Last week I was rather excited to spot a Hungarian Pinto Grigio rose on sale in Marks & Spencer in London. I’m not sure how long the British supermarket has been selling it, but I figured I’d give it a try over the weekend while we had some beautiful summer sunshine – even if it didn’t last for long!
The wine is a very delicate pinkish and has the taste of summer berries. It’s lovely and fresh, a very crisp wine, ideal for just sipping on, or with a light summer salad or seafood. We enjoyed it with a seafood platter.
The rose is from the Neszmely region of Hungary, just south of the Danube river. Vines have been grown in the region for 2000 years.
Winemaker: Akos Kamocsay at Hilltop Neszmely winery
I recently delved into my latest box of wine from Laithwaites to find a wonderful surprise in form of a Hungarian Campanula Pinot Grigio 2009. Pinot Grigio, always crisp and delicate, is one of my favourite grapes. However, Campanula offers something a little more. This wine has a superb, golden body, with a hint of sliced apples and citrus fruit. It’s no surprise then that this wine regularly features in Laithwaites’ annual bestseller lists, as well as winning several awards at the International Wine and Spirits Competition. I can’t recommend this bottle highly enough. It’s great for spring. Enjoy a glass with some anti-pasti or a main course of white fish, poultry or veal.
I was rather excited to hear about the Royal Academy’s latest art exhibition straight from Budapest and to coincide with this celebration of art from the former Eastern Bloc Fortnum & Masons has launched a Hungarian inspired Afternoon Tea. This fabulous afternoon tea, with a distinct Hungarian twist, is served on exquisite Herend porcelain, made by Hungary’s historic premier porcelain maker.
Immerse yourself in the Hungarian experience with delectable warm Hungarian strudels and traditional Hungarian cakes, as well as a selection of open afternoon sandwiches in the St James’s restaurant at £46 from 27 September to 29 October, Monday to Friday. Or for the duration of the exhibition, Monday to Saturday, with dinner in the Fountain Restaurant at £38. For reservations call 0845 602 5694.
After enjoying the Herend Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Masons wander a few minutes down the road to see the Treasures of Budapest Exhibition, featuring glorious masterpieces from the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hungarian National Gallery, at London’s Royal Academy. The exhibition is open to the public until 12 December 2010.
I was excited to see that French Connection has embraced Hungarian style this season. The high street and online store is now selling this Hungarian Floral Dress and Hungarian Floral Top – both must-have items for this season.
The dress costs just £37-39, while the top is £34-36.
I came across the company, Taste Hungary, a few months ago. It is the ideal tour company for those seeking a truly traditional and incredibly gastronomic experience in Central Europe. The bespoke tour company based in Budapest specialises in food, wine, and market tours in Budapest and Hungary. They offer personalised travel experiences featuring fantastic food and wine, and of course, a bounty of local culture.
The private, custom-planned wine trips are centered around exploring the Hungarian wine regions, but also include visits to beautiful scenery including UNESCO World Heritage sites and the opportunity to taste delicious local food, take part in active pursuits, and relax at rejuvenating bath house visits. Local contacts and inside knowledge are the key to good travel experiences, and traveling with Taste Hungary will feel like hanging out with local friends showing you their favorite spots.
Taste Hungary’s owner, Carolyn Banfalvi, believes that experiencing Hungary’s food and wine is the best way to learn about Hungarian culture and traditions. She shows her guests that there is so much more to Hungarian cuisine than goulash and paprika, and inspires passions in and love of Hungarian food and wine. Eating and drinking have always been Carolyn’s favourite aspects of travelling. After considerable research, which culminated in the publication of the award-winning culinary guidebooks: Food Wine Budapest and The Food and Wine Lover’s Guide to Hungary, showing the ultimate in every aspect Hungary has to offer.
Think of Hungary and goulash probably springs to mind. However, the Hungarians are famed for much more than one traditional soup. Hungary is arguably the home of mushrooms after Italy and Russia. Moreover, its blessed with the sweet, soft chestnut and many of its sweet and savoury dishes benefit from its presence.
This Christmas, the Jones’ household decided to opt for a traditional Hungarian chestnut-stuffed turkey. Serve with roast potatoes, your favourite vegetables and lashings of gravy for a favourite family feast.
For the stuffing
200g unsmoked bacon lardons or pancetta
200g chestnuts, cooked and chopped
Plenty of thyme and parsley, finely chopped, fresh is best
For the turkey
Turkey whatever weight you need to satisfy your hungry family
Roughly (depends on size of turkey) 50g butter
About (again depends on size of turkey) 6 rashers of streaky bacon
Parsley and thyme
Dry fry bacon lardons in frying pan unti most of their fat is released
Add butter to pan and melt
Add breadcrumbs and mix
Add chopped chestnuts
Season with salt and pepper
Add the herbs
Remove from pan and allow to cool
When cool to handle roll into a ball
Stuff the neck of the turkey with the stuffing ball
(Excess stuffing can be used to make extra stuffing balls or a dish of stuffing which can be cooked separately. Alternatively, freeze a large ball of stuffing to use the next time you want to make a roast dinner. Ensure you defrost thoroughly before cooking.)
Fill cavity of turkey with thyme and parsley
Coat the turkey with butter and top with the bacon rashers
Cover the turkey with foil
Cook on 180 degrees Celsius (lower for a fan oven) according to weight (instructions on packaging) but allow extra time for stuffing
Remove foil 30 minutes before end time
When cooked (juices will run clear) allow to stand for 30 minutes before carving
I made a promise to some of my colleagues at Glam that I would bake them a cake and as one of my colleagues is Hungarian I took inspiration from the Hapsburg’s traditional confectionary. I am not particularly artistic so my efforts are always going to be rustic rather than looking as if it has been picked up at a patisserie but at least it gives it a real homemade feel. This chocolate cake is a simple chocolate sponge with a mocha buttercream filling and a chocolate and brandy icing topping. I have made this cake once previously and I made the icing on top a lot thiner so it literally ran off the spoon and covered the whole cake and sides but this time I made it thicker and piled it on the top. Depsite the sugar and butter content of the cake, it contains no preservatives or artificial colourings or flavourings and is surprisingly light and not sickly, making it the perfect little treat for your family or friends!
Some days, some weeks, can be tough. I’m spending nearly every minute of every day, bar the six hours (if I’m lucky) sleep I may or may not get each night, working, writing or studying. However, while my days may be busy, they can still be satisfying. This evening I returned home to find 12 random bottles of wine which I have delivered from Laithwaites every four months or so. I love the fact that in most of these boxes, Laithwaites will usually include at least one bottle of wine of Central or East European authority and this month was no exception.
At this time, Pinot Grigio is the world’s most popular white grape. Its most sought-after wines are those from northern Italy, which while are available come at a price. However, go a little further east and one finds the historic vineyards of Hungary are also producing some excellent value, appetising Pinot Grigios like the elegant Baron Lazare.
This crisp white comes from a cellar in the Pazmand region of Etyek founded in 1949, and thoroughly modernised since the fall of communism. This cellar is well-equipped with cool fermentation equipment essential for producing fresh, modern whites, and has won many awards for its efforts. Gabor Laczko is the dynamic young winemaker.
Baron Lazare de Schwendi brought back from Hungary young vines after besieging the town of Tokaj in 1565. He cultivated them on his own land in Kientzheim, near Colmar, where his castle still stands. Baron Lazare de Schwendi is made by veteran winemaker of 40 years, Bardos Benjamin, from the finest Pinot Grigio grapes carefully selected from vineyards surrounding the Nagyrede winery.
The wine itself is medium-bodied, with an attractive, aromatic, floral nose. Well balanced, with lemon notes, Baron Lazare de Schwendi is an ideal aperitif and the perfect accompaniment for poultry or fish. I enjoyed a few glasses with a gorgeous prawn, smoked haddock and salmon fish pie – yum!
First Waitrose stocked Ewa’s Vineyard Hungarian wine and now I stumble upon yet another great find at the supermarket. Matra Mountain, Pinot Grigio, 2008 is a crisp, dry white wine with a ripe apple and pear flavour. The Matra vineyards are located on the southern slopes of the Matra mountains, benefiting from a unique microclimate, allowing the largest Pinot Grigio vineyard in Central Europe to produce exceptional grapes.
Under the watchful eye of winemaker Benjamin Bardos, selected grapes are hand-picked at optimum ripeness before being carefully fermented at cool temperatures thereby retaining their varied fruit and aromatic qualities.
This bottle is the perfect accompaniment to fish , chicken and delicate veal dishes but equally could be considered as a quoffing wine for a night in.
I post a lot about vineyards across Eastern Europe that are worth a visit but unfortunately, all too often, it is difficult to get hold of the produce in the UK. However, Waitrose currently stock a wonderful, dry, crisp, white Hungarian wine. It’s perfect for easy drinking, cooking or served with light meats, poultry etc. or fish.
Easy drinking and fruity white from the Hungarian hills.
Made from some of Hungary’s best white varietals, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Királyleányka, and specially blended for an easy fruity style. The winemaker, Eva Keresztury, has given her name to this wine made especially for Waitrose.