The local bookstore with a Global Conscience

Fiction, non-fiction, environment, poetry, history, mystery, biography, travel guides, children, young adult... and much, much more!

Wide selection of quality second-hand English paperbacks at reasonable prices. The most "dangerous" street in Budapest: good books and gourmet food

The Good Life in Aggtelek National Park Part 120: Duna-Ipoly National Park Certified Products

Although I work for one of Hungary's 10 national parks, there are still a few I have not visited, or perhaps been to but never realised I was in one. The Duna-Ipoly National Park is one of the latter. Anyone hiking or biking on either side of the Danube Bend has been in DINP, which includes sections of both the Pilis and Börzsöny Hills. There are lovely villages such as Zebegény along the river.

The annual national park certified product meeting was hosted by DINP this year. As usual, besides the meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture which is responsible for the national park system, we visited several local certified producers. Our first stop was in Pilisszántó where beekeeper Tamás Kutasi introduced us to his honey making operation on the outskirts of the village. Like many beekeepers, Tamás moves his hives from place to place as different trees or plants come into bloom. He makes a wide variety of honey, including chestnut, matcha tea, black locust and lavender (sourced from the certified Levendarium in Dörgicse by Lake Balaton we visited a couple years ago). After a tasting, we moved on to the next producer in Szentendre.

Potter Krisztina Szente had just returned at dawn from a long stay in China teaching Chinese potters how to make her signature product, stoneware challah baking dishes. She was a bit sleepy, but still opened her workshop and showroom to us, serving us Chinese tea and strudel as she spoke about her business. Her place is just off the centre of the town, and has a beautiful stucco stove. I found her products not only expensive, but also unexciting, but she obviously has a growing market for her goods and a clientele willing to pay those prices. Szentendre, being probably one of the only places outside Budapest that foreigners visit on a day trip, has never been cheap.

In the evening we visited Péter Villányi in Nógrád. Péter founded the Nógrádi Wildlife Park where he welcomes guests to see the broad range of wildlife. He also welcomes hunters, and processes meat from his animals into sausage and other products. While I disagree with hunting and am mostly a vegetarian, the visit to the wildlife park and the evening feeding was the highlight of the trip. Everyone climbed into the back of a trailer piled full of stale rolls and corn kernels. The tractor brought us into the fenced in area where hundreds of animals live, many of which recognised the sound of feeding time and began running towards us. We piled up the ladder into the observation tower as the tractor spread the food in wide circles for the residents: red deer, fallow deer, mouflon, goat, ostriches, and wild boar among others. While various animals either raced or sauntered towards the food, Péter ran through the impregnation calendar, as well as the amazing range of pronouns and collective nouns for the various animals in his park. Ever since I first ran across the phrase "a murder of crows," I have been fascinated by collective nouns but have never been able to find a good list in Hungarian. However in English I have gathered a significant list, such as: a conflagration of arsonists, shrewdness of apes, dissimulation of birds, sedge of bitterns, sounder of boar, donut of data, flink of cows (twelve+), piteousness of doves, implausibility of gnus, and a wisdom of grandparents. When we climbed down from the tower, we were able to pet Pöttyi, a red deer and the oldest resident of the park. Everyone decided to walk back to the gate and the waiting dinner. The meat eaters were satisfied with their game, and several varieties of good Dúzsi Tamás rosé wine helped me forget the worst fried cheese of my life.

We spent the night in the Hiúz (Lynx) House, one of the park's visitor centres. Following the morning meetings, we visited the last certified producer of the trip, Zsófi Megyery and her Panni branded products in Verőcse. Zsófi is very well-spoken and entertained us with tales of her operation constantly outgrowing their current living spaces. They hope the present house is now big enough to accommodate them for awhile. Zsófi makes a wide range of jams and cordials, but only her sloe jam qualified for certificationpanni szorp because it was the only product where the ingredients came from a Natura 2000 designated protected area. I was a bit taken aback by the stacks of normal white sugar being used rather than organic sugar, but everything was delicious. I bought a bottle of jasmine cordial because it was the most unusual, and something we do not make ourselves at home. When freshly bottled, the jasmine tastes like the flower, but as it ages, the syrup takes on a distinctly walnut flavour.