ve asked some of our tour guides (who eat and drink for a living) to recount their year in food and share the best things they’ve eaten in 2016. Some of these eating experiences happened at restaurants in Hungary (we’ve shared the addresses here so you can try them for yourselves). Others happened during our travels around the world, which is when we are all most open to allowing ourselves to encounter new experiences and flavors. Others—like a feast Júlia ate in her hospital room, which was lovingly prepared by her father—were so personal that they left an indelible impression, which goes deeper than the actual food that was eaten. That’s the real magic of food. We hope that you also experienced some of that in 2016.

Here are some of the best things that Taste Hungary guides have eaten in 2016. We’re already looking forward to what will come in 2017!

Read about our best wine memories of 2016 here.

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Christmas in Hungary
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 12 December, 2016 in Eat ,Explore ,

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The sure way to tell Christmas is approaching in Hungary is when the cukrászdas begin stockpiling beiglis. The beigli—made of yeast-raised dough, which is stretched thin, filled with either poppyseed or ground walnut filling, and rolled into cylinder shapes—is the essence of Hungarian Christmas. Grandmothers bake dozens of them every year, and if you are lucky you’ll receive several as gifts from loved ones, relatives, friends, or colleagues. Luckily the glistening cakes hold well for weeks (which comes in handy when you receive more than you can possibly eat). In Hungary, beigli is the essence of Christmas, a taste memory which is anticipated all year long.

Around the time when bakers start selling beigli nearly as fast as it comes out of the oven, many of Budapest’s squares are filling up with Christmas markets. The Christmas Market at Vörösmarty tér is no longer the only one to visit. Budapest’s Christmas markets have been growing every year (in size, number, and variety), and have become part of the winter-time experience in the city. Add vendors selling hot roasted chestnuts and the scent of mulled wine wafting through the street, and it makes this season one of the best times of the year to visit (if you can handle the cold).

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The Eater’s (and Drinker’s) Guide to Hungaricums (Part 1)
Posted by Anna J. Kutor on 09 December, 2016 in 100 Essentials ,Drink ,Eat ,

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You’ve seen shop signs and restaurants touting Hungaricums all around Budapest … but what exactly is a Hungaricum (and can you eat one)? Hungary is proud of the many inventions which its citizens have given to the world (in case you haven’t heard, Hungarian are the brains behind inventions including the Rubik’s Cube, the ballpoint pen, vitamin C, and the hydrogen bomb). They are proud (and fiercely protective) of their natural treasures, outstanding achievements, and matchless flavors and culinary products. In order to shield and preserve these uniquely Hungarian products on a local and international scale, many are protected under the term Hungaricum. The Hungaricum Act was established in 2012 and includes quintessential local products such as Herend porcelain, Matyo folk art, Hungarian grey cattle, and the Hungarian cimbalom. Check out the complete list of Hungaricums (pdf file).

We are not the only ones who think that some of the Hungary’s best assets are edible (or drinkable)—out of the 60 Hungarian treasures which have been declared as Hungaricums, 25 are foods, drinks, ingredients, or dishes. The culinary component of the Hungaricum collection shows off the best of what Hungary has to offer—craftsmanship, distinctive flavors, and a time-honored heritage. Below, we highlight the edible (and drinkable) Hungaricums which display the pure essence of Hungary.

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Sólet at Rosenstein, An Essential Budapest Experience
Posted by Anna J. Kutor on 30 June, 2015 in 100 Essentials ,Eat ,Explore ,

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Walking into Rosenstein, Budapest’s most revered Hungarian-Jewish restaurant, two distinct moods emerge. The crisp white tablecloths, chic stemware, dark wood furnishings, and immaculately dressed waiters exude fine-dining elegance. But other details—from the father-son chef duo to the time-honored weekly menu highlighting traditional Hungarian and Jewish meals—lend the familiar coziness of dinner at grandma’s house.

Striking a great balance between traditional and indulgent is the forte of owner-chef Tibor Rosenstein, and now his son and partner, Róbert. What he started as a tiny buffet in 1996 on a side street next to Keleti Railway station (and which is still in operation next to the restaurant today) has grown into one of the city’s finest restaurants, all thanks to his culinary expertise and entrepreneurial chops. Rosenstein’s menu is made up of Hungarian-Jewish specialties, from gulyás to lecsó (stewed peppers and tomatoes), and lamb knuckles with garlic hremzli (potato pancake) to goose leg with red cabbage. But it is his decadent take on comfort foods—such as töltött káposzta (stuffed cabbage) and Brassói aprópecsenye (a dish made up roasted pork, potatoes, garlic, and paprika)—that really stands out.

Hungary, with its robust soup, bread and meat traditions, has also infused its own flavors into the vibrant Jewish cuisine which has deep roots in Hungary, and is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance these days. There are plenty of excellent dishes to try at Rosenstein—which has become somewhat of a pilgrimage spot for visitors to Budapest—including the matzo ball soup. But if you are there, you really cannot miss trying the sólet.

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Hot Wheels – Food trucks in Budapest worth chasing down
Posted by Anna J. Kutor on 20 March, 2015 in Eat ,Explore ,

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Hungary’s street food scene has generally traditionally been limited to the lángos, palacsinta, and kürtöskalács variety. But the international trend for pop-up food experiences from mobile devices has sped its way into Budapest. Still in their first years of operation, trucks selling gourmet burgers or Mexican comfort food are now feeding office workers and the late-night party crowd throughout the city. As these mobile food vendors set off on a roll, offering a variety of wallet-friendly eats and drinks—from gourmet burgers to innovative cheese and pasta dishes—we take a look at some of the city’s best. Read More

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Old-School Hungarian Sweets
Posted by Anna J. Kutor on 02 March, 2015 in Eat ,

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Remember when an after-lunch snack meant having to choose between roasted peanuts covered in colorful lumpy sugar (aka Dunakavics), chocolate-mousse filled ice-cream cones (téli fagyi), or a cocoa-filled wafer bar (Balaton)? If so, there’s a good chance that you are over 40 and lived your youthful years under the Communist regime in Hungary. Good news: in their original or modernized packaging they are all still widely available (although some you may never want to taste them again). From creamy caramel fudge (tejkaramella) to “potato sugar” (krumplicukor), here are some retro candies that are sure to take any Hungarian for a trip down memory lane.

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Where To Eat Classic Fisherman’s Soup (Halászlé) in Budapest
Posted by Anna J. Kutor on 10 February, 2015 in 100 Essentials ,Eat ,Explore ,

Halászlé (Fisherman's soup)

Gulyás might be the best-known of Hungarian soups, but halászlé (fisherman’s soup) is an equally-worthy and emblematic Hungarian dish. It is the lesser-sung knockout prepared for centuries by fishermen and their families along the banks of the Danube, Tisza rivers, and Lake Balaton (or wherever else there is freshly-caught fish). Following the Hungarian proverb “as many houses, as many customs”, this local favorite exists in many versions. Some versions include cream, others are served over pasta, but all are made using one or more locally-caught freshwater fish such as carp, pike, perch, catfish, bream or sterlet. It’s a Christmas Eve dinner staple, but the spring-summer fishing season also brings an abundance of raw material for year-round consumption.

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The Hungarian Cold Plate (Hidegtál)
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 10 January, 2015 in 100 Essentials ,Cook ,Eat ,

Hungarian Hidegtal (Cold Plate

A Hungarian cold plate (“hidegtál”) is a classic way to showcase the wide variety of charcuterie which butcher shops, market stalls, and kitchen pantries are brimming with. When a cold plate is offered on restaurant menus, fancy restaurants will dress it up with slices of foie gras or smoked goose breast. At home it can be as simple as an old wooden cutting board piled with rustic sausages, home-grown vegetables, pickles, or whatever else is on hand. The components are always different, depending on who prepares it, and it can serve as anything from breakfast to a light meal or an appetizer to nibble on while the main meal is being prepared.

No matter where it is served, the hidegtál is a celebration of pork, which is the meat of choice in Hungary. “Perhaps the extraordinary quality of pork in Hungary contributed to the popularity of dishes made with pork, or perhaps it was the other way around,” writes George Lang in The Cuisine of Hungary. “The fact is that what beef is to Argentina and veal to Italy, pork is to Hungary.”

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Sunday Lunch in Hungary
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 15 January, 2015 in 100 Essentials ,Eat ,Explore ,

Hungarian Outdoor Sunday Lunch

Sunday lunch is practically a sacred ritual in Hungary. This I learned soon after arriving on my very first visit. I found myself sitting at a table set under towering chestnut and walnut trees, eating the kind of meal that would have only been prepared on holidays in my family. It was the ideal introduction to this cuisine that was new to me. I had come to visit Gábor (now my husband) for the summer. He had already told me stories about his mother’s cooking, his epic family meals, and all the Hungarian dishes that he missed so much when he was away from home. Now, I would taste it all for myself.

First there were shots of homemade pálinka, walnut liqueur, and other spirits poured unceremoniously from used plastic water and soda bottles into stout shot glasses. The meal began with húsleves, a rich consommé which was a staple at welcome meals prepared by Gábor’s mom, Kati, I would later learn. Prepared with beef or poultry, húsleves is made by slowly simmering bones and meat, and adding whole root vegetables and homemade pinched pasta when it is nearly done. For me, it has come to typify Hungarian cuisine more than almost any other dish. At the table, everyone added their own hot paprika. And a long hot green pepper was passed around the table from which everybody cut thin slices directly into their bowls.

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Objects of My Confection: Budapest’s Modern Sweet Spots
Posted by Anna J. Kutor on 08 January, 2015 in 100 Essentials ,Eat ,Explore ,Shop ,

Modern Sweet Spots_-3Breaking the sugary mold with adventurous flavors and modern design, a fresh cast of Hungarian confectioners is paving the way for a high-style take on the classic pastry shop. These patisseries will satisfy your craving for the sweets on any end of the spectrum.

Sugar Design Confectionery Budapest

Creative Confections
For Budapesters with intense cravings for unusual sweet treats: Sugar Design Confectionery (Paulay Ede utca 48, Budapest 1061, +36 1 321 6672) is your salvation. Tucked away on a side street in central Pest, steps away from the tourist hoards on Andrássy utca and Liszt Ferenc tér, the gleaming interior of this dessert outlet draws a gasp at entrance. The audible surprise comes from the sensory overload of the kaleidoscopic collection of cakes and candies set against a radiant white backdrop. It’s a Willy Wonkaesque wonderland, only better because it is real.

Sugar Design Confectionery Budapest

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