Tokaj comes to life this April 21st with a series of events showcasing the area’s best producers and celebrating the wines that have made this small region a must on any winelover’s list.
What do world-class wines, beautiful people and luxurious settings have in common? At VinCE Budapest, last week, all three converged creating a feast for the senses. Set in the five-star Corinthia Hotel, this annual wine show showcased some of Hungary’s best vintners along with a few foreign contingencies to boot. From vivid, mineral rich whites to soulful reds, I experienced a diverse spread of Magyar made wine. Over 160 exhibitors participated and some of the industries big names were on hand for masterclasses and lectures over three days.
Spring is here. That means warmer weather, lighter spirits and the most prestigious wine event in Central Europe, the VinCE Budapest Wine Show.
Steeped in legend and cultural heritage, the Hortobágy is part of the Alföld Great Plain, the largest semi-natural grassland in all of Europe. This place combines an almost eerie stillness with vast open space, and big skies which conjure up America’s wild west.
Last summer I stopped writing. I stopped taking photos, exploring Hungary and sharing it with the world. I stopped creating. These things happen. Last summer was a season of sweat and concrete. Literally wheel barrow loads full of both. I became well acquainted with my father-in-law’s ‘furik’ or depending where you’re from, ‘talicska’.
Tucked away in the countryside near Eger, Hungary one finds a world of creativity and artisanal delights. Follow along as we visit Csendülő, Almagyar Érseki Vineyard & Kenyérzsák Bakery.
It was the end of May and the weather was perfect. Bright, warm and sunny. A slight breeze, blue skies and a kaleidoscope of flowers at every glance. My dad was along for his first Tokaj wine tasting. “All these plants along the roadside,” he said. “They’re so familiar, they remind me of my childhood in Ireland.” It was mid-afternoon and we sped past fields of red poppies and over the Sajo and Hernad, rivers fattened by recent rains.
Last year’s visit to the Füleky Winery was eye opening. You could say it was the full Tokaj experience: cruising down the Bodrog River, strolling down Tokaj Hill’s sea of vines, cooling off in a cellar and having an outdoor wine dinner. In fact, my nearly exclusive relationship with red wine ended with that visit; whites grace my shelves now, too.
Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was the rolling green hills, or my wonderful company. It’s hard to pinpoint, but my recent day spent in Varbo was just about perfect.
Dramatically set on the north shore of Lake Balaton in Veszprém county, Csopak is famous for its wine and beachfront. On a scorching June day, Anita and I wandered the town along narrow roads.
With the flick of a switch, a world of stainless steel, glass and concrete appeared. My wife Anita and I had just entered the low profile structure with Tamás Gincsai, winemaker for Holdvölgy. It was a soggy February morning in Mád, a village in north east Hungary’s famed Tokaj Wine Region. Now illuminated, I noticed the almost surgical construction of the room.
A little over a year ago my wife and I moved to Hungary. Moving from Southern California meant a massive change in culture, climate and lifestyle. We sought a simpler, slower life and to re-connect with my wife’s family after 8 years in the U.S.
I consider myself to be pretty open-minded when it comes to food. How about some heart, liver, brain or tongue? Let’s dig in. Perhaps a little gizzard, cockle, tripe, ear, snout, tendon and blood sausage? Sounds good. Frog legs, escargot, fermented duck egg? Sure, why not.
Remember reading about the wonders of the world under the covers with a flashlight? Remember when, as a child, your imagination could take you anywhere? I do. As a boy, ancient temples, monasteries and tombs fascinated me. I wanted to be an explorer, an archaeologist and 007 all rolled into one….
If you know anything about the Hungarian language, you know it’s notoriously difficult. Most experts peg Magyarul (Hungarian) as being somewhere between the 3rd-7th hardest language to learn. Much of this difficulty comes from the fact that Hungarian has no connection to Indo-European languages. But that’s a story for another day.
If you’ve been following this blog you’re aware that I write about Hungarian destinations and culture. I tell stories about wineries, cities and people in those places who are up to something. This week is different. Today I’m writing about Klaudia Kun and her parents’ dedication to helping others in need. Her father, Attila Kun, is my wife’s cousin. Over the years we’ve become good friends, in fact I’d say he’s one of my closest friends here in Hungary. I’ve met some inspiring people in my life, but Attila and his wife Kata might just top the list.
Known primarily for its industrious past, today Miskolc is evolving into a legitimate destination for travelers. While this city of 170,000 is still recovering from the disastrous collapse of communism, its proximity to the gorgeous Bükk National Park and the truly unique Miskolc-Tapolca Cave Bath, make it an attractive escape from the tourist trail.
I hadn’t expected to be drinking at 10:00 in the morning. Yet somehow it all seemed quite natural considering my surroundings. My wife Anita and I were in Budapest’s Central Market Hall on a culinary walk with Taste Hungary, a tour company specializing in Hungarian food and wine. Minutes earlier our guide Elza, a bubbly woman in her twenties with lively brown eyes, had just given our group a summary of Hungarian history.
It would be easy to label the burgeoning creative scene in Budapest’s District VII as merely just another hipster fad. In fact many do. Yet when walking around District VII (the old Jewish neighborhood) in this eclectic metropolis, one becomes aware of two things: young Hungarians are an incredibly creative bunch, and the proliferation of funky shops and bars here is more a a case of working with what you’ve got than a passing trend. Last week I took a tour of this ever-changing neighborhood with BudapestFlow….
The water wasn’t quite what I had expected. It was luke-warm, not luxuriously hot like the thermal springs in California. After about two minutes though, this didn’t matter one bit. It was 2005 and my first visit to Hungary. Anita, my girlfriend at the time (now my wife), had been eager to show me the Miskolc-Tapolca Cave Bath—I soon found out why. There we were, gazing up at the white limestone cliffs soaring out of the water. Gaping passageways beckoned, carved into rock by thousands of years of flowing thermal water. Beneath a massive glass atrium people of all shapes and sizes lay about on lounge chairs, swam in the healing waters and gazed in awe at the caves….