A Sunday without the Káptalantóti market is like a goat farm without delectable goat’s cheese. For the next article of our Enyém a Balaton! campaign, we sampled a diverse assortment of delicious treats ranging from cheeses, first-rate baked goods, and pumpkin seed cream to syrups, honeys, pâtés, and quail’s eggs.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Ildikó Harmathy, Liliomkert Market in Káptalantóti has gained national recognition over the years, and the market's dedication to promoting local products is demonstrated by the fact that craft product vendors coming from further than 50 kilometers have very little chance to display their goods here. Liliomkert has been going strong year after year, even if there are always problems to tackle, such as the large numbers of cars trying (and often failing) to find a parking spot on busier Sundays, and the other market next door, which is expanding very aggressively, and almost blends into Liliomkert; what is more, it has no quality restrictions on the items the vendors sell.
We don’t want to delve too much into these unpleasant aspects, so instead we take a look at all the wonderful products supplied by farmers living and working in the area. We picked an overcast, windy, slightly rainy Sunday, which was perfect: we didn’t have to fight our way through a big crowd, and we managed to find a place to park our car at 9:15am. We didn’t do any research in advance on which stalls to look out for. Our method for detection was pretty simple: we decided to rely on our senses, and whenever we saw, heard, or smelled something enticing, we started chatting to the sellers. Conversations like these can reveal quite quickly if you’re talking to an actual licensed small-scale producer because they are the ones that can tell you all about how their fantastic products are made. Let’s see the list.
The stand of the Mekler family is one of the most popular cheese stalls at the market, and with good reason: their cheeses look absolutely tempting. They started raising goats in 1993, and today they have a total of 120 animals grazing on their estate. They make ripened cheeses, including spicy Olomoucké tvarůžky, a Czech cheese they produce for this market especially. Mekler is proud to say that he was trained by dr. József Molnár, the doyen of goat farming. He and his wife have come to sell their goods at the market for the past year. They are proud of their farm, which is totally open, meaning that visitors can witness the entire process of cheesemaking. We tried their cheese, and we were not disappointed: according to Mekler, it tastes so good because his goats graze on 30 hectares, feeding on several hundred kinds of plants, which give all of the cheeses a unique flavor. They make plain one-day old cheese (3,500 forints/kg), spicy cheese (3,700 forints/kg), ripened cheeses (4,000 forints/kg), and even a special camembert-like product (4,100 forints/kg).
Kisapáti is located two villages away from Káptalantóti; this is where Beáta Kovács created a bakery that’s probably one of a kind in the entire Balaton region. The queue in front of her stand was huge despite the terrible weather. She was standing behind the counter, while her colleague kept bringing carload after carload of buns and loaves. For 200 forints each, we bought two of the funnily named pocak (meaning belly in Hungarian), which is a kind of ciabatta baked with white flour, but all of the other breads looked mouthwatering as well: for 800 forints, you can get a 600-gram loaf of rye bread with spices, blueberries and a selection of seeds, or zucchini and goat’s cheese (this is probably the best); the spelt loaf with seeds costs the same, but the above-mentioned pocak and the brioche can be yours for as little as 200 forints.
The first more exotic stall we came across at the market was run by Márta Kéri, who’s based in Nemesvámos, and makes all kinds of creams and spreads from pumpkin seed. We’d never had anything similar before, but were fully convinced after tasting the first spoonful, even though the basic cream has nothing else in it, but pumpkin seed, pumpkin seed oil, and salt. Márta says it goes well with meats, toast, and salads. She was prompted to work with pumpkin seed due to health concerns in her family, and a friend of hers thought her creations were so amazing she needed to start selling them. She’s been a regular vendor in Tóti for three years now, but she also often attends the markets in Tihany and Veszprém. The products are not cheap, but the taste and the physiological benefits are definitely worth it. A jar of pumpkin seed cream costs 1,900-2,100 forints, the chili version is 2,500 forints, and sunflower seed cream (1,300 forints) as well as pumpkin seed oil (1,500-2,300 forints) are also available.
We were on the hunt for a syrup stall to quench our thirst when we found the Egyed family. Syrups and jams are the main pillars of their business, which was built on herbs in the beginning. Their attractive array of goods includes tomato juice, walnuts, and ramson, which is one of their most sought-after items; every single thing you can see on their stand comes from their orchard or their greenhouse. We picked to test their strange-sounding jostaberry syrup, which is made from a hybrid of black currant and gooseberry; its pleasantly sour flavor makes it a perfect summertime refreshment. The syrups are priced in the 700-1,300-forint range, the jams are between 500 forints and 800 forints, and if you’re hungry, you can grab a piece of cornmeal cake for 200 forints.
The market stall of Mr Gusztos has everything you could possibly want; every Sunday his display features a wide variety of organic products like pickles, peppers, honey, beautiful homemade cakes, and cheesy biscuits made from spelt flour. He’s been a regular vendor in Tóti ever since the market was launched. We were looking for a stand selling honey, and we couldn’t have ended up at a better place: the black locust honey costs 1,250 forints, and the rapeseed version, which is characteristically thick, and has a less transparent, slightly white color, is 1,900 forints. We tried the popular lavender honey as well, but it was a bit much for us.
The divine treats of animal origin made by László Kosztricz are so good even the operators of the market were quickly convinced they had a place there even if they are produced in Telki, which is outside the magical 50-kilometer radius. The selection of game products is relatively narrow, including rillettes (1,600-2,800 forints), wild boar pâté (1,400 forints), and deer pâté (1,800 forints). Mr Kosztricz started making his premium quality products three years ago. He procures the meat from hunters based in the Bakony region, and he makes everything with his own two hands. Wild boar rillettes, for which the meat is prepared with the confit method (it’s preserved in its fat after being cooked for seven hours at 80 °C), is a particular favorite of his customers. He makes a point of getting most of his other ingredients locally; for example, he usually picks up the spices he needs from the market stall across the path. We gave the orange-apricot pâté a try, which is probably his most intriguing product; if – like many people – you think pâté is some kind of liver spread, this will definitely clear things up for you.
We saw many unique stalls and goods during our visit, one of them being a quail’s egg counter run by Mrs Tamás Molnár. She told us about the quails she keeps: they are apparently more picky than a Victoria’s Secret model at a Chinese thrift store; they won’t eat certain things, and bad quality food can easily have fatal consequences for them. Quails keep a very healthy diet, “they eat more minerals than Schwarzenegger,” Mrs Molnár explained to us. A pack of 12 raw quail’s eggs costs 300 forints, while a jar of smoked eggs preserved in olive oil is 1,300 forints (the flavor is similar to smoked cheese).
This article is part of “Enyém a Balaton!”, the joint campaign of MasterCard® and We Love Balaton.