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.

Probably the most beautiful wine country in Hungary, Villány offers great quality red and rosé wines and exceptionnal wineries with an amazing view over the surrounding hills. The number one domestic stronghold of wine tourism is the Villányi Borút -Villány Wine Trail- which was the very first Wine Trail brought to life in Hungary. Book the “Pécs and Villány Tour by Car” if you want to see and to learn more!

The area altogether is about 1800 hectares, the climate is of sub-mediterranean character with a hot summer, mild winter and a lot of sunshine. The southernmost mountain of Hungary protects the grapes from cool north winds.

Excavations prove that the Romans cultivated grapes in the area some 2000 years ago. As far as we know our ancestors started winemaking as early as in the 1060’s. Villany wine region had its first golden age during the early 1800′ after the arrival of German settlers. They introduced advanced agricultural know-how, technics and a new grape, known today as Kekoporto, which became number one in the region’s wine making.

During the second half of the 20th century the Villány vineyards were nationalized, the legacy of the quantity production will probably continue to be felt for decades in plantations with low densities and widely paced rows, originally designed to accommodate oversize tractors. It’s easy to see the differences between a collectively cultivated tract and a privately owned plot even today.

The Villány vine varieties and wines are Kékoportó, Kékfrankos and Cabernet Sauvignon, Hárslevelű. Italian Riesling and Leányka.

Villány winemakers are among the most successful participants in Hungarian and international wine contests and exhibitions. Wine producers and cellars of Villány have been awarded the titles “Wine Producer of the Year” and “Wine Cellar of the Year” several times.

 

The most known Hungarian dish is probably the Goulash soup, it’s served with fresh white bread and is a real treat. Find below the recipe, and let me know if you need recommendations about where you can get the best Goulash in Budapest or in Hungary.

In a large soup pot over medium heat saute 2, finely chopped onions in 2 tablespoons lard (or vegetable oil), stirring frequently until lightly browned, don’t let them brown. Add salt and 2 tablespoons of paprika (you can avoid getting the paprika burnt by adding the paprika while the pot is not over heat, stirring it for a few seconds).

Turn the heat high and add beef cubes (2,2 pounds beef chuck roast, tenderloin or sirloin, chopped into 1 inch * 1 inch cubes), stir for 3 minutes until the meat is seared on all sides. Let the meat simmer in its own juice while adding ½ teaspoon caraway seeds, some salt, ground black pepper and 1 bay leaf, pour enough water to cover the content of the pan and let it simmer on low heat, until the meat is almost tender (1,5 – 2 hours), add water if necessary to keep it 1 inch above the level of the meat.

Add 1 bunch parsley, 1 tablespoon tomato paste and vegetables (peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces): 4 carrots, 2 parsley roots, 4 medium potatoes. Add 2 or 3 cups of water (or beef broth) to keep a soup consistency. Add salt if desired. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the meat is tender.

Serve with freshly made spatzle/spatzel.

Don’t forget to check out the Spring and Easter Fair on Vörösmarty square, it’s open until the end of April. You can buy local, artisanal handicraft products, pottery, ceramics, jewellry and leather products. There are workshops and concerts every weekend. Also, you can taste the most fantastic treats of the Hungarian cuisine, traditional Easter dishes as ham and knuckle, and great cakes, including of course the festive  chimney cake.

 

This is of course a very subjective lists and is based on my own experiences and on my guests’ feedback. There are hundreds of great restaurants in Budapest and it’s very hard to pick only 5 as I keep discovering new places all the time and show them to my guests on my Foodie tours.. These are the places I’d recommend to my guests and where I would go with my family, too. I only selected places with Hungarian meals, so that you can taste the best dishes of our cuisine.

Aszu restaurant: great food, great wines and cozy atmosphere with live cimbalom music. My favourite is the Chicken Paprikás.

Budapest Bistro: such a nice place near the Parliament with very special and modern Hungarian dishes and live piano music. My favourite is the Hungarian Bistro plate.

Pest-Buda Restaurant: is in the heart of the Buda Castle District, a classy little place with red and white checkered tablecloth. My favourite is the Goulash soup.

Rézkakas Bistro: an amazing mix of the authentic Hungarian dishes and international flavours topped with great wines. This is one of the very few places where vegeterians can have a fantastic selection, too. My favourite is the Lajosmizse “terrine de foie gras”.

WineKitchen: yes, it’s a Michelin-star restaurant, still the prices are reasonable, the staff is friendly and they offer fresh and creative daily menus every day. My favourite is the Fresh fish from the market.

+1: Strudel House: a place where you can actually see the strudel making and you can try the best sweet and salted Hungarian strudels. My favourite is the sweet cottage cheese strudel.

The 20th of August is always very special for Hungarians, not only because we celebrate St. Stephen, the founder of the Hungarian Christian state but also because our country’s “birthday cake” is introduced. The cake is selected every year by the panel of reputable master confectioners, the applicants are to create innovative and creative cakes reflecting traditional Hungarian tastes and the cake should also have to be connected to the 20th of August holiday.

And now, please meet the “Green Gold of Őrség”, this year’s winner. It comes from a small Salgótarján cake shop and has the colours of the Hungarian flag (red-white-green). The layers of the cake are: pumpkin seed oil and almond flour sponge cake, white chocolate ganache, crunchy pumpkin seed praline, raspberry jelly and pumpkin seed jelly.

What can I say? We’we just tasted this beautiful cake with my guests today in the Ruszwurm cake shop near the Matthias Church and it was delicious. Enjoy!

 

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You might find that Hungarian people adore sweets, one of the locals’ favourites is the marzipan. The smooth and sweet almond paste can be a nice addition to a great cake and little or large figurines are often created of it, too.

Do you know what Michael Jackson and the Budapest Parliament building have in common? They can both be made of marzipan. The sweetest museum of Hungary is located in the heart of the town of Szentendre where you can admire dozens of statues made of marzipan. You’ll see full-figure marzipan statues of famous Hungarian people, celebrities from all around the world, Hungarian buildings and a lot more. You can also see the atelier with the ladies creating new figurines every day.

Don’t forget to buy some sweets in the shop after the tour in the museum. I’ll happily show you around the museum if you book the Danube Bend tour by car.

 

 

Probably your first impression is that all Hungarian dishes are red and hot. It’s somehow true but I’m sure I can change your perception if you decide to book a Foodie tour with me. Paprika is of course is the most important ingredient of our cuisine, it’s actually something we should be grateful for being dominated by the Turks for 150 years.

When you visit Hungary, you have to try all our different specialties. You need to taste fresh sausage and hot dog at a butcher’s, our delicious cakes in the 100-year-old cafés, fresh pastry at the bakeries, goulash soup prepared in a cauldron over open fire, artisan ice cream and chocolate, lángos, our delicious deep-fried fritter and all the pickled vegetables.

The old Hungarian proverb says that those who are eating must drink, too, so don’t forget to taste some of the best Hungarian wines.