Aug201209

Up early so we could grab some breakfast, then we had to stroll out the front door and meet our tour guide in front of Burger King at 9am.  I had booked us in a cooking class months prior to leaving for Europe.  I have a slight passion for cooking…those that know me, I take a lot of cooking classes when I can.  This was going to be one of the highlights of the trip for me.  I wanted the full blown experience so I paid for the whole shebang.  VIP status…with taxi pick up at the hotel, the tour of the Great Market Hall, Hungarian Cookbook, bottle of Wine and an apron.  I definitely recommend doing something like this while in Budapest, it was the most amazing experience ever.  Chefparade Cooking School is a must do.

Of course, not knowing where our hotel was located and not knowing where the Great Market Hall was located…a taxi pick up was the best way to go.  However, we discovered the night before that our hotel was directly across the street from the Great Market Hall.  If we did get a taxi pick-up, it would have taken 3 times as long to get there with all the one -way streets…so I told them we didn’t need the pick up.

We were standing in front of the Burger King to meet the tour guide.  The only other couple on the tour was a brother and sister from New York.  They were youngsters, fresh out of high school and on their way to college.  Their parents signed them up for the cooking class.  They made for some great conversation for sure…he told us all about this epic adventure he had just been on to Israel to learn all about their Jewish heritage.  It sounded so amazing and enlightening, no doubt a life changing adventure.

Once we were all there, we ventured across the street to check out the Great Market Hall.

Our guide was fantastic.  We toured the hall, checked out all the stalls selling their wares.  The top floor was all crafts and stuff as well as the food court area, the main floor was salamis, spices, veggies, etc…and the lower floor was fish and a grocery store.  It was amazing the food in the food court, as well as the fact that it was 9am and there were tons of people drinking beer and schnapps already.  She gave us a history lesson about the building and Budapest itself.  The tour lasted about 45 minutes and then we were off to the cooking school by cab.  The weather in Budapest was so hot…we are talking 40+ degrees and we were about to enter a building and cook…literally, with the ovens on…it was so hot.

I don’t even know what to say about the class.  It was the MOST fun.  We prepared a 3 course meal…starting with Sausage and Potato Soup…YUM!  Followed by the main course of Chicken Paprika…YUM!  and finished with a chocolate and vanilla sponge cake….YUM!

It quickly became a competition between the couples and whose was better.  According to the professionals…our Chicken Paprika was the best tasting but looked bad.  The other couple had the better looking consistency…but ours rocked the flavour.

She would assign tasks to each of us and each time she would look over at Rob…he was lacking in production.  So she asked him…”What is with the issue over here?”  SO funny…that became our favourite saying for the rest of the day.  The boys were drinking beer after beer since it was included…why not?

We finished cooking and sat down to enjoy our meal.  She served up some Hungarian pickles with the meal…since most Hungarian dishes are very heavy and rich with spices like Paprika…they eat a lot of pickles with their meals as it helps with the digestion.  We also enjoyed some Hungarian white wine which was some of the best white wine I have ever tasted.  We definitely took home a bottle of this, which is currently chilling in my fridge begging to be opened.

Then we walked back to the hotel after the class to drop off all the goods and continue walking around Budapest.  The temperature is now well above 40 and especially in the direct sun.  Once we got back to the hotel, we waved good bye to our cooking partners and enjoyed the air conditioned room for a few minutes.

I had found a self guided tour of the Jewish Ghetto in Budapest, so that was our next adventure.  We followed the route and walked through the old Jewish Ghetto of World War II.

The area consisted of several blocks of the old Jewish quarter which included the 2 main synagogues of the city, the Neolog Dohány Street Synagogue and Orthodox Kazinczy Street Synagogue. The ghetto was created on 1944 November 29 and was surrounded by a high fence and stone wall that was guarded so that contraband could not be sneaked in, and people could not get out.   As with other ghettos that had been set up in other parts of Nazi-occupied Europe the area was completely cut off from the outside world: no food was allowed in, rubbish and waste were not collected, the dead lay on the streets and piled up in the bombed-out store fronts and the buildings were overcrowded, leading to the spread of diseases such as typhoid. More than half of those that were forced into the ghetto in 1944 were sent to concentration camps, starting almost immediately from the establishment of the ghetto… – Wikipedia

After all the walking, cooking and heat…we were getting pretty tired. So we took it easy for the rest of the day. Finishing off a great day with a GREAT dinner and a couple final beers for the day.

Then we called it a night and turned in.

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