If you need some last-minute creative edible gift ideas, you’ve come to the right place! In our pre-Christmas selection, we brought you a range of delicacies from Hungarian chefs, pastry chefs, and manufactories that will look great on your table, thanks to their clever looks. Whether you’re in Budapest or across the country, choose products from local makers—you’re creating value and supporting them. (For further ideas, check out the first and second episodes of our series.)
Babka Deli—pâtés, pickles
In a good kitchen, we not only think about the meal but also prepare for leaner times. Fermenting, pickling, canning, and decoction are ancient methods of preserving the flavor and nutrients of different vegetables, fruits, and meats for a longer period. The spreads and additions on the menu have long been popular at Babka and Babka Deli, so the team invented a way to bottle them and take them home.
Everything is made in their own kitchen under the supervision of executive chef András Berényi. Whether as a gift or as an exciting element of a festive dinner or breakfast, it’s worth trying the pink onion, turmeric pickled cauliflower, or one of the meat or offal pâtés. They’re great with a variety of roasts or even on good quality sourdough bread, so if you’d like to try them, visit one of their restaurants or Babka Deli’s pop-up marketat 35 Victor Hugo Street!
Marci Keve’s kitchen, which might as well be a laboratory, and the bold, exciting dishes it produces are righteously famous and popular. Even if we can’t bring him home to prepare the holiday menu (though we’d love to), we can have some of the things he creates. The shelves at 101Bistro are currently stocked with some seemingly simple but complex products, such as Sichuan chili oil and butter pumpkin ketchup. The former, contrary to its scary name, doesn’t necessarily knock you off your feet with its unbearable power, but rather with the tingling sensation it leaves, as the combination of Sichuan pepper and chilies revitalizes the taste buds instead of numbing them. It works well in soups, egg dishes, or even a simple körözött (‘Liptauer’: a spicy cheese spread—the Transl.), but it’s also perfectly tasty in your pasta sauce. Pumpkin ketchup is based on Habanda peppers, apples, and apple cider vinegar, which make for a sweet, smoky, and slightly spicy concoction all at once. Dip your favorite chips in it or serve it with fries and tócsni (Hungarian potato pancakes—the Transl.), you can’t go wrong.
Cioccolatte’s ice cream enchanted us in the summer, but now the two stores on Pozsonyi Road and BudaPart are welcoming customers with different flavors and shapes. You can find the obligatory Tiramisu and Biscotti, of course, but Szilvia and Giuliano also prepare a traditional Italian festive cake every year: the Panettone. This traditional pastry is a symbol of Milan and a must-have for Christmas.
There is a lot to pay attention to in the original recipe, from home-making it to resting it on the top of the head. The shape is a little reminiscent of the Bundt cake, only more imposing in size and full of surprises: in addition to the traditional candied orange and raisin version, you can also buy different cream-filled versions, such as limoncello, pistachio, and gianduja, but for those who are on a diet, there is also a vegan and gluten-free recipe (made with rice flour). Pop into any of their stores and pick one up—but brace yourself for some heavy weight!
Is there anyone out there who needs an introduction to Auguszt? The family business, which prides itself on more than 150 years of history, is now in the hands of the third generation, and you can enjoy their cakes in four locations: Fény Street, Kossuth Lajos Street, Museum Garden, and Farkasrét. Classic desserts made with great ingredients, carefully prepared, while tradition meets a few twists—perhaps this is the best way to describe them. During the festive season, the flagship Fény Street shop floor becomes a Christmas treasure trove of sweet and savory treats.
Flower-patterned ‘koldustallér’ (a chocolate biscuit with oil seeds), chocolate candied oranges, cinnamon stars, Linzer cookies with powdered sugar, and truffles, but if you’re looking for something less sugary, the savory selection is also worth a look. There are also some Middle Eastern snacks, and since the hostess, Ibolya Auguszt, is a big fan of figs, she also bakes figgy rolls, but they’re already sold out, so you’ll have to wait until next year to taste them.
Naturi—raw biscuits and cabbage chips
The holiday is (also) about snacking, but you can do it in a way that’s less heavy on your stomach and more about munching on nutrient and vitamin-rich snacks. Pécs–based Naturi offers all-natural products, made exclusively by drying at a maximum temperature of 40°C, now available all over the country, including raw bread, chips, biscuits, and raw vegan cakes on request. The ingredients are ‘simple’ and familiar, without additives or flavor enhancers: apples, carrots, bananas, coconut, walnuts, gluten-free oatmeal, buckwheat, almonds, spices, flaxseed, cabbage, brewer’s yeast flakes. They are crunchy, refreshing, and natural, preserving the best of the ingredients. If you don’t have time to order, look for them in organic shops or Müller.
Photos: Dániel Gaál