I found Budapest to be a very livable city. There are supermarkets of different sizes every few blocks — some carry more meat selections than others, while some carry more wine or fruit selections. They are not as big as the supermarkets in the US, but everyone is able to easily walk to one near where he lives. We thought they were swell until this morning, when we found this wonderful farmer’s market only two blocks away from us. I can’t believe this little gem of a market has been hiding from us in plain view. The market at Hunyadi Tér has an outdoor part and an indoor part, selling everything from salami, meats, fresh fruits and vegetables to baked goods and cooking ingredients. Many of the fruits and vegetables are so fresh that they looked like they had been picked this morning. We found those vine-ripe berries that smelled of sun — perfect for a July 4th treat.
We brought home two large bags of vegetables and fruits and made a simple, but delicious lunch. I don’t have many ingredients here in the kitchenette of my hotel apartment. All I have are a bottle of premium quality extra virgin olive oil, a bottle of sea salt, vinegar and lemon, garlic and ginger, honey and sugar (from the hotel coffee tray).
Not being at home in my kitchen, with my measuring utensils and a full spice rack is an interesting challenge that teaches me to be more creative and openminded. We really don’t need a fancy kitchen like the ones in cooking shows, the dazzling talent of a star chef or the sophisticated ingredients to eat well. All we need is a great appetite and a great willingness to cook.
I lightly sautéd some spinach with garlic and olive oil, and we ate it with hard boiled eggs topped with a dollop of tomato, paprika condiment that I bought in the supermarket. I made a quick braised mixed vegetables with a little fresh lemon juice and honey. The vegetables were sautéd on high heat until they are slightly caramelized, adding a little water at a time to prevent burning. The hot poblano pepper, the sweet pimiento pepper, the aromatic garlic and onion infused the simple dish with a rich and varied flavor without any added spices.
For dessert, we made “instant tarts” with Italian wafer, kefir, berries and a little bit of honey. The berries are so sweet and fragrant that our holiday treat turned out beautifully without much fuss.