Andrew and David have been with us since Saturday and we have had a wonderful time sharing Budapest with them, and they joined us and our students for a day trip to Vienna.
Angela recorded their arrival!
Sunday with our friends, Ildiko, Lorand, and Brigi at the Tropicarium.
On Castle Hill
In Vienna at Schonbrunn Palace and Natural History Museum
A beautiful, intimate (by opera house standards), and inexpensive place to see wonderful opera! We took our students to the ballet here last week. We’ll see Turandot here tonight and are scheduled for four more operas through March and April.
Baraka and Frici Papa sit at opposite ends of the restaurant spectrum of Budapest. Baraka was among the first of the upscale, fusion contemporary, fine dining restaurants that began to appear – and often disappear – in the early 2000s. Its owners, Leora and David Seboek, started out in a small place in the center city with their lavishly praised chef, Viktor Segal, but in 2006 Segal when out on his own and they moved Baraka out to Andrassy ut, to a space in a boutique hotel as upscale as their food. It has remained among the top restaurants in the city. http://www.barakarestaurant.hu
Frici Papa is in the lowest class of restaurant, a kifozdeje, which roughly translates as “mama’s cooking”. Kifozdeje typically are quite small and have a limited menu, often simply daily dishes posted on the window. They might serve family style and only for a few hours around noon. Their food is very cheap, very hardy, and plentiful. Frici Papa is at the top end of the kifozdeje since it has a fixed menu as well as daily specials, it occupies two floors, and has individual tables. Located adjacent to the Franz Liszt Music Academy, it caters primarily to a student crowd and it is always full. http://www.fricipapa.hu/eng/index.php
Both restaurants are excellent of their kind. Both are favorites from when we were here in 2006.
Actually our first visit to Baraka’s came after we had eaten at Segal’s restaurant, Segal, and at his recommendation. Segal was the buzz of the growing foodie crowd in 2006 and our dinner there was truly memorable. It was a small but elegant place and he was in the dining room to present each course. Unfortunately the restaurant closed within a year – the public story was he lost his lease – and he has since opened and closed to great fanfare another restaurant or two because of lease issues. He is now a celebrity chef with a consulting business. http://www.segal.hu
Our first visit to Baraka was for lunch in the garden space adjacent to the restaurant and since the location was new and it was not especially busy when we were there, Leora visited with us for quite a while. She is from Israel and David is Hungarian, having returned from NYC where he was an award winning pastry chef. The restaurant space is sleek and modern, appropriate to the Bauhaus design of the hotel, and their menu, then as now, is Eastern European with an Asian influence.
We went to Baraka’s for a late lunch last Friday after seeing an exhibition of contemporary Hungarian artist, Imre Bukta. http://www.mucsarnok.hu/new_site/index.php?lang=en&t=702
Our food was especially good. Angela had spinach and coconut cream soup and tandoori chicken breast; and I had a salad of ceviche prawns and cucumber, and poached sole in green curry. They were perfectly prepared and the service was good but a bit stiff at first. We look forward to returning for dinner soon!
We had lunch with a glass of wine and beer at Frici Papa’s today for about the cost of a glass of wine at Baraka. Angela’s chicken cutlet (with parsley potatoes) was deliciously tender and juicy and I had a huge plate of braised pork knuckle (rich with garlic) served on fried potatoes that soaked up the braising liquid! and we split a pickled cucumber salad. It was every bit as enjoyable as our very enjoyable lunch at Baraka.
We throughly enjoyed the Freud Museum — of special meaning to Angela because of her background in psychology, but fun for both of us to see all the photographs and memorabilia. The museum is in the house and office he occupied before leaving Vienna in the wake of Nazism.
We enjoyed a weekend trip to Vienna, dividing our time between the Leopold Museum exhibition “Wien 1900” (http://www.leopoldmuseum.org/en/exhibitions/21/vienna-1900); wandering around the Hofburg Quarter, pictured here, where we happened on the Lipizzaner stallions being taken from their stables to perform at the Spanish Riding School; and the Freud Museum.
Budapest Secessionist style, like Viennese Secessionism, was an Avant-garde, “new century” movement that rejected the formalism of academic art and architecture of the past, opting for a much more free, romantic, and sensual approach to design. In Budapest it was coupled with the desire to achieve a Hungarian style as opposed to the European eclecticism that had dominated art and architecture at the time. It became art nouveau with a Hungarian inflection.
Frigyes Spiegel was the first Hungarian architect to use art nouveau embellishments in his design. His (restored) building at 94 Izebella utca is an extravagant and wonderful façade.
94 Izabella looked like the building next to it before restoration!
Ödön Lechner, though, is considered the father of the Hungarian style. He studied at the Bauakademie in Berlin and his first buildings in Budapest were in a German/European style. Here is what a website on Hungarian Art Nouveau says about his transformation:
“From the 1890’s Lechner focused his architectural interest on the creation of a Hungarian style. He realised that ‘when someone walks through the streets of Budapest, he finds all the styles of the world, but can’t find any features of Hungarian national architecture.’ His firm conviction was that »Hungarian language of form didn’t exist, but it is going to«. He tried to find the roots of ancient Hungarian architecture, and he thought that he had found it in Indian Islamic architecture. He designed his first chef d’oeuvre, the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest (1893-1896) in this style with the reminiscences of French Renaissance. Later he wrote: ‘today, when I sometimes look at the gate of the Museum of Applied Arts, I am really angry. It is too much »Indian« for me’.”
“After the construction of the Museum of Applied Arts, Lechner’s style changed to the direction of Hungarian folk art. He applied Hungarian folk embroidery in mosaic on the facades of his chef d’oeuvre, the Postal Savings Bank (1899-1901) in Budapest. These motifs appear in brick band frames. We find dragons and hens in terracotta on the roof of the building, which are the characters of folk tales. On the top of the central roof, there is one of the most important pieces of Hungarian history, the bullhead cup. The structure of the facade also changed a lot, the historical architectural articulation disappeared, and a new plane surface of the Art Nouveau style appears. Instead of the classical entablature Lechner uses a very individual wavy moulding. The coloured terracotta ornaments were made by the famous Zsolnay company in Pécs.” http://www.art-nouveau.hu/art.php?menuid=2&id=103