The Bánfalvis started Taste Hungary in 2008. Four years later, their business is still growing. We sat down with Carolyn and Gabór to talk about food, wine and life in Budapest.
–When people think of Hungary, they think goulash, name two other specialities that are not as well known.
There are so many. But if I have to name just two: halászlé (fisherman’s soup, heavily spiced with paprika) and Rákóczi túrós (a wonderful dessert which is a short crust topped with sweetened curd cheese, meringue, and apricot jam).
–Carolyn, as an ex pat (American), can you describe, in three sentences, your experience of moving to Budapest?
I moved to Budapest the first time straight out of college, and I loved getting immersed in the very different way of life here (though, of course there are the annoying bits, which aren’t so much fun). Living here has allowed me to really focus on what interests me and create a business, and life, around that. Budapest is a city which not everyone falls in love with right away, but those who do, fall hard (like me).
–What is Hungary’s best kept wine secret?
Furmint is my favorite Hungarian wine, and should be much better known than it is. It is best-known as being one of the ingredients in Tokaji aszú (Hungary’s famous sweet wine), but it is also made in a dry version, which is fabulous.
–Your favourite place to chill out in Budapest?
Again, there are many! Margaret Island with my kids, the Széchenyi Bath in the winter (preferably when it is snowing), a ruin bar on a summer night, Károly kert with a book, or any kávéház where I can get good coffee.
–With Hungary producing 70% of the world’s foie gras, how do you think Hungarians would react if they banned foie gras in Budapest?
Most Hungarians would not be too happy. They do love their libamaj. Of course there are a few animal rights groups who oppose the force-feeding (but not as vocally as in the US, for example), I think the majority of Hungarians are just happy to eat it. Foie gras is abundant here, and if a restaurant does not have it on its menu, it is rare. Most restaurants prepare it a few different ways.
–You recently started a blog called The Hungary Dish (no longer functioning as of Sept 7/16), tell us about it.
The blog (which I write with my husband, Gábor, and a friend, Matt Ellis) is all about eating and drinking in Hungary and the region. We travel a lot due to the tours that we organize and are always discovering tasty new foods, wines, and cool places. We hope to write about all of this on the blog, as well as publish Hungarian recipes.
Disclosure: Although we were guests of Taste Hungary on their market tour and wine cruise, the interview was our idea.