Chef Nacho from Los Carballos is thoroughly steeped in the food culture of Mexico, having grown up in Colón, Matanzas Province and learning all the tricks of traditional Cuban cuisine, and cooked in his adopted home of Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta for 12 years. A dream came true when his new business Los Carballos with their original Cuban and Mexican menus was launched in Budapest in 2014. His motto is: “You don’t have to be royalty to afford your own private chef in your home for hours at a time.” So no more worries about parking, reservations, or waiting in line at a restaurant. You can wow your friends and guests with a personalized dinner party menu that fits your occasion. Chef Nacho and his team will bring Latin Fiesta into your home through a marriage of restaurant-quality Latin dishes and Latin tunes.
Most people come to Budapest to eat… in restaurants. For sure, there are many great restaurants here. But food culture is booming in Budapest and the city is a wonderful place to cook too, even if you are struggling in a tiny little jewel-box-sized kitchen and the absence of a car to haul home your foodstuff. The millions of food lovers, visitors and locals, running around in Budapest, and the traditions brought over from immigrants, mean that this city is full of flavor. Many people say that living in a big city has a lot of advantages. That is true. And one of these advantages is the diverse food scenes around. Budapest has a lot of good little spots for cooks and food-lovers; it’s not all Goulash Factory! Chef Nacho gives you a hit list of five amazing Budapest destinations that food lovers and cooks should visit to get the ultimate gastro-experience.
For spice addicts
From hard-to-find to more common spices, noodles, seaweed and sweets, Asia Shop (Ázsia Bolt) has it all. It’s like an exotic island. While it was in the basement of the Central Market Hall, it was regarded as a pilgrimage site by gastro-fans and curiosity-lovers. Now it’s located a few steps down the street and its selection grew to even larger extents. It’s so convenient when I run out of something at home, and it has the broadest offering of ingredients of oriental cuisine, plus kitchen utensils.
For exotic flavor hunters
Szép Kis India is the ideal place for lovers of exotic flavors in downtown Budapest. It’s a shop of products from India and other “exotic” places, as well as a provider of Ayurvedic and Yoga services. It is filled with traditional Indian, African, Southeast Asian and South-American delicacies offering different types of rice, spices, sauces and semi-prepared meals. Should you crave Royal Thai mangosteen or coconut juice, you can find them here. It’s my favorite place to pick up fresh plantain for cooking. Besides the culinary delights a huge variety of exotic jewels, clothes and furniture are also available here.
For cookbook fanatics
Bestsellers was the first multi-language bookstore in Budapest opened in 1992. It pioneered the concept of friendly and knowledgeable shop personnel in Budapest, frequent customers visit Bestsellers for years or even decades. The bookstore offers not only bestsellers, as you may think, but a superb selection of foreign-language cookbooks and cooking magazines like BBC Good Food, Decanter, Delicious, Food & Travel, Vero Cucina, just to name a few. My last purchased cookbook from them was a copy of The Food and Cooking of Colombia and Venezuela by Patricia McCausland-Gallo.
For stinky cheese lovers
Culinaris is the definitive source for imported and domestic cheese in Budapest. They have a strong selection of cheeses from France and Italy. I’m hooked on the Brie with cranberries, which is a soft cow cheese named after the French region. With festive sweet cranberries it is fit for the holidays! One of my biggest favorite is the Pecorino Truffles, an old style of Umbrian pressed sheep milk cheese. The cheese’s buttery nutty flavor is enhanced with the addition of aromatic black truffles giving it a unique signature. The cheese is a versatile pairing partner for many wines, from tart light whites to the biggest reds.
Central Market Hall (Központi Vásárcsarnok) is a cavalcade of people, flavors, smells and sounds. It’s always a popular attraction. It is a real tourist paradise, but not in the ordinary souvenir-fetish way. You can meet real producers of Hungarian paprika, fruits, vegetables, wine, pálinka, salami, meat products, embroidery, dolls, glassware and other products of folk art. Though it is a popular tourist stop, plenty of locals do their regular food shopping here as well. It is a favorite for old ladies pulling their shopping carts, young housewives and even professional chefs. Just like him. 🙂