I’d just finished a rather graphic account of my recent foray into colonic hydrotherapy when he turned to me and asked – ‘Do you like strudel?’ Completely missing the connection, I said…um… yes. The sharp right turn explained the non sequitur.
Making strudel is an art form. Think very thin sheets of pastry – very very thin. Legend has it that the Austrian Emperor’s cook (a perfectionist) decreed that the pastry should be so thin it should be possible to read a love letter through it. The super-thin dough is laid out and spread with filling: walnuts, cherries, cheese, apple, plum, cabbage – whatever you fancy. Then said super-thin dough is rolled up carefully and baked in an oven. Hey, presto – you have strudel.
Well, in Austria, it’s strudel. In the Balkans, it’s štrudla or savijača. In the Czech Republic, it’s závin or štrúdl. In Slovenia, it’s štrudelj or zavitek. In Slovakia, it’s štrúdľa or závi. Go to Poland or Romania and you’re back to ștrudel. Hungarians have thrown the s and the z to the wind and call it rétes. A shop (bolt) that sells rétes is a… rétesbolt. (Amazing how much my Hungarian is progressing, isn’t it!) This particular rétesbolt has been in operation since 1926.
I’ve had rétes before – and I’ve liked it. But I’ve never had it from the rétesbolt and now that I have, it will be hard to settle for anything else. There are no adjectives that come close to describing how gobsmackingly gorgeous it is – so I won’t even try. I had a walnut (dió) one, a cheese (túró) one, an apple (alma) one, and a cabbage (káposzta) one [and no, not all at the one time – over the course of two days!] The túró was my favourite but I’d happily have any of the others again right now. I could also have had poppy seed, apple and poppy seed, honey and poppy seed, plum, peach, banana, or pineapple. Throw in some very friendly (and patient) staff who were happy to answer questions and let me practice my Hungarian, and it’s a little slice of heaven.
It’s open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 8 pm and till 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Budapest XIII, Lehel utca 38. Across the road from Kika. Do yourself a favour and drop by. I’ll have a túrórétes please… no, make that two!
I read this just after breakfast and was immediately hungry again. I thought ‘still rolling at 86’, must be about some sprightly octogenarian. Instead it left my stomach started crying out for strudel. Lovely piece but perhaps you should publish a warning to readers ‘could damage you waistline” 🙂
If you’ve not been Tim, it’s worth a visit. Family business doing well. Great to see. Am salivating myself now at the thought of it…
Your intercontinental list should include French millefeuille and Turkish börek . . .
The m and the b would have interfered with my poetic license! Nice to know there are more though – is there any limit to what you know Bernard?
Hi Mary, your blog is a treat to read. Thank you. My granny had made carrot strudels a lot, and indeed it is an art, or magic, with a little girl’s eyes. I found your blog via the expat blog site. If you feel like participating in a short expat blogger interview re Budapest, please let me know at email@example.com please. There are about ten questions, and we link back to your blog as a source if you wish (or website), besides thanking you for sharing your insights.
mmmm… carrot strudel. May have to suggest that to the lads at Rétesbolt!