Exploring Gourmet Hungary

“Experience the history, culture, fabulous food and superb wines, of Hungary” the Secret Vineyards promised. Gourmet food and fine wine were not my immediate association with Hungary, but how wrong was I proven to be?

Stunning Pannonhalma Monastery The adventure began when I arrived at Vienna airport and met the other three couples on the tour as well as Tamas Sandor and Lee Melville from Secret Vineyards who were to be our guides. Tamas’s passion for his country and this area in particular made the next three days a truly memorable experience. A drive of a little over an hour took us to the city of Gyὅr (pronounced Juer) which was to be our base for the next three nights.

The next morning dawned bright and after a short stroll around Gyὅr, we drove to the World Heritage listed Pannonhalma monastery, standing majestically on the top of a hill with far reaching views over the Transdanubia region. The visit started with a brief orientation film and then our guide Lἁszlὁ showed us the finer points of the one thousand year old Benedictine monastery including the early Gothic church, the 15th century cloisters and the neo-classical library which, together with a number of basements, houses a staggering 400,000 volumes. The complex history of this region and its impact on the monastery was brought to life by Lἁszlὁ, whose extensive knowledge was matched by his passion. The buildings of the monastery have undergone a great deal of change over time, but the underlying grandeur has not been lost. The highlight of the tour was the opportunity to join the 35 Monks for their midday prayers, and their harmonious chanting will linger in my memory for many years to come.

Lunch on the terrace at Viator, the restaurant at Pannonhalma Monastery Lunch in the Viator restaurant reflected the spirit of the monastery, being both modern and traditional, and providing what is reputed to be some of the best food in Hungary. The 4 course meal was a gastronomic delight that would have done any Michelin starred restaurant proud. The presentation and depth of flavours of every course was remarkable, a real culinary delight. Lunch was served on the patio providing breath taking views and it was accompanied by two excellent wines from the monastery winery.

The tour of the Archabbey winery was led by Tamἁs Korsὁs, the monastery wine guide. He was enthusiastic and engaging in his presentation and all of the 7 wines tasted were of a high standard and much better than any Hungarian wine I have found at home. Of particular note were the Hemina white and Infusio red, both of which exhibited great complexity and depth of character.

The cellars at the Konami winery Back in Gyὅr, we enjoyed another gastronomic delight at the restaurant Szalai Vendego. The value for money of this area of Hungary is incredible with a very large and well-cooked main course (Steak, Turkey Cordon Bleu or Prawn Risotto) and 2 drinks each costing less than £11 for two! Afterwards we took a gentle stroll through the old town where the streets were alive with local people.

Back in the bus the next day for a 90 minute drive south through the countryside of Hungary to Lake Balaton, the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe. There are many restaurants but the group opted for Vitoriἁs Restaurant with yet more excellent food enhanced by stunning views over the lake. Hungary is an ice cream lover’s paradise so naturally I was obliged to indulge in a “Spaghetti Ice” at one of the many gellataria.

The Konyari family vineyards overlooking lake Balaton A short ferry crossing took us across Lake Balaton to the much less developed southern shores and the Konyari family vineyard. A cold glass of Lolipop (the vibrant Konyari sparkling rose) was a welcome refreshment on the sun drenched terrace. The visit to the winery brought pleasant relief as I descended into the naturally chilled galleries which are used for production and storage.

The end to a perfect meal, sunset over lake Balaton Next stop was the Majthėnyi Prėshἁz (Press House Restaurant) that is run by the same family with spectacular views across the vineyards and Lake Balaton to the distant volcanic hills. The food is rustic Hungarian at its best and dinner was a food and wine pairing extravaganza of 5 courses and 7 wines. The meal concluded with the most spectacular sunset over the lake, a truly memorable end to a wonderful stay.

Secret Vineyards are a young company, but are now an appointed British Airways tour operator and can be proud of what they have achieved in such a short time. With their excellent insight and knowledge about Hungarian history and culture, accompanied by the exquisite fine wines and excellent food, it made for a thoroughly enjoyable tour.

You may also find interesting:

129 people found this helpful
17988

Share Article:

Steve Williams

Former director of product services at Carnival UK

Leave a comment

*

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Geoff Moore joined events across the island to celebrate Liberation Day, one of the most important dates in Guernsey’s calendar…
The Royal Shakespeare Company offers far more than just live theatre as Gillian Thornton found out on a visit to…

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.