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A Food Tour of Budapest: Taste Hungary market culinary walk & local wine tastings. Peanut allergy poster!

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Quick, tell me – what is Hungarian food like? Are Unicum, Túró Rudi, langos and Dobos cake delicious or disastrous? By the end of this post, you’ll have all the answers! (And if you have a peanut allergy, the last photo could save your life…)

The day after Sziget Music Festival, my film team and I joined Taste Hungary for a Budapest food tour. They’ve consulted for Andrew Zimmern (Bizarre Foods) and have rave reviews from foodies, so I knew I was in good hands.

taste hungary, food tours budapest

This indie company offers food experiences in Budapest and nearby areas, with themes such as literary coffeehouse, Danube wine, and craft beer. We did the Culinary Walk, a four hour taste-fest led by an English-fluent expert.

budapest Central Market Hall, wine tasting tour

We met our guide Gabor at Central Market Hall, one of Europe’s biggest and grandest indoor markets. (Address: Nagy Vasarcsarnok, Vamhaz korut 1-3.) He co-owns Taste Hungary with his wife Carolyn, author of several books about Hungarian cuisine.

moathouse eyewear, wood sunglasses

It was the hottest day of the year, so I dressed appropriately. These cat eye sunglasses are from Moat House Eyewear — yes, they’re made of wood! This UK indie brand sent me the hand-crafted frames (which are so unique and comfortable) after befriending me on Instagram.

My ghoulish skull top is similar to this one.

unicum liqueur, hungarian alcohol

Gabor started the tour with a bang, or rather, a very potent drink. Unicum is a bitter Hungarian liqueur, reminiscent of Jägermeister. The secret formula contains more than 40 herbs, and was closely guarded by the family distillery (they even left the country during the Communist era to protect it!).

turo rudi, hungarian chocolate bar cheese filling

Our guide took us to the best market stalls, and gave us the run-down on Hungarian cuisine while we sampled, sampled, sampled. One of my favorite booths was run by a little old lady who makes her own sheep cheese. Gabor set up a little picnic and we tried different types of insanely fresh cheeses, including one with a squeaky texture.

Above is Túró Rudi, a chilled chocolate bar with a filling of quark, also known as cheese curd. Believe me, it’s scrumptious. (All photography by Melissa Rundle.)

Budapest great market hall, food stalls

Budapest locals come to Great Market Hall to buy fresh fruits, langos (fried flatbread), sausages (flavored with paprika), and other Eastern European staples.

pickle jars, smiley face pickles

Did you think cute food was found only in Asia? This basement pickle parlor proves otherwise. After we tried a few — the hot pepper one woke me up — the vendor gave us a free paper cone filled with sauerkraut.

don't touch fruit sign

While it’s not ok to touch the fruit, we did have permission to film. Can’t wait to show you our upcoming travel video, hosted by yours truly. (The Dubai and Abu Dhabi episode is next.)

budapest old architecture, classical buildings

Tip: do a Taste Hungary tour on an empty stomach, as you’ll be snacking non-stop for several hours. Having seen each floor of the market, Gabor took us for a stroll through the surrounding Pest neighborhood. Can’t get enough of the classical architecture.

hungarian restaurant, traditional food dishes

We sat down (or rather, stood at the high tables) for a meal at Belvárosi Disznótoros or “Downtown Pig Feast”. (Address: Károlyi Mihály u. 17) I was grateful to have a local guide, since we would have never found this gem on our own. The traditional Hungarian dishes were flavorful but not overly heavy, and included duck leg, blood sausage, pan-fried potato slices, purple cabbage, cucumber salad, and chicken with pasta.

budapest famous bakery, cake shop

Now, for dessert. We walked to Budapest’s oldest family-run bakery, Auguszt Cukrászda. (Fény St 8.) The entrance had a Wonderland-like mural and rows of marzipan animals.

dobos cake, torta, hungarian cakes

Re-charged with espresso drinks, we dove into the cakes: raspberry, walnut, and the famous Dobos — a seven-layer chocolate-filled and caramel-topped sensation. Like today’s cronut, the Dobos torte caused a frenzy when it was introduced in 1884; Franz Joseph I was among its fans.

outdoor wine bar, budapest park

We ended up in the park, sipping Hungarian wines (rose and white varietals you’ll never find in USA) with our new friend.

Looking back upon the day, I can’t believe how much I learned. A Taste Hungary journey is well worth joining, especially since the tours can be customized for no extra cost. I hope you’ll try one and say hi to Gabor for us!

eurail train, europe railway passes

It’s no exaggeration that food is amazing in Europe. I always eat my fill of the dark grain breads, sheep or goat cheeses, and cappuccinos.

To my surprise, even the European trains had good eats. As first-class passengers, we had access to Eurail lounges stocked with snacks.

inside eurail train, seats

Eurail.com lets you choose from a variety of rail passes and make seat reservations for a bit extra (worth it, to avoid standing the entire trip). All these confirmations are promptly mailed to you.

The comfort of this train, which we took from Vienna to Budapest, could rival Japan’s shinkansen.

train service europe, rail pass

Another perk of 1st class: in some trains, a staff member serves you free snacks! I also could order a meal or drink, and have it delivered to my seat.

first class european train vacations

A Eurail pass applies to railways all over Europe, and I think it’s the most convenient way to see the continent. Our journey was comfortable and the staff was attentive.

train dining car, eurail menu

Unlike in airplanes, you can stretch your legs, enjoy the scenery, and order a proper meal in the dining cart. The trains leave on schedule and stations tend to be centrally located, which cuts down on travel time.

cat cardigan, sourpuss sweater

Tip: it’s worth splurging on first class tickets, especially in the summer (not all the cars have air conditioning). However, there are many options for different budgets, including student passes.

My outfit was sent by Sourpuss Clothing; here are links to purchase the exact same cat cardigan, and skull cut-out dress.

europe train station

Have you ever tried traveling by train? Köszi (thank you in Hungarian) to Eurail.com for sending my filmmakers and me on this grand adventure.

peanut allergy sign, poster allergic to nuts

PS: Are any of you allergic to peanuts and other nuts? In places like Eastern Europe and Asia, it can be difficult to communicate this to servers; some don’t even understand the concept of food allergies. Big problem. If you’re severely allergic to peanuts and accidentally ingest one, you can wind up with a puffy face like my cat’s… or much, much worse.

First Mate Naomiyaki came to the rescue! She created this astonishing illustration that clearly communicates: eating a nut = hives and swelling = death. It was a huge help on our trip, as I’m moderately allergic and one of my filmmakers has a foot in the coffin when it comes to most nuts.

We hope you might find this helpful for your future travels. Click for a large version of the peanut allergy sign; print it out or save it to your smartphone, and show it the next time you’re ordering food in a foreign country. Please leave a comment and let us know if it did the trick!

PS: thanks to Posse for publishing my Hong Kong Insider Guide, which includes pizza, pandas and pop culture clothing.

36 Comments

  1. Posted September 13, 2013 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    OMG This is GREAT! You look fantastic and everything looks delicious! And omg – “unicum”?? Makes me think of unicorns doing inappropriate things haha ;)

    • Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

      Hahahah only you would think of that ;) xoxox

  2. Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    deliciouso!

  3. Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Just reading it made me feel hungry!!!

  4. Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    My family just arrived in Budapest for some exploring. Gotta show this to them!

    • Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      oh my gosh YES! they were AMAZING – one of the best local tours I’ve ever been on. Let me know if they end up going, and how it was!

  5. Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    >_<

    • Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      hehe why the (>_<)? xo

  6. Posted September 13, 2013 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    cute

  7. Posted September 13, 2013 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    great one, i love it when you write about food even tho it makes me hungry!!!

  8. Posted September 14, 2013 at 4:00 am | Permalink

    YUM!

  9. Posted September 14, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    As things quite interesting and we can see as well as the style in which it begins.

  10. Posted September 14, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Looks great!

  11. Posted September 14, 2013 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I don’t like hungarian food that much but túró rudi is absolutely one of the most heavenly things in the world

    • Posted September 14, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      btw I saw you learnt köszi, what else did u learn to tell in hungarian? so curious bout it

    • Posted September 16, 2013 at 2:04 am | Permalink

      it was sooo goooddd

  12. Posted September 14, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    they do great sweetwater fish, smoked pork sausages and tasting the sweet tokayer (5-buttig!!!) and the unicum is a must (you won’t regret it …)

    • Posted September 16, 2013 at 2:04 am | Permalink

      Yes sooo good!

  13. Posted September 14, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing that place. that was awesome. Its just the being, you know.

  14. Posted September 14, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    the chocolate cake is on my list of things to try now!!

  15. Posted September 14, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Seems like you had a lot of fun! ^w^

  16. Posted September 15, 2013 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Nom and I learned a lot from this tour! ~__~

  17. Posted September 15, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Many delicious dishes. I really want to go there once. She is personality. I love her

  18. Posted September 16, 2013 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    are the best and are the one congratulations holyday independence day to here in central america

  19. Posted September 16, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    The cakes look the best to me. T-T gracias for the post.

    • Posted September 16, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      it was sooo good

  20. Posted December 20, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Its really nice post to get some idea about the market for the new visit of city. thanks for sharing with all.
    Thanks
    United 21 Resort Kanha

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