It was with mixed emotions that we boarded the Wizz Air flight to Budapest, Hungary from our beloved Italy. A month had flown by and there are still many untold stories for future posts. An hour and a half out of Milan and we were in Budapest, searching for our shuttle driver, in a busy airport. Although we were snug in a van that barely had AC (it was scraping 40 outside) we were smoothly delivered to our door in the neighbourhood just below Buda castle. The last two to be dropped off, our driver was excited to meet someone who knew of his favourite band, Rush. Rock and roll had kept him alive and he gave us the down low on his garage band Submariine and what it had done for his mid life.
In preparing for our trip to Budapest I had picked up an App called Budapest Insider’s Guide by Carolyn Bánfalvi. Clicking through a few links on her app led me to her website Taste Hungary, which advertised for rent a lovely apartment that they own. A couple of more mouse clicks, a few emails back and forth and the next thing you know, there we were at the front door.
In renting the apartment we also exchanged introductions and discussed our shared interest of food, wine and cooking. Not only has Carolyn written a great app to have on hand, with cool insight on how to really enjoy visiting Budapest, she has also authored some fantastic books, The Food and Wine Lover’s Guide to Hungary and Food Wine Budapest.
Planning a trip
If you are planning a trip to Budapest and you appreciate food, wine and culture, these books are a must read before you go. Carolyn has done an outstanding job describing Hungarian cuisine and food lore. She sets the record straight on traditional dishes and describes ingredients and their origin in a way that will prepare you to hit the markets, wine stores or restaurants with confidence. It’s a perfect blend of information, with handy translation references, directions and instructions to find real Budapest treasures like mangalica pork or a good bottle of Kekfrankos. Back at the apartment, we were super happy to be greeted by a beautiful, spacious suite. Buried in the back of a vintage deco building we could not have felt more like locals. The staircase and open inner courtyard echoed with Hungarian conversation and smelled like home cooking. Best of all, the apartment had a big and well-equipped kitchen, which we would use to its fullest.
Carolyn and Gábor
We had eagerly accepted an invitation to meet Carolyn, her husband Gábor and their three beautiful children at their home, and were glad we did. Delightful and gracious hosts, we enjoyed a bottle or two of chilled Kekfrankos and a delicious cheese board including a spread made of pork fat and ground crackling, why not?
On top of writing and raising a family, Carolyn and Gábor also run a highly rated food tour group called Taste Hungary. With some interesting choices of wine tours or culinary walking tours and now a new wine and sightseeing cruise these guys really have the bases covered and it was great to pick their brains over drinks.
It also gave us a chance to explain first hand what ACNM is all about and how lucky we were to hook up with them to tap their expertise of Hungarian food and culture. Our luck didn’t stop there though because before the night was out we were invited to tag along on a four hour culinary walking tour of Budapest and to cruise the Danube while sampling a selection of choice Hungarian wines. Would you decline? Neither would we.Excited about our upcoming tours and new friends, we bid everyone goodnight and started the walk back to the apartment. A beautiful and balmy evening, we decided to walk along the Danube where the spectacle of a fully lit Budapest had a chance to blow our minds. The city twinkled with possibility, intrigue and beauty and within 24 hours we were well on our way to enjoying a taste of Hungary.