“For Gabor and Carolyn Banfalvi (Taste Hungary) travel has been a part of their lives together from the time they met working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean more than two decades ago. They share a special passion (and an appetite) for the food and wine of Central Europe, as well as the people, places, and stories that make this region so fascinating. The Banfalvi’s founded Taste Hungary—their Budapest-based food and wine tour company—in 2008, and ever since have loved doing this deep dive into the foodways and wine culture of Hungary.”
“After spending years researching and writing Carolyn’s culinary guidebook to Hungary—Food, Wine, Budapest (Little Bookroom, 2008)—the Banfalvi’s started Taste Hungary with the intention of sharing their passion for Hungarian food and wine with like-minded travelers who want to experience the region’s authentic flavors and experiences. At their independent wine shop and tasting cellar in Budapest’s Palace District, The Tasting Table Budapest, their team of sommeliers (in post Covid 19 times) leads daily wine tastings, introducing wine lovers’ to the (often unknown) treasures of Hungary.”
“We believe Hungary and Central Europe are undiscovered culinary gems—a culinary paradise which is slowly being (re)discovered. Hungarian food and winemaking have deep traditions, and a complex (and complicated) history. Decades of Communism caused many of these unique food traditions and industries to suffer terribly. But these days Budapest is a hot restaurant city (it even has four Michelin-starred establishments); local food artisans and growers around the country are reviving old traditions; and Hungarian wines are increasingly available around the world.”
“Our ultimate goal is to show guests that there is plenty of good food and wine here. We want to break down the language and cultural barriers that could make people feel uncomfortable. We want our guests to go home feeling like they discovered things they didn’t even know existed, and that it was well worth their while to dig deeply into new flavors, a new country, and meeting new people.”
Gabor also has a well-stocked, virtual wine store in the United States offering his sommelier team’s picks of the best of small producer Hungarian wines. The prices are reasonable. As a bonus Gabor will even provide specific recommendations if you let him know what styles of wine you enjoy or are seeking a specific food pairing. You can reach out to Gabor via email.
A representative dry white wine enjoyed by the “SoCal Restaurant Show” in the virtual tasting with Gabor is the Szent Donat, Marga (Furmint/Olaszrizling) 2017. “This is a rare blend comprising Furmint (80 per cent) and Olaszrizling (20 per cent), two of Hungary’s key white wine grapes, skillfully crafted by Tomas Kovacs, one of Hungary’s brightest young winemakers.”
A representative dry red wine enjoyed by the “SoCal Restaurant Show” in the virtual tasting with Gabor is Szent Donat, Magma (Kekfrankos), 2018. The grape, Kekfrankos, is Hungary’s most planted grape and is the same variety as Austria’s Blaufrankish. The wine has a vibrant ruby-purple color. It is a medium-bodied wine with fine-grained tannins, lively acidity and minerality.”
Gabor Banfalvi continues with us from the Tokay region sharing the joys of Hungarian wine and cuisine.