Friday, June 09, 2006

A Perfect Ending to a Perfect Day

Ok, this post will probably be only of interest to those of you who love food and melodramatic music.

So, I went back to Bagolyvár for one last dinner in Budapest. As I intended, I ordered the menu, and a glass of rose.

The couvert is a ring of rolls: sesame, poppyseed, and caraway. The butter has chopped onions and paprika blended in.The soup was the sour cherry soup I had yesterday. There's definitely heavy cream blended into the soup, along with a big dollop on top. At first I thought there was also cloves in the soup, but I'm pretty sure it's allspice.

The main course was turkey breast "parisian style." That meant it was sliced in two, pounded flat, dipped in egg, and then sautéed. It was accompanied by fluffy rice pilaf that had chopped mushrooms blended in.

The dessert was different from what I expected. The menu said "warm applecake with whipped cream;" what came was something else almost entirely. It's probably easiest to describe in layers, beginning at the bottom and working up.

The base was a 1 inch tall slice of cinnamon or spice cake. On top of it were thin slices of baked apples and raisins. Then there was a half inch of meringue. The top of it was crispy and I think there was shredded coconut in it (or the coconut was on top of the apple layer). The entire cake was then dusted in powdered sugar with caramel sauce garnish. It was unusual but quite good. I have no idea how they baked that all together.

The final touch, however, came from the live musician. He was playing this instrument that seems to be a cross between a piano and a xylophone. It is about the size of a medium harpsichord and the musician strikes it with these two funny-shaped felt-covered hammers.

At first he was just playing an odd medley of songs. Some I recognized as from "Fiddler on the Roof," others it was hard to tell (the instrument was badly out of tune). Then, as I was waiting for the bill to arrive, he began to play a tune I immediately recognized as "Gloomy Sunday."

This was a famous song composed in Budapest at the problematic restaurant I ate at two nights ago. It was also a major melodic and plot theme in the film of the same name that my cousin Ruth and I saw almost two years ago and which we screened at the Long Beach Jewish Film Festival (and still not available on DVD).

Filmed on location (in Buda, I think), the film involves a complicated love triangle between a Jewish restaurant owner, his beautiful waitress, and the struggling pianist who composes the song for her. All of this gets even more complicated when a young German businessman falls in love with the waitress as well.

So sure enough, I finally heard this famous Budapest melody just as I was getting ready to go. It really was the perfect way to end this trip to Budapest.

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