So, how does Budapest compare to Paris when it comes to food? Our first lunch of Gulyás was tres magnifique, as was every meal thereafter.
Budapest is known for its “Ruin Pubs.” The pubs were established post fall-of-the-wall mostly in abandoned buildings in the old Jewish district. The Grandaddy of them all, Szimpla Kert, offers a family-friendly farmer’s market on Sunday mornings, at which we partook of a ridiculously inexpensive breakfast plate of Mangalica sausage (the Hungarian hairy pig) and paprika with our cappuccino.
Also on Sundays there is a community lunch, prepared with ingredients from the market. Though the aroma was heavenly, our plans had us elsewhere by the midday meal.
On our way to Obuda (Old Buda) one day we passed a more traditional market. The market had been busy; I just happened to take the snap when no one was shopping.
Paris has Rue Mouffetard, a market street along which I have spent much time and many Euros. Budapest has The Great Market Hall, conveniently tucked into a grand building along the Pest side of the Donau.
We arrived early one morning, in time for breakfast. For Anna Grace, a fresh made Langos with savory toppings.
Budapest’s Central Market has much to offer locals as well as tourists. An Osama Bin Laden Matrushka doll? Or perhaps happy pickled vegetables?
The ground level is for serious shoppers. It being near to the New Year, a good variety of whole swine were available for roasting. Seeing whole animals in markets no longer phases any of us, I have to say.
I had to include this photo of perhaps the greenest Brussels Sprouts I have seen in Central Europe in some time.
At some point we came upon a Christmas Market offering steaming kettles of Hungarian Glühwein…
…and roasted animal parts…
…and the most beautiful cabbage bread bowl ever to exist. The Hungarian language is Uralic in origin and similar to Finnish. Yet, the “kaposzta” part of “Szekelykaposzta” is similar to the Polish, “kapusta,” meaning cabbage, although the Polish language is Slavic in origin.
By happy circumstances the restaurant we had selected for our final dinner in Budapest had no available tables, but a quick study of the adjacent restaurant’s menu board suggested we would not be disappointed should we dine within. Diners could select from a pre-designed menu, or select their seafood and method of preparation. What could make us happier?
We began with garlic grilled octopus. This is the “Before.”
And, the “After.” Delicious.
Before. (My trout, second from the left.)
After. Filled with fresh herbs and grilled to perfection.
If outdoor tables in December could not convince a visitor that they were not in Vienna, the dinner tab would do the trick. Our seafood dinner in Budapest, including a bottle of wine, cost approximately that of an ordinary lunch in Vienna. Why, Vienna, why?
We have our beloved Czech Republic to the north, and now, our Paris-fix to the east. We love you, Budapest!