Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lehel Market@Budapest: When in Hungary, do as the Hungarians.


t feels good to be near food. Even when I don't try, I always end up next to it. So in Budapest, our apartment turned out to be a minute walk from the Lehel Csarnok, Lehel Market, that also goes by a tongue-twisting name of Lehel Gyógyszertár. Less fancy and less touristy than the resplendent Central Market, it however offers a mouth-watering choice of Hungarian yummies at quite competitive prices. This is where we stocked up on bread,  viennoiserie and delicatessen for our Budapest breakfasts before hitting the museums and hot spring baths. It is frequented almost exclusively by locals, so everything is strictly Magyar, which exactly why we love visiting Hungary, for that very authenticity that, lamentably, seems thinning out every year giving way to the generic Euro-experience. Si fueris Pannoniae, Pannonō vīvitō mōre

Hungarians are very good with bread and pastry: although Meats, and by that I mean mostly pork, come in an impressive variety of shapes and guises. Cheeses are very straightforward, yet commendable in their uncomplicated rusticity and inexpensive to boot. Fruit and veg are plentiful and cheap, well coming from London anyway. Nothing off-the-wall there, just good and honest edible European flora.Wines, kind of like in France, are very much much hit-or-miss: we've had some despicable swill as well as quite sublime nectar, the former, somewhat predictably, coming from the lower priced range. Coffee these days is almost universally comes from Italian coffee-machines and is brewed to perfection. I can vaguely remember that it used to be very inconsistent in the early post-Communist days, so kudos to bravi Italiani!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Choucroute garnie: simple recipe

rench food is not all la-de-da made of fois gras, frog's legs and truffle shavings and served on a doily - just like not every Frenchman is an effete and jaded urban cynic Since the French Revolution put an end to farmers eating boiled bark, peasant food has become more sophisticated, while staying true to its simple roots.

Take, par example, choucroute garnie, one of my favourite winter foods, hearty, filling and wholesome. The juniper berries, a generous glug of white wine as well as good quality organic free range happy pork turn the lowly sauerkraut and boiled potatoes into a veritable gastronomic experience. It's peasant food par excellence, so it cooks itself while you can indulge, peut-être, in a spot of mutual blowjob, and then, to clean the palate, in the rest of the wine, as Mireille Matthieu is crooning in the background.

Basically it's like this:
  1. Sauté onions in duck fat just a tad beyond translucent, they should taste sweetish.
  2. Add sauerkraut, juniper berries, whole black pepper and bay leaf.
  3. Pour some white wine.
  4. Arrange nice chunks of smoked bacon, saucisse de Toulouse, boudin blanc on top- I skip frankfurters and strasbourgers and use boudin noir instead but you don't need to.
  5.  Simmer until the pork is ready, generally up to an hour. In the meantime, boil or bake some potatoes.
  6. Voilà - serve with white wine from Alsace, Riesling or Gewürtztraminner!