Eating Budapest #1

Budapest is one of my favorite cities to eat in. The flavors are esoteric and even the most luxurious items are affordable.

The flavors of Budapest include poppy seeds, sour cherries, goose, many styles of pork, and of course….paprika. Hungarian cuisine is probably the spiciest cuisine native to Europe. I learned this the hard way during my first taste of Hungarian cuisine at Pozsonyi kisvendéglő on Pozsonyi utca, where they served us Erős Pista, a bright red paprika “jam,” alongside bread. I was liberal in my application of the spread and soon found tears of spiciness dripping down my face. Luckily the soup of ordered, Jokai,
was full of sour cream alongside delicious smoked pork and beans. For an affordable home-cooked meal, Pozsonyi was great and while it has an English menu, most people who eat there are locals.

If you are in Budapest, you must track down Mangalica. I’ve had the much more famous super-pork, Iberico, from Spain, but Mangalica wins hands down. It’s fattier, juicier, and the Hungarian preparations are just amazing. I found this spicy sausage at a Palinka festival and it was bursting with spicy paprika. I’ve also had some amazing Austrian mangalica speck, which was smoked with herbs. I first heard about the Hungarian super-pig from an American blog written by a farmer who has imported them. Mangalica is starting to become very trendy for foodies in America – just last week it was mentioned in the NYT.

Must-try dessert items include the local poppy seed paste, chestnut puree, and sour cherries. For the uninitiated, European sour cherries are like normal cherries, except with five hundred times more flavor. I have occasionally seen them in American, but in Hungary they are very popular. Fresh they are quite sour, but when in desserts the sugar brings out their strong aroma and well-rounded flavor.

Chestnut puree with rum often accompanies sour cherries. I admittedly don’t often like chestnuts, but they work really well with rum, tasting a little like a rich sweet marzipan.

Poppy seeds are popular throughout Europe, but the ground paste in the cake above is particularly Hungarian. It’s an unusual flavor and texture- nutty, sweet, and maybe a little chalky.

One of the best things I ate in Budapest was grilled goose liver at Cafe Kor with sour cherries and homemade potato croquettes. The goose liver, a Hungarian specialty, was incredibly smooth and flavorful.

Also don’t forget to try Tokaji, the honey-sweet Hungarian dessert wine. By the palace in Buda there is an excellent tasting room where you can sample Tokaji and other Hungarian wines, which are one of the country’s best-kept secrets.

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One response to this post.

  1. […] in Uncategorized. Leave a Comment Fantastic post at Wooly Pigs (I’ve posted about Mangalica before: Which brings me to an important point: in James McWilliams’s recent book, he argues that […]

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