While visiting the Hungarian region of Lake Balaton, my friends Viktor and Aniko took me to the west side of the lake for a day of wine tasting. We took the double hulled ferry from Fenyod to Badascony (I think!). The ferry was packed with Hungarians having one of their last holiday weekends, as the weather will soon change and children are now back in school.
Badascony is a well known wine area with a picturesque volcanic mountain. As you leave the ferry, food and drink purveyors abound, as well as the trinkets you would expect in a tourist area. As you meander up the mountain, you leave the trinkets behind and local wineries and vineyards pop up on every turn.
The wineries are lovely, rustic, and authentic – no Napa snobbery here. The views up and down the mountain, as well as across the lake are breathtaking and the wines are exceptional. I lost count of how many places we stopped at, each with its own charm. Since I was with Viktor and Aniko, I didn’t have to figure things out for myself but each stop did have a list of wines and prices (not much English!) and they asked if I wanted red or white, dry or sweet. This seemed to do the trick, so perhaps this is a good starting point if you don’t speak Hungarian.
Bread with Fat - Zsirokenyer
Now to the food part….If you’re drinking this much wine, you must have something in your belly to cushion it (and boy does this make a cushiony belly). Many people, including us, love a Hungarian traditional snack called Zsirokenyer (bread and fat). Yes, I said FAT. The bread is thick, soft, and chewy. On top, a room temperature pork or goose fat is spread (think along the lines of a more flavorful butter), sprinkled with chopped purple onions, and dusted with Hungarian paprika and salt. Words cannot describe how utterly divine my first experience with this was. Perhaps if I could remember my first time eating bread with butter it would be similar. Throw in the towel, forget your diet, and go for this without thinking twice. You won’t regret it!
Henna Tattoos!!! Promise it's henna, Mom!
Toasted and full of zsirokenyer, we headed back down the mountain to catch the last ferry home. With a few minutes to kill, Aniko and I decided to get matching henna tattoos. With the sun setting over the water as we crossed the lake, we were not the only ones filled with merriment and cheer. A big group of Hungarians began singing traditional songs, dancing in a circle, and started what I’ll call a congo line!
All in all this was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a day. Badascony – I hope I get to see you again!
For information on the ferry, click here: