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Saturday, June 11, 2022

Budapest Food Tour, part-2

Hungarian Goulash (American Style): Slow-cooked beef with a paprika gravy over small pasta or couscous.

 If you've never taken a food tour, it's a great way to see a new city and get the inside scoop from a local on what to eat, what the locals eat and some of the history along the way. They are usually a walking tour with many small bites spread over several hours.  If you are ever in Budapest, perhaps as a stopover on a Danube river cruise, I highly recommend taking one.  In Budapest we took an organized food tour by Nora at She guided us through the town on a culinary adventure and gave us so much history along the way. Some of the food from these photos are from that tour, others are food we found along the way on our own.

Traditional Hungarian supper is usually cold-cuts, bread and pickled vegetables. (Cheese is not so popular there.) They tend to eat the big meal of the day mid-day.

Traditional Hungarian breakfast: "fasírt & zsíros kenyér"  Meat balls served on bread with lard, onion and paprika.

Another traditional Hungarian breakfast treat: mushroom cream grilled sandwich

On the food tour we learned that meats and breads were the primary foods of breakfast and supper, with a bigger meal served mid-day. We tried to follow this pattern. 

More samples from the food tour. Below is the variety of salami sausages we tried at the Central Market, 

A variety of local Salami for tasting at the Great Hall.

Lángos (fried bread) with sour cream and chives. Why is there an ashtray on my dining table?

Traditional Hungarian bean gulyás (goulash) soup.

"Csak (Chuck) Norris" Paprika spread with Carolina Reaper Chilis, because he kicks butt!

                                 Foreground: Sztrapacska with sheep cheese, bacon, sour cream,
Background: Lecsó with eggs and sausage

We learned that when you hear "paprika", you can't assume it is that typical smokey-sweet dried and ground pepper  flavor that we're all used to. Sometimes the word is used to describe a pepper sauce (hot-sauce) that is stirred into the goulash soup or on other foods.   

There are a few very nice pastry shops in Budapest. Our tour guide took us to one of the more famous shops called Hisztéria Cremeria. These are a few of the beautiful pastries on display. One of the girls behind the counter was so camera friendly she had to make sure she showed me the love.

Artisan Hungarian Pastries

                                          Left:  Mézes krémes (Classic Honey Creme cake)
Right: NImród cake, 2021 winner of the "Cake of Hungary" competition

Pastries we sampled included the traditional Hungarian honey cream cake "Mézes krémes" and the Nimrod Cake that won the national Hungarian competition for 2021.  

Above is just a single page from a 20 page menu book for the Cafe Frei.  This place is the fastest growing coffee shop in Europe, which started in Budapest. There are so many varieties of regional coffee drinks, it makes Starbucks look old-school. They also sell their own chocolates and pastries too!

Chimney Cakes roasting on the spit.

Another popular item in Budapest are the "Chimney Cakes". These are a type of pastry dough that is rolled onto a small cone shaped holder then roasted on a spit. Many vendors of these can be found on the streets or in local markets. Typically they are flavored with nuts or cinnamon, but some of the more touristy places have added fillings and toppings like ice cream or chocolate. 

Tourist variations of the Chimney Cakes.

The apple pie slices below were a totally unexpected surprise. We stopped at the café inside the museum of fine art and I ordered a slice of something familiar. Now this is a cafeteria-style eatery inside the museum. They have a captive audience, so expectations were rather low. I've eaten a lot of apple pie in my days, but this was far and away the MOST delicious apple pie I've ever had!  I don't know if was the variety of apple used, or what ever else they added, but I was in heaven.

One place not on our formal tour, but we discovered ourselves is a small alleyway in the Jewish quarter, near the ruin bars that is filled with food trucks (below). 

Street Food Karavan, Budapest.

One of the trucks in this corridor was a place that served Langos Burgers. They offered many varieties including lamb and duck (about $8.00), but we opted for the traditional beef with sweet potato fries.

Lunch at Magyaros Konyha, upstairs of the Central Market. Stuffed paprika and meatball with herb potatoes in paprika gravy.

Lunch at the Hummus Bar, a restaurant chain throughout Europe. 
Foreground: Hummus Bowl with falafel and vegetables. Background: Spiced, roasted cauliflower.

Breakfast at Franziska's in Budapest (below) 
Foreground - Cashew Bowl with banana, coconut cream, cashew butter, almond butter, dates, cacao, granola, cacao nibs, puffed quinoa, shredded coconut & chia seeds. 
Background- Morning Bowl with roasted mushrooms, avocado, goat cheese, poached egg, hollandaise sauce, pickled red onion, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, hemp seeds and sourdough bread.

Cruffins and Croissants from à table! Madách Bistro.

On our last day, we found a great Indian restaurant called Bombay.  As you can see the food was delicious and nicely presented. 
Left: "MALAI BROCCOLI", broccoli, cheese, cashew, yogurt served with tomato chutney 
Right: Tandoori Chicken on spiced sweet potato puree

Lamb biryani and garlic naan from

Below are some of the hand-made chocolates from a tiny little chocolate shop. 

The picture below shows some of the sweets from a vendor at the street market. These colorful "licorice" vines remind me of some of the street vendors you might see in Stockholm. 

French baking has a strong following in Budapest. Below is a photo of some of the macarons available at a local street vendor. 

Reading labels at the grocery store is hard unless you read Hungarian.  The next photo is the label of some local cheese we found at the grocery - still not sure what it was but it did have dried tomatoes and basil (paradicsom & bazsalikom). 

Next is an example of the prices at a local McDonalds (1,000 huf is about $2.50). 

Finally the hairy red pig was a photo our tour guide showed us to describe the type of rare  pork we were having at one of the restaurants.
 This rare breed of pigs bred in Hungary has a very tasty meat and was made nearly extinct under Soviet occupation.

Hungarian mangalitsa (pig)

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Budapest Food Tour - Part 1: Central Market

The exterior of the 1897 building that contains the great hall of the central market. The colored tiles of the roof are very traditional of this period in Budapest  and samples can be purchased at local shops.
Main Hall of Budapest Central Market Hall

We spent seven days and seven nights in Budapest, Hungary in June, 2022. Food is always a big part of our travel experience in a new place. Foods can say so much about a place, it's culture and it's people. Smells and tastes also create lasting memories that can be linked to a particularly sweet memory or idyllic moment in time. One place we always try to visit when traveling is the town's central market place. We made a point to visit the Budapest Central Market Hall before our food tour to get familiar with the local gastronomy. The Budapest Central Market was built in 1897. These food markets provide a great overview of what kinds of food you'll find in the town, what their specialty foods are, and what grows fresh in the region. 

A typical meat market vendor at the Central Hall. There are so many varieties of local Hungarian sausages which are marked with the colors of the Hungarian flag, however these are the same colors as the Italian flag, so if you are shopping in an international market, they can easily be mistaken.

Traditionally, Hungarian food was mostly meats and pickled vegetables. Meats were either dried, smoked or canned for preservation before refrigeration. Vegetables of the region were also either dried (paprika) or pickled for preservation. These traditional preservation processes became a good part of the local cuisine.

Colorful fresh local fruits and vegetables can be found when they are in season. Some of these are obviously imported from warmer regions or when off-season.

Fresh Hungarian peppers (paprika).

Fresh Hungarian Truffles. Many French chefs were employed by the elite of historic Budapest and brought many French cooking techniques and ingredients with them. The cost of 200HUF/gram translates to about $14 per ounce. Quite a bit less than French Truffles.

Celery Root, Carrots and Parsley Roots.

The dried garlic and peppers (paprika) available at one of the vendors shops. The price shown for one string (1500 HUF) is about $3.75.

Modern cooking has created a higher demand for fresh fruits and vegetables. A wide variety are available at the Central Market Hall.

Local dried paprika packaged as gift packs for the tourists. There are four main varieties: Sweet, Hot, Smokey-sweet and Smokey-hot. Only products grown and processed in Hungary are permitted to be called 'Paprika'.

Sweet Paprika packet from the grocery store.

Use Google Image Translate to get an idea of what the labels say.

Dried Paprika is a staple of Hungarian cooking. Many brands and varieties are available at the markets or grocery stores. It's a good idea to use Google Image Translate to help with reading the labels. 

Hungarian pasta varieties. 

These dried pasta varieties are somewhat unique to Hungary since they are quite small and delicate and are frequently used in cooking goulash.

Artisan chocolates at the market.

Stühmer Chocolates. A premium chocolate brand from Hungary.

Excellent chocolate is available at the market. There seems to be a trend toward this variety with dried fruit on top.

Not so many cheese mongers are at the market. Cheese is not very traditional for Hungarian cuisine but is gaining popularity. 

"Hungarian Saffron" is technically not saffron at all. It has almost no taste, but a weak coloring effect on food or sauces. It's not really bargain at about $0.25/gram.

Beware that when you see "Hungarian Saffron" as it is not actually saffron from the crocus flower as you might get from the middle east or Spain.  It is made from the safflower plant and is used in traditional Hungarian cooking to impart color. It does not have much flavor and it takes substantially more of it to impart the color.

  Fresh goose and duck liver is a delicacy since it is usually canned.

Canned Goose Liver, Foie Gras and Duck Liver. $13 to $17.50 per can.

Hungarian Duck liver and Goose liver.

Smoked Pigs Feet. (Literally translates to "dirty legs")

Unusual sausages: Donkey meat and Horse meat.  Pay a premium for Donkey.

Fresh Chicken Feet.  I've had these at a Chinese restaurant, but not Hungarian.

Foie Gras, Goose Liver and Duck Liver are very popular in Hungary. They are available fresh or canned.  Some other unusual meats can also be found at the market. Nothing goes to waste.

If you ever have the chance to visit Budapest, even as a stop-over on a river cruise, I would recommend a visit to the market. It's an easy walk from the Danube where the river boats dock. Upstairs you will find a wide variety of local trinkets and souvenirs. There are also a few restaurants on the upper floor. We tried one of them and it was delicious.