Gastronomy around Budapest
The Danube Bend north of Budapest has rich gastronomic traditions, with each little town having its own claim to fame. Tahitótfalu is known for its strawberries – celebrated every spring at the Strawberry Festival – as it has the ideal conditions of abundant water and sun to grow them. You can enjoy the delicious fruit freshly picked, and also in liquid form - if you are partial to a sweet liqueur, Strawberry wine is an rare treat. Szentendre, a charming town with romantic cobbled streets has long been a favourite retreat of artists, and it's especially worth a visit around St Martin's Day in November. The Skanzen – open air ethnographic museum – organises a festival demonstrating age-old folk traditions and the whole family will be full to bursting after sampling every imaginable goose-related dish. Szentendre has fine dining restaurants too, a perfect ending to a day visiting museums and galleries. The best lángos – deep fried dough, a Hungarian speciality - is served here in a tiny alleyway just off the main square.
Travel further north and you will arrive at Visegrád, the medieval seat of King Mathias. After admiring the breath-taking view from the hilltop castle, immerse yourself in a kingly feast at the Renaissance Restaurant. Esztergom is remarkable for its magnificent basilica, equally impressive though is the vaulted restaurant and wine cellars underneath it. Prímás Pince offers characteristic dishes from every region of historical Hungary with special emphasis on the Felvidék (which is now in Slovakia) like the Plum poultry liver pâté from Banská Bystrica, and an exceptional wine selection. During the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy the Royal Palace of Gödöllő was a favourite retreat of Queen Elisabeth and you can still taste her favourite treats, chocolate bonbons and violet lemonade. Gödöllő is generally known for its excellent quality produce that provides many Budapest restaurants with ingredients. There is no festival without Töki Pompos, often called the Hungarian pizza, but you need to try the real thing at its birthplace, Zsámbék. The Zsámbék basin was settled by Sváb people, who brought with them from Germany their culinary traditions and added unique new flavours to Hungarian cuisine.
A countryside inn is known as a csárda, and offers warm Hungarian hospitality, traditional, simple, home-style cooking in generous portions and often a live Gypsy band to add more spice to your meal. Check out Kemencés Csárda in Bodor Major close to Szentendre, Sarlóspusztai Tanyacsárda about 70kms from Budapest in the direction of Kecskemét or Tornyos Csárda in Domonyvölgy 15kms from Gödöllő. Meanwhile an increasing number of countryside restaurants are catching up to modern sensibilities and aim put a twist on traditional recipes using contemporary techniques and the best local ingredients, such as Rosinante Fogadó in Szentendre.