Part 2 of our definitive Christmas gift guide will help you get hold of the flavours and fragrances of Balaton in the shape of various types of wine, pálinka, jam, honey, syrup, smoked meat or cheese. Here are 10 delis where you'll find everything for a true gourmet Christmas feast. We still have not forgotten those stuck in Budapest.
Balaton Ízlelő, Budapest
In the heart of Budapest? No problem: you can still immerse yourself into Balaton's flavours and fragrances there - or take them with you as a present, just pop in to the Balatoni Ízlelő delicatessen and tasting bar (V. kerület, Királyi Pál utca 10.) There, you can taste and buy a great variety of craft cheese, sausages, jams, syrups, oils, vinegars, and of course wines and pálinkas from the Balaton area, but the webshop of the deli will also gladly serve you in any corner of Hungary. If it were for us, we'd choose a speciality, like the poppy seed jam, the pine bud or the violet syrup, but Géza Légli's classical chardonney champagne will also most definitely add up to the festive cheer.
In the category of must-have Christmas sweets, the walnut, poppy seed, and plum jam-filled bejgli variations by the Balatonfüred-based Bergmann Confectionery are among the sureshots, just like the gingerbread figures by Zsuzsa Sárkány, which are also available in Christmas tree compatible versions as well. Although the Balaton Ízlelő is not present at traditional Advent fairs, they will participate in setting up the Balaton wine Christmas tree and the accompanying Advent fair at the Ice Rink in the City Park on 14 December.
Gurmi Balaton, Budapest
The Gurmi Balaton, at the Hegyvidék Shopping Centre (XII. kerület, Apor Vilmos tér) sells delicacies primarily from the Balaton Uplands. At the moment, they don't do home deliveries, but they too will be there around the above-mentioned Balaton wine Christmas tree and the accompanying Advent fair at the Ice Rink in the City Park on 14 December.
The repertoire of Balaton's finest flavours available here is extensive: in addition to the craft wines, ciders and beers, you can also find syrups, jams, honey, coffee, teas, various desserts, soaps and ceramics; while the paleo and gluten-free range is also rich.You can buy Bergmann's renowned bejgli here as well, but the meringues and tea biscuits by the chefs of the Csopak-based Szent Donát Winery are also represented in diverse flavours. On our way to a friend, we would grab a jar or more of "Csobánc íze" apple-raisins-orange-cinnamon Christmas jam.
Pörc - Hungarian delicatessen
You can browse a great variety of smoked salamis, hams and sausages plus an abundance of cheese: there are the chanterelle ad walnut variations, but the parenica and the gomolya are also in the assortment.For Christmas, the Ünnep (festivity) syrup could be ideal for children - it comes in plum, sour cherry, raspberry and mulled wine flavours. There are also handcrafted gingerbread and chocolate Christmas tree ornaments, and cream honey in exciting flavours, like strawberry, raspberry, mint-lemon, coffee or nut cream, which will make any gastro-fan family member or friend devilishly happy. As delicatessens go, Pörc also has various pálinkas, wines, jams and jellies on its shelves, in company of lavender products from Dörgicse.
Those following the “Balaton wine is the best gift" principle will surely find what they are looking for at Kredenc, since this Balatonfüred spot also operates as a wine shop. Entering from the cobblestone street, you can get warmed up with the excellent mulled wine, and in the meantime you can already start browsing the wine bottles, syrups, jams and delicatessen on the shelves. The local speciality is the “Kredenc Kötvény” (Krdenc Bond), “an unorthodox gift voucher with growing value; bought at 5000 HUF face value, which grows by 2.5% each month until it reaches a maximum off 20% growth" (by András Dobai). This means that a 5000 HUF bond entitles its recipient to 6000 HUF worth of consumption at Kredenc in 8 months' time.
If you'd rather stuck to something tangible, pair the compulsory bottle of wine with a seasonal homemade cookie, or a pre-ordered cake, bejgli, Gugelhupf or sweet bread - the latter delicacies can be prepared with particular food intolerances in mind. There is neither a Budapest shop, nor home delivery, but the Kredenc Wine Bistro is one of the partners of the Advent fair in Balatonfüred's Blaha Lujza utca.
Karolina SPEIZ (SPEIZ is derived from the German Speisekammer, meaning pantry) is adjacent to Karolina Confectionery, in the heart of Balatonfüred. The small parlour reminiscent of grandma's pantry sells its own, classical products (sausages, hams, foie de gras paté), artisan chocolate, tea accessories and unique selections (wines, bottle holders, pálinkas), but Karolina's bejgi is also included in the Christmas specials.
On top of all this, the shelves also display other locally produced wonders, like an excellent selection of lavender oils and soaps from Tihany. The Karolina SPEIZ products are not available at Advent fairs, but it ships phone and email orders all over Hungary.
The Chianti Gourmet Delicate in the southern part of Veszprém has a selection that would be considered abundant even in Budapest. Here, you can compile the gift basket of your choice or buy a gift voucher if you are unsure what would delight. In addition to classical Balaton products, the international range is also going strong with Italian and Spanish hams, salamis and cheeses, plus English teas, or chocolate from Belgium, Cuba or Madagascar.
The real gourmets can fill up on 150 kinds of spice and oriental ingredients, and the 50 types of extra virgin olive oil is also a selection to be proud of. Chianti Gourmet Delicate does neither home deliveries, nor Advent fairs, but you'll surely find your cup of tea (or traditional Italian Panettone or Balaton artisan jam) at the shop.
The crowded shelves of Nagyi Kamrája (Grandma's Pantry) are full of artisan cheese, dried and smoked hams, sausages and artisan oils, but the wines, syrups, teas, coffees and sweets are also well represented..
This place also offers you the option of compiling a gift basket. In addition to the excellent Balaton wines, we'd recommend the products by choice pálinka distilleries - for home or as a gift. You'll also find artisan szaloncukor, gingerbread figurines, eggnog, honey and chocolate macaroons, and chocolate Christmas tree ornaments in Baross Gábor utca 63., Balatonalmádi.
In the morning, start your gift shopping tour at Tündérsziget overlooking Tihany's Lake Belső , since in addition to the gifts, you can also get a delicious breakfast here, also in gluten- and lactose-free versions. This is also true for their own products, so this Tündérsziget is one place to go if you want to shop for someone suffering from these kinds of food intolerance. Being in Tihany, its selection also includes lavender soaps, shower gels and body lotions.
For Christmas, we'd choose one of their special tea mixes, or the exquisite mulled wine spice, plus a gingerbread figure, mini stollen or gerbeaud by Nagyi Sütödéje. You can also order the Tündérsziget products via the webshop or get them at the Modula Design Stúdió (1037, Budapest, Bokor utca 10.), where you can take Tihany's treasures into your hand.
Tamás Winery Enoteca & Delicatessen
The excellent wines and other organic delicacies of Tamás Pince are made without preservatives, artificial colouring, flavour enhancers and aromas. Their lavender cider is a singular drink: its slightly sour, still fragrant and light. Be sure to add the elderberry version as well to your basket.
Apart from the cider, lavender is also transformed into syrup, jelly and vinegar, but the green walnut syrup or the Tűzvarázs red wine jelly would also look great on the festive dinner table. The products by Tamás Pince are not only available in Csopak, but at several locations countrywide, and timely orders are even delivered to your door.
The Restaurant of Life, Siófok
It's not a deli, still the raw vegan joint, The Restaurant of Life in Siófok's Fő tér deserves a mention. On one hand, because such shops -for the moment- are scarce on the south shore; on the other hand, because the gluten-, sugar-, lactose-, and additive-free delicacies prepared here would stand their ground anywhere. The cakes and cookies are prepared without baking, which is not at all detrimental to the flavours; they would satisfy even the most critical of sweet-toothed people.
In addition to the generally available gift vouchers and health-themed books, the restaurant prepares for Christmas with raw vegan gingerbread and cakes, bejgli, and gerbeaud, which you can buy at the parlour or order by phone. There is no home delivery for now, but the shop is found in a central location, only a few minutes from the Water Tower.