Budapest, where love meets fantasy, history meets contemporary style, architecture meets art, and romanticism meets erotica.
Very seldom do my incessant travels take me to a city that truly whisks me into it’s charm, and almost like my recurring trips to Los Angeles, Budapest has come to be my favorite city in Europe. Born in 1873 with the unification of Buda, Pest and Oduba, split by the Danube river, it is a city of many juxtapositions that I will delve into in peaceful times.
With a day filled with exploration, one of my first meals was at Fausto’s Restaurant, which was ironic given its Italian cuisine in a land that was clearly not Italy, but a nod to my penchant for all things and beings that were Italian. It was a sophisticated ambiance, with flavors and ingredients brought from local Hungarian provinces. Bread basket aside, I fell romantically in love with the dim lit ambiance, the aristocratic styles of it’s inhabitants and the cheery, mischievous disposition of it’s friendly staff. I travelled through yet another tasting menu, inevitably a habit of my luxury travels.
The first course was a trending vegetable, asparagus, doused in melted pecorino cheese and olive oil. With a literal bucket of melted cheese, still steaming from its freshness, this was a lusciously rich dish, ironic given that it had the most fibrous of vegetables in it. The bitterness of the asparagus was offset with the creaminess of the cheese, spiced up with a dash of paprika and balanced with the aromatic olive oil. An overall spectacular start to the tasting menu.
Wading right into a hearty Italian dish, next was a buffalo mozzarella ravioli with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. The duality of cheeses flirted with my love for the dairy, and the dollops of cherry tomato atop each ravioli made the plate a slightly suggestive but colorful dish. Taste-wise, I liked the salty Parmesan in contrast with the creamy mozzarella, balanced with the richness of tomato and once again, asparagus juice!
Budapest has to be the heart of hearty dishes, for even the next dish of this illustrious tasting menu was a risotto. Having gotten used to tasting menus in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, the courses were usually laced with prettified vegetables in lighter courses. But naturally, I loved the dose of full on helpings per course, and the risotto with Parmesan and truffle was no less. While aesthetically simply just traditional, it was the whiff of truffle, it was the perfectly cooked risotto and the creaminess of melted Parmesan that whisked me into wonderland.
And then commenced a duo of desserts, illustriously in line with my habit. It started with possibly one of the best souffle dishes I had ever eaten. The warm passionfruit sorbet was literally steaming with both heated temper and infectious aroma, coupled with pistachio and chocolate gelato. But even my chocoholic self could not ignore the perfection of this souffle, with transcendent flavors of the tangy, tropical passionfruit. Truly an orgasmic dessert, and I rarely ever utter that oxymoron in one emotion.
The classic Italian tiramisu, while made to perfection, was the least deviated from tradition, which is not always a terrible thing. This was layered into a vertical dish, with distinct notes of coffee and caramel, chocolate and cacao, crackle and creaminess, which I devoured like a child in a candy store, much like my previous Italian experiences in Milan and New York and Vienna.
Budapest has earned a feather in my cap of being one of my favorite cities in Europe, and this space will be infectiously populated with my many recurring experiences in one of the most tranquil, romantic, trashy, historic and experiential cities on the planet.