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Budapest is full of courtyards, beautiful corners hidden in plain sight and joining magnificence with a bit of romantic decay. I am a sucker for this kind of architectural detail and when a tenant arrived and took an old lift up to one of the upper floors, I imagined living in such dubious splendour. The courtyard was typical of our Budapest trip – although we certainly enjoyed the fancy restaurants and the famously splendid buildings, the best parts were the slightly down-at-heel places and the simpler eateries. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think we uncovered insider’s secrets or got totally off the touristed paths. We were only in the city for a few days and Mama Lemur quite reasonably has less relish for trekking down alleys than I do. If we turned off the main trails, it wasn’t by far. Still, it’s an illustration of how easy it is to find moments of quiet beauty in this city, as well, as it turned out, of sublime meaty enjoyment. Read the rest of this entry »

The Lemurs are in Budapest – rather than have Mama Lemur come visit us at home, we decided it would be more generally splendid to hang out in a European city instead. We picked Budapest partly because I've never been before and also in no small measure because of its reputation as a centre of thermal baths and therapeutic spas. Seriously, after the last few months of work stresses I am more than ready for my mud treatments and hot springs. But it wouldn't be a Lemur vacation without food research. Budapest isn't the first place that springs to mind when you think of culinary excitement and our first night's dinner kind of confirmed whatever prejudices you might be harbouring about East European food. I had ewe's cheese gnocchi with smoked pig's trotter which sounded thrilling but turned out to be just ok. The little dumplings were actually rather nice but on the stodgy and bland side. The trotter was more like smoked ham than the gelatinous treat I had been expecting. But today, we upped the ante by lunching at Onyx – Budapest's second Michelin-starred restaurant and the first with a Hungarian chef. Read the rest of this entry »
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