During my stay in Budapest, I had the opportunity to take multiple trips with Taste Hungary, the city’s main cuisine tour organization. On my first day with Taste Hungary, I participated in the Jewish Cuisine Walking Food Tour and the Fundamentals of Hungarian Wine Tasting.
Searching for more things to do and see while in town? See my list of the finest things to do in Budapest!
- 1 Jewish Cuisine Food Tour on Foot
- 2 The Fundamentals of Hungarian Wine Tasting
- 3 Which trip appealed to you the most: the Jewish Cuisine Walking Food Tour or the Fundamentals of Hungarian Wine Tasting? Do you want to take both excursions on the same day as me? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below!
Jewish Cuisine Food Tour on Foot
This walking culinary tour of Budapest concentrates on the city’s trendy Seventh District, which is famed for its quirky pubs, stylish cafs, secret art galleries, and cutting-edge design stores.
Prior to WWII, this area was home to one of Europe’s biggest Jewish populations. The district is still the hub of Jewish life in Hungary today.
I met the Taste Hungary guides at a centrally located meeting spot. After meeting the two tour guides, we discovered that the couple who had intended to join us was ill and would be unable to attend. As a result, I had two tour guides to myself!
I usually prefer solo guided tours since I don’t have to worry about bothering people by shooting every dish or asking a million questions, as I am prone to doing.
Our first stop was to get some coffee. The hosts told us about the neighborhood’s intriguing history and how the cuisine on the Jewish Cuisine Walking Food Tour was special.
For example, everything of the meat we ate was kosher, which means it was slaughtered by a ceremonial slaughterer in line with the ancient Torah commandment.
Moreover, according to Jewish law, meat was not cooked in milk. There are strict regulations defining how long you must wait between consuming meat and milk dishes. They even have to be cooked in separate plates.
We headed out for our first trip, a typical Jewish bakery, somewhat more knowledgeable and on a coffee high.
We started with pogsca, a classic savory bread that is comparable to a Hungarian scone. They are so popular in Hungary that they are featured in folk legends. As the lad in one tale goes out to battle monsters, his mother sends pogscas with him since they are so full.
We then sampled flodni, a traditional Hungarian-Jewish cake. This four-layer cake has a specific significance to individuals who eat it, and each layer has a distinct meaning.
The layer of walnuts is for health, the layer of poppy seeds is for a big family, the delicious layer of honey and apple is for a lovely new year, and the layer of plum jam is for unknown reasons, but everyone agrees it should be retained!
Our next destination was at Budapest’s first and most popular ruin bar, where we drank a local cocktail called Unicum with a few local beers as chasers.
Unicum has an intriguing backstory to match its intriguing flavor. The aperitif or digestive drink is an oak aged herbal liqueur produced from a secret formula including over forty plants. It is, in fact, one of Hungary’s national beverages.
Legend has it that the drink was created in 1790 by the king’s royal physician to help with dyspepsia. After tasting the unusual drink, Emperor Josef II shouted, “Das ist ein unikum!” (That is a one-of-a-kind), giving it the name it it has today.
If you’ve ever experienced Jaegermeister, you’ll recognize the flavor. I was excited to sample a local drink, but it, like Jaegermeister, was not a favorite. I was glad I had a drink to wash it down!
Then, because we had just eaten our apritif, we were headed to sample some traditional Jewish Hungarian food. We stopped inside a restaurant recognized for presenting updated adaptations of traditional cuisine.
The first course served was a matzo ball soup in a duck broth.
This was delectable. The duck broth was light yet tasty, and the matzo ball was unbelievably soft. I like the chunks of duck floating in the soup; they contributed a lot of flavor.
The centerpiece of the dinner came next. I wasn’t expecting much since it was simply listed as Jewish baked beans with eggs on the menu.
Yet, the large goose leg placed over the beans was not mentioned on the menu.
This dish is referred to as solet or cholent. It’s a classic Jewish stew that’s cooked for at least 12 hours and eaten as a Shabbat supper.
Crispy skin. Tender meat. Beans that are meaty and flavorful. I’d gladly eat this meal every Shabbat!
We completed our journey with a visit at a winery to sample an unique dessert wine from Hungary’s famed Tokai area.
Although I’m not a huge lover of dessert wines, this one wasn’t half terrible. It was probably a little too sweet for me, as you’d expect from a dessert wine. I was excited to experience wine from the world-famous Tokai area.
The dessert wine was the last stop on my Jewish Cuisine Walking Food Tour of Budapest, but oddly, this wine house was also the location of my next tour, which was slated to begin in just a few hours.
Thankfully, my flat was only across the corner.
I hurried home for a brief snooze before returning a few hours later for my next tour.
The Fundamentals of Hungarian Wine Tasting
The Fundamentals of Hungarian Wine Tasting is so popular due to the sheer quantity of wine regions in Hungary: 22 in all, with approximately 100 types of native grapes!
This course is an excellent primer or overview of the many varieties of wine produced in Hungary. Ninety percent of the wines are consumed in Hungary rather than exported!
We sampled eight different varieties of wine on the night of the trip, including sparkling, red, and white. We began with sparkling and white wines, of course.
White wines account for 70% of all wines produced in Hungary.
We also had a delectable white Pinot Noir, which was a first for me. Since it is created from red grapes, it is richer than other white wines. I’d never heard of it before this tasting, but I really liked it!
We snacked on separate charcuterie boards as we ate, which were well suited with the wines we drank. I really like the ash-covered cheese with the more strong wines.
This one was so tasty that I had to shoot it from all sides! The meats are all locally sourced and go well with the reds we tried.
We learnt about the many wine areas as we tried each wine and ate our charcuterie boards, and why these specific locations, climate, and soil characteristics are ideal for making their particular wines.
We finished the trip by drinking another dessert wine from the Tokai area, since our host knew I had had something similar previously. Maybe it was because I had already had seven glasses of wine, but I preferred this one since it was drier and less sugary.
After a busy day of traveling with Taste Hungary, including not only the Jewish Cuisine Walking Food Tour but also the Fundamentals of Hungarian Wine, I was relieved that my flat was only around the block.
I came away from the day with a deeper awareness of not just Hungary’s Jewish minority and its customs and meals, but also of the country’s wine area and the wine varieties produced there.
Overall, it was a really beautiful day.
Practical Information: Click here to learn more about and book the Jewish Cuisine Walking Food Tour; click here to learn more about and book the Fundamentals of Hungarian Wine Tasting Tour.
Disclaimer: I’d like to thank Taste Hungary for inviting me on one of their trips. As always, all views are mine.