Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
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The young man in the dirty jeans and faded navy T-shirt wouldn’t tell me his name. I’d asked the group of refugees hanging around the park in front of the Belgrade bus station if any one spoke English and they’d pushed him forward. He was willing to speak to me on condition of anonymity, so I’ll call him David.

Syrian refugees in Serbia chat on a bench in a park near the bus station as they await their chance to move deeper into Europe

Syrian refugees in Serbia chat on a bench in a park near the bus station as they await their chance to move deeper into Europe

David is from Syria, one of thousands of refugees who are currently making their way through the Balkans in search of a better life. When I asked him why he left Syria he grinned, revealing one dimple and crooked, tobacco stained teeth. “There is nothing in Syria. No water, no electricity, no food.” Though he couldn’t have been older than 20, his story is already four years in the making. He fled to Turkey, where he spent two years working at any job he could get, in order to save enough money to get to Europe. Over the last two years, he traversed Greece and Macedonia, arriving in Serbia just a couple of weeks earlier. Read More

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Main square in Szentendre, Hungary, a small village and artists' colony on the Danube River, just north of Budapest

Click on above photo to view it in large format: Main square of the artist colony of Szentendre, Hungary, a small village on the Danube River, just north of Budapest

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Bronze jester perches on the tramway railing along the Duna Corso, the Danube River promenade in Budapest, Hungary

Click on above photo to view it in large format: Bronze jester perches on the tramway railing along the Duna Corso, the Danube River promenade in Budapest, Hungary

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On a visit to Hungary two years ago, I struggled to find vegetarian food of any quality, much less good quality, but on my most recent visit I discovered that the country once known for uninteresting meat and potatoes dishes is fast becoming a food mecca.

I began my review of the top new Hungarian restaurants at the Michelin star Borkonyha Restaurant, which the owners describe as “a blend between a French-style bistro and a contemporary family restaurant offering the best of Hungarian cuisine.” Tucked into a small storefront near Deak Ferenc Square in central Budapest, this restaurant does big things, as I discovered during a three-hour culinary romp that included an appetizer, soup, main course, and a dessert.

Braised scallop over mango, drenched with cold Vichyssoise at Borkonyha Restaurant

Braised scallop over mango, drenched with cold Vichyssoise at Borkonyha Restaurant

My meal began with a braised scallop on a bed of mango, over which cold Vichyssoise was poured. This was followed by an inspired appetizer of Sea Bream on a bed of risotto and beet root; topped with mussels, shaved truffle slices, pearl onion segments, and edible flowers; finished with a rich butter sauce. To my surprise, a second starter appeared: medallions of tuna resting on a bed of soured strawberries. Read More

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Lavender blooms in the gardens at the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest

Click on above photo to view it in large format: Lavender blooms in the gardens at the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest

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For most of his adult life, László Radics has been making traditional Hungarian honey cakes in his family’s home workshop in Debrecen, Hungary. In this video, he shows us how they are made, and explains a bit of the history behind honey cakes.