Earth : Europe : Central Europe : Hungary : Northern Hungary : Tokaj-Hegyalja
There are 27 towns and willages in Tokaj-Hegyalja. Some of them are:
Tokaj and the wine region became the part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2002. You can drink only white wines here. It is famous for the ASZÚ wines.
About 3 hours from Budapest.
You can order wine bus at the Tourinform Tokaj, (Tel.:+36-47-352259, e-mail: [email protected]).
By ship on the River Bodrog and Tisza (You can take part in a wine ship trip, more information at Tourinform Tokaj).
By train to the neighbouring willages, towns of the wine region (eg. Tarcal, Szerencs).
Located 200 km north-east of Budapest, not far from the Slovak and Ukrainian borders, the Tokaj-hegyalja (Tokaj Foothills) winegrowing region is in the southernmost part of the volcanic mountains that branch off from the Carpathian chain. The region and its principal towns can easily be reached by car (taking the M3 motorway from Budapest to Miskolc, then the No.37 highway) or by train (there are a number of direct trains from Budapest and from Miskolc).
A unique wine region.
See the wine routs of Tokaj-Hegyalja: .
Lunch is considered the main meal in Hungary and can be taken any time between noon and two in the afternoon. It is almost always introduced by soup (leves), followed by a main dish and dessert. It is not uncommon for the midday meal to consist of just soup followed by sweet or savoury pasta, in which case the starter must be rich and nourishing. These liquid meals include goulash, fish and various bean soups. ‘Jókai’ bean soup, for instance, is made with plenty of pulses, cubes of vegetables, sausages and smoked pork, seasoned with bay leaves and sour cream. Hungarian cuisine features an enormous variety of meat and vegetable soups. ‘Ujházi leves’ is just one of many favourite meat soup variations made with chicken and plenty of carrots, paprika, tomatoes and onions, poured over wafer-thin slices of meat and vegetables. Delicious vegetable soups are usually thickened very slightly and are generally seasoned with red paprika, giving them a yellow or red hue. Several green herbs are also thrown in, including generous sprinklings of finely chopped parsley. On a hot summer’s day, nothing is more refreshing than an ice-cold bowl of fruit soup, seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and lemon peel and thickened with sweet or sour cream to produce a subtle blend of flavours. The most popular recipes are based on bitter-sweet fruits, such as Morello cherries, apples and red currants. The crowning glory is the floating island of egg white often placed on top.
Despite generous use of a variety of herbs and spices, a consistent characteristic of Hungarian cooking is that the ingredients themselves are always allowed to shine through. Many people believe that this originates from the time-honoured practice of cooking in large cauldrons, known to Hungarians as ‘bogrács’. The ‘bogrács’ is a metal cauldron with a single handle used for cooking over an open fire. Nomadic peoples have used vessels of this kind all over the world, but Hungarians have stayed loyal to them even after settling down. They were traditionally used by fishermen, by shepherds separated for months from their families, and by farmers working in the fields furthest from the village. These men were not fussy about preparing their food, preferring to just toss ingredients in one after another. Today, far from being a museum relic, the ‘bogrács’ is an ever-present at outdoor parties – and its master chefs are always the men. Originally, goulash, a Hungarian speciality known the world over, was also made in a ‘bogrács’. The Hungarian word ‘gulyás’ actually means ‘cowherd,’ and the dish was once called ‘gulyásos’, or meat cooked in the style of a cowherd. On the subject of cowherding, it is worth mentioning that the ‘szürkemarha’, a distinctive breed of indigenous grey longhorn cattle is making a welcome return after a long period in the wilderness. Its incredibly tender and tasty meat was once hugely popular with gourmands all over Europe. We think it will be again.
Dry wines: It is often ignored that the Tokaj wine region also produces excellent dry wines. These wines once referred to as ordinarium are now named after their respective grape varieties: Tokaji Furmint, Tokaji Hárslevelű, Tokaji Sárgamuskotály (Muscat).
Late harvest: These wines, similarly to Szamorodni, are made from partly botrytised bunches and have more or less residual sugar.
Szamorodni: This word of Polish origin means: as it grew. This wine is made from partly botrytised bunches without selection of the botrytised (aszú) berries. Both its dry and sweet versions are excellent aperitifs.
Aszú: These are the wines that made Tokaj world famous. The proportion of the base wine or must used for maceration and of the aszú grapes harvested one by one determines the concentration of the wine (3 to 6 Puttonyos and Aszú-Eszencia).
Eszencia: This absolute rarity gained from the free-run juice of the aszú grapes is a unique nectar with a honey-like concentration.