Last fall I made some pretty awesome discoveries in Hungary. Although spending a day tracing Erin’s roots in the rural village of Mor was pretty special, my biggest discovery was much tastier. Chicken Paprikash, to be exact. This Hungarian dish became my favorite while touring Eastern Europe and my biggest regret (besides not eating more of it) was that I never learned how to make it for myself. Thanks to my tour down the Danube with Viking Cruises I got a second chance to right this wrong. And thanks to ChefParade’s Budapest cooking class, I discovered Hungarian dishes and flavors beyond Chicken Paprikash. On a special note, I got to share these discoveries with my mother who I was able to take along on this trip.
Our day with Chefparade began with a guided tour through the famous Nagy Vásárcsarnok. This massive market hall is where we met up with Ági, our smiling Chefparade guide and Budapest cooking class instructor. She took us to join the rest of the group who had opted for breakfast at the market, an add-on that Chefparade offers to its Budapest cooking class. Having been to the market before, I was well aware of the incredible yet filling fare available at the vendor stalls. Think stuffed cabbages, goulash soup in bread bowls, Hungarian sausages, and lángos –a deep fried bread topped with garlic, sour cream, and onions. How anyone could sample this before the day ahead of us is beyond me and my waistline. Still, a great option and the food really is incredible. If you go this route consider small samples and sharing!
After “breakfast Ági got us started with the 40 proof shot of Unicum – Hungary’s national spirit. This is how any day of cooking should start!
Fueled up, Ági took us on a guided tour of the market, highlighting Hungary’s diverse mix of cuisine along the way. With its crossroads of eastern and western Europe, Hungarian food has benefited from a wide range of influences. Sweets and spices from the Ottomans, sausages from the Habsburgs, and stews from the Germans – all of which touch on the (un)official food Hungarian groups of paprika, meat, cottage cheese, and poppy seeds.
Our side tour of the Budapest market concluded with a visit to the underbelly. I had been to this marketplace twice before and didn’t even know there was a basement. This, of course, is why you take a guided tour. Had I not, I would have missed the cute Hungarian lady selling her mix of pickled everything. I would’ve also never have tried pickled watermelon – it’s better than it sounds. Much.
After a short five-minute taxi ride we arrived at Chefparades well-equipped and well-appointed Budapest cooking class and school. Inside the well laid out classrooms is everything you need to make amazing Hungarian food – including plenty of wine. With a “wine helps with cooking” toast and another shot of Unicum, Ági and cooking partner Ivett got us working on our first dishes, potato soup, and goulash.
I’m not sure if Chefparade’s approach to its Budapest cooking class is laid back in general or if it had something to do with the large and easy-going group from the New Orleans, but our class was more of a “learn and participate if you want” rather than step-by-step procedures. Given the fact that I was busy taking notes, snapping pictures and drinking wine, this worked well for me. It also seemed to work well for my mother as she took charge in a couple instances when others decided to take a break. To be fair, her taking over was bound to happen at one point or another.
We worked our way through an incredible menu that also included Chicken Paprikash, homemade spaetzle, and strudel stuffed with apples and cottage cheese. We tag-teamed each dish, taking on different tasks which made for a very fun and open afternoon of cooking. Side note, making spaetzle (think tiny gnocchi made of flour) is ridiculously easy. It’s essentially running pasta dough through a cheese grater above a pot of water. Buying one of these contraptions is the best souvenir I have purchased in a very long time.
What a Treat
As noted, Hungarian food is not light and easy. You will not be going for a jog after a serving of Chicken Paprikash and spaetzle. It is, however, so very tasty. Interestingly, Hungarian food is not spicy. This seems to be a misconception, and a let down for this group of hot sauce loving folk from NOLA. To help with this, Chefparade includes the best Hungarian condiment including pickled peppers, and Erős Pista – an amazing hot paste that works well with Chicken Paprikash and Goulash.
Nuts. THIS is the souvenir I should have brought home.
Capping off this Budapest Cooking Class
Even though I had zero room for dessert I managed to stuff in a couple strudels we made from cottage cheese, apples, poppy seeds, and spices. They weren’t much to look at but can honestly say it is the best desert I have ever made.
All in, Chefparade is a great way to spend a day learning about Hungarian life and cuisine. But really, how can you go wrong with a shot to start the day, wine while cooking, incredible food, and great company?
Chef Parade’s Budapest Cooking Class Good to Know
Class Cost: Start at 70 Euro per person.
Includes: instructors, meals, wine, and Unicum.
Don’t Miss: Market tour and making spaetzle!
What say you?
Thoughts on this Cooking Class in Budapest?
Let’s hear it!
Although I was provided a complimentary cooking class with Chefparade,
the experience, opinions, and goulash are my own.