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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Since Rachel has done most of the recent posts, I thought I would take some time and fill everyone in on some recent happenings.

Last week we went to the Millennium underground museum where we learned about the building and operation of the first underground on the European continent. It’s the metro we ride to go just about anywhere, and the museum is conveniently located in the Déak tér metro station, but for some reason we hadn’t been. It costs as much as one metro ride, in fact it uses the same tickets! It was built in 1896 for the 1000 year anniversary of the Magyar invasion and named after Franz Joseph the emperor of Austria, apostolic king of Hungary, etc.

The communist era apartment section of the exhibit including a speeding double decker tram, and a moving red bus in the back.

While there, I saw an advertisement for a Model train exhibition put on by a local model train club. So today we packed up and went to Saint Lesley’s square. The church there is beautiful with the kind tiled roof I have come to love. In the exhibition there were 3 train sets. First, a Lego town with a couple trains and second a smaller set run by some kids. That was Avery’s favorite because there was a church with some people getting married inside.

The last and best was a 30 meter long H0 scale set with at least 10 trains (not all running at once), 4 trams, 1 trolley bus and a delivery truck plus numerous non-moving vehicles. I watched the DHL truck (with trailer) make it halfway across the tram tracks before the tram plowed into it. Both fell over and many H0 scale lives were lost.

A small portion of the exhibit including a double decker train. The darker red RailJet is a common train for us to take. In the background you can also see a tow truck hauling a broken down bus.

The best part though was just outside the main exhibition—toy trains for the kids: Duplo trains, wooden trains, and of course Thomas the tank engine.

On the way back we stopped at the Miksa Roth stained glass museum. The kids had about had it at that point so we were lucky it wasn’t too large.

In other news, the kids made their first sand castle, Rachel replaced the purse she’s had since our honeymoon in Guatemala and we ate Kakastöke Pörkölt. This last was not as good as I had hoped given what it’s made of—I actually found it a bit bland. While eating it I assumed that they must have been ground and made into little “sausages” because they were over an inch long. Looking online, however, I see they must have been the real thing. Rocky Mountain Oysters, here I come!

Avery and Evelyn intent on constructing their towers.

Avery and Evelyn hard at work on their towers. The yogurt bucket in the foreground was the mold.

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I went to the Mangalica Fesztival again. It was very cold and snowing the whole time, but I thought it was better than last year. The primary reason is that it was at Szabadság tér instead of Vajdahunyad Vár. The bigger venue meant that it was much less crowded and I was actually able to see everything. I suppose the weather may also have negatively affected the turnout.

There was of course lots of food to eat, palinka to drink, and mangalica products to buy. There was also a live band and the usual handicrafts for sale. The only thing that wasn’t there was the bacon-chocolate stand. I was a little dissappointed, but I probably wouldn’t have bought any anyway.

I remember a number of cheese shops last time, but it seemed like there were even more this year. I was also unencumbered by children so I got to look at them all. Some had “sajtkifli”—little cheeses in the shape of croissants. I ended up buying some gorgonzola, some borkísérő, some very garlicy fresh cheese, and a sampler. I think I spent all the money I’ve been saving by living frugally. Oh well, it was probably worth it just to make Rachel jealous. :-)

Then I ate some fried sauerkraut. It was delicious and, for a little while at least, warm. As I was eating I watched the snowflakes fall on the table and stick. It was the first time that I can remember seeing snowflakes with the stereotypical shape. I’m used to tiny powder, massive mega-flakes, and melted flakes, but not the Christmas ornament type. They were about 5 millimeters across and very beautiful. Unfortunately no pictures turned out so you’ll have to imagine them.

After I set off for home I realized I had forgottent to eat any kürtőskalács! Instead I stopped at Deák tér and bought some there. It was probably cheaper that way, but I have to admit, not quite as fun.

Oh, I almost forgot. There were actual mangalica this time:

Roasting pigs

To be honest, I'm not sure these are mangalica. Notice the jet of steam coming out of a hole in the back of the closest.

Including a half a dozen kismalac:

Mangalica sow with piglets

When I was taking this picture a little girl behind me kept saying, "Pici, pici, pici," or "Tiny, tiny, tiny". Perhaps it would be better translated as "Wee, wee, wee."

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Food Ideas

To everyone I know: What do you eat for breakfast? I’d particularly like to hear from my European friends because a lot of the American foods are pretty expensive here. We usually eat cornflakes or sometimes kifli, but I’m getting a little bored and am looking for new ideas. Lunch and dinner ideas are also appreciated. Maybe I should have asked “What do you eat in a day?”

Note: Please feel free to comment on facebook for those of you who read on facebook, but I would like to put the facebook comments on the blog so that I can have them all in one place. If you’d rather I not do this to your comment, that’s fine, just say so in the comment and I’ll remember it another way.

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One disadvantage to living in the United States is that you only get one kind of grape. Granted, it’s seedless, has a thin skin and is mild, but you still only get one kind of grape. Sure you might seem some other strains occasionally, but for the most part grapes are as uniform as cheddar cheese (maybe less if you count white cheddar as different that orange). Today we went to the market and I purchased 7 different types of grape. I know that’s rather pathetic since Wikipedia lists 858 different varieties in English and 72 in Hungarian (one that I bought wasn’t on either list) but in my defense it was only one day (and hence not all 72 are in season) and I only bought those marked with names that I could see. I’ve been meaning to buy “all” the different types of grape for some time, and today seemed like a good day to start since they were selling Souvenir grapes which I had never seen before. They are elongated and look like ornamental purple peppers.  They are exactly the sort of thing that a man like me cannot pass up. Apparently Hungarians love peppers so much they even have grapes that look like them!

The Seven Grapes

The grapes are, from left to right, top to bottom:

  • Saszla (Chasselas). There is also a red version which I didn’t buy.
    These are the most common and most like American table grapes.
  • Muskotály (Muscat).
  • Palatina Augusztusi Muskotály (Muscat).  I couldn’t really tell the muscats apart.
  • Othello (cross of Vitis labrusca, Vitis riparia, and Vitis
    vinifera–whatever that means since they all have many varieties).  This was my favorite.
  • Néró (cross of Medoc Noir and Pearl of Csaba).
  • Boglárka (translated Buttercup).  This was my least favorite and kind of the American “alternate” grape.
  • Szuvenír (translated Souvenir).  This were actually very nice, but I was expecting too much.  I wanted them to taste radically different and they didn’t.
We also bought fresh garlic, red onion, and smoked black pepper cheeses (we previously bought paprika (red pepper), olive, and cumin flavored).  When we got home I had an old fashioned unpressed wine and cheese tasting.  If only every Saturday were this nice.

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We made a mistake yesterday in going to the Mangalica Festival at noon.  There were far too many people for a comfortable festival going experience. Mangalica is a famous Hungarian breed (actually 3 breeds according to Wikipedia) of swine with curly hair. I wonder why everything here has long curly hair except the people: dogs, pigs, dogs, sheep

The weather was very nice (compared to the last few weeks) which no doubt contributed to the congestion. Even so, the crowd was ridiculous—Hungarians take their pork seriously. It took us 3 hours to walk from one end to the other and back around to where we started. Had there been no people the trip would have been a leisurely half hour. With all the people however, the lawn was a muddy mess and the stroller kept getting in the way. We had difficulty getting over to the side of the path to look at something in a booth; we kept getting swept along by the crowd.  It was pretty fun, but we’ll have to remember to come later in the afternoon next year.

Avery chickened out of riding a pony at the last minute again, and we chickened out of buying a Gulyás kettle. Other than that it was mostly food–we ate kürtőskalács (of course), had some milk, a bit of pizza, a turo rudi, and some Chocolitza.

That’s right, Chocolitza.

Chocolate flavored with rosemary or red chili peppers with bits of crunchy pig skin. It was actually much better than it sounds–which I realize is not saying much. Honestly, the worst part was psychological.

On a related food note, I recently bought some lo kolbasz. Kolbasz, as you may know is a type of sausage, and lo is a kind of animal which, to spare my siblings, I will make you look up yourselves. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it tasted like regular sausage, just a little spicier than usual.

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Since we are now in possession of a bread box, and since many people don’t know how large a bread box is, we have decided to help the 20-questions playing community by posting this picture of a bread box, complete with some a spoon and cup for reference.Bread box with bread, spoon and cup inside
The fancy triangular bread is one that we hadn’t tried before and is called tönkölyös kenyér in case you were wondering.

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First, I would would be remiss if I did not inform the world that Gorgonzola in Marscapone Gelato is every bit as delicious as you might imagine. Overall it has a nice creamy taste with just the right hint of Gorgonzola to make it interesting. If you can’t imagine it, then I suggest you try it. I recommend Artigiana Gelati by Moszkva tér (they’re not open on Mondays).

Now on to the news.

At the beginning of the month we sent to SzeptEmber Feszt. This took place in Népliget, or people’s park, which is a large park in Pest containing a planetarium. It reminded of a fair without exhibits: lots of delicious expensive food, lots of stuff to buy, a carnival for the kids, and even a petting zoo with Avery’s favorite—llamas. They even had used book stands which is something I’ve never seen at an American fair.

They were several bands playing which is where we were introduced to Delhusa Gjon. Rachel and I both thought he was pretty good, and one of the band members was playing an electric mandolin, so that was neat. We’re pretty sure he performed Nika se perimeno which seems to be one of his first hits—from 1979. Incidentally, I think the title may be Greek, and may mean something like Nika, I Wait for You. Most of the lyrics are in Hungarian.  I have no idea what they mean.

The draw of SzeptEmber Feszt is the pörkölt. Pörkölt is translated stew, but to me stew is more soupy than pörkölt is. SzeptEmber Feszt has a big pörkölt cookoff, and they have several kinds that you can try (for a small fee). These include varied flavors as goat, goose liver, sturgeon and cock’s crest. We ate some of the official pincepörkölt főtt burgonyával (cellar stew with potatoes), some sauerkraut-ish pörkölt which was free, and some plum pörkölt which was the best but expensive (and not official). I’m not quite sure it was worth waiting in line for as long as we did, but it was good. They cook the pörkölt over little fires as you can see from last year’s pictures. We also had some kürtőskalács (of course) and got some helium balloons that Avery loved.

We had actually tried to go to SzeptEmber Feszt the day before we actually made it. We went too early in the day and nothing was really going on, so to salvage the trip we stopped by the Great Market Hall on the way home. We had heard it has a basement and, in fact, it does.  In said basement you can find fish, asian food, and pickled items of all sorts, as well as a cheese store and a Match grocery store. We bought a pickle stuffed with garlic, some sauerkraut, and some sauerkraut leaves so that Rachel could make stuffed cabbage a few days later. Mmm. Delicious.

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