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Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

It was only a few years back when the Budapest fine-dining scene got its first Michelin Star. That honor went to Costes, a restaurant that has since maintained their status as one of the top culinary destinations in Budapest. Not long after, honors were bestowed on Onyx, a chic newish restaurant known for its modern takes on Hungarian cuisine. Michelin has been threatening to drop another star on Budapest for some time now, but it took the fantastic team at Borkonyha (Wine Kitchen) – a French/Hungarian restaurant that has one of the best wine lists in the city to seal the deal.

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Borkonyha  is the place for carefully assembled, fresh, and innovative modern fine dining. Crispy duck liver,  daily seafood specials, variations from the Hungarian wonder-pig mangalica, and Juniper Ox Cheek are standouts on the small but excellent menu. The servers are on hand to give expert wine-pairing recommendations, as one of the owners worked with the Hungarian Wine Society. Borkonyha is a friendly upscale place that has risen quickly to become the favorite of many local foodies here in Budapest, and with the people at Michelin as well, it seems.

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According to the chef Ákos Sárközi (via the Wine Kitchen Website): “What is my philosophy? I would like to create a kitchen full of flavors. If I had to define my style, I would say that it is open to any influences. As I get inspiration from the Transylvanian cuisine, I’m also ready to use Spanish, French or Italian ingredients. My aim is to show the many facets of the traditional Hungarian cuisine by using contemporary approach and kitchen technology.”

We extend a hearty congratulations to Borkonyha, another shining addition to the fast-growing Budapest dining scene. The hype is well-deserved in this case.

PPM Film Services is a Budapest-based film company offering an inspiring and creative work atmosphere for its host of clients from around the world. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we’re charged to create, we do it with no compromise. To sign up for the PPM Hungary newsletter, have a look here.

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Excuse us if we seem a little tipsy. It’s November which means that while it may be a difficult time for sunbathers, it is a great time for wine lovers. That’s because November is ‘new wine’ season, when vineyards release a limited amount of the year’s vintage. ‘Újbor’ in Hungarian, it is better known by its French name, Beaujolais nouveau. The product of early harvest red grapes (though to a lesser degree you will see whites and rosé) Hungarian újbor is usually light, fruity, and highly potable.

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The celebrations of the new wine go hand in hand with St. Martin’s Day. As such, two of the reasons we think Hungary has become the second top tourist destination in the world converge in November: wine and festivals. Hungary is a country that celebrates all its culinary niches with festivals, and újbor is no different. How St. Martin himself became identified with the release of new wine is largely speculation. Some say it is due to his generous nature, while others maintain it is merely because he is from the town of Tours in France, the nation traditionally identified with a finicky wine culture.

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St. Martin’s new wine festivals happen in the middle of the month, taking place across the country. In Budapest we have the Saint Martin’s Day Festival that unfolds over three days at the ever-glamorous Gellért Hotel. If you want a less ritzy venue, the Hungarian Museum of Agriculture in Budapest’s City Park also sponsors a November 9th St. Martin’s Day celebration, offering tastings of goose dishes as well as újbor, along with a program of folk crafts and dancing. Both venues have goose on the menu: in Hungary the bird is traditionally served with new vintage wines, as it is believed to bring good fortune for the coming year.

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So don’t feel too bad as autumn transitions into winter – do as the Hungarians do and celebrate new beginnings and the great things to come.

About the author: For a manuscript critique, click through to Wordpill Manuscript Editing.

PPM Film Services is a Budapest-based film company offering an inspiring and creative work atmosphere for its host of clients from around the world. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we’re charged to create, we do it with no compromise. To sign up for the PPM Hungary newsletter, have a look here.

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Welcome back to our short summer tour around the northern coast of Hungary’s Lake Balaton. Part two of this weekend trip will see stops in Tihany, Szent György-hegy (Saint George Hill), and the town Szigliget.

As was widley documented by the press (including this blog) Balaton’s Tihany peninsula is a place so filled with beauty and a serene natural quiet that two of the world’s biggest stars called it home for a summer. Though Brad and Angelina have moved on, Tihany remains one of the country’s most exciting locations.

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The entire peninsula of Tihany is a dedicated historical area, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can see from the photo that the Benedictine Abbey that dominates the landscape is highly photogenic. The foundation dates back to 1055 AD (though the Baroque church was rebuilt in 1754). Visitors to Tihany are in for a few extra surprises as well. First, there is a small lake within the peninsula itself (and a small wonder, it is gorgeous). The second is the legend of the princess who was punished by the mythical king of the lake, and sentenced to return the call of all those who summon her (in the form of an echo, that can be heard by shouting in the direction of the Balaton).

Moving on, let’s stop at Szent György-hegy, a somewhat Close Encounters of the Third Kind looking hill (or mountain, depending on your expectations). The hill is characterized by columns of basalt, and veins of lava stone, while the soil is rich with volcanic ash, as this was the site of an active volcano some 3 – 4 million years ago. The surrounding region is known for the fine szürkebarát (pinot gris) that results from the mineral tasting grapes.

via Wikipedia Commons

via Wikipedia Commons

The final destination will be Szigliget, a picturesque little town that is the pride of Balaton’s northern shore. One of the most prominent structures of the town is the fortress ruin that sits atop a hill overlooking the water. This medieval ruin has recently seen some repair and is open to tourist traffic. In and around the northern shore you can see examples of thatch roofed houses that characterize rural Hungarian home design.

via Wikipedia Commons

via Wikipedia Commons

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Here we come to the end of our tour of the Lake Balaton’s beautiful northern coast. As you can see, there are dream locations a’plenty, and with Hungary’s low costs and excellent crews, they would make any film-making visit worthwhile.

PPM Film Services is a Budapest-based film company offering an inspiring and creative work atmosphere for its host of clients from around the world. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we’re charged to create, we do it with no compromise. To sign up for the PPM Hungary newsletter, have a look here.

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bikaver-labelThere was a time (read: Socialism) when all the world knew of Hungarian wine was the acidic if not downright sour-tasting red cuvée Bikavér, or as it is known in the West, Bull’s Blood. Though Bull’s Blood is one of the most popular Hungarian wines, only one company sold it abroad, Eger’s formerly state-owned Hungarovin.

These days, the red of socialism has washed away, but the ruby-colored Bull’s Blood remains, though it is now quite a different animal. This is because local winemakers have taken it upon themselves to reinvigorate, if not rehabilitate, the Bull’s Blood brand. It can be said that this cherished cuvée is one of the most exciting things about contemporary local wine production. While winemakers have gotten quite creative with the re-invention of this stalwart, they still have to conform to certain standards, regulated by the Hungarian Wine Making Act, which was put into place to preserve quality and local heritage. Bull’s Blood must contain three or more grape varietals from Kékfrankos, Blauburger, Portugiser, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Kadarka, and Zweigelt. No grape may comprise more than 50 percent of the mix. All production must come from facilities residing in or around the town of Eger (though the Villany/Szeksazard regions have successfully lobbied to be allowed to produce Bull’s Blood, and have been making Bull’s Blood for some time now.)

Borászat - Felújított borospince Egerben

Legends abound about the wine and its origins. It is said that the Turkish tried to invade the town of Eger during the Ottoman occupation. The men of the village drank deeply of many different wines to fortify their courage for the fight. The wine that spilled from their mouths splashed down their beards and onto their clothing, making them appear as though they had just feasted on blood. The word was passed among the Turkish that the Hungarian warriors were drinking the blood of bulls as nourishment. The frightened Turkish retreated and the invasion was successfully repelled.

We would like to invite the Turkish back, only this time to skip the skirmishes and partake in a glass of Bull’s Blood alongside the locals. It’s more fun that way.

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One of the touching things about spring in Budapest is the sight of grown men drinking white or rosé wine spritzers in the parks and beer gardens. The drink (known as fröccs in Hungarian) has a decidedly feminine or effete connotation in countries farther west, but here men of all size and persuasion enjoy fröccs in full view of their peers. Though recipes vary, below is a general, but by no means comprehensive, list of fröccs, showing the rations of wine to soda water (in deciliters) used when making the much-loved refresher.

Kisfröccs (small spritzer)       1:1

Nagyfröccs (large spritzer)     2:1

Hosszúlépés (the long step) 1:2

Krúdy fröccs (inspired by wine-loving writer Gyula Krúdy)  9:1

Háziúr  (landlord’s spritzer) 4:1

Házmester (superintendent’s spritzer) 3:2

Puskás fröccs (named for the legendary football player Ferenc Puskás) 6:3

Maflás (knucklehead’s spritzer) 5:5

Viceházmester (assistant superintendent’s spritzer) 2:3

Alpolgármester (vice mayor’s spritzer) 4:6

Lakófröccs (tenant’s spritzer) 1:4

Távolugrás (the longjump) 1:9

Hats off to Gyula Krúdy, known as Hungary’s Proust, for innovating a drink that is practically a full bottle of wine. We will lift a Házmester to you, or if we are feeling daring, a Puskás.

PPM Film Services is a Budapest-based film company offering an inspiring and creative work atmosphere for its host of clients from around the world. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we’re charged to create, we do it with no compromise. To sign up for the PPM Hungary newsletter, have a look here.

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Five Great Small Wine-Makers from Around Hungary

If you shop for wine in England or the United States, you might have discovered just how few Hungarian wines are available. What you are likely to find are mass-produced Bikavér (Bull’s Blood) or prohibitively expensive Tokaj dessert wines. The scarcity of Hungarian wine on foreign shelves is not due to poor quality, it more reflects the culture of wine-making, which largely originates from family-owned vineyards. This means a small to medium yield of product: enough for local drinkers, but not enough to build a brand abroad. But, if you happen to be in Hungary on a shoot and want to try some of the more offbeat vineyards that are favorites with local insiders, do not despair. Below is a list of five great small to mid-size Hungarian wine-makers.

Luka: Luka stands out as one of the few female-run vineyards in Hungary. Enikő Luka, who is as easy on the eyes as her wine is on the palate, presides over this small vineyard near Sopron, which lies just east of the Austrian border. Luka does well with the same full-bodied flavorful reds that also brought the Burgenland region fame. Try their Zweigelt or Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch). Check out the Luka site here (in Hungarian).

Malatinszky: Csaba Malatinszky ruffled feathers when he arrived in the staid Villány region with his daring blends and modern winery. His wines are known to be as dashing and eccentric as the winemaker himself. Malatinszky likes to break rules, and his products display his ability to pull off risks. Try the Cabernoir, one of our favorite Hungarian mid-priced bottles. Malatinszky reposts wine-related news from around Hungary in English on his site, which can be found here.

Orsolya: A new craft winery from the Eger region that has become a favorite with local purveyors. Like many Eger vineyards, they do both reds and whites well. We especially like the traditional Eger Leányka (Maidon of Eger) and the adventurous red blends like the recently released Tehéntánc (Cow Dance). Run by a husband and wife team, you can taste the care they put into every bottle. Explore their site here (in Hungarian, though there is a Google translation option).

St. Andrea: This family-run winery has a huge following with expatriates who live in Budapest. It recently won the Winemaker of the Year title here in Hungary, so St. Andrea’s star is rising. Known for their strong reds – particularly their takes on the traditional Bull’s Blood blend – the winery also excels at Pinot Noir. Their white blend called Napbor (Sun Wine) tastes like a summer day in the countryside. If you want a spectacular high-end red for under 50 dollars, try the Merengő (Daydreamer). St. Andrea’s site can be read in English here.

Pannonhalma Apátsági: If a wine comes from a monastery, you can be pretty assured of its quality. Though this Saint Benedictine monastery was established over a thousand years ago, their wine-making business is a spry 100 years old. Situated in the famous Badacsony wine region that lies above Lake Balaton in central Hungary, the lava-rich soil makes for excellent white wines that are full of mineral and tang. Pannonhalma’s are among the area’s best. Try their Rajnai Rizling (Rhine Riesling) and check out the lively web-site in English here.

PPM Film Services is a Budapest-based film company offering an inspiring and creative work atmosphere for its host of clients from around the world. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we’re charged to create, we do it with no compromise. To sign up for the PPM Hungary newsletter, have a look here.

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