All posts tagged: Food

The Last Supper

My last few hours in Budapest were spent drinking coffee, eating tasty cakes and taking in my last moments of the wonderful city. On a seeming coffee-holiday, Madal cafe was next on the list. A more modern cafe, tall and spacious on the inside with a meditative quality to the decor and atmosphere, you can find excellent coffee, cakes and food at a reasonable cost. And you find yourself longer in Budapest, they cater to your coffee bean and equipment needs too.  To send me home, we had a mini-feast – not unlike what we had been doing basically the whole trip anyway; cheesecake definitely on par with one from Steamhouse Cafe, lemon and poppy seed loaf, a random wrap, and double shot lattes, served beautifully on a custom Madal wooden board – coffee definitely served in style. If time wasn’t against us, Madal was definitely a great chill-out spot, one where you could chit chat, whip out your mac or cosy up with a book. Snow began to fall en-route to the airport, my …

Sleep First, Sightsee Second

My last days in Budapest were spent sleeping, relaxing and not running around frantically trying to get everything seen; more often than not I feel far more exhausted travelling on holiday rather than actually experiencing a “holiday”. The rush and madness to see all the sights in such a short amount of time can be overwhelming, but the more I travel the more I think that it’s about quality, not quantity – why see 100 things for such a little time each than see just a select few and with more consideration and attention? Apple burek. Happiness, now available tinned. I had the time to walk calmly around the area in which I was staying, Corvin, walking up and down the streets lined by towering old apartment blocks, walking in and out of local shops and cafes and visiting the Holocaust Memorial nearby. A renovated synagogue that dates back to the 1920s, the memorial also serves as a museum, remembering the lives of millions of Jews lost in the 20th century. Over 500,000 Hungarian Jews …

Fourth Day, Part 2 ~ Hungarian Castles & Street Food

The magic of the New York Cafe remained as we jumped on a bus and travelled to Budapest’s Castle District across the river. Also known as the Castle Quarter, this area is a 1km long limestone plateau towering over the Danube river and is home to Budapest’s most precious and important medieval monuments and museums. A sweeping flight of paths and staircases guide you up to the centre of the district, the Royal Palace and the Hungarian National Art Gallery, home to 11th-century and present-day artworks, proudly standing at the forefront. The Royal Palace has been said to of rebuilt at least six times over the past seven centuries, it’s subsequent Kings adding to it each time. At the rear, you can find wide stretches of ruins and the famous Matthias fountain, a romantic-style sculpture presenting the young kind Matthias in his hunting uniform, surrounded by dogs. We strolled slowly through the courtyards and protruding stone terraces, the sky clear and the sun strong and warm, attempting to melt away what was left of the ice. Budapest …

Adventures in Food and Architecture

Fog continued to lie heavily across the city this chilly Saturday morning. Hopping off the bus to the city centre, we walked to Budapest’s bustling Great Market Hall after admiring the thick fog across the river, Gellért Hotel peeking out wearily across the Danube. Inside, the hall was filled with scurrying and wandering locals and tourists, picking out items spanning traditional Hungarian memorabilia to fresh fruits, vegetables, and an array of meats, grizzle and all. The Great Market Hall is the biggest market in the city and was first opened in 1897 where the fresh produce would arrive through a canal that ran through the centre of the hall. Sadly the canal is gone, but the market is still full of a vibrant array of produce available for all. On the bottom floor you’ll find food produce and more edible/drinkable gifts and on the top floor there are a plethora of stalls, serving to your souvenir needs. Alongside these stalls are Hungaricums; if you’re looking for some authentic, although perhaps overpriced, food, head here to …

Second Day, Part 2 ~ Hungry in Hungary

Night fell and after many a photo we descended Gellért Hill and walked North up the Danube towards the famous Hungarian Parliament – and it was more than impressive.  The glowing neo-Gothic building mirrored itself onto the still and serene Danube, rippled only sporadically when a tiny cruise boat crossed its reflection. Only being over 100 years old, the stunning architecture boasts both Renaissance and Baroque features, but it’s sharp peaks and tall thin windows undeniably neo-Gothic in style. Unfortunately, modern air pollution constantly attacks the porous limestone walls, so the building often requires frequent restoration. Hungry, cold and having drunk too much water, we hurried to a famous Hungarian Bistro in Pest. Highly rated and with extremely affordable prices, this place is a must-visit to sample traditional, home-cooked Hungarian dishes. Upon entry, you almost feel as if you were in a friend’s home. The exceptionally friendly staff greet you upon entry and show you to your table, a waitress, who could very well be your best friend, tending to you throughout your time. And on …

Moodapest

When snow turns to slush, it’s a sad sad day. The drizzly weather and dark grey fog overcast Budapest, the misery of the dirty snow, turned icy mess, proliferated. We spent the afternoon walking from Corvin to the Great Market Hall, winding up and down roads and alleys, arriving at a wall of fog at Liberty bridge; the white clouds engulfed the bridge, leaving just a little in sight for cars and trams to drive on to. Still unfamiliar with the city, it was impossible to tell where we were from looking out across the river – there was nothing to be seen, just a wall of white swallowing the landscape. My hair dampened as I took photos, walking up and down the river around the bridge entrance to catch the light of Budapest’s yellow trams snaking through the fog. Clearly, about thirty others had the same idea, photographers and iPhone-bearers swarming around the area promptly. Night began to fall and the spookiness of the fog grew, and we dawdled away down to Vaci street …

What to Eat When You’re (in) Hungary

Apparently unwelcoming to the notion of belonging to the Eastern side of Europe, favouring the idea of belonging to the more central regions, Hungary undoubtedly emanates Eastern European magic. Growing up with Bulgarian culture in a Bulgarian family, I can say this with (some) certainty. This time of year, however, is seeing these regions suffer bitter winters, ones unheard of since the 1960’s. Heavy snow blankets the city, and icy rain soon follows to turn the magic into a slushy, and drearily cold, mess. Faux-ice-skating is the preferred mode of transport for those on foot by this point, travel times taking double or even triple the usual, and sanctuary is found in small cafes, restaurants and bars dotted up and down streets illuminated by the amber orbs of traditional-style street lamps. My travels are invariably punctuated by local food-culture; no trip is complete without eating like a local. Skidding down the Parisian-style streets during my first days in Budapest this Winter, seeking shelter from the snow and my hungry belly, I entered a warmly lit …

Eating, Exploring, Escaping

Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly have any more family, my dad’s cousins from Razlog (a stunning town and ski resort in southwestern Bulgaria) came to Kardzhali to visit, bringing with them mounds of food and treats to gorge on; baked chicken, rice and sauerkraut, a huge loaf of tutmanik (banista bread), marble cake, bulgarian beans, and more. To accompany we made our own shopska salad and tarator (the Bulgarian version of tzatziki, but better of course). The following morning I was rather confused about the day’s events, perhaps being (not) so rudely awakened disturbed my zen. And so all the happenings seemed even more surreal than they probably were. In the morning I could’ve sworn I was in heaven; family and friends from a town called Kalofer had come down, joining Kardzhali friends and family and neighbours alongside our Razlog pals to attend a memorial for my grandad at a tiny church with the most beautiful garden I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It was filled with exotic flowers, little ponds and …

Banitsa the Saviour

If you’ve been following my journey through Bulgaria then you may experience deja vu as I continue my incessant worship of the heavenly food that is Banitsa. If you’ve ever been to Bulgaria you’ll know what it is; it’s Bulgaria’s croissant, or quiche (in a French context). It’s the street food that takes precedence in every bakery shop window on all roads, big or small. And it’s the moreish meal which will leave you falling dangerously into a future where all you think about or eat is banitsa. I kid, but seriously: watch out. As well as being an extremely popular street food, banitsa is a symbol of Bulgarian tradition and cuisine. On Christmas and New Year, banitsa is traditionally prepared and served with “kusmeti” – tiny “lucks” such as wealth, health, prosperity, shiny hair, etc. written on separate shards of paper, wrapped then in foil so as not to melt into the dish. A coin is also wrapped with foil and added into the mix, and whoever gets the coin is the most prosperous …

Sleep, Eat, Meet, Repeat.

Waking up late, eating breakfast at eleven and having no priorities for the entire day has been a long awaited task. For the next two weeks this lifestyle is definitely one I can get used to. To pass time eating, relaxing and talking a walk around the town prove the best activities – especially in 35 degree heat. One adventure we had was to a local market a short walk away; not dissimilar to what you may see in the UK, the fruit market was sheltered with large high arches, surrounded by small shops and cafes and filled with rows and rows of stalls filled with fruits and vegetables. Melons, tomatoes, plums, peaches, lemons… you name it. Not to mention the incredible mounds of watermelons and tomatoes you’d never see elsewhere. Fresh honey from local hives and tiny pouches of local bee pollen sat amongst a rainbow of ingredients with jars of freshly ground tahini too. The tomatoes in Bulgaria have to be the best tomatoes you’ll ever eat, naturally, alongside the peaches too; beautifully sweet …