Hungary is a landlocked central European country founded in 897, making it one of the oldest countries in Europe. Hungary is home to the largest thermal water cave system, the second largest thermal lake in the world (Lake Hévíz), the largest lake in Central Europe (Lake Balaton), and the largest natural grasslands in Europe (the Hortobágy National Park). In 2014, 13.2 million tourists visited Hungary with the majority going to Budapest, Central Danube, Lake Balaton and the Western Transdanubia tourist regions.

A few facts
Budapest’s metro line is the second oldest in the world after London’s Tube, its Line 1 dates from 1896 and is a World Heritage Site
Hungarians are the most heavily taxed people in the world at an average 38.3% of their annual income
13 Hungarian scientists have received the Nobel Prize
Hungary has the third highest number of Olympic medals per capita and second highest number of gold medals per capita in the world
The Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest is the second largest in the world (after one in New York City) and it seats up to 3,000 people
Hungary is the world’s second leading producer of foie gras (goose liver), after France

Traditional Hungarian dishes are primarily based on meats, seasonal vegetables, fruits, fresh bread, dairy products and cheese. Popular dishes include Paprikás (paprika stew with meat), Palacsinta (filled crepe), Húsleves (clear chicken soup), Rántott sajt (deep fried cheese croquette), Paprikás krumpli (paprika potato sausage stew) and Töltött káposzta (stuffed cabbage). There was only really one option for me to cook and that was Gulyás (Hungarian Goulash). It was everything we hoped for – comforting, fulfilling and incredibly tasty.

Rating: 9/10

Serves: 2
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours

450g rump steak, cubed
60g seasoned flour
3 tbsp veg oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 tsp paprika
3 tbsp tomato puree
pinch grated nutmeg
3 tsp mixed herbs
salt and pepper
300ml good quality beef stock (I used a tin of beef consommé)
200g tin of chopped tomatoes
200ml red wine
3 tbsp worcestershire sauce

Coat the meat in the seasoned flour
Heat the oil over a medium heat in a frying pan and add the meat in batches frying until browned, remove to a plate
Add a little more oil and fry the onion, garlic, carrot and celery for 5 minutes
Add the paprika, tomato puree, nutmeg, mixed herbs, salt and pepper and cook for a further 2 mins
Add the stock, chopped tomatoes, red wine and worcestershire sauce
Reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook for 2 hours, stirring every so often
Serve with crusty bread

Ingredients for Gulyás (Hungarian Goulash)
Gulyás (Hungarian Goulash)
Gulyás (Hungarian Goulash)
Gulyás (Hungarian Goulash)
Gulyás (Hungarian Goulash)
Budapest Parliamentary building
Lake Hévíz thermal spa
Lake Balaton
Budapest architecture

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is an independent country in Central Europe consisting of the regions of Bohemia and Moravia. It was once part of the Great Moravian Empire formed by Slav tribes in the early ninth century. At the close of WW I, the Czechs and Slovaks of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire merged to form Czechoslovakia. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved, with its constituent states becoming the independent states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Some interesting facts:
The Czech Republic possesses a developed high-income economy with a per capita GDP rate that is 87% of the European Union average.
Škoda Auto is one of the largest car manufacturers in Central Europe. In 2014, it sold a record number of 1,037,000 cars.
The Czech Republic has the most Wi-Fi subscribers in the European Union.
Czech people are the world’s heaviest consumers of beer.
The Charles University in Prague, founded in 1348, is the oldest university in Eastern Europe, and one of the oldest in the world in continuous operation.
The Czech chemists Otto Wichterle and Drahoslav Lím invented the soft contact lenses in 1959.

The Czech economy gets a substantial income from tourism. Prague is the fifth most visited city in Europe after London, Paris, Istanbul and Rome. The spa towns of Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně, Františkovy Lázně and Jáchymov, are also popular relaxing holiday destinations. There are many castles and palaces that appeal to visitors namely Prague Castle, the castle and chateau in Český Krumlov and Karlštejn Castle.

Czech cuisine is marked by a strong emphasis on meat dishes. Pork is quite common, beef and chicken are also popular. Dishes I came across during my research include Houbova Polevka Myslivecka (Hunter’s mushroom soup), Pečené kuře s brambory (Roasted chicken with potatoes), Koleno (Roast pork knuckle), Knedlíky (dumplings) and Schnitzel (fried breaded meat). I opted to cook Hovězí Guláš (Czech Beef Goulash) which I served with rice and thick slices of bread. Along with our guests, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Rating: 9/10

Serves 4 hungry people
Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 2 hours

500g sirloin steak, cut into cubes
2 medium size onions, chopped
1/4 cup of oil
2 tsp caraway seeds
3 tsp sugar
3 tsp paprika
4 garlic cloves
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tbsp salt
5 cups water
1 beef oxo cube
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tsp marjoram

Fry the onions in the oil over a medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes, so they are soft but not browned
Add the caraway seeds, sugar, paprika, garlic and mix well to coat, cook for 2 minutes
Add the tomato paste and mix well
Add the beef and mix well to coat
Add the salt, pepper, oxo cube and water
Bring to just before boiling point, reduce the heat and simmer for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally
Add the breadcrumbs and stir
Simmer for a further 30 minutes
Turn off the heat, add the marjoram and stir
Serve with rice or thick slices of bread (or both)

Ingredients for Hovězí Guláš (beef goulash)
Making Hovězí Guláš (beef goulash)
Hovězí Guláš (beef goulash)
Hovězí Guláš (beef goulash)


Our guests enjoying Hovězí Guláš (beef goulash) … cheers!