Food tour in Budapest

Food tour in Budapest

The first Hungarian food that comes to mind is the Goulash, but I knew there was much more to it, so I decided to book a food tour with a local to get the best idea.

I searched online and found the company Taste Hungary, that runs several different food tours. I had a hard time deciding, but eventually ended up with the Buda Food Walk, so I could explore the lesser known areas of Budapest.

The food tour started at 10, and as the description promised I would not be hungry after, I decided to skip breakfast. By experience, I have never left a food tour hungry…

Getting on the tram, crossing the bridge from the Pest- to the Buda-side, I quickly got to the meeting place. When the group was complete, we got a sweet start at Auguszt, a very traditional family run pastry shop. I must admit that sweets in the morning is not my favorite, but a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do, right?

The display was full of delicious looking pastry, and the guide described them all. I was struggling making up my mind, but ended up with Eszterhazy (taste that word….), with almond meringue, buttercream, and chocolate. It tasted good, but as I said, sweets are not my style in the morning. Luckily, the others in the group were of different caliber.

How is it possible too choose from these. At Auguszt pastry shop. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

How is it possible too choose from these?

Cake for breakfast at Auguszt pastry shop. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

Cake for breakfast. A childhood dream?

Just crossing the street for the market, we aimed for the Langos. If you do not know what that is already, you certainly will know after visiting Hungary. I am absolutely convinced that it is impossible to not see any Langos during your stay. They are found many places, except when I was craving it as a last meal before leaving the country…

Langos are often eaten as a snack between breakfast and lunch. We joined the club, only we were eating all the meals in a short period of time. According to our guide, the particular place she took us, was the best in town. Their secret is to use cabbage in the dough as well. The traditional way to serve the Langos is with sour cream, garlic and cheese. Heavy and super good! Bear in mind you can easily share one with a friend or two…

Langos in the making at the market in Buda. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

Langos in the making at the market in Buda.

Yummy Langos at the market in Buda. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

Walking along the permanent market shops, we were introduced to another specialty – Mangalica meat. It is a Hungarian breed furry pig with a special textured meat with lard. Ok, it may not sound particularly good, but I promise you, the cold cuts we tasted were magical!

Meat shop at the market in Buda. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

Standing in line for the cold cuts of Mangalica. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

Standing in line for the cold cuts of Mangalica.

Delicious cold cuts of Mangalica. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

On the ground floor in the middle, vendors sell local produce from the surrounding area. Others sell cheese or spices. Many ingredients originally came to Hungary with the Turks, with paprika being just one of them, so many of the words for the vegetables are actually more or less the same in Turkish and Hungarian.

Local producers selling everything you need. Including paprika. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

Back to the cheese; During communism, all farmers had to send all their produce to the state, so the artisan production was lost for a long time. Some have recently started again making a small production, selling their goods from a little stall in one of the corners.

Local cheese produce sold at the market in Buda. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

It was time to walk off the breakfast and snacks before the real lunch. Strolling the streets and parks of Buda, then heading up Rose Hill. Arriving at the top, we were rewarded with a magnificent view of Budapest.

Beautiful view from Rose Hill. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

Beautiful view from Rose Hill.

But it is also a historical place, hosting the memorial of Péter Mansfeld, one of the heroes of the Hungarian Revolution and freedom fight of 1956. Sadly he was arrested and sentenced to death.

Walking down the uneven and charming Gül Baba street, we could clearly see the restoration work in progress of the area around his tomb. By the looks of the project sketches, it will become an even nicer area to visit.

The charming Gül Baba street. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

The charming Gül Baba street.

Behind a pale green wall, we entered a grandma-style restaurant. Old dark wooden furniture’s, off-white lace curtains and wallpaper. And lots of trinkets all around to look at while the elderly woman prepared our food. Lunch is the main meal in Hungary, so we were prepared it would be a lot.

Our restaurant for lunch. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

Stepping into our lunch restaurant felt like visiting grandma. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

Stepping into our lunch restaurant felt like visiting grandma.

Hot broth soup with a large dumpling came first. Then multiple dishes with paprika and sour cream – one served with cabbage, one with chicken, and one with the local pasta. It would be an understatement to say we were full when we left. We were stuffed!

Broth soup. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary. Cabbage with paprika sauce and sour cream. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary. Local pasta with paprika sauce and sour cream. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

Good thing then that at our next (and last) stop, the communist style café Bambi eszpres, we got to taste Unikum. Or maybe I should not say that as a good thing – this black herbal drink tasted even more awful than the German equivalent Underberg, but at least it serves as a digestive, and we sure needed that!

Communist style café Bambi eszpres. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

Communist style café Bambi eszpres.

Unikum, a local liquor with 42 different herbs. Taste Hungary food tour. Budapest, Hungary.

Unikum, a local liquor with 42 different herbs.

The guide saw us of with some restaurant tips, and pointed us in the direction of Kira’ly – a small local thermal bath just right around the corner. It is actually the oldest Turkish baths, and the only that is still original. A nice and relaxing activity while digesting both the food and impressions.

Next time I go to Budapest, I will certainly try one of the other food tours they offer, like the culinary walk ending with wine tasting…

Food tour in Paris with a local

Food tour in Paris with a local

France is for many synonymous with food, so what could be more natural than to experience this part of the culture with a local who knows the food scene as her own pocket?

The website WithLocals has gathered residents in several cities all over the world, offering various excursions, meals in private homes, and as I was now about to try; food tours. I previously had good experience from this service, so I was very eager to repeat the success. To be completely honest, this was the first thing I checked after the plane tickets were booked.

I instantly fell for the trip “Paris Favourite Food tour: the 10 Tastings” and thought that it had to be the perfect way to be acquainted with the Parisian food culture.

A few weeks later the time was suddenly there. One of my weaknesses is to underestimate how long it takes to go from one place to another in big cities, but Maria waited patiently outside a bakery right next to Marche d’Aligre. This was also where she bought the classic long French baguette that would accompany us through the streets. The first time was in symphony with lovely tapenade from one of the stalls of the Marche d’Aligre. The variations were many, so we were having a really hard time determining which one to choose before we decided to rely on Maria’s taste buds and went for her favorite; Tapenade with basil. We did not regret, and consumed pieces of baguette dipped in tapenade while Maria knowledgeable told us about this historical place. Marche d’Aligre is dating back to the 1700 ‘s, but since it is a wooden construction, parts of it has burned many times. The market hall is a historic building, and therefore has to be rebuilt the same way as the original.

Wide selection of tapenade at Marche d'Aligre. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

Wide selection of tapenade at Marche d’Aligre.

Marche d’Aligre is the local market in District 12. All districts have their own market, but this is the only one in Paris being open throughout the week. Here you will find all kinds of fresh produce from the countryside, depending on the season.

We went for a walk around and looked at all the delights while working up the appetite. Fortunately, next stop was not far away.

Right across the street from the market, we sat down at Charolais, a popular bar among the people working at the market. It is the only place in Paris open for breakfast as early as 06.00. We were way passed that hour now though, and oysters were next on the menu. According to Maria, are these the best oysters in Paris, and are delivered from the market. I have to admit that oysters are not a part of my everyday food, but we enjoyed a few pieces each with a little bit of lemon squeezed on top. Super fresh and delicious!

Delicious fresh oysters at Charolais. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

Delicious fresh oysters at Charolais.

From salty and bitter, we were now heading for sweet. As we walked through the streets, Maria told us about the area. For the small community it is important to maintain the offers available, so if a bakery had to close down, people who want to start up a new bakery has priority. Thanks to this, it had been a bakery at the premises of our next stop for 150 years.

Paris-Brest is a cake that is inspired by the bicycle race that runs between the two cities. Originally, it was formed like a bicycle wheel with a hole in the middle, but is now available in various shapes. With cream of hazelnut and chestnut, and pastry with almonds, this is not something for nut allergic. For us on the other hand, it was lovely.

Paris-Brest cake. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

Paris-Brest cake.

French wine was next runner up, pared with cheeses and cured meats. The location was a combined wine shop, bar and gallery, a quiet and comfortable place. They only offer organic wine, so Maria could assure that our teeth would still be white, and we would not get a headache. If consumption was moderate, that is….

Ici Meme, a great place for wine! Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

Ici Meme, a great place for organic wine!

Wine, charcutterie and cheese planche. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

Wine, charcutterie and cheese planche.

The wine was so good that we stayed for a bit longer than planned. Moving on, we continued through narrow passages and around historic sites, and the trendy design- and party area in the 11th District, before we reached a delicate cheese store. It was too much to choose from, so again we relied on Maria’s recommendation; a sharp blue cheese. The baguette that had accompanied us throughout the evening again came to use.

So much nice cheese to choose from! Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

So much nice cheese to choose from!

From flavorful cheese it was time for sweet dessert again. The selection of macrons at Maison Georges Larnicol were many, but we were able to coordinate by taking two different flavors each and taste from each other. Heavenly!

The large collection of macrons at Georges Larnicol. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

The large collection of macrons at Georges Larnicol.

The winners at Georges Larnicol. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

The winners at Georges Larnicol.

Georges Larnicol is originally from the region of Brittany, and followed in his father’s footsteps and became the pastry chef and opened his first pastry shop in the 80’s. He quickly made success and opened more stores in the region. In 2010, he started his first one in Paris, but despite his success, he is one of the few pastry chefs and chocolatiers that keep the prices affordable. He believes that quality should be available to all. A nice philosophy.

The original tour would have continued on to sample some Galette au fromage (a savory crepe made of buckwheat) but we completely fell for the charm of the restaurants in the archways around the Place des Vosges when we passed by earlier, so we decided to go back there instead. The square was built between 1605 and 1612, and is the oldest in Paris. Originally it was named Place Royale, and was an important meeting place for the nobility. After the revolution, the square was renamed to take the name of the first region in France that did not pay the royal tax.

We found a spot by the heating lamps outside Ma Bourgogne. The warm toned lighting under the archways created a unique ambiance while we enjoyed even more French specialties; snails and beef tartar. And a little more French wine, of course.

Warm atmosphere outside Ma Bourgogne. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

Warm atmosphere sitting outside Ma Bourgogne.

Traditional snails at Ma Bourgogne. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

Traditional snails at Ma Bourgogne.

Maria was the perfect guide, combining the experience of eating our way through Paris with educational facts. Even if Maria is the one designing the tour, she has taught the route to several others who can give you good experiences in this wonderful food universe if she is not available.

Were you tempted by this wonderful dining experience in Paris? The trip “Paris Favourite Food tour: the 10 Tastings” can also be customized, as we ended up doing. Since we chose a more expensive option, we paid the extra at the last restaurant. You can also plan your own version with the guide in advance.

In addition to the food tour, you can also see other experiences in Paris offered by With Locals.

Street food tour in Hanoi

Hanoi is full of street food stalls, so we decided to learn where and what to eat from the local professionals. We booked a guide from Hanoi Street Food Tours, and Tu got us started from the moment we met. He is the writer of the food blog Vietnamese God and certainly knows what he is talking about.

Our first stop was for fish soup, or Bun Ca, with noodles and vegetables. It comes with a bit of different salad leaves on the side to put in it. As the last finish, ad some chopped chilli and squeezed lime. It was seriously the best fish soup I have ever tasted! It was both sweet and sour, with a little spicy kick. We really wanted to slurp every drop, but Tu was strict and told us we could only eat half of it, as we had much more food coming up. We did not dare to disobey him.
Bun Ca
Moving on, taking shortcuts between residential houses, Tu also filled us with stories about how Hanoi has developed. Our next stop was for Vietnamese coffee, at Cafe Duy Tri. The café has been run by the family for generations, though in different locations. The current location was in 43 Yen Phu, not far from Sofitel Plaza. There were small tables on both sides of the narrow room, and more tables in the charming room one floor up.
Cafe Duy Tri
I do not usually even drink coffee, but I of course had to try, so I got the iced coffee with condensed milk. Really nice and a bit sweet, and for a non-coffee drinker as myself, that was just the trick. My coffee drinking friends were also very happy with theirs, and even bought some coffee beans on their way out, freshly grained on the spot. In addition to the coffee, we had to taste the frozen yogurt, as this is the only café in Hanoi that have that. The fact that they had one with avocado flavor made it a done deal! Oh, did I mention that I am an avocado addict?

It was time to get some more solid food, so we took a taxi to the old quarter for what was, according to Tu, the best crab spring rolls in town. They were actually more like squares than roll, but what does that matter? They were cut in several pieces and served with rice noodles, assorted leaves and sauce for dipping. My taste buds were at least satisfied.
Crab spring rolls
We did not need to move far for dessert. The stall right next door served Che Chuoi; a rather sweet condensed milk with banana and pearl tapioca. We also got iced lemon tea, quite sweet as well, but also nice and refreshing.
Che Chuoi
On our way to the last stop, we walked passed market stalls, and of course, many more food stalls. One of them sold chả rươi, a Vietnamese omelette with worms. When I travel, I think it is important to try as much local food as possible. So when Tu asked if we wanted to taste, I just had to. It does not exactly sound tempting (I agree with that), but to be honest the taste was quite good. It was seasoned with different spices, so you could not really taste the worm. Not that I have ever tasted worm before, so I would not have any idea what it would taste like anyway…
Vietnamese omelette with worms
Last taste – Pho Tiu; noodle soup with pork, bean shoots, nuts and herbs. Accompanied with a nice, cold beer. A great way to end this fantastic journey through the street food of Hanoi!
Pho Tiu
To try this fabulous experience yourself, contact Tu on
Hanoi Street Food Tours.

Experienced in January 2014

Food tour in Kuala Lumpur

I hope you are hungry, Fadly asked. I was, but suspected I would not be for very much longer. I was completely right.

As a service to their guests, Back Home hostel offer different activities. What caught my attention the most was the food tour. I love to try the local food as I travel and having an expert showing me what to try and where, is my favorite. I instantly signed up!

Walking along the busy streets, crossing the roads “the Malaysian way” (holding your hand out in front of the car like the police stopping the car when running after the bad guys in an action movie. Just no running or guns in our version though…) we reaching our first stop, and what Fadly refered to as our pre-dinner snack. Most Malaysians eat 6-7 times a day, so most are snack meals. We were about to do all in just a few hours…

The street by the first stop used to be full of food stalls, but due to construction, sadly most of them had to move. Our first snack was sup Urat or sup lidah lembu at Gerai Mak Teh Aloya (No 1, Lorong Doraisamy). Or soup with cow and quail (small bird) if you, as I, needed translation… The base of the slow cooked broth was the same, so we mixed them both together. Here we also tasted Rojak mixed with peanut butter.

Rojak. Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Rojak

Continuing on, we went to the old area where mainly Malaysian live and very few tourists find their way. The old houses in front of the new makes an interesting contrast. Earlier the “poor” houses were made from timber and the richer in brick. Now it is the other way around, as timber has become very expensive.

Old vs. modern in KL, Malaysia

Old vs. modern in KL.

Next up was the Farmers market in Jalan Raja Alang. They open at 17 and keep open until the morning. Strolling around, Fadly told us about the different traditional vegetables, seafood, meat and other produce used for cooking. This included a quick walk through the meat market, where butchers were chopping the meat, including chicken with eggs inside. The video is not for the faint hearted…

Farmers market in Jalan Raja Alang, KL, Malaysia. Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Fresh food at Farmers market in Jalan Raja Alang, KL, Malaysia. Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Local meat is most popular and almost double price than the imported. Farmers market in Jalan Raja Alang, KL, Malaysia. Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Local meat is most popular and almost double price than the imported.

Ok, I lied. We did have a snack at the farmers market. Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Ok, I lied. We did have a snack at the farmers market!

Fadly telling about the Farmers market in Jalan Raja Alang, KL, Malaysia. Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Butcher at Farmers market in Jalan Raja Alang, KL, Malaysia. Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

An egg anyone... Farmers market in Jalan Raja Alang, KL, Malaysia. Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

An egg anyone?….

It was about time for us to eat again (the farmers market was hands off, only looking. And smelling), so at Nasi Lemak City Garden we got to choose several dishes (Beef Rendang, tempe (fermented soybean) with peanut & anchovy, deep fried mashed potato with minced beef (begedil) & calamansi/kumquat lime drink)  to mix with our rice packed in banana leaf. Mmmm!

A lot of different delicious dishes to choose from. Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A lot of different delicious dishes to choose from.

It may not look so good, but the taste was amazing! Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

It may not look so good, but the taste was amazing!

Rice in palm leaf. Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Since we had such a “long” break from eating, we went straight to the next place for dessert; Pancake with sweet corn and peanuts, and one with banana and chocolate. And a lot of margarine!!! Just close your eyes and eat, your taste buds will thank you!
Pancakes in the making! Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Pancake! Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Like burgers? Ever tasted one wrapped with egg? I did not think so. But do not despair, before the end of the tour, you have. The RamIY burger special with egg wrapped around is apparently very popular, so the inventor had to open several branches to meet the demand. I like both burgers and eggs, so I somehow found space for it in my fast filling stomach.

RamIY burger special with egg wrapped around. Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

RamIY burger special with egg wrapped around.

A short walk away, just long enough to let the gastric content contract to make room for a little bit more, chicken satay and octopus was served. I had already stopped thinking this MUST be our last stop, so I sat down, had a small piece of each, and drank a sip of the large bottle of water Fadly gave us when we started. The message was clear; all of you have to finish the 1,5 liter before the end of the tour. I still had a little left, so I concluded we were not done yet.

Chicken satay. Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Chicken satay coming up!

Time to try a traditional breakfast dish. Was it a trick to make us forget about all the other things we ate?… It was hard to forget, but at least we all found room to try the blue colored rice from the east coast with lemongrass, Vietnam basil, long bean, cabbage, daun selom, chili, anchovy sauce, fish floss and grated roast coconut, all mixed well together. The type of breakfast depends what region you are from. Some eat rice, others more sweet. I am not up for very sweet things in the morning, but this rice I could easily do.
A typical breakfast . Food tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
From breakfast back to dessert. Our second one, that is. At this point we were all more than full, so Fadly suggested that we took it to go, and brought it Back Home(!). Needless to say, we all voted for! Happy, and certainly not hungry, we got on the train back to the hostel for an ice cold beer. And our take-away sticky rice with mango…

 

Food tour in Colombo

Local food is one of the most important aspects when I travel, so when we found a food tour on the website withlocals.com, we were sold!

We agreed to meet with Buddhima, or B for short, by Majestic Plaza on Galle Road, that ended up being the street of the evening. B is one of many locals who offer unique experiences on the newly established website.

First stop of the tour was Pilawoos. Let’s make it a statement right away; the Sri Lankans sure like their drinks sweet! B wanted us to try a popular drink, iced Milo chocolate milk, with sweet condensed milk added. Apparently it is a good thing to drink to avoid hangover. A great combination, as this is one of the most popular places to eat after a late night out. B ordered one chicken and cheese kottu and one string hopper biriyani. The first has to contain rotty, but the vegetables mixed with it can vary a lot. The latter has a string hopper base, also mixed with different vegetables. Both are chopped in small pieces.

Chicken and cheese kottu and string hopper biriyani at Pilawoos.

Chicken and cheese kottu and string hopper biriyani at Pilawoos.

We could hear the continuously loud chopping from the kitchen in the background. It might sound like an annoying background noise but if you are lucky enough to have one of the older traditional chefs preparing the food, they might chop in a musical rhythm.

As a refreshing a cleansing drink after a spicy meal, lime juice is absolutely recommendable.

Next stop, Hotel Plaza. The name might give you associations to western style hotel, but don’t be afraid, it’s far from. Here we were served plain string hoppers with dhal curry and chicken curry. The food was good, but it didn’t excite the taste buds as much as the last two dishes. Our table had view to the kitchen, giving us great insight to the food preparations.

Kitchen at Hotel Plaza.

Kitchen at Hotel Plaza.

Plain string hoppers with dhal curry and chicken curry.

Plain string hoppers with dhal curry and chicken curry.

Another trick to alleviate the strong flavors is to drink something warm. We tried one plain milk tea and one flavored with ginger.

Next in line was to try the hoppers and hoppers with egg. Not to be confused with the string hoppers, but looks more like a bowl made of thin dough. It was served with two kinds of seasoning on the side, both based on onion, but still completely different tastes.

The place also recycle; the newly washed plates were still wet and the water was poured in the bowl on the table to wash hands. In addition they used pieces of newspapers as napkins. To show that the spoons were disinfected, they were put in a glass of boiled water on the table. The small details count.

Hoppers.

Hoppers.

Finishing off, we actually ended up right next to our guesthouse for ice cream desert at Carnival. As always we wanted to try new tastes, and went for one scoop of mandarin and one mango. Not that the tasted were not familiar, but as ice cream they were new. And as we guessed after todays experienced, they off course were sweet.

Pick you flavor at Carnival ice cream.

Pick you flavor at Carnival ice cream.

The tour with B certainly showed many aspects of the Srilankan way of life, both through the food and the culture as he described it. Definitely a recommended experience!

Experienced in December 2014.