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!