Molnár’s Kürtőskalács, Budapest

From Vienna we took an east-bound train and crossed over into Hungary for our first Eastern Europe experience. I was under the impression that Eastern Europe countries are more exotic but less developed than their Western Europe counterparts. We were slightly apprehensive about visiting Eastern Europe due to lack of knowledge about their culture and ease of travel using English as a main communication medium.  For a start Hungary has their own currency known as forint. We changed our Euro to forint upon arriving at the Budapest Keleti Railway station in order to purchase metro tickets to get to our hotel along the Danube river. By the time we checked into our hotel, we were so tired that we didn’t go out for dinner…knocked out.

Exploration of Budapest only commenced in the next morning, where we took a short walk from our hotel to enjoy breakfast at Molnár’s Kürtőskalács. Notice that lady behind the window display? That is not a decal, it’s a real person making fresh Kürtőskalács in the store.

Kürtőskalács also known as Chimney Cakes because of their cylindrical shape, was traditionally made to celebrate wedding, baptism or for the reception of important guests. This pastry has however made its way into the streets of Hungary for everyday consumption.

We sat at a table next to the baking area so we get to observe how they make them. The yeasted dough was first rolled flat and cut into long strips. Thereafter the elogated dough is wrapped around a spit (or rolling pin) in a spiral manner. It is then coated in granulated sugar (and or other chosen flavours of your choice) and baked above charcoal cinders.

The end result is a chimney shaped cake with a caramelized, sugary, golden-brown exterior that crackles when you bite into it and a soft and chewy bread-like strip interior! I was so impressed by this pastry that I sent a picture of this to one of the jie-meis who is into baking recently and challenged her to replicate this for me.

From the menu they listed a variety of flavours such as Vanilla, Cacao, Poppy Seed, Walnut, Coconut, Chocolate etc. We chose one Almond and one Cinnamon each. But we later saw that two teenagers came in and ordered one piece with 2 flavours (half on each side) to share! Smart move.

Being able to try local pastries like this is why we usually opt-out of hotel buffet breakfasts.

Other Photos Taken:

We visited the Rathaus (City Hall) in Vienna, this time round as we only took photos of it from afar during our previous visit.

There was a huge festive ice-skating rink right in front of the building with food stalls set up. We bought a plate of Spätzle with smoked pork, pepper and onions. The spätzle is made from flour-and-egg dough, they actually looked and taste similar to gnocchi. Instead of being cooked with sauce, these are stir-fried. I love the springy and chewy texture of the tiny “dumplings”.  I was also impressed that despite being a temporary fun-fair set-up, the eateries provided solid utensils (fork and plate) instead of disposable ones. Almost all guests returned the utensils to the unmanned station! We are expected to dispose the food waste into the bins provided before stacking the plates neatly on the racks. Such system is never going to work in Singapore

The last attraction we visited in Vienna was the Hundertwasserhaus. The Hundertwasser House is one of notable architectural highlights, apart from the ostentatious palaces around Vienna. If you can’t remember the name then just google “colourful houses Vienna”, you should be able to find it.

Having seen a few of Gaudi‘s famous buildings in Barcelona, this complex is seems to bear much resemblance in terms of the objective of creating an architecture that is closer to nature, without any unnatural straight lines and with brightly coloured facade with whimsical shapes. Notably this complex is only built in 1980s – much newer than the ones built during Gaudi’s time.

The apartment complex is not open to visitors however there is a shopping arcade constructed opposite, also designed by Hundertwasser and is open to all.

True to his manifestos, he pursued the goal of creating a more human architecture in harmony with nature. Inside the arcade, even the staircase is constructed from irregular lines. Instead of the standard sized mosaic, the tiles here are all of irregular shapes.

The Hundertwasserhaus is definitely an interesting place to visit for architecture buffs – or maybe Instagrammers for the colourful backdrop.

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