Sunday, October 30, 2011

Food Quest: Hungry Hungaros!

Having just reached Budapest from a land of amazing food, such as Greece, we thought it would be really tough to top the freshness of their cuisine. Our doubts were quickly quelled within the first hours of arrival. Roland's grandmother prepared an amazing meal, patiently awaiting two starving foodies. We came, we saw, we conquered!
You can't say you've ate Hungarian, till you've had Paprikás Csirke (Chicken Paprikas). This simple, yet hearty meal can be broken down to two delicious features. On the left side of the plate, you see those little white, bean-shaped specks. The Hungarians call it "nokedli." It's commonly used in German and Austrian cuisine too (because the three cultures have a shared history in some sense). It's essentially egg noodles: take several eggs, mix it in a bowl with flour till you've got a gooey paste, then funnel the paste into a special nokedli making instrument so it comes out as tiny little pellets; and finally, boil the egg noodles in a hot water, let cool off and serve.

And now, to the main attraction. WARNING, veggie lovers beware, this dish is meat friendly. Paprikas chefs generally use either veal, beef, pork, chicken, or turkey (depending on preference). They cook the meat in a pan, using paprika squares or just flavoring by scratch, till the meat reaches tender brilliance. Feel free to chop bits of onion in there. You'll eventually have this orangish-red colored meat simmering infront of you. Here, we come to a crossroads. Hungaros can either leave the meat in its stewy state (which is called Pörkölt), or add the secret ingredient.... Sour cream =D If you choose the latter, you'll end up with a lighter colored sauce with a better taste (arguably). This process of Sour-cream-inazation turns the pörkölt into paprikás. The main difference is as follows: the jucie of a paprikás is thicker than a pörkölt... That's it. Either way, they are both (more often than not) really awesome!  

The one and only Goulash Leves (soup). What makes this different from just about every other soup on the menu has to do with the spice composition. Goulash typically has a lot of paprika in it for kicks and flavoring. You can even see in this bowl, the chef actually included sliced green peppers (which are no joke). The supporting cast usually includes potatoes, parsley, tomatoes, and either slices of sausage or chunks of beef. The meat is optional, though it adds great flavoring. Other veggies can be tossed in as well, just be creative.

Langos w/ sour cream & cheese.

Lángos w/ cheese.
Hungarian cuisine isn't known for fast food at all. However, there is one thing on the menu that is both easy to scarf down and doesn't dent your wallet. Meet Lángos, (Pronounced lohn-go-sh); the delicacy that people in Europe have grown to call Hungaro Pizza. It's so simple, you'll wonder how it hasn't found its way to the States.
Step 1: Prepare dough (eggs, flour, etc.)
Step 2: Shape dough into a pizza pie shape, approx. 12 inches wide.
Step 3: Deep fry the dough to a crisp.
Step 4: Dry off excess grease and oil.
Step 5: Cover with a wide assortment of toppings (or just have it plain).
Step 6: EAT!!!!
If any comparison could be made, it's like if Indian Nan bread was fused with a loaf of regular yeast bread, then fried.

Lángos comes in all shapes and sizes. This baby langos is accompanied by a bowl of creamy onion soup. Feel free to dip or just eat on the side.

Almost every super hero has a sidekick, just as much as every main course comes with a side dish. This hunger fighting delicacy is simply known as the CUCUMBER SALAD!!! Epic, we know... It's really sweet and comes garnished with sour cream and paprika powder.
This bubbling pot of delight will eventually be a completed, fully operational bowl of veggie cabbages w/ tomatoes and peppers. Add some sour cream for supreme    Hungarofication.

By the end of our trip, this became our favorite dish. Simply known as töltött paprika (or stuffed peppers), this saucy dish can be found across Europe, from culture to culture. Each group of people does it differently. The Hungaros love to paprikafy it and stuff it with ground meat. We learned first hand that the Greekies fill it with orzo, a veggie substitute. The sauce you see here is a hand-made blend of tomatoes with spiced paprika flavoring. Yellow peppers provide the shell for the ground turkey meat inside. If there was a final meal in jail, this should be it. Any person can die happily after devouring this. 
Another very traditional Hungaro dish is the halászlé (or fisherman's soup). The Magyar horsemen that settled down around the Danube river quickly learned to utilize the terrain by fishing for their meals. Fresh carp fill the river, and eventually your belly. This soup wouldn't be Hungaro if it didn't have paprika in it. Veggies are optional, as long as they don't take away from the main attraction. THIS IS A MUST FOR NON-HUNGAROS TO TRY!  
Staying in the theme of fish, here we have a grilled salmon with a pesto/spinach glaze. This tender meat is complimented with greens and mashed potato goodness.
Looks light and easy to finish, but it will definitely catch you off-guard. Officially named: green bean rissotto, this pasta is both creamy and filling. The flavor is one of rich herbs and saucy goodness. This dish is more of a modern blend of Hungaro foods. Grandma won't be making it. So, you'll have to go out to get it. 

Last but certainly not least... The Desserts!
It's no secret at this point, Hungaros have a really big sweet tooth. Their dessert section is often larger and more diversified than the rest of the menu. We experienced a wide variety of what Hungaria had to offer during our trip, but one can only eat so many sweets in two weeks. You would need at least a life time to get through every option ;)
Most people outside of Hungary expect cakes (which they have tons of). BUT, some our favorite delights weren't in a cakey form... 

This curious bowl is full of Madár tej (or Bird's milk). Weird name, gross looking, delicious taste. The white fluffs you see are just egg whites that have been prepared into a marshmellowy texture. The yellowish cream is just milk mixed with egg yolks. It was a mystery for a while why they call this Bird's milk. There are no birds that produce milk in Hungary. Christina cracked the case: The eggs symbolize the milk of a bird. Actual milk is added for effect.
Hungaros are really big on their poppies. Not for the opium (of course), for its sweetness. Here we have a mákos beigli, which is essentially a pastry rolled up in poppies. The crust provides a layer of thick, chewy dough. It's a really popular dessert during Christmas time.
To round up our foods and desserts for Hungaro, we continue with our poppy theme. This time, the poppies are all over our pasta dish. It's a really simple combination: Pasta + Poppy = Brilliance. Tested, tasted, perfected. You could eat it for dessert or even a main course. Just remember to grab a tooth pick afterward... you'll need!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hungaro-Wine Tasting

There's no secret about it, Hungarian wine is pretty world reknown for its awesomeness. Perhaps you've sampled some? A bottle of Bull's Blood (made in Eger, Hungary)? Or maybe you've sipped on some fine Tokaji dessert wine? Either way, knowing your wines automatically ups your cool points. So, what better way to practice than a original Hungaro wine tasting.

We trekked up the hills of Buda to visit the site of the Buda-Castle. Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen explosion (probably a drunken accident), the real castle was reduced to nothing but some rocks and stones. The beautiful new Buda-Castle was built in its place; a wonderful addition to the skyline.

Fortunately for wine lovers, the secret wine cellars bellow the castle remained intact. Even after the explosion that leveled the castle. Hungarian monarchs stored thousands of fine wines in those cellars for many years. It wasn't till recently that it was converted into a place for wine tasting and a museum. We couldn't resist!

Rolo thought it would be funny to mess around with the medieval "torture" mechanism. He didn't laugh in the end.

The oldest resident of the wine museum. Christina did some "be-friending" and scored us some VIP access to the wine making process.

A traditional cellar Hungarian kitchen/living room. Quite luxurious, isn't it?

* For Full Screen, click on the Youtube link*
To think, we drank only half way through their stash by this point.

* For Full Screen, click on the Youtube link*
And now, ladies & gents.... The Wine Tasting!!!
First up, we have a smooth white wine from the Ászár-Neszmély region of Hungary (north-east of the Danube). Sweeter than its red counter-part, this wine packed a number of different fruity flavors onto the palate. Among the most prominent was a sweet apricot sensation.

Up next, we have a spicy red wine from the Villány region. We were caught completely off-guard with this wine. It was incredibly spicy, dry, yet quite distinct for a red wine. It originates from a volcanically fused soil. Thus, it gives the flavor a punch like no other.

Last but certainly not least, two glasses of the famous Tokaji dessert wine. On the left, a moderately sweet wine. It's flavor was fused with pineapples, grapes, apricots, and more. The glass on the right was much sweeter. Our wine connoisseur explained that the harvest was much later than usual, causing the grapes to ripen to a threshold of sweetness.

Final judgement, Christina and I both decided that the award for favorite wine had to go to our White wine of the night. No, no, we know what you're thinking. It's not a racial issue. We just like a sweeter, smoother glass of vino. The red was very unique, but too spicy and dry for our taste. We drank it anyway ;) Our dessert wines were appreciated as well, but they were way too sweet to enjoy. A few sips was all we needed. After it all ended, we stumbled out the door into the courtyard for some lavish Hungaro dinner!


Monday, October 17, 2011

The Ontology of a Hungaro

Welcome back to another exciting edition of CnR Adventures. Our next episode takes us across time and space, from the ancient ruins of Athens, to the castles and cathedrals of chivalrous Hungary. It's one of our favorite parts of history =D
So here's a quick run down of things you need to know abouts Hungaros:

1) They love spicy Paprika... On Everything.

2) Mustaches are taken VERY SERIOUSLY.

3) The Hungarians are a very industrious civilization, and have invented many important things in the modern world.
Rubix Cube


4) One of their main exports is pornography.

and lastly, 5) They love their architecture!!!

Sculptures Along the Vigadó Concert Hall

This large hall, located outside of Vörösmarty square, used to be a theater, concert hall, casino and ballroom for the aristocracy of old Budapest. It hasn't been used in quite awhile, but the renovations are near completion. The rich and snotty will be back here in no time! 

St. Matthias Cathedral atop Budapest

Gothic Ramparts overlook the Danube River.

The age old ice-skating rink (outside Central Park - Budapest) has a new Sports Center.

*FUN FACT* This ice-skating facility is one of the largest open air rinks in Europe. It's incredibly unique because of its location. Just behind the camera, there is a large pond in which Hungaros can rent little row boats on beautiful sunny days. To the left, there is a true to life castle:  

Straight out of a middle-aged fantasy!

Even the sculptures are pornographic.

The Bazilika in Esztergom took ~40 years to complete.

The Központi Vásárcsarnok (or Central Great Market)

The best place to find amazing eats, at a great price. As well as all the random souvenirs that bring smiles to our families back home.  

Ahhh, the Parliament. Beautiful building, ugly politics.

Budapest is famous for its ruin bars - nightlife emerging out of the shadows of decrepit buildings.

The sunsetting beyond just one of Hungary's many churches.

The Var (or castle) atop the hills of Budapest is the recreation of what used to house the old monarchs of Hungaria.
The second largest synagogue in the world: Dohány Templom

*FUN FACT* Agi & Peter Regos got married here. 10 Years later, a baby RoLo came to be.

Christina presents....The new Museum of Modern Art!!!

W've been very fortunate enough to stay with Roland's grandmother while in Budapest. Her building was built in the beginning of the 20th century. Every apartment is a loft space; 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, large kitchen, and tall ceilings. They just don't make them like they used to. In any case, because of our busy schedule, we're a little behind on a bloggies (and we're really sorry about that). We'll make up for it, promise!
That concludes the Ontology of a Hungaro. Stay tuned for more hungarific tales.

*Note* All photos were taken by CnR INC.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011


This segment of our blog commemorates the final chapter of our visit to Greece. As we look back on the past three weeks, all the heart warming memories come to mind. We've strolled through historic ruins, fell in love with furry friends in need of a bite to eat, refortified the loving relationships between distant families, and so many more. The mediterranean sun is truly a magical thing. It not only warms the soil, but also warms the heart. Everyone we met on our travels, regardless of how well they knew us, seemed to only want the best for us.

On the last couple of days before our flight out of Athens Int'l, Christina and I ran down a checklist of things we wanted to accomplish while in Greece. Up and down the list, determination and luck (given all the protests and strikes) allowed us to see just about everything we had hoped to see... All except for one thing. Just as a precursor, music is a very important part of Greeky tradition. No matter where you find yourself; be it the mountains, the coast, the islands, or the major cities, the locals value their music just as highly as ancient heritage. So, Christina made it a point to take me (as a newbie to Greeky culture apart from Corfu - Grill & Delivery) to a real Greeky performance. Here in Greece, they call it.......


Thanks to Christina's father and friends, we found ourselves a hidden concert hall tucked away in downtown Athens. Inside, the locals sang the traditional songs, threw flowers, and danced the night away. The band was tight as hell! Roland made note that the guitarist and bassist were definitely metal-heads. The black shirts, long hair, piercings, and 6-string bass/7-string guitar were only slight indicators. Overall, cool peoples and an awesome time.


The throwing of flower pedals is a symbal of courtship and flirtation in Greeky culture. For us, it was just really fun to throw it at everybody.

Little caterpillars found their way amongst the flowers.


It was a phenomenal way to end our stay in Greece. Roland definitely won't ever forget the energy in the Bouzoukia hall; while Christina will never forget the fun times had with her family. Thus, we depart with heavy hearts, but we will always have them on our minds.... Besides, there's no time sulk. WE HAVE MORE ADVENTURING TO DO!!!


Special shout-out to Kostas! We love and thank you very much for everything.