What’s better than dessert? Dessert with a history.
With a penchant for travel, I find it even more alluring to find the history of culinary ingredients, tastes and rituals and how they impact people… and are preserved over time. Café Gerbeaud, situated at Vörösmarty tér 7 in Budapest, one of my favorite cities, is a traditional coffeehouse opened in 1858 in “Gründerzeit” style.
Brainchild of Henrik Kugler, the third child of a confectionery household, he earned his skills in Paris and 11 other cities. In 1884 it was taken over by Emil Gerbeaud, an associate of Kugler. Aside from architectural food and pastry art, Gerbeaud created the interiors in 1910 with marble, exotic woods and bronze. The ceiling’s stucco was created in the Rococo style of Louis XIV of France and the glorious chandeliers were inspired by Maria Theresa of Austria.
With a saccharine tooth that craves for things in twos and threes, I first tried the entirely pink raspberry kisses: a praline chocolate espresso sacher cake, with raspberry sorbet, raspberry macaroon and vanilla biscuits. Aside from its perky pink color, the tartness of the raspberry was transformed into a multitude of textures and temperatures to contrast the layered bitterness of the chocolate in the sweet sacher, making for an indulgent bite.
Being nuts about nuts, I next favored the walnut cake sundae, an ode to my childhood. Croquant, walnut liquor, macaroon, vanilla ice cream and a walnut touille made this a crackle with such a nutty scent and texture that I was swooning in the aura of an adult size ice cream sundae, one of my favorites.
Satiated to the brim, I was greedy but no longer with the appetite to wash over after trips to the Hungarian baths. So I favored a sparkling, mirror designed caramel dark chocolate mousse to go, infused with blood peach jelly, salted pecan nuts, green walnut purée, chocolate glaze. The glaze was the kind you could adjust your selfie in, and the tart fruit and salty nuts were the perfect harness for a sweet, melting chocolate.
The Saccharine Habit, you said?