[mid january. number 13.]
This Hungarian-themed Secret Restaurant was, building upon our New Year's feast, another nostalgia trip, dating all the way back to the first dinner Lucas and I ever cooked together. We had both moved up to Portland, having been relatively out of touch for a while (but we've known each other since we were 11), and decided to cook dinner one night in November. At the grocery store we picked an exotic and inaccessible sounding cuisine to tackle: Hungarian.
I grew up stopping at Novak's Hungarian Restaurant (one of the only things to experience in Albany, OR) on the way to and from Portland and Eugene. Because of this tradition, I've known a lot of this food since I was a toddler. When I got into The Moosewood Cookbook, I noticed that a lot of the recipes were based on Hungarian dishes. I favored those recipes in cooking big dinners at my college co-op house, but had never made a concerted effort to make any all Hungarian dinners, until that night in November of '09. At that first dinner with Lucas something magical happened, which has sparked this entire project.
On the table
Dark Rye Bread
From New Season's market. At the risk of sounding ridiculous, we don't normally serve anything so accessible as "Grocery Store Bread," but this is one of the most delicious dark rye breads in town, or probably anywhere.
As a first course
Dried and fresh Northwest mushrooms– a touch of vinegar, and sour cream.
As a second course
Blanched zucchini and rainbow carrot salad, with homemade mustard.
Egg and cheese pie, topped with buttered spinach and walnuts.
As a third course
Hungarian pearl noodles (made that day, and boy did it take a while), with dill and Cypress Grove fromage blanc.
Lightly boiled, sliced, then slow-baked red potatoes and mini yams, covered with paprikas sauce.
Cabbage Rolls made with fake beef, somewhere between a Polish and Hungarian style. We used collards to wrap, and kept the cabbage inside– definitely not a traditional choice, but a tasty and colorful one. A light tomato béchamel sauce topped them off.
Raspberry Poppyseed Cake.
A layer cake, with raspberry jam and raspberry syrup- made from organic raspberries picked on Sauvie Island this past summer by Andrew. Served with a delectable whole raw cocao bean.
Ethiopian Harrar (my favorite coffee bean!) roasted by Rally Coffee Roasters, a new operation in Eugene, OR. They had an excellent booth at the winter farmer's market around Christmas, which is attached to the crafters' Holiday Market in Eugene, where they were sampling 2oz pour-overs of all their coffees. I highly approved, as so far the only roaster in Oregon to do Harrar properly is in Corvallis. Brewed with freshly ground cinnamon, and little bit of cloves.
A grown up version of the drink served at Hungarian restaurants for kids. Fizzy water, our homemade raspberry syrup, lime zest/juice, and vodka. We used Tanquery Stearling.
menu photo: Hungary 1920s Letterpress Composition Room (scanning credit due to bielerpr, on flickr)