Nicholas Winter, the Global News Service correspondent who’s a friend of many folks here, just sent Bela and others lovers of Hungarian food a very tasty shipment of food and spirits from Budapest! The lucky soul got to spend December in that city, which really knows hope to celebrate the season in good fashion.
In his letter with this shipment which I’ll detail shortly, he noted that he hadn’t been there for the Christmas season since the Wall came down and it’s certainly been an amazing recovery for that city from the dark days of Communist Party rule. He was there to review, among other things, the Budapest concert by Chasing Fireflies, a band that includes small piper Finn, my wife Catherine on violin, and, in her first professional concert, violinist Svetlana, Ingrid’s sister from Ukraine who’s now resident here.
(There was a small group of us from the Kinrowan Estate who went over for a week after Christmas as that’s actually the best time as the tourists are gone. Catherine speaks Hungarian as she did her postgrad work in music history here. And that’s very handy there.)
I suspect Ingrid helped in choosing the contents as she’s the expert at finding the best of anything wanted. Winter’s admitted to me that shopping is not his favourite thing to do, but he’ll happily tag along and pick up the tab if someone else is doing the decision making. It’s a good thing that his bank account is flush.
There was a case of properly aged barack palinka, the apricot brandy every Hungarian loves; lots of lekvar, a preserve made of plums; smoked garlic infused Kolbasz sausage; several rashers of Kolozsvari bacon; large strings of dried whole paprika peppers; Egri Bikaver, a full bodied red wine; and even Csokoldetorta, a chocolate cake favoured in this season.
There was enough szaloncukor chocolate to decorate the fir tree in the Great Hall in traditional Hungarian style and have enough left over to enjoy.
There was, for the Estate knitters, wool from the Hungarian Racka sheep, both white and black. Of course it was fleeces as its best prepared by those who would be knitting with it. The shouts of joy from them were indeed enough to me me smile.
Now you and I should make our way quickly down to the kitchen for afternoon tea. There’s fresh baked Turos Lepeny (Hungarian yeast bread with cheese topping) out of the brick ovens, which goes well with the lekvar.