I was recently in Budapest. I used Vienna as my base—I didn’t want to tote around my super heavy luggage piece. But I decided to spend the day in Budapest—I should have left much earlier and left later. I have my phone roaming all the time but it does not always pick up quickly enough to give accurate pin points on your map application. On my many city visits I have the metro map as well as the city map downloaded—this morning I forgot to do that—as I was on the train outside of Vienna I remembered and the network coverage was not that great. I waited till I got to Keleti pályaudvar and found the tourist office. Though I might have found them they didn’t find me—I oddly didn’t find anyone who spoke English (or the other languages which I can speak at least at an elemental level – French, Italian and German; I didn’t try Spanish). I was concerned about the language barrier before I got to Hungary—I know just a few words but not skilled enough in Hungarian to ask for too much. I left the office and thought Budapest seems walkable—let me see on the primitive map I was finally able to download. GPS is beyond valuable—I ended up going north and I didn’t seem to go on the directional path I needed. I knew I was off base. Finally GPS kicks in and I am way off path—I realize Budapest is large, very large.
I was very intrigued to be walking the streets of Budapest—not quite what I expected. I was fascinated by the history and language of Hungary. I wasted about 40 minutes and I see how I could have take M2 – I get back on track and take a few stations to the historical district—Dohányi Synagogue, St. Stephens Basilica. I ran across the beautiful scents of Goulash—spectacular is the only word that came to mind. A smell that reminds me of New Mexico red chile. I see almost all of the monuments that I want to see (but I can tell you I need to go back). I want to go the spa and if I had more time I so wanted to visit Memento Park; the park showing relics from the communist era. And I of course need to visit the spa.
My good friend Eric Danch recommended to me Taste Hungary—a wine shop and wine bar. It was centrally located and needed a respite—I had spent most of the day walking. I walked in and saw such a beautiful spread of Hungarian wines. I meet Ferenc Juhász and Tamás Kovács who are both Sommeliers and store manager. Both Ferenc and Tamás had spent time in the UK and California and have both had immense experience of wines from around the world and of course a deep knowledge of Hungarian wines and the artisan food movement in Hungary. I ordered their white wine flight and a cheese board with charcuterie. You cannot go to Hungary and not taste a dry Furmint—it is impossible—but that is not a bad thing. Furmint is the star and I think it is a good thing and I also think it is necessary to balance that out with other wine and red wines from Hungary. Hungary has a quite a number of indigenous varieties including: Ezerjó, Hárslevelű, Irsai Oliver, Cserszegi Fűszeres, Juhfark, and Királyleányka. Hungary also produces Kekfrancos, Portugieser and Bikavér as well as International varieties. My friends at Blue Danube Wines in California have an impressive portfolio of Hungarian wines that I have been privileged to taste many of the wines they import.
Ferenc prepared the optimum cheese board for me. Probably most of you know that I have not been a life long cheese eater. Strange I know. I have only been a cheese eater for about 5 years. I still can’t eat anything too strong in flavour or smell. I am also not an egg eater and I don’t think I can ever get there. Ferenc put together an outstanding board of small producers of Hungary’s finest all of which was within my range of enjoyment and appreciation. I like that Taste Hungary works towards sourcing the finest. I did get a goats cheese which normally I can’t eat—too strong for me. The goat cheese I had was finished with an ash rind. The flavour was mild, fresh and not just tolerable but exhilarating. I also got a fresh herb cheese and a triple crème; the charcuterie was fantastic—I tasted some with sweet paprika and something with a spicy paprika; there was a duck jerky. There was also pickled white peppers and a truffled jam. This board was so satisfying and filling-it was much lunch and my dinner.
The wines were:
Samuel Tinon Tokaj Dry Furmint 2014
Scent characteristics: Green apple, white tea, Adriatic fig, and almonds
Flavour profile: Lisbon lemon, white fleshy peach, flowers and stones in a stream.
Bojt Egri Csillag 2015 which is a blend of Olaszrizling, Sauvignon, Muskotály and Leányka and coming in at 12.5% ABV
Scent characteristics: Exotic green citrus pulp and zest, yellow peach, and Heirloom apple.
Flavour profile: Spitzenberg apple, fresh green fig, hint of sweet spice and pine nuts.
Pannonhalma Apátsági Traminer 2015 – 13.8% ABV
Scent characteristics: freshly sliced grapefruit, orange peel, white flowers, tea, and almond
Flavour profile: Meyer lemon, white tea, Hibiscus, and essence of beeswax
When you go to Budapest the Taste Hungary is a must visit. It may seem unassuming but then you will be delighted by the offerings, warmth of experience and a picture into Hungarian’s artisan food and wine movement. Taste Hungary does tours—I so want to go on one of their tours or their wine maker dinners. My only regret was not taking a bottle of wine with me. I was carrying so many thing things through the 31 cities I visited I though I couldn’t take another bottle with me but I wish I did. Another trip to Budapest is in store for me and a tour and winemakers dinner and to sit down again and see what Ferenc and Tamás will serve.
Bródy Sándor utca, 9
Budapest, Hungary 1088
+3670 261 711
Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.
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