“Budapest is a prime site for dreams: the East’s exuberant vision of the West, the West’s uneasy hallucination of the East. It is a dreamed-up city...a city invented out of other cities.”
― M. John Harrison
Day One: The Landing
We disembark, disenchanted with airplane food and ready to take on the world, or at least Hungary. We headed for Menza in Budapest, straight away.
We both ordered traditional Marhapörkölt, a beef stew often served with soft dumpling-like noodles, as was done at Menza.
This was soul-warming food, wake-up food, get-ready-for-Budapest food. It was perfect.
So, naturally, I ended it with a panna cotta with sour cherry (Meggyleves) ice cream. Meggyleves is a traditional sour cherry, often made into a cold, sweet soup in the Hungarian summertime. It was delicious here, dusted with cocoa and paired with the cool and creamy panna cotta.
After using the (incredibly clean and fast) Metro system of Budapest for the first time, and making a nice trek up to the top of Castle Hill, we decided it was time for something to eat. 21 Magyar Vendeglo, or 21 Hungarian Kitchen caught our eye, a traditional, but modern spot for Hungarian food.
After having some bread with herbed cheese, as well as a Tuck Barát, or Friar Tuck, dubbel ale, I tucked into a beautiful serving of Duck Breast with Nut-Stuffed Gnocchi and Paprika Velouté.
The duck was very nicely cooked, complimented by the crunch of the gnocchi and the sweetness of the paprika-infused sauce. I wasn't sure what the rinds or fritters were, around the edges, but they were also a nice crispy accompaniment to the buttery-textured duck meat.
We also ordered a Gulyás (Goulash) that arrived in a mini-cauldron, which made for a fun, but messy soup-eating experience.
After a quick Café Latte, we were off to go see the eponymous castle of Castle Hill.
Later that day...
Cukrászda Ruszwurm was high on our list of Budapest spots on Castle Hill. We first went in the morning, when it was still very crowded with morning pastry-seekers. We decided we would go back later, after walking around inside the Royal Palace and seeing the Matthias Church lit up in the afternoon Sun.
We are sure glad we were able to grab a table outside, after our time in the castle. I got to try the traditional Dobostorta, layers of sponge cake with chocolate and a crisp caramel topping.
We also sampled a Vienna-style apfelstrudel, which was quite good, especially with coffee.
The displays in the always-crowded café are beautiful, with tons of poppyseed, apple, and túrós cheese rétes (strudels), Dobostorte, parlour candies, húsos hasé (mincemeat pastries), and croissants on display in old, wooden cases. I could look at them all day.
Budapest stories to be continued...