Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
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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.

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Honey cakes. Even the name sounded delicious! I first encountered these traditional Hungarian treats during a visit to Hortobagy National Park in far Eastern Hungary. They lined a table in the tiny museum displaying local arts and crafts, enticing me with their adorable shapes: hearts, maidens in traditional dresses, chickens, pigs, horses, curved knives with intricately carved handles, and giant spheres trimmed in satin ribbon. They looked so delicious I couldn’t resist.

I first encountered Honey Cakes at Hortobagy National Park in eastern Hungary

I first encountered Honey Cakes at Hortobagy National Park in eastern Hungary

I peeled away the clear cellophane of the heart I’d purchased and bit down. The dough had been baked to a rock. I tried again and managed to break off a corner, then chewed, and chewed, and chewed some more. It wasn’t the delicacy I had imagined. After a couple of bites, I gave up.

Fast forward a couple of years and I was again visiting Debrecen, one of my favorite Hungarian towns. My friend, Nora Erdei, who works at the Debrecen Tourist Bureau, asked if I would be interested in visiting the workshop of the family who makes all the honey cakes for Hungary. I jumped at the chance; I HAD to know why these tooth-breakers were so popular.
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