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.