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Country Girl City Living has been teasing us with the scent of "the most delicious chicken paprikash known to man", which started me reminiscing about our stay in Budapest and my lovely "Blue Fountain Flutes".
We were in Budapest just after the 'wall' came down. Actually we needed a visa to get in but, 4 days later, when we left it was no longer necessary. We did, however, have to buy currency (I think about 200 dollars worth) upon entering the country with no possibility of changing it back when leaving: spend it or lose it!
On our first day, walking around town, we passed a shop selling beautiful hand-cut, jewel-colored, crystal goblets, decanters and bowls. I drooled at all the gorgeous pieces in the window and finally got the courage to go in.
The store was practically empty, all of the merchandise appeared to be on display in the window or in one glass encased shelf. There were no other customers in the shop but there were 5 store clerks, all leaning up against a long counter. Women of indeterminate age, they were dressed alike in straight, black skirts, white cotton blouses and sturdy black shoes with white anklets.
I looked through the glass at the goblets.
This went on for a bit (at which point mon mari went wandering off). I finally walked over to the friendliest (not) looking woman and mimed that I would like to look at the merchandise.
She heaved a big sigh, gave a long-suffering look to her colleagues and a glare to me, went behind the counter and grabbed a set of keys. We went back to the cabinet and I pointed at the glasses I wanted to look at. She unlocked the cabinet, took out one red wine glass, re-locked the cabinet, handed the glass to me and walked back to her spot at the counter.
By this time I wanted to look at a different glass. I walked back to the counter, to the same woman, and mimed that I wanted so see a different glass.
She heaved a big sigh, gave a long-suffering look to her colleagues and a glare to me, and stomped back to the cabinet. She unlocked the cabinet and took the red wine glass away from me. I tried to explain that I actually wanted to look at the two together but she wasn't having any of that! She put the red glass back, selected a blue one, re-locked the cabinet, handed the glass to me and walked back to her spot at the counter.
Damn, but wouldn't you just know….now I wanted to see a green bowl. Back to the same counter, same woman, same mime routine.
She did the same look, the same glare, the same stomping back to the cabinet. Unlock, put one piece back, get one piece out, re-lock, return.
We repeated the procedure so I could admire the gold water goblet.
I was really starting to get dirty looks from the other clerks. I was still the only customer in the shop.
I was starting to get a little nervous so I made my choice.
Back at the counter once again, I mimed that I wanted to buy 4 blue champaign flutes. She assumed I wanted 4 of the gold water glasses in my hand. After much arm waving, pointing, locking and unlocking of the cabinet she understood, I thought. Apparently I wasn't to get the glasses in the cabinet, though, because she took off through a door in the back. About 30 minutes later she was back with a box taped shut.
I wanted to look in the box. She didn't want me to. I mimed that I wasn't going to pay until I looked in the box. She mimed that she really didn't give a rat's ass if I bought them or not but she wasn't opening the box. I tried another tactic. She glared harder. Mon mari finally wandered back in the shop. When I explained the problem, he just took the box and opened it. Inside were the 4 blue champaign flutes I wanted. She put her hands on her hips, tapped her foot and glared some more. I paid.
Capitalism hadn't exactly gotten a toehold in the prior 24 hours…Not only was the customer never right, if said customer was allowed to buy anything at all, said customer should just take it and be grateful!
Three weeks later, back home in the Midwest, mon mari popped the cork on some bubbly and poured it into my cherished flutes.
The artist doing the engraving had cut just a wee bit too deep in places.
Champaign was squirting out of the sides of the glasses.
What's with the duck?
Earlier this fall there was a sale on duck breasts. They came in packages of three and one breast was a bit small for a main course. Mon mari came up with the idea of smoking it. Best idea he's had in years…. years and years… It was a really good idea.
We did nothing to it but score the fat, put it on the smoker and ignore it for 2 hours. We took the fat off before slicing. It was perfectly done, smoky and wonderful. It needed nothing.
Stuffed Mushrooms Caps
8 large button or cremini mushrooms
1 tsp olive oil
1/3 carton soft goat cheese
2 tbs Greek or plain yogurt
2 – 3 slices bacon
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Clean mushrooms, removing stems. Sauté bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove and crumble. Pour off all but 1 tsp of fat. Add olive oil to skillet and return to heat. Add mushroom caps and sauté until light brown, 5 minutes, turning once. Remove and place on a baking sheet. Put goat cheese, yogurt and garlic powder into a bowl and stir to combine. Add bacon bits and mix. Spoon into the mushrooms caps, mounding slightly. Bake in 400F (200C) oven for 12 – 15 minutes, until they are light brown.
We had wonderful duck and goose and Budapest! Some of the menus even had English translations…sort of: "Duck with rancid fat" was a big hit…