15 September 2011

Budapest's Historic Cafés - New-York Café

New York?  This is Budapest, right?

Simple answer--the building was commissioned by the New York Insurance Company in 1894.  It was such an impressive building that it was, and is, called a palace.  The New-York Café occupied the ground floor of the "palace" and soon became one of the most exclusive coffeehouses in Budapest and certainly the most beautiful.

I've seen many coffeehouses at this point in my travels and they tend to range from simple Old World elegance to flirting with the ornate, but this one is the most extravagant by far.

Just look at it!

It reminds me of Marie Antoinette's summer house at Versailles.  Light and bright, but fussy with the details.  Rococo comes to mind, but I'm no art expert!

Tuxedoed waiters abound.  It sure is a lot of pomp and circumstance for coffee and pastry.  And it was kinda fun to be so well-served.

I admit I felt like a bumpkin in my rainy-day traveler duds (awful, right?!) , but they happily seated me so I pretended I was in my most fabulous summer dress and enjoyed my elegant afternoon indulgence.

I settled in and ordered a pot of lemon and ginger tea that came with a tiny chocolate chip cookie and a little petit four of chocolate and vanilla cake sandwiched together with apricot jam and dusted with powdered sugar.

Simple and satisfying. (Hint --Perfect to serve at a party)

But what pastry to order for my fancy-schmancy mid-day break?

The menu was full of the delicious Hungarian standards, but what caught my eye was the Ropogós mogyorós szelet.  Sounds good, huh?  All those letters translated to... "Nut Cake!"

Here it is...

I'm not going to beat around the bush about this--this was the single best thing I put in my mouth in Budapest.  Seriously.

From the first bite I was knocked-out!  KNOCKED-OUT!  What the hell was in this slice of heaven?

This is how I described it in my journal:

Nut cake.  Nut cake?!  Are you kidding me?  That is such an UNDERSTATEMENT.  My mouth is so happy!  It's about 3-inches long and 3/4- inches high (yeah, I take specific notes!) topped with a chocolate"leaf" and a white chocolate nougat truffle coated in chopped almonds.  The cake itself starts with a thin short crust (sweet pie dough), covered with an almond, peanut filling, followed by a thick hazelnut pastry cream-ish gelatin-y pudding, topped with a butterscotch fondant.  And the garnish...chopped peanuts and a slice of peach.  Even the peach works with these flavors!  I'm lingering over every bite.  I'm going to be thinking about this mind-blowing flavor bar for a long time.

Normally, when I'm out and about tasting pastries I eat 1, maybe 2 bites tops.  I ate all but 1 bite of this "nut cake."

When the waitress came by to check on me, I nearly grabbed her by the lapel.  What is this I'm eating?  It's no ordinary nut cake.  I told her with as many superlative adjectives as I could think of how fantastic this dessert was.  She said it was her favorite as well (they always say that!) and that it was one of two signature creations of the pastry chef.  I went on and on about it, but eventually let her get back to her job.

After I got home from my trip I couldn't stop thinking and talking about this dessert.  Who was this pastry chef?  It took some digging, but I finally found her--Dudok Mártonné.  I haven't found any more information about her, but I did find an email address.  So I did what every normal pastry obsessed person would do, I sent her a dessert "love letter."  Yep, that's a first for me!

I haven't gotten a response, but it felt really good to tell someone how much I enjoyed their work.  I know it would totally make my day to get that kind of email.  I just hope she can read English!!!

I came away from New-York Café not only with an excellent food memory, but a rule to never walk away from a fancy venue because I feel under-dressed cause I might just miss out on an outstanding flavor experience.

1 comment:

  1. As I scrolled down and the Nut Cake came into view - "Ohhhh myyyy". Fabulous!
    An answer to your dessert "love letter" yet? Sure hope so and with the recipe...
    ps: the coffee house is beyond belief.