I’m not exactly the person who gets invited to the Presidential Palace very often but we were very lucky with my guests last weekend when the doors of the Sándor Palace were open and the public could walk around the beautifully designed interior.

Compared to the relatively simple outside the interior is surprisingly richly ornate, at times I felt like walking around the Versailles Palace. The building is from 1806 and was the residence of the country’s prime minister from 1867. That’s where Queen Elisabeth or Sisi visited the handsome count Andrássy several times after enjoying a performance at the Castle Theatre next door.

The building was restored and became the seat of the offices of the President in 2003, the actual furnitures are reproductions of the originals. The entire restoration was conducted in accordance with the original blueprints. The garden is absolutely stunning with a great view over the Pest side. There is no guarantee we can tour the interior when you book a tour in the Buda Castle district but I’ll find a way to show you something just as beautiful as the Sándor Palace.

 

Yes, Pécs is one of my favorite destinations so I’d like to encourage you to book a tour at your earliest convenience. Once you have a look at the pictures below I’m sure you’ll fall in love with the city, too.

Pécs is very unique because the entire Hungarian history is on display in the city’s architecture, spirit and charm. You can learn so much while just walking around the cobblestoned streets.

We start the tour discovering the 1700-year-old Early Christian Necropolis, the well preserved burial chambers of the Romans fron the 4th century. We continue in the 11th century Basilica on Dóm square, an important symbol of the continuous fight of the Hungarians for Christianity. We tour the ruins of the Turkish baths, the only Turkish age mosque in Hungary that has remained intact together with its minaret and the 13th century Catholic church converted into a mosque in the 1540’s and reconverted into a Catholic church in the 1680’s. I’m sure you’ll be surprised to notice the special combination of the Muslim crescent moon and the Christian cross topping the church, reminding us of the peaceful coexistence of different religions. We admire the harmonious Baroque architecture and also have a look at the Vasarely museum.

After the city tour I take you to the Zsolnay quarter, the completely renovated and restored Zsolnay factory buildings where the most beautiful Hungarian porcelain and ceramic products have been manufactured since 1853.

 

We visited this cute little village last week as it was part of a family research I was working on for my guests arriving from Australia. I’ve never been to Szentkút before but I’m very much impressed by this enormous pilgrimage site, it’s just too bad it was deserted this part of the year. I understand it’s much more crowded in August when open air masses are held for hundreds of thousands of people.

The fountains have been famous for their healing power for some 700 years now and is declared a National Shrine since 2006.

 

 

The Hungarian “Székelykáposzta” is a great dish combining sauerkraut and pork stew, a nice meal to warm your body and soul on a cool day.

Drain 2.2 pound sauerkraut in a colander, rinse it gently under cold water and let it sit in the colander for a few minutes. Put half of the cabbage in a large saucepan, put in 1.3 pound diced pork rib and cover with the other half of the cabbage. Add 4 bay leafs and water to cover it and cook gently for 2 hours on low.

Heat 5.25 oz lard in a large saucepan on medium heat. Toss in 2 large chopped onions, cook them with a pinch of salt until they soften up. Remove saucepan from heat, stir in 3 teaspoon paprika powder with the onions until they’re fully coated. Put the saucepan back on the heat, turn it up to medium-high, and add 1.3 pound diced pork shoulder or leg. Cook until all the meat has browned. Once the meat is browned, add 1 tablespoon paprika paste or cream, 1 large chopped tomato and 1 diced bell pepper. Pour in water until it covers the meat, bring it up to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook slightly uncovered stirring occasionally for about 90 minutes.

Pour the pork stew in the cabbage stew, cook on medium low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Heat 1 tablespoon lard in a small saucepan on medium high. Add 2 tablespoon flour, stir until it’s browned, add 1 teaspoon paprika powder. Add 1 cup cold water, mix it and add the flour mixture to the cabbage. Add half of the sour cream, bring it up to a simmer.

You can serve the cabbage dish with the other half of the sour cream.