- 11 Oct 2013 9:00 AM
Previously, we got on relatively well having no real hope; however, quite a few promising things have occurred since that time. Minor islands have emerged from the wide waters of mediocrity – islands of quality. This is the result of intensive and jointly made efforts. Today, Gault&Millau – an independent and authentic restaurant guide plays a major part in these activities. This is the 2014 volume. In the future, GaultMillau Hungary is going to be published in autumn, just as its other European co issues. It is thicker than last year’s volume and in addition to restaurants; it also contains the results of wine tests.
Also, it is also being published online, on our website gaultmillau.hu. Perhaps the most significant experience of the past season is that the „gastro-revolution” (or whatever name we call it) has now spread beyond Budapest. Quite a few new good places have appeared that can be recommended with pleasure all over the country.
Some of them in very small villages, others in renowned wine - producing regions and in areas with long- standing and not always very easy touristic heritage (like Villány, Tokaj-hegyalja, Lake Balaton, Hévíz…) It is like green seedlings sprouting out, sometimes at quite improbable places like clefts of a rock or like concrete. Many of them have to struggle hard, because all this happens under the pressure of a prolonged economic depression.
This time, GaultMillau has found restaurants worth of awarding toques in a much larger number than in the first test period and we can also find a larger number in the ”simple but good” category. And, not only did they spring up but they established relations with each other. For instance, a group named ”Vidéki Éttermiség” (approx. fraternity of county restaurants) was set up (I am really pleased to greet its members who are present here today). In general, we are witnessing the fact that those who represent quality will find a way to each other.
That is, they will develop a network. Another piece of good news is, that these days, chefs already can receive high quality training in the kitchens of numerous restaurants. This is a kind of ”workshop network”, a network of quality, which can replace, to some extent, the lack of high-level public training; consequently, the degeneration of the craft has halted. That is, certain negative processes have been definitely reversed. GaultMillau Magyarország 2014 awards high rates to a number of restaurants outside Budapest and mentions good street food for the first time. Certificates of Achievement
Restaurant of the Year: Anyukám Mondta (Encs)
A street-corner coffee bar that has developed into a gastronomic place of pilgrimage – they make the best pizza in Hungary in a wood-fired oven. The use world-class ingredients present an award-winning mutton- burger, legendary tripe and fried chicken from poultry kept naturally.
Winery of the Year: Tokaj Kikelet Pince (Berecz Stéphanie and Zsolt)
This has been one of the most exciting small family estates for years now –the favourite of wine experts. Berecz Stéphanie and her husband, Zsolt developed their absolutely unique and individual style, producing fresh, “crispy”, absolutely clear and elegant wines. By now, they have become one of the best wine producers in Tokaj-Hegyalja, and thus one of the best of all in Hungary. They have opened up a new micro-world and a new dimension in this historic wine-producing region.
Chef of the Year: András Wolf and Antonio Fekete (Salon restaurant/New York Palace)
This is a good example demonstrating that two chefs can work together well in a single restaurant. Their “playing ground”, as they call it, is inside a historic building called New York Palace. They have managed their restaurant to emerge to the small forefront of the country with great determination, complementing each other.
Award of ”Culinary Heritage” 2014: Rév Csárda (Érsekcsanád)
This very typical Hungarian restaurant has earned lasting credit in saving a traditional dish the ”fishermen style fish soup” from aggressive mediocrity. They prepare it in an open fire and serve it fresh, in a small stew-pot – as the fishermen on the Danube or on the river Tisza have done it for centuries. This is the rebirth of a charismatic dish.
Eatery of the Year: Öreg Harang Borozó (Egregy/Hévíz)
Loveable cuisine in an attractive and cosy environment. Simple and fairly good food is made from locally produced ingredients – goat and water ox, and fresh home-made strudel is offered each day. We would need at least a hundred of such restaurants in Hungary.
The Best Street Food of the Year: Funky Pho Street Art Food (Budapest/Mozsár street)
They offer the fresh and clear version of the Vietnamese buillon that has become a popular dish worldwide and their tripe salad is of world-class quality. Such places can render our world really attractive and pleasant to live in. The strengthening of this attitude would be really needed in the fast food segment, which is accessible by so many of us.
And now, a premiere. The GaultMillau Hungary 2014 guide contains the first awards of Gold Ribbons.
A Gold Ribbon is awarded to high quality products, it is the certificate and the guarantee of the highest quality. Our goal is ensuring that each party and each phase in the production of a given product serves quality. We do not refer to strict requirements imposed by authorities and we are not simply talking about food safety; much rather about commitments undertaken by producers that lead to high-level artisan products – this could help a number of long-standing, refined technologies, methods of animal keeping and ingredients escape from the lethal grip of the food industry.
We do hope that the restaurants that are awarded a Gold Ribbon today will retain them: these restaurants will be in the limelight and the best chefs of the country will be testing them. In order to award a Gold Ribbon to as many products as possible, tests of ingredients will be regularly published on the GaultMillau website. Leading chefs and independent experts will taste and check the products. In the next season we will conduct tests of flour, bread and sauerkraut and there will be additional cheese tests and tests of “Csabai“ sausages.
The point is that, in the case of the Csabai sausage that has received the award “Hungarikum”, the current requirements do not guarantee top quality and open the door for low quality products as well. We plan to lay down the characteristics of a Gold Ribbon Csabai sausage.
Zoltán Demeter, a renowned wine-maker of Tokaj-hegyalja said at a presentation of this year’s wines: „The protection of origin is the duty and the responsibility of courageous people”. Having slightly changed his word, we say: „Safeguarding quality is the duty of courageous people and the most serious responsibility of many”.
Products awarded the Gold Ribbon Quality Certificate Tetrabbit
„Relax” Rabbit Relax rabbit is kept naturally, in open space. Features: the keeping of animals is particularly animal-friendly and free from antibiotics; the animals receive hay, carrots and apples as supplements to their natural feed; all the steps of animal keeping and meat processing can be monitored, are continuously checked and audited. Most of these products are exported, restaurants in Hungary can make orders directly with the company. At present, Bock Bisztró and Kistücsök Restaurant use Tetrabbit meat.
Zselicvad – Premium ”Extra” Game
These are game obtained from the surroundings of Bőszénfa village in Zselic, processed in the model plant of the Kaposvár University from animals living on various plant communities. Over the course of small- scale processing, an ID code is used for each animal, so each package can be traced back to the place of origin, that is, we can find out when a given animal was born and what feed it was raised on. Products from animals less than 24 months of age are distributed with the rating “extra”.
These products are only delivered to restaurants. Roe, deer and wild-boar products are available practically all through the year. For instance, restaurant Kistücsök is also one of their customers.
MasterGood – naturally kept farm chicken
Poultry produced from tough, long-standing breeds kept in a traditional manner, in open space, 100% fed on plant feed and slowly fattened. The conditions of transportation, slaughtering, plucking and evisceration are regulated in accordance with quality-related considerations, following the French Label Rouge.
Brunner apiary – whitethorn honey
Whitethorn honey is one of the most interesting of the numerous special products produced by the apiary. This type of honey is available nearly every year. The apiary collects its special honeys from “undamaged” environments in the strongly diversified and varied micro-climates of the Buda-Pilis regions and produces its very special “terroir” honeys using “gentle” technology.
According to the inspections conducted by the National Food Chain Safety Office (NÉBIH) these products are 100% free from antibiotics, which requires exceptional care in today’s world.
János Molnár– goat cheeses
The goat cheeses produced by János Molnár on a small scale achieved the first three rankings of the national goat cheese test conducted by the Hungarian Gastronomic Association (Magyar Gasztronómiai Egyesület). His fresh, pyramidal cheeses developing noble mould or smoked over charcoal reach their best taste at the age of 6–16 days. Restaurants such as Salon, Borkonyha, Kistücsök, Mandula, Laci - Pecsenye!, Pajta and Zona regularly order his products that are also distributed in stores such as All-In Delicates, Baldaszti’s and Sarki Fűszeres.
This salt, also called “the white gold of Transsylvania” is obtained from a depth of 310 meters and is distributed in its natural state “Nothing is added and nothing is detracted”. This is a hand-selected freshly ground product.
Rózsavölgyi Chocolate – Madagascar Trinitario (72%) and Trincheras (70%)
This family - owned small plant produces beans to bar chocolate. Several of their chocolate bars and bonbons have won gold and silver medals at international competitions. They distribute their products in their own stores in Budapest and abroad. The following restaurants offer Rózsavölgyi chocolate: Borssó Bistro, Gresham, Laci-Pecsenye!, Onyx restaurant and Bobojka Chocolate.
Kiss family – red pepper from Bezdán
The ground paprika produced by this cross-‐border producer is made from ripe paprika called ”Horgosi 2” and ”Horgosi 6”. Paprika is picked and selected by hand and, following four weeks of after-ripening and stalk removing by hand, it is finely ground in a gentle manner. The result is a clear fruity and mineral smell and a full, ripe flavour. This product received the first prize at the paprika test conducted by the Hungarian Culinary Society (MGE) in 2012. It is distributed at the Budapest restaurant Lacikonyha (as long as supplies last).
Tarpa Kft. - Szatmári plum jam
Produced from a locally growing wild plum called the “Penyige blue” in a traditional manner. The fruit is heated up in a couldron with no sugar added, is stirred for a long time and the result is a dark, almost black- coloured, thick but still spreadable, pasta-like preserve – a natural and unique Hungarian food produced mostly by hand, relevant to the land, the species, produced using traditional technologies.
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