September 22 2010
Budapest may, as my Magyar friends assert, be the true centre of Europe, if not the world, but it is not especially convenient for those denizens of Kensington or Kent who feel a yearning for a rather special kind of foie gras.
Until recently fulfilment of this yearning required me to visit the Hungarian capital and the splendid Restaurant Gundel, beloved of composers and royalty. Now, in celebration of the centenary of its renowned pancake (of which more below), Gundel is selling two of its three most famous dishes long distance, via its website.
The first is the aforementioned foie gras of goose liver marinated in Tokai Asuzú, this being the closest thing to Imperial Tokai – a wine that is now virtually unobtainable (perhaps just as well, as it is reputed to raise the dead). This foie gras (third picture) is served colder than the French equivalent to preserve the jellified reduction of wine, and is considered by some connoisseurs, myself among them, to be superior to the French delicacy (although the same cannot be said for the suspiciously inexpensive offerings in Pest’s grand market). Also available to remote clients is their very rich praline cake (second picture), dispatched in a wooden box, which I find makes an original Christmas present for the sweet-toothed.
For the legendary Gundel palacsinta, though, one must still reserve a table in the restaurant. Created in 1910 by the founder, Károly Gundel, this pancake has a filling enriched with rum, raisins, lemon rind and walnuts, served with a chocolate sauce, and crisped in the oven. Longstanding patrons often ask for it to be flambéed. All of which might be tricky to deliver via the internet, though it is a reasonable excuse for a return to the city at the centre of the world.
200g Tokai wine-scented goose liver pâté, Huf4,050 (about £12).