28 Oct

Green Lunch

Let’s start with a question. Kids, parents always complain about the canteen menu. It’s not delicious, it’s not healthy, it’s full of flour and it’s full of sugar, bla-bla. Than finally, after leaving school we don’t have to eat in the canteen anymore. We are free to choose something new, something good, but we still end up having our lunch in a chinese and other fast food restaurant, and have the pre-packed sandwiches with a slice of cold boloney for lunch?? Why? Why?

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 Well, the price can be a reason, as everyone wants to save money. Other reason can be the supply and time ratio: who wants to spend their 30 minutes lunch time looking for healthy and delicious food. Also, who wants to cook every evening if it is so easy to stop in a canteen. It’s on every corner!   

I don’t want to criticize anyone, I understand the reasons. But let me introduce a new possibility, with which you can eat a delicious, healthy lunch made from local ingredients without leaving the office or your home! Choose Házikó (Little House) at least 2-3 times a week. (On the other days you may cook… find some sustainable recipes at our facebook page.

At Summer, when the Szabadság-híd (Freedom Bridge) was closed from cars and lots of people were sitting, walking and hanging out there, we had a great picnic at the middle of the bridge and ordered from Háziko a Green Lunch. We tried sandwiches with grilled vegetables and pork and pickled cucumber, pasta salad with vegetables and yoghurt, cream-cottage with melon, fruit salad and the best blueberry-apple salad in the world.

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At Hazikó everything is made just before you eat it, that’s why the salad was crunchy, the bread was crispy and the pork melted in our mouth. In the fruit salad we didn’t find any slice of canned ananas (not as if we really wanted to find one :)). In that very moment we realized that it can be possible to cook a delicious food without lemon peel or palm oil. Of course the menu changes week by week, the selection depends on the season and the produce the farmers can harvest. Like an idyllic and very reasonable world – actually more reasonable than ours, where food travels over oceans and continents.

If you don’t believe it, just taste it yourself! You can see the exact ingredients and the origin of the raw materials on the packaging of every meal. We find names of villages so small even Hungarians have never heard of them. On the label there is a short story about the farmer, who has grown the raw materials. The packaging does not contain any plastic, it is fully biodegradable (recycled paper) and it is delivered to you by bicycle (Cargonomia). 

We were convinced almost that nothing can be more sustainable.

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The only disadvantage is that it is only available for people who want to eat their lunch in V., VI., VII. districts, so if you one of them, you can feel yourself lucky. If you work in a bigger office building located in some other parts of the city, get some colleagues and order together! Házikó delivers almost anywhere, if more lunches are ordered for the same day.

I bet you’re thinking about the price! Yes,it is more expensive than a chinese restaurant, and the canteen of Mariska or uncle Frici is also cheaper, but if you want to live a long and healthy life you have to give Green Lunch a chance (not to mention environmental issues) and you will love them!

21 Sep

Want to drink a strong black coffee? Go to Café Black (Fekete kávézó)!

Walking on one of the most beautiful boulevards of the city, we can find Fekete coffee shop -one of more than 30 certified Sustainable Restaurants in Hungary -, among historical buildings that house antique book stores, trendy gifts stores and high-end icecream shops.

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The architect couple, András Gerzsenyi and his wife had opened their tiny new wave coffee shop in April 2013. At that time the little café was only 11m2, with only 4 seats inside. Then it was expanded with a pleasant street-front terrace, and later a terrace was opened in the intimate yard as well, so it became an enjoyable summer relaxing area. Because of the ever-growing interest and many returning guests, it was necessary to open a spacious brew&food bar in the back, that has even more tables.

It is a really lovely place, with a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere.

The focus point is the La Marzocco coffee machine in both premises, which represents the highest quality in this field. The owners improved the coffee making process almost to an artistic level: it is a real ritual, as the coffee is prepared in front of the customer’s eyes. There are many different coffee making methods in use. The result is a unique, characteristic taste, typical of the cultivation area of the specific coffee bean.

The owner always supervises the roasting process, in order to achieve the perfect aroma. You can purchase these roasted and even grounded coffee specialties marked with Fekete brand name in the shop, and you can buy some of the coffee making equipments they use as well.

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They offer a wide selection of coffee and an abundant supply of breakfast: you can order espresso, ristretto, cappuccino, latte, flat white, cold pressed juice, home-made cookies and cakes. Health-conscious cuisine awaits the customers every day.

They always make sure that the proper raw material has been chosen: teas are from fair trade sources, the milk is supplied from an organic farm, the egg is from happy, free-range hens, the vegetable and fruit juices are free from artificial ingredients. Fresh, filtered water is available for every customer.

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Environmental awareness and sustainability are very important at Fekete.  Waste is collected selectively,  glass milk bottles are recycled, and plastic packaging are not used.

Of course they appreciate the customer loyalty with loyalty card and some discount. The system enjoys undivided success.

Fekete is a popular place among to students, office workers, and even tourists. We understand how the harmonious interior, cheerful, friendly atmosphere, delicious food and drink may attract them.

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12 Sep

What a place! Törökméz

My eyes lit up when I was given the opportunity to write a review of this restaurant that offers breakfast among several other delicious food all day. The restaurant’s titular sweet (Törökméz – Honeycomb toffee) is my favourite childhood treat.
My hosts, Réka Dékány, the owner of the restaurant and her husband Béla, embarked on this adventure without any catering experience. The business is run by Réka, but they told the story together by perfectly supplementing each other, the story of achieving their dreams, which culminated in the opening of their exciting restaurant-cafe and delicatessen in District 2, Margit utca 27.granola
We sat down in the patio, and while Béla ordered the coffees for us, Réka told me that the special name comes from the cultural heritage of the area and serves as an homage to the home-made and locally made cookies and honeycomb toffee they offer. The design that puts the hexagonal cell in the centre, harmonises with every elements from the menu to the wall paint till the take away bag.

“We wanted to create a place, where we can build up an informal and personal relationship with our guests. We want to turn to them with care and offer them a friendly service, to know how they like their coffee and what they are doing on the weekend.” – told Réka. The size and atmosphere of the place was perfect. In the meantime my tasty milk coffee arrived and we started to talk about the recent changes to the menu that Réka had shaped to their combined tastes by the conspicuous presence of spicy food.
“Our speciality at Törökméz is that we offer breakfast all day. This surprises people – but it’s important toknow, we’re not just a breakfast place. We offer cheese and ham salads, home-made cookies and wine from our Hungarian wine selection – said Béla.

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Let’s taste from the offer

If you arrive in the early morning hours, you can choose among five types of omelettes, two types of fried eggs, ham&eggs, or bacon&eggs. They prepare French toast (made without using oil) with garlic or Hungarian style sour cream, cooked sausages or a home designed muesli speciality, called Granola with Greek yoghurt, seasonal fruits and delicious honey from the Brunner beekeeper. I recommend the fresh croissants with homemade jam, or a fresh additive-free bread from Artizan bakery with homemade aubergine spread. Healthy Sandwich fans attention. Not only there are eight types of sandwiches, but you can make your own appetizing sandwich from the cheese, ham and sausage selection of the deli counter. Personally I love when a place allows me to tailor its food according to my taste. The number of varieties are high if it’s about sandwiches that you receive with green salad in a French baguette. You can also ask for tastes of spicy Hungarian Grey cattle sausage or duck liver mousse with apple and fruit-mustard in a delicious gluten free baguette. All sandwiches are toasted on request.
It’s always difficult to choose one dish from a delicious selection. I eventually selected a feta cheese omelette with spicy hot sauce, just as my hosts recommended.

“We both love spicy food. On our trips abroad, we tried and tasted many types of salsas before we finally found the brand with an original taste, called Tapatíó – said Béla. We had to take some of it home – we though, and started to search for distribution. For that reason, we offer the sauce at Törökméz. We serve it together with several dishes and encourage our customers to try it if they like spicy food, because it matches with food that we don’t even think of. He was right, I didn’t regret taking his recommendation. The taste of the creamy feta cheese omelette wasn’t overwhelmed by the hot sauce, on the contrary, the heat made the omelette more savoury. The dairy free organic kifli (a Hungarian pastry) that was produced with using chemical-free grain, and side salad made the meal perfectly substantial.
As an innovation, I have to mention the Breakfast Burrito, cheddar cheese omelette with vegetables and salsa, wrapped in a tortilla. It makes me hungry just to write about.
While we were discussing the café nature of the place, my eyes stuck on the Elderflower Champagne from Badacsony. After a little hesitation – since I was on my way to work after all – and some encouragement from Réka, I asked for a glass. The light and sweet, wine-based, elderflower flavoured drink with low alcohol content brought on the sensation of summer nights in Balaton. While I was sipping on my champagne contentedly, Réka started on a topic very close to my heart.
“If you feel like coming in for a coffee or a cookie, we offer homemade, magnificent cookies, made by Györgyi, who is a violinist and for everybody’s joy, crazy about cookie making” – said Réka. What an enviable hobby! One of the permanent items on the menu and a favourite of regulars is the flour-free all chocolate torte, made from Belgian chocolate and raspberry sauce. I didn’t even need to ask for it, Béla packed me one to go. His enigmatic smile told me that he imagined my expression while I’m eating the torte. Here, you can eat apple pie, homemade zserbó (a Hungarian cookie), carrot cake or a blood orange and almond cookie with pomegranate and blood orange sauce.
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Coffees are made from two types of 100% Arabica coffees, the first is a single origin, light roast from Guatemala, the other one is a wood roasted Italian craft coffee from Umbria, called Caffè BELARDI. Cream can be substituted with oat, rice or almond milk. Among the tea selection, which encompasses 13 tea varieties, you can find Japanese Sencha tea with cherry tree flower, white tea with bergamot and mandarin or caffeine free fruit tea with apple bits, roasted almond and cinnamon. There are two kinds of hot chocolates too: a fair trade, 70% dark chocolate one, manufactured by Tibor Szántó and a thick, Dutch cocoa blend.

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If you get hungry in the afternoon or evening, a sandwich, whose ingredients can be selected from the cheese, ham or salami at the deli counter, and a glass of delicious Hungarian wine might be the perfect choice for a light lunch. In favour of the renewed menu, the salad selection also broadened and offers for example artichoke salad with Pecorino cheese, salad with grilled cheese wrapped in bacon, or Bresaola salad with truffle oil. As a salad lover I’m eager to try them, so I’ll certainly be coming back.

On the drinks menu, you can find popular homemade lemonades in various creative flavours, like prickly pear, rose water and almond. I chose a raspberry flavoured one and I have to say, it’s been a while since I’ve had such delicious lemonade. Their secret is that the lemonade made from Hungarian squash and fresh fruits instead of syrups. Organic apple juice from a local retailer and freshly squeezed juices like beetroot-carrot-apple-ginger juice or cucumber-celery-apple-lime juice add colour to the selection of healthy drinks.
It’s also ideal for beer lovers; you can choose from lager, wheat, dark, cherry and raspberry beers. The place only offers wine from small Hungarian wineries, Válibor wines for example, which are produced without using any artificial materials. Some of them are from biodynamic lands.

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The food behind the deli counter is in constant rotation and has an important role in Réka and Béla’s business: always full of culinary and delicious items, emphasising the importance of selling healthy Hungarian products. For example additive-free and preservative-free Paleo biscuits, health-conscious and “everything free” Mentes biscuits, organic and gluten-free corn snacks from Biosaurus, or the Dióhéj vegan, oven roasted oil seeds that you can eat without any regret. “This delicatessen is one of the few places, where Balázs Tóth’s craft chilli sauces and pickles, called Chabo, are available. The process of the cultivation and the producing of these products (such as pickles with chilli, zucchini pickles with chilli or the Fruity chilli sauce with apricot), were done in an ecological way. – told me Béla.

The business associates take the effort to maintain sustainability both in their restaurant and their home. They have recently received the Sustainable Catering classification. It came naturally to them to use led lights, environmentally friendly cleaning products (Citromax) and mostly biodegradable or recycled packaging materials. In the well-designed bathroom, organic soap can be found. Fortunately the kitchen produces minimal waste, thanks to the idea of making your own sandwich, and suppliers materials that use environmental-friendly packaging materials and returnable bottles. The oil need of the kitchen is very small, nothing is prepared in oil. For what little they need, they use extra virgin olive oil and French butter. Both the restaurant’s and the delicatessen’s ingredients and also wine list have a huge emphasis on the Hungarian goods. This is wonderful, since our country has amazing products.
My day had a good start in this cosy, unconventional and dog friendly place. Its informality, broad and exciting selection and creative approach distinguish it from other restaurants.
And Béla’s assumption was correct, the all chocolate cake was extremely delicious!

Written by: Judit Szirmai, translated by: Magdi Németh
Pictures by: Törökméz (Thank you!)

01 Sep

Drink coffee with fish!

One of our newest Sustainable Catering members is the Murok Cafe Bistro and Bar next to Margit körút. It was a young couple’s idea, Balázs Péter’s and Márta Czibik’s, to open this friendly restaurant by replacing a DIY shop.

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Due to the owner’s unconventional design sense, the layout of the café was created using a small amount of money by harmoniously combining old and new furniture, and taking advantage of ideal facilities while keeping recycling in mind. You can find a table made of a door, a tree growing through a table and even an aquarium hidden in a cupboard (if you don’t believe it, ask the waiter to show you the fish). Environmental discussion, crafts and music events regularly take place here, and the ReCreativity team, whose main concern is creative recycling, hold their regular meetings in the restaurant too.

The café is popular among all age groups and even those celebrities that enjoy eating a delicious sandwich. The guests’ causal conversations perfectly reflect the atmosphere of the café, thanks to the food and the friendly service.

Food ingredients are provided by retailers and artisans, quality is always a priority. It’s important for the café to only sell preservative-free and additive-free food.

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My favourite sandwich from the sandwich selection was “Bambi”, which was a real culinary experience with its deer sausage, Italian mountain cheese, ciabatta green salad and mustard dressing, and is enough for two meals! I’m glad because every sandwich contain some selection of vegetables, that creates a special harmony with the other ingredients’ flavours and also very healthy.

The menu offers a wide range of quality wines, spirits, and, under “bites and spreads” you can find hummus with chilli, green olives spread, Zacuscă (Romanian vegetable spread) and pepper dip, which reflects the owner’s Transylvanian roots and taste the best with toast.

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Other new editions are craft ice cream and the creation of a little patio in front of the café, where the customers can happily spend their time with a delicious cookie.

What else can I say? I hope this young couple achieve their goals. It was great to visit, it was great to eat there, I only have good things to say!

Written by: Zsuzsa Dencs

Pictures by: Murok

24 Jan

The Sunny Side of winter

Thanks to a Hungarian music band, the Kispál és a Borz, we already know from the ’90s that being on the sunny side is good. Of course, at that time we didn’t know that being on the Sunny Side is also good if we look at gastronomy. Although there aren’t any cold foxes or pullover knitting chickens – like in the song -, we could find a lot of healthy, delicious and environment friendly specialities.

The Napos Oldal (translated to English as Sunny Side) is a mixture between a shop and a bistro, which is more and more popular nowadays. The conscious eaters can have a meal, enjoy a drink and buy healthy products at the same time. We visited the place for lunch on a Tuesday a few months ago as on weekdays, we can choose the daily offer besides the offers in the bar. At ordering, we suspected that the orders are noted on a used sheet of paper, which later it proved to be true. Thus, they reuse the non-necessary papers and delivery notes.

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The meals are prepared on-site and we can choose from salads, sandwiches, fried vegetables and healthy desserts. As the manager said, they don’t use eggs, yeast or white sugar. For the desserts, spelt flour is used; apple, cane sugar, honey or xilit are for sweetening. Therefore it is not surprising that people with allergies or making a diet can find something to eat. Besides the meals, we can taste hand-made ginger drink, lemonade with rose water or we can buy organic or fair trade coffee for home.

We asked tasters from almost every salad on one plate (sauerkraut, beetroot and sprout salad, buckwheat and bulgur salad), an alu patra (Indian fried potato swirl) with salad and of course we couldn’t miss the desserts; we chose an apple-sour cherry strudel and a millet pudding.

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This sounds really good but the menu and the offers could be read on the website, too. Let’s look at what we have known from Tünde Rádler, manager of the Napos Oldal. What we love the most: the solution for reusing the leftover. „The leftover – which is luckily only a small portion – is donated to the homeless people or – in case of a bigger portion – to the women’s hostel of Rés Foundation in Podmaniczky street. Our offers depend on the season, they never contain meat and dairy products are rarely used. The ingredients are from Hungarian manufacturers in 60%; frozen food is rarely used, and the rate of fried food is only 30%. Creating the weekly offer, it is important to provide healthy alternatives and the staff is also well informed about the health qualities of the foods and drinks.

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And there are those small things: energy-saving bulbs even in the kitchen, where overhead light is used. “Unfortunately, when buying the fridges – which are 5-6 years old now in the kitchen – energy saving was not a criteria but since I work here, it became more important so we have bought a new super energy saving fridge in the kitchen, too. Besides the stove and oven, we also use a vegetable slicer, which saves energy, too. Our other kitchen wares used by the patisserie are smaller ones and I think they are suitable for an energy saving environment. Of course, we prefer separate collection and we use where we can biodegradable cleaning products. Otherwise our restaurant is easily available by public transport or bicycle.” – said Tünde.

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As in many restaurants, there are other possibilities which enable a more environment friendly daily operation. On the other hand, we can rarely find places where the vegetarians, vegans, people with celiac disease, reform food lovers and others on special diets can choose from such a wide range of offers. Moreover, we can find a lot of healthy ingredients in the shop, if we decide to prepare our special meal at home.

The Napos Oldal – a certified Sustainable Restaurant – is obligatory to try for people with special eating habits and for the others, it is also worth a try to widen our perspective of lunch or dinner.

Thank you, Linda Kovács for translating
the original article (published Jan, 2014) to English! :)

18 Jan

Sex in the Biopub

Know the story when the Cat, the Mahung and the Gastrohero walk in a bar?

No?

I’ll tell you.

Once upon a time, there was a greengrocer living in the depths of the capital, his name was Mahung. Wonder why? I’ll tell you that later on. This grocer was no different from any other greengrocer, just until Peter, the shop owner, acquired a fruit press.

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Now comes the twist of the tale: the boring and tedious veggies and fruits, at one point, began to turn into cocktails under Peter’s hand (knife) and the fruit press. Well, not so suddenly, though. Peter mahunged around a lot before AvoBear, The Destroyer, and their cohort Rocket Rabbit were born. This is how the Mahung became a bio-bar, where the guest can encounter combinations like squash-apple juice seasoned with mint, vanilla and raspberry, or the new-age coffee with avocado and a few sour cherries. Just as the drinks are creative, so are their names – and no, Rocket Rabbit does not refer to the speed of making for the restroom after taking them. Peter brings up actual healing herb cocktails against ailments, from abdominal pains to the simple Friday fatigue. Who couldn’t use some vitamins or some Sex in the Garden? – especially if they aren’t about the monotonous combo of carrots-apples-bananas?

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Any decent cocktail concocter has to have an animal mascot, and in the Mahung it’s the black cat. According to Peter, the reason is that it’s playful, unpredictable and it brings luck. In other words, success is practically granted, especially that, after one of his long and tiresome days, Heroes of Responsible Dining entered the drinkary one evening. And the hero saw that it was good and found delight in the Mahung. The Hero of Responsible Dining couldn’t help but stare joyfully at the recycling waste bin, at the organic apple juice, at the perlator. And it wasn’t over yet: the Hero was sipping majestic drink of seasonal fruits and veggies from a recycled honeypot, while sitting in a armchair made of a molino; forgiving the use of the occasional banana and pineapple. The only thing missing is environmentally friendly detergents  – a speculation, but the thought was just gone as due to the drink the mind moved on to sunlit fields, trees weighted with ripe fruit and little deer fawns skipping around…

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No, actually not. Anyways, you go see the Mahung (Tűzoltó utca 22) and should convince Peter about the damn cleaning stuff…. Will be a fabulous time!

UPDATE: We’re sad to tell you that Mahung closed it’s door at the end of 2015. Péter will not stop making us delicious drinks, though! Stay tuned to see where his next adventure leads him!

The original article was published in Hungarian, on the 23rd April, 2015
A big thank you goes to Attila Zsignár for the translation!

18 Oct

Miksa Cafe: Sustainable Food for Urban Dwellers

Back in the day on Falk Miksa street, there was a lovely café. It was a calm place with a few tables. Sometimes we even walked past by it, and when we realized we were already a block away. But it has changed. What happened to the Miksa Café?

We help to answer the question: It has been renovated.

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Luckily in this case, the “new recipe” (which usually means that the taste of your favourite yoghurt is destroyed) means that the renewed Café is better than ever! It got a nice gallery where kids can rampage, and downstairs a little bit more place for tables. And yes, it got a balcony too, which is a plus point in summertime – especially since it is in the shadow almost the whole day.

What we like even more is the emphasis on sustainability, which we already suspected earlier was important for the owners. Its slogan – ‘sustainable nutrition for urban dwellers’ – could sound elevated; just like the list on their webpage about their principles: earth friendly, ethical, humane, transparent, small farmers, dog friendly etc. We could almost find all the eco-trendy words – which immediately made as suspicious. Sadly nowadays a lot of these statements turn out just to be greenwashing.. So we went to check it out.

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Kati , of the Café’s owners told as that the eco-café idea wasn’t a sudden one, but an old and long-planned dream come true. “We were always looking for the real producer’s goods – not just those that have “small farmers” written on the packaging. Rather, we really wanted to know who and how produced or grown what we cook from. Our business manager Zsuzsanna Kozma-Balogh worked uncountable hours to find the – preferably organic – suppliers, who can provide us the suitable quality of vegetable, fruits, milk products, bakery products, meat or wild meat. She’s been spending her Saturdays at the farmers market of Budaörs and MOM Park.

Miksa’s supply list is the evidence that the hard work paid off: there are thirty firms on the list, which is not even complete. “We are testing a lot of goods. We want to work with Hungarian ingredients, but for example we have not found the proper noodles yet, thus we use Italian products instead at the moment. And we also have contractual limitations: we are under contract with our café supplier until December, than we can change to a fair trade supplier.” – told Kati.

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As we were going through on regular topics (energy and water efficiency, environmental friendly cleaning products, waste treatment, etc.) we realized what the Miksa Café states is true – so it’s maybe not surprising that they won the Sustainable Restaurant qualification. They also told us, where the system is not perfectly green yet: “We just suspect that our hygiene paper is chlorine-free, but we can’t be sure. The selective waste collection is also not complete: we don’t collect the biodegradable waste separately yet.” – confesses Kati.

Despite all of the problems, we think that the café is going on a good way to became one of the most environmentally friendly places in Budapest: they even pay attention to such small things as their straws, which is biodegradable. Miksa also participates in community initiatives: beside the continuous Gastro Slam (what is an exclusive eco-supper and public meeting with famous slammers) Miksa took part on Slow Week, and in the summer Plastic Bottle Battle too.

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Last, but not at least: you can actually have a good meal here! Beside the permanent offer, a daily menu is also available (vegetarian and non-vegetarian too, and at least one gluten, lactose and sugar free option). We have tried the currant-gooseberry soup and couscous salad but we are planning to try the mangalitsa, the smoked goat cheese and the home made spreads on organic bread.

If you are around the Parliament, don’t miss this place!

The article originally appeared in Hungarian on 13th July, 2015.
Thank you for tha translation, Zsófi Winkler!

18 Oct

Fruccola: Just Juice It!

Are you in downtown Budapest, eating a fresh salad from ingredients that you selected yourself, drinking an organic coffee with soy milk, and reading an issue of the Conscious Consumers Magazine? Doing all this in a sunny place where the music is good? Welcome to Fruccola!

If you don’t know Fruccola, it is a lovely place on Arany János street, which doesn’t only have green in its logo, but is also the principle of its operation. We can make sure of this before entering, if we look at the stickers located the door. They tell us for example that the restaurant uses environmentally-friendly cleaning products, and has dolphin-safe tuna.

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After entering we can see a large fridge filled with baguettes, ciabattas, bocatas and sweets. Above it we can see the menu: they offer breakfast, salads, cakes, sandwiches. There is a daily offer as well (today, a delicious beet soup with orange), with a vegetarian soup, and a frequently gluten-free main dish (usually poultry or fish). One of the place’s main specialties, however, is the salad: from numerous ingredients you can choose what you’d like in it. Every topping costs an extra few hundred forints, which can be a bit discouraging after the first visit – but you can quickly get used to the system. Besides the usual “additives” (tomatoes, cucumber, olives, mozzarella, ruccola, etc.) there are always seasonal toppings: like grated beets and pumpkin during the winter. The meat-eaters can find ingredients as well: chicken (from small Hungarian farms) in a variety of interesting sauces, and tuna, salmon too. The owner, Petra Saás noted that they offered vegetable-based protein sources (such as tofu or seitan) earlier, but the demand for these was little.

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The place gets its character from the wood chairs and a brownish tone, and the recycled Campari bottles that function as chandeliers. For local consumers the meal is served on porcelain plates with cutlery, and in glasses that are actually the bottom of wine and water bottles. When you take away, coffee is given in paper cup and food is wrapped in biodegradable boxes – Fruccola was among the first places that started using these in Hungary -; and all this is placed in a paper bag. “Approximately 70% of the packaging materials are biodegradable at present, but we would like to replace all of them to environmentally-friendly in 2012. However, it is still not easy, because they are often more expensive (by up to 2-400%) compared to plastic containers. In addition, there are guests who expressed their displeasure against the biodegradable packaging materials. The present materials are made from corn starch and sugar cane. Even if they appear to be plastic, they are not.” – said Petra. The sugar cane containers are purchased from a company in Edinburgh. Sandwiches are made locally, but the bread is delivered from Spain. We are not proud of the bread’s carbon footprint, but we can better control the amount we use as they are pre-cooked, frozen products. So we throw away much less than we would if a local baker would deliver a fixed amount every day.” The raw materials of salads and other dishes offered are purchased in the wholesale market. The primary standpoint is to buy products from domestic producers if possible. Unfortunately, Hungarian products often not chosen due to the higher price, and the lacks of  quality or  quantity.

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However, the supply list is not over yet: there is 100% Arabica organic coffee and four types of milk. “We offered flavored fair trade tea before, but we changed it to a not fair trade, but better quality tea. The cakes are made from whole wheat flour, with brown sugar, and 70% chocolate in addition. Due to our main profile – making hundreds of juices a day- we do not waste the “left-overs”: the fruit and vegetable puree goes into the cakes as well. In addition, if your name is Fruccola, you can get a free juice.”

The „place” – we don’t know exactly how to call it:. A place for breakfast, lunch or dinner? Coffee bar, sandwich bar, juice bar? Then Petra told us an English name: Fast Casual Restaurant. Opening hours are slightly different from the usual: the restaurant at Arany János Street is open every weekday from 7 to 19, but on the weekends it is closed, the other one at Kristóf Square is open till 20 o’clock, and on Saturday offers brunch (here, there is a playground for children as well). It is a pleasure to know that most of the employees have free evenings and weekends – it makes us feel like money making is not above everything. They tend to make donation – to children’s hospitals and other charitable events – but the development of a donation strategy is among the future plans.

ceklalaves The restaurant is easily accessible by public transport and it seems to be visited by many people: the orange-juice machine is still in operation at half past 5, and fresh sandwiches are prepared at this time. We’ll soon return for some dolphin-friendly tuna and dishes washed up by biodegradable detergents. In the meantime, I’ll try to find out how “Fruccola” could come to my identity card.

Fruccola Checklist

WATER: There are “foaming” filters on faucets, thus less water is used.

RECYCLING: At Kristóf Square is starting now, although it has physical obstacles.

COMPOST: Currently it isn’t working. Free compost is not transported; otherwise it would be very expensive to ship. There are no fried foods or French fries, so there is no oil used. The rest of the food residue is transported and will be turned into biogas.

FUTURE: We would like to recycle everything, replace the lightning, and fulfill the remaining 30% of packaging materials, become better and better, and make changes in people’s minds. With a little care, and a little investment, we’ll be there.

The article originally appeared in Hungarian on 20th Jan, 2012.
Thanks Tünde Bene and Zsófi Tóth for the translation!

 

01 Sep

Sustainable Bar FILOsophy

I arrived late to my first volunteer meeting with the Heroes of Responsible Dining team, thus I missed the short introductions. I only knew Judit, one of the founders of the responsible dining heroes, she was already absorbed in a conversation at the other end of the table. After introducing myself shortly, I turned to the counter gracefully to order a tea in order to ease the anxiety. The nice bartender started cross-examined me: “Would you like a fair-trade or a non-fair-trade tea?”. What is the adequate answer to this question from a new responsible dining hero? Of course I asked for a fair-trade tea and started the cross-examination of my conversation partner. To my embarrassment, he had to informe me about the background of the event I attended. The Heroes of Responsible Dining have organized a Carrotmob event for the fifth time, this time in the FILO bar. The essence of the event is that the participating venues allocate a certain percenteg of their income on a given day to an environmentally conscious develpoment. In this case, it was the procurement of environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies –from Hungarian manufacturers.

During our short exchange, it has become clear that I was not at an average place. Thus I shortly arranged a meeting with the nice bartender who is also the co-owner of the bar.

FiloFiuk

Marci and one of his friend, Miki came up with the idea of the bar about two years ago and six months later the construction started. The bar opened in June, 2014. The two agile and talented men who are also enthusiastic about environment protection, wanted to combine their passion and business. It has worked out.

The core of their philosophy is to create a sustainable bar and restaurant. They advertise this proudly and consciously on their Facebook page. “Where does all this enthusiasm come from towards the topic?” – I ask. Marci explains the following: “I was raised “green”as a child. I had an influential head master in grammar school with whom I still maintain contact. Our school organized many programs  like excursions to national parks, and I was brought up in the suburbs with a lot of green space around. I traveled to Western countries with my parents where selective waste collection was already widespread. Thus I grew into this mindset.”

“What makes your place a sustainable bar and restaurant?” – goes my second question on the small terrace with pleasant atmosphere. This one was followed by a 45-minute long conversation, so as you can imagine, the list is long. “The chair you are sitting on and the tables were made of recycled materials. For the floor of the terrace we re-used the remaining materials of the former place in order to not to have to purchase new ones. We used organic paints on the terrace walls which were made from natural coloring materials. We started a campaign that was joined by other restaurants in the neighborhood:  a cigarette bud collection campaign (so-called Bud Brigade). The collected buds are collected by a company called Terracycle which processes and recycles them. The filter is plastic, thus new plastic products are made of them. The remaining tobacco is used for compost. Our plan is that everyone who brings a bag full of buds will receive a 10 percent discount. Any restaurant can join the program. This project is already running. I saw a video on index.hu which gave me the idea. ”

FiloTerasz The Heroes of Responsible Dining logo is shining proudly on the door. This logo can only be received by certified restaurants after filling in a questionnaire incorporating many aspects. When entering the visitor meets a room with a nice, minimalist design and a friendly staff. The atmosphere is friendly, and it’s an excellent choice for gathering with friends to sip some wine or good craft beers. To sum it up, everything can be found that is necessary for a lovely evening.

The menu consists of simple bar foods. I am also asking Marci about whether the kitchen is also sustainable. “We bought the newest, A + category from everything, we also have our own ice-making machine. We strive to purchase ingredients from small producers and we alter the menu according to the change of seasons. The eggs are from cage-free chickens. The poultry is delivered by a company called Gourmet Box. We solely buy chicken from them for now. They purchase the raw meet directly from the producer and they conserve it with the so-called sous-vide technology. The essence of the technique is that the meat is prepared at low temperature under vacuum and it is delivered in this vacuum package to the costumers. This is good for us as the meat can be longer stored without the use of preservatives and taken from the vacuum, we can get fresh, more flavorsome meat after cooking it for a short time. We are very proud, furthermore, of our pizzas that are made of whole grain spelt flour and of our whole grain croissant on our breakfast menu. We barely use oil for anything, only as much as the foods absorb. Thus the collection and placement of oil is not an issue. The bottles are recycled by our supplier, and we recycle everything else we can well, thus there is only a small amount of communal waste. We purchase the paper towels with a sustainable forestry certification, or we buy recycled products.”

FiloEgg

The middle of the bar is occupied by a large counter where one can find further green solutions. To me the most interesting is the recovery of the waste heat produced by the machines. Waste heat is, for instance, the heat coming from the back of the fridge. This heat is redirected in a clever way under the flooring of the bar, and can be used for heating in the winter,  and to reduce the heat pressure of the counter during the summer. Every tap is equipped with a so-called ‘perlator’ which reduces the water usage by 50 percent. I keep asking Marci about his motivation to innovate: the answer is cost-effectiveness for the businessman and environmental protection for the enthusiastic green citizen. “In fact, this is a win-win situation. These solutions are not costly, but on the contrary, some of them are cheaper than the ordinary version. In the long run these are lucrative measures both for our business and our environment.”

Cool design, friendly atmosphere, healthy and tasty food, remarkably environmental conscious solutions characterize this place – a refreshing green dot in Budapest’s party district.

Originally published in Hungarian on 20th Nov, 2014.
Lots of thanks to Stefi Kapronczay for the translation!

15 Jul

Save the Earth and Read a Book

I was walking around for several weeks in the 11th district like someone who has just came back from a crazy time travel due to a recently read book called „Ördöggörcs” (Devil’s cramp) from Márton Karinthy. I felt like having a completely new perspective on this district, although I’ve been living here for quite a long time. The streets that were always too busy, too slushy and too boring, all of a sudden revealed fresh colors; I imagined Dezső Kosztolányi (famous Hungarian writer from the late 19th, early 20th century) walking on these streets, when he got off the tram no. 6, also Tibor Déry (also a writer from the same era) whilst visiting Aranka Böhm (another famous writer’s wife) on his way home from Saturday shopping. At the “Hadik Coffee House”, several well-known Hungarian writers and poets, such as Tibor Déry, Milán Füst, Zoltán Somlyó, Zsigmond Móricz, Dezső Kosztolányi and the Karinthys used to have their coffees, debates, reading time – and perhaps sometimes a glass of wine or two. Of course, there were ladies as well: “Aranka (Mrs. Karinthy), the ‘queen with her maids of honour’, Mrs. Erzsébet Guthi Devecseri, Lívia Kondor and Bözsi Klug’. Besides all these famous people, there were also the unknown everyday heroes, who disappeared without a trace during the war, such as “the waiter who – for some strange reason – was called ‘Beautiful Lacajka’ by all the guests.

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The Hadik Coffee House at Gárdonyi Square had so many different functions during the last decades (it was even a shoe store for a while), after being the meeting place for the Hungarian intellectuals in the 20s. However, in 2010 it opened its door for the lovers of literature, jazz, coffee and culture again. Since the Coffee House is right next to one of the favourite bars of Buda (and owned by the same people), called “Szatyor Bar and Gallery”, we will introduce them both in the same article.

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The Hadik-Szatyor couple filled a huge gap in both the day and night life of Buda; it seems that they are only empty when they are closed. No wonder: the waiters c waitresses are nice, the music is great, the creative interior design puts everyone in a pleasantly romantic mood. Plus, I must say, they have the best cosmopolitan cocktail in the whole city! (Attention bartenders of the world! If you’d like to try to convince me that it’s not true, I will happily come and taste some of your creations☺)

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The menu at Szatyor Bár is just long enough: we can always find something besides the daily lunch menu to cope with any level of hunger we might have. On cold winter days, it’s worth to go and eat a nice bowl of mushroom chowder with potato dumplings. “In order to provide seasonal selection, we change the menu quarterly. We don’t use frozen products. Most of our meals represent Hungarian-type cuisine so we try to buy the basic ingredients from local producers as much as possible.” – said Mr. Tibor Bosznai, founder and art director of the bar.

As a vegetarian it is a little harder to find variety on the menu apart from the pasta based courses and a few dishes in the “Let’s eat something” category. Unfortunately, there are only 3 kinds of salads available both in winter and in summer, and they don’t go much beyond the classic Ceasar salad variety (chicken or tuna). We would expect a more dominant presence of seasonality in the gastronomy that considers the environment as well.

In case you can’t finish your portion, the leftover is packed in a styrofoam box – which is the worse such option -, however, they put that in a bag made of recycled paper. As they told us, currently they don’t plan to switch to more environmentally friendly packaging, although they would consider it as a possibility in the future.

It’s outstanding that there’s a WWF choice on the menu card that shows a significant similarity to the Heroes of Responsible Dining Menu, which was available in a few restaurants in November, 2012. The most important aspect is that these menus are prepared with energy- and water-saving methods, and 10% of the income from these goes to the WWF as a donation. We think that these initiatives are very important, because there’s still a lot to do in Hungary to improve the charity culture and “donation-mood”. When we asked what the motivation is behind offering such a menu, Tibor said that Szatyor has cooperated already with civil organizations earlier on a few occasions such as collection, auction, cash donation and organization of joint events (e.g. Fair Trade, Red Cross, Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Society, Hungarian Cyclists’ Club, BAM (Bicycle to Work!), etc.). “This kind of support and dissemination was the idea of WWF, and we liked it a lot.”

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There are lots of Hungarian products (e.g. “pálinka”, wines, syrups) on the drink menu, although we can find the regular bottled soft drinks, foreign beers and hard liqueurs too. (Yes, I know that without these the cosmo cocktail could not be blended…). But guests can get a glass of tap water any time even without asking for it.

According to Tibor, environmental protection is a critical aspect in their daily operation. “On one hand because we believe that every service provider sector must be up-to-date, on the other hand we often experience that the previous generations did not pay enough attention to environmental issues, so this can cause serious problems nowadays to the whole mankind and ecosystem. We have children, so we would like to find a way out from this negative situation.” At Szatyor,  glass and paper are recycled, the toilet paper and the paper towels are made of recycled paper, and the colleagues in the office are trying to eliminate the use of paper (e.g. two-sided printing). They also use motion detector wherever they can (in the bathrooms, corridors, changing rooms), and on the ceilings they use twilight switches. Besides, they pay attention not to have the lights on when it’s not necessary in the dining area, and they are working on gradually replacing their lightbulbs with energy-saving ones. The water taps are fitted with water-saving heads and the food waste is taken away by a specialized company. “Plus, me and two other owners travel by bike” – said Tibor.

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While in Szatyor the interior reminds us of a ruin pub (chairs and tables of different colors, sizes and shapes – each with a different comfort level), in Hadik we find “decent” furnitures which are appropriate for a café, as well as many daily newspapers, cultural magazines, weekly newspapers. They also organize literature events, dance lessons and exhibitions at both places. So anyone can come who is hungry for culture, food and drinks – or is in the mood for donating. But you can even write a novel here.

By the way, people from Pest shouldn’t be disappointed if they can not come over to Buda, because at the beginning of Ráday Street, there is a very similar bar like Szatyor,  called “Púder”, which operates by the same principles, in an environmentally friendly way. But this will be another story…

The article originally appeared in Hungarian on 24st Jan, 2013
Hop-hip hurray to Kati Hall for another awesome translation; and for Juci Zollai for helping!