You simply cannot get enough of the Káli Basin – something we try to emphasize time after time, with seasonal reviews based on our own personal impressions, or with “crash courses” for those constantly on the move. Below is our culinary review of the region making up 9,000 hectares of the Balaton Uplands. Chats around tables warmed by the sun, bunches of grapes, spices and the new wave slowly catching on around Lake Balaton - this is what the Káli Basin looks like today.
- Last week we wrote about the new wave restaurants of Balatonfüred
- This time we wandered westward
- Especially because the Valley of Arts is coming up
- There is no need to eat oven-baked kenyérlángos there every day
- Because there are excellent restaurants south of the festival venue
- We have already discussed what the region holds for those coming for a day
- We do not claim that this is Tuscany
- This is the Káli Basin
The loveable pro
Chef Kata Zakar and her husband originally had no intention to open a restaurant, which is impossible to tell from tasting any of their dishes, and believe us, we have tried quite a few. Unfortunately we cannot say which items on the menu are must-trys because the selection changes virtually every three days in the crossfire of creativity and seasonality. The ingredients are supplied from the garden of Lívia Járosi, the couple’s three children serve as gastro critics and there are two beautiful girls called Eszter on the staff. Kővirág is just like its flavours: daring but harmonious at the same time.
Hungarian flavours with a pinch of rosemary
Checkered tablecloths, Balaton fish, a climate that is almost Tuscan – luckily this is not yet enough for a restaurant to earn a badge of excellence. And yet, it is this “no frills” set-up that accounts for the popularity of the Káli Restaurant. You simply sit on the terrace, enjoy the shade provided by the huge plants around, and eat a substantial meal in the silence that is only interrupted by the tolling of church bells. You try home-made pálinka, and you also exchange a few words with the lovely owner, who welcomes and serves the guests himself.
You are on your bike, you ride, you get tired, and you are thirsty as hell. You gulp down some water and with your thirst gone, you can only think about replenishing your calorie supplies. In times like these KerékBár, a family enterprise on the most beautiful hill of the Káli Basin, can mean the world. With easy access from the bicycle road, the “bar” offers pastries with home-made jam or Liptauer to weary travellers.
Rosé fröccs and bread and dripping with the locals
A place that is just right was missing from the region, at least that’s what the owners of Káli-Kapocs thought. A friendly and cosy club, pub and community space with wallet-sparing prices, building a bridge with fröccs and food between the locals, holidaymakers, tourists and cyclists passing through. There was simply nothing else to do but to make it happen, and the feedback justified their efforts: Kapocs became a popular hangout for Balaton winemakers, Berlin artists and farmers from Mindszentkálla in a blink of an eye.
Mi a kő – The House of Káli-medence’s Wines
Curiosities in a familiar setting
Veal sweetbreads, quiche with St. George’s mushrooms and goat cheese, grilled ripened goat curd, eggplant cream. There are places where dish names are more telling than the most expressive adjectives. One of these places is Mi a kő: there is no one who would slam any item on the short menu, changing monthly based on available ingredients, or the wines offered by artist and winemaker Tamás Trombitás. The invitingly unique interior will guarantee your return to this spot of the Káli Básin.
Nomen est omen
There are plenty of places with the name Istvándy, but you’ll find the one serving the best food if you take a right turn on the way from Badacsony to Káptalantóti at the red bicycle “left” in the stop of the region shuttle bus. It is a good idea to make an appointment, especially if you are planning a visit with a larger group to the winery, located on Tóti Hill. Csilla Istvándy has made a great effort to put top quality dishes on the table, the flavours being enhanced by an idyllic atmosphere regardless of what time of day you arrive here. Dogs sniffing around in the commotion of aprons coming and going, wooden tables with embroidered tablecloths, a friendly word or two and the humility so indispensible in catering - you will find all of these in this part of the estate.
Hot and cold dishes, informal setting, no apologies
“What is the secret? There are no chemicals in it and I always put a couple of fruit tree logs on the fire, which gives it a characteristic taste,” Imre Tóth explained while he was busy cutting one langalló slice after the other. This is how it goes every Sunday: the market is busy with vendors feeding hungry visitors. A scone after a long journey, various tastings all morning and local specialities at every stand are waiting for you at the Káptalantóti Market. This is probably the only market in the world that is open despite being closed. You may have to do with a fruit basket picnic instead of lunch, but that may be even better.