I like to think I’m open minded about different cultures, but if I’m really honest with myself there are some countries I feel like I just… connect with on a deeper level. The one factor they have in common isn’t spiritual or political or profound in any way – the answer lies in a simple appreciation for cake.
An easy test is as follows: does a place have an abundance of shops selling mainly freshly baked cakes, or cafes where glorious cake eating is the main event, the reason d’etre, along with which one may also order an accompanying hot drink and perhaps slightly subpar sarnie?
If the answer to either of those is yes, country, I get you. If the answer to both is yes, then boy, we are practically soulmates.
Earlier this year I went to Budapest and it was, as I’d hoped, exactly one of these places. Hungarians love their cake, and I respect that.
I’ve written before about how much I enjoyed the bread festival that I happened upon by a stroke of luck, but the carb-loading didn’t end there. Oh no.
After a morning steaming ourselves at the Szechenyi baths our stomachs were growling, so we headed to Vorosmarty Square in search of some sweet stuff. Gerbeaud is gorgeous, opulent and well over a century old, but what it’s famous for is it’s truly decadent cake. We gorged ourselves on chocolate and raspberry cakes daintily decorated and accompanied by scoops of ice cream. I do enjoy it when my food looks like a work of art on my plate, but somehow it never stops me from devouring it anyway. Can’t get too sentimental about these things.
Because we hadn’t had enough cream already, we decided to wash our cakes down with iced caramel lattes.
If you treat yourself once in Budapest, be sure to come here and do it in style.
Another old-fashioned establishment, this little place is equally as opulent, but darker and moodier and full of mirrors. It’s almost right opposite the opera house, so if you’re there in summer you can sit outside and watch all the comings and goings along the street that’s known as the Champs-Elysee of Budapest.
Choose a cake or two or three out of one of the glass cabinets and the waiting staff, who seemed to delight in our joy at the cake selection, will bring them over with little forks. Between us we tried the chocolate cake and also the strudel, which was my favourite.
It wasn’t the only time I had cherry strudel that weekend… the Hungarians and I seem to share a thing for it and they serve it everywhere, sometimes with cottage cheese inside…
Sometimes with ice cream on the side…
And sometimes just by itself.
I’d go back to Budapest for the cherry strudel alone, but it’s a fantastic city and there’s so much to say about it. I’ve only written about the food and thermal baths and one of many awesome bars so far, but keep your eyes peeled – there’s more on the way.