And last but not least: food, drinks, and the unexpected finds!! Hungary had a bit of everything: Christmas markets, ice cream, street food, cafés, and liquors. We even fit in a tour at the Unicum factory!
–Langosh –goulash –Töltött Káposzta (stuffed cabbage leaves) –Dobos Torte –Paprikás –Unicum (traditional herbal liquor) –rose-shaped gelato –pork loin with paprika sauce and bacon-sour cabbage –Somlói sponge (cocoa, walnut and butter sponge, raisins soaked in Tokaji Asú, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, walnut liner crisp) –Gerbeaud Kávé (Americano prepared from their Gerbeaud specialty coffee, apricot liquor, whipped cream, croquant) –Hungarian beef stew —
CAFÈ GERBEAUD: Established in 1858, this cafè has survived world wars, revolutions, seen kings, queens, writers, politicians, stars, foreign and Hungarian guests. A place that has acquired the status of a “sweet” place.
THE GREAT MARKET HALL: Very touristy but a great place to explore during rainy and cold weather! A neo-gothic style, three story building built in 1897 boasts a vibrant and colorful scene. You can find an assortment of things ranging from fruits, vegetables, dairy products, salamis, pickles, and fresh fish to Hungarian paprika, Tokaj wines, various souvenirs, bags, clothes, pans and pots, and even home style meals, or Hungarian snacks.
RUSZWURM CONFECTIONERY: The confectioner’s was founded by Ferenc Schwabl in 1827. The biedermeier interior still includes the cherry wooden counter made by the master joiner Krautsieder, and the dial plate of the clock from the age of I. Ferenc. After the death of Schwabl the confectioner’s was led by his widow’s second husband, Lénárt Richter, and after his death Antal Müller, the husband of Richer’s niece became the manager. He is the “father” of the most favorite sweeteners, the Linzer, which was named after the Hungarian Lieutenant Rudolf Linzer. Between 1884-1922 Vilmos Ruszwurm, the husband of Müller’s daughter Róza was the manager and after his death, Ferenc Tóth followed the tradition. After the nationalization, the confectioner’s was active for three years, then it closed, and opened only August 20, 1960. From 1976 István Lukács led the confectioner’s, and since 1990 the family Szamos has been managing the shop. Nowadays, the confectioner’s is one of the most popular sights of Budapest, the house and the interior are protected monuments. Today the shop offers only its own made cakes, preserving the tradition.
Zwack Unicum is a liqueur distilled from over forty herbs from all over the world. It was invented in 1790 by one of the family’s ancestors, Doctor Zack, royal physician to the Austro Hungarian Emperor. Ever since, Unicum has been known as the national drink of Hungary, its recipe a jealously guarded secret, aged for several months in oak casks in the cellars burrowing under the distillery. In 2012 Unicum Szilva or Plum was introduced, for the first herb liqueur in the world to be aged on fruit in oak. The recipe for Szilva is exactly the same as the original Unicum but, due to the dried plums on which it is aged, it has a smooth and velvety taste which in no way detracts from Unicum’s strong character. In 2017 the Zwack Company launched a very exclusive extension of the Unicum brand, the Unicum Riserva. The Unicum is first aged in an 80 year old cask, the oldest cask in the distillery cellars, and then in the small casks typical of Tokaj to which Izabella Zwack’s Dobogo Aszu is added, thus combining its delicate sweetness and exquisite fragrance with the spicy taste of herbs.
The Zwack company was founded in 1840 by Jozsef Zwack and in 1892 moved to its present headquarters on the banks of the Danube in Budapest. Apart from a 45 year hiatus during the Communist regime, the company has been in family hands ever since. The fifth generation heir, Peter Zwack, returned to Hungary in 1988 and together with his partner, the Underberg family, repurchased the factory.
The visit to the House of Unicum starts with a 20 minute viewing of a film about the company and the Zwack family. In the museum itself, the history of Hungary and that of the Zwack family go hand in hand, from the earliest years to the halcyon days of the Belle Epoque before the spectre of war and the fascist regime and the advent of Communism forced the family to take refuge in the United States. From then on, on the other side of a symbolic wall and an original border barrier between Hungary and the Western World, the showcases are divided into the two, following the fortunes of the Zwack family in exile on the right hand side and the life of the confiscated State-run company on the left. It was not until 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the return of democracy to Hungary, that the two were reunited once again. The overhead gallery houses over 17,000 miniature bottles, one of the largest collections in the world. We were able to get an insight into the antique atmosphere of the old distillery, with information about the liqueur making process and some exotic herbs and spices. The tour continued in the cellar where we were able to taste a variety of Unicum and Unicum Plum straight from the casks!
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!