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This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Palinka Festival

October 6, 2013

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Palinka Festival

When I travel, I like to keep very active and try and see as much as possible. I tend not to rest a whole lot, Kathy likes to take some time to relax while traveling and thus occasionally I end up going out on my own to explore while Kathy relaxes. On this trip, one afternoon I had some time and decided to walk from our hotel, across the Chain bridge and up the Castle Hill to spend some more time exploring that area.

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I had no real destination in mind, just to check out the Castle District and Buda Castle which is the historical home of Hungarian Kings dating back to its construction in 1265. Of course it has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times, but remains an incredible example of much of Hungary’s history. 

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When I finally made it to the top of the hill, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the area around the castle was hosting an annual festival celebrating what is probably the national drink of Hungary, Palinka.  I have been to a number of beer festivals, wine festivals and even a whiskey festival, but never to a Palinka Festival. Actually it was a Palinka and Sausage festival as there was also a large selection of traditional Hungarian sausage.

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There were probably 40 booths featuring manufacturers sampling the latest vintage palinka. Palinka is a traditional fruit brandy in the countries of the Carpathian Basin, known under several names, and invented in the Middle Ages. Only fruit spirits distilled from a mash of ripe fruits produced in Hungary, mashed, distilled, matured and bottled locally can be called palinka. Fruit spirits made from concentrates, semi-dried or dried fruit cannot legally be called palinka.

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There was also a number of sausage stands which featured homemade products, such as Gyulai and Csabai kolbász sausage, which was pretty damn tasty. In addition the festival welcomes an honored guest country and their traditional drink and this year, Cuba was the country that was being honored so there was an entire pavilion dedicated to Rum including the wonderful Havana Club Rum, probably the best known Cuban Rum.

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Palinka is made from just about any type of fruit including apricot, plum, orange, cherry and more and is strong, harsh at first but also delicious if made correctly and most of these were top notch. There was also first class entertainment as some of the top bands in Hungary performed at the festival. The band that was playing while I was there was really good, sort of a folk-rock ensemble called Zombori. I could not understand what they were singing, but I still enjoyed the music. I have included a youtube video of them so you can get an idea of their work.


I also managed to go to the Marzipan museum on castle hill, a small museum dedicated to the sugary confection where some amazing marzipan works of art could be seen and where I was able to buy some smaller examples of the tasty treats. And speaking of tasty treats, after returning to the hotel, we took Marta out to eat at the famous Gerbeaud. Gerbeaud has been a confectioner in Budapest since 1858 and is one of the best and most famous coffeehouses in all of Europe.

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