Friday, July 29, 2011


Over the last several months I've made a serious effort to shed some pounds for the sake of my knees and my long suffering sacrosanct-iliac joints (this was from spell check but I couldn't resist the truth of it!)I knew being in Hungary would pose a challenge to my commitment but,undeterred by memories of my dear mother-in-laws palacsinta (crepes) with ground walnuts and home-made Chocolate sauce, or "Golden Dumpling" cake with chocolate fondant and cream sauce, I was sure I could stand up to the challenge! Well at least most of the time. This was the land of the Famous Gerbaud coffee house,Dobos Torte and Gundels world famous restaurant, where when last we dined there, my late husband ordered not one, but 2 items from every course on the menu and upon retiring for the night told me he had eatten so much, the food was flowing to his brain when he lay down.
I was prepared to be sensible when it came to my daily encounters with the understandably world famous culinary traditions of this somewhat obscure Eastern European country,but to my great relief and surprise more than the politics of the old guard here have changed.
On my first outing of any serious challenge, I found myself in the food court of a mall with my kids and grandkids. The predictable offerings were McDonalds and Starbucks and maybe the not so predictable TGIF, but also GURU. Guru is a modern sleek chain of cafes that is meatless and prides itself on heathy and, dare I say, natural organic ingredients? REALLY? Really! Here in the land of carb overload where fat and potatoes are their own food group? Well friends on a hot summer day I had perhaps the most refreshing and thirst quenching beverage I have ever enjoyed, made to order from fresh lemons, mixed Forrest Berries and mint with sparkling water. Coming from a place where getting lemonade with no sugar either means squeezing a lemon into a glass of water or being served a mix with poisonous chemicals masquerading as a sweetener, I was astounded at how good this Guru was.
My drink was accompanied by a terrific salad and there was a kiddy corner complete with stuffed animals, paper and pencils and child sized table and chairs. All this and reasonable prices too. Couldn't get much better than this could it?

Well maybe it could?! Spinoza cafe, is much like the the great and heretical Jewish iconoclast of the same name. Spinoza cafe serves traditional Hungarian food such as the ever popular Goulash but also the equally popular, Hamburger and French Fries. Its not exactly this and certainly not altogether that but somewhere in between what could be found on someones grandmothers table and at the local corner fast food tourist take out. On Friday night,Spinoza also boasts a Klezmer band to give it that complete and rounded experience,which is part of its general overall appeal I think. The food is OK  for a commecial and trendy restaurant but certainly nothing I would write home (or blog ) about.

As so often happens, just 20 steps to the right of my doorway, is the often observed but never tried Godot Kafehaz. It always looked too local to try or to trust but the other night after a long day as I approached my doorway I saw the light still on and  realized that Godot is waiting for ME,

I had an incredible 3 course traditional Hungarian meal for about $20 including beverage, and was able to eat and enjoy with a clear consience, until desert. See Picture above.  This treasure is called Turo Gombosz or Curd Cheese Balls dressed in chantilly cream, wild blueberries and garnished with toasted bread crumbs and sugar.  I only ate one (REALLY!) and took the other 2 home. 

This was fresh authentic and delicious food from a chef who came out with each course to ask if it was alright and was there anything you might want with the next course that he could prepare for your pleasure.It was replete with vegetables from the local green grocer and cautious about the unhealthy and unnecessary addition of too much fat, carbs and sugars. This is what I had been hoping to find.  I was waiting for Godot and it was worth the wait.

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