As Christmas is coming, we like cooking traditional Christmas dishes including sweets. If you want to try something new, why not look at traditional Christmas dishes of other countries? In Hungary almost every family makes or buys beigli, this sweet pastry orginally coming from Silezia (now Poland) and arrived to Hungary in the 19th century with the Austrians, when Hungarians started to celebrate Christmas according to German-Austrian traditions. The traditional filling is made of poppy seed or walnut.
One of the best recipe belongs to the world famous confectionary called Gerbeaud. You can buy the beigli in the historic Gerbeaud house in Budapest, but there are Gerbeaud cafés in Tokyo and Seoul as well.
In Hungary, Gerbeaud pastries are available in a lovely Buda villa called Émile as well. Buda’s new culinary centre, Émile, opened its doors in April 2015. Émile offers its customers the quality of Gerbeaud and Onyx; it is located in a recently renovated 1920s villa and in the villa’s beautiful gardens. Émile, where guests can enjoy a gastronomic experience the likes of which is still relatively unknown in Hungary. Whether for breakfast, lunch, or a family dinner; a business meeting, a light afternoon snack, or pastries to take away, Émile is the solution for Buda.
Émile has a unique wine list concentrating on wines from craft wineries like Gallay Winery from Bükk wine region with very small production. In Émile you can enjoy a nice slice of walnut filled beigli with a glass of Kreinbacher Prestige Brut méthode traditionelle sparkling wine from Somló – the nice yeasty notes go brilliantly with the walnut filling or escort your beigli with a lovely Barta Sweet Szamorodni – the walnut notes are present in the wine as well. With poppy seed filling we suggest a red wine, the super elegant Etyeki Kúria Pinot Noir is a good choice, or Solus Merlot from Attila Gere is also an unforgettable pair.
Poppy seed was so crucial in Hungary, that before joining the European Union, there was a strong campaign to protect our rights to use poppy seed in excessed amount. In fact we really have a lot of dishes with poppy seed: ’guba’ is made of milk soaked crescent sprinkled with a lot of poppy seeds, and we eat simple pasta, like tagliatelli with poppy seed. Cakes are filled with luscious poppy seed filling. Hungary managed to keep the right to sell poppy seed in supermarkets, and thus our joining the EU was celebrated with a national ’guba feast’ in Heroes’ Sqaure, Budapest in 2004.
Does a cake with poppy seed count as an opiate? Well, yes. Discovery Channel‘s MythBusters series episode ‘Poppy Seed Drug Test’ demonstrated that eating both poppy seed bread and poppy seed bagels resulted in both of the hosts testing positive for opiate use, 30 minutes later. But the level of opiates is very low in the seed (it comes from the milk of the pod and straw of the plant). What will happen to you if you eat a lot? You will sleep well, plus benefit from the nutritious, healthy poppy seed.
Some more tips on wines go with walnut filled beigli
Dessert wines with dried fruit and walnut flavours and aromas are the obvious choices, but why not try a complex dry white as well? Beigli’s pastry is not as sweet, so an aged, exciting dry white can make a balanced company for our beigli.
Frittmann Ezerjó, Kunság, 2013
Hajós-Bajai Late Harvest Chardonnay, Koch Winery, 2015
Béres Tokaji Naparany Cuvée, 2013
Sir Irsai, Haraszthy Vineyard, Etyek, 2015
Pannonhalmi Chardonnay, Babarczi Winery, 2015
Katinka, Patricius Winery, 2013
Tokaji Fordítás, Zsirai Winery, 2008
Some more tips on wines go with poppy seed filled beigli
A dessert wine with honeyed notes is an option, but deep, full bodied red wines can also play well with the rich poppy seed filling.