Friday, 31 August 2012

Mushrooms into the basket

Wow time is flying this year - and I now know that's what everyone has said, but it truly feels like it! Not so long ago we had our celebration of drying and preserving fruits and vegetables, and now here are the 'shrooms to take us into autumn - and what promises to be one of the most vibrant markets yet! September 9th by the Sárga Borház Restaurant at the Disznókő Estate on route 37.

And what a treat is in store...
- the Zemplén Mushroom Society will be providing an exhibition of all things seasonal, local and fungal. Always one of the best ways to find out more about the magical world of mushrooms is to see them. Obviously out in the field - or the woods - is ideal, but the Society's exhibitions are always carefully arranged to give you a feel for the habitat of the particular species.They are also organising "what do you know about mushrooms and fungus" games so you can test and extend your knowledge.

Mushroom expert from the Aggtelek wildcrafting company Gábor Koltay will be joining us to give a talk about gathering mushrooms (tips as well as do's and don't's). In Hungary an "inspector" was always present at the market and foragers could ask for authentication, thus ensuring that the mushrooms on sale were edible. We are privileged to be joined by one such fountain of knowledge! So, if you find any mushrooms, bring them along and see if you were right.

And what will you bring them in? A cardboard box? A plastic bag? (Hope not, the heat and airlessness will do nothing but harm to them.) From 10.30am the Málta weavers of Tokaj will be presenting their craft, and of course wicker is perfectly suited to gathering as it lets air through, so the mission is to design the perfect "mushrooming basket". Any ideas? Indeed, this exchange of ideas is key to the current development of the charity group who are keen to work with clients, gain commissions, and create practical and attractive works, bringing the craft to life. 

The Zemplén Mountains are a veritable larder for the wildcrafter. A treasure trove of truffles among others, and where better to buy them than here at the market. Not yet cooked with them – or have a recipe for a mouth-watering dish? Then come to the mushroom recipe swap. We'll publish the best recipes here and on our Facebook page.

Truffles-but couldn't find a photo of that kind! These are made by a passionate confectioner, a delightful woman who left mainstream industry to set up her own chocolaterie business.

The market will also offer the chance to meet the István Leskó, the “plant doctor” who has a guesthouse in Mád with wonderful dispensary garden, who will be talking about herbs and spices. This is the first time István will join us, but we hope he will become a more regular visitor and comes to share his extensive knowledge with us.

Well, of course, we are at the gateway to the Tokaj Wine Region, so no market would be complete without wine! Following the success of the “wine and soda bar” last time, several esteemed winemakers will bring their wines for you to taste in the serenity – or should I say buzz – of the Sárga Borház terrace. A gracious setting to enjoy fine wines.

Others who know their wines are the members of the renewed Confrérie de Tokaj making their first public appearance since the changes to the society. Meet the members, find out more their passion – and see if you would also like to discover more about Tokaj and its wines as a member of this esteemed group working to promote Tokaji wines, bringing them to a wider audience.

As always there will be music – and dance for those so inclined! Who better to provide notes to move the feet as Agyagbanda with Moldavian music and dance house. Yes, for those of you unfamiliar with the Hungarian term “táncház”, that means they play music and also have a teacher to help you match feet to rhythm. Excellent! I highly recommend it. You can see a clip here from the first market when Agyagbanda played for us all back in April.

As always there is the supervised play area too. Fun for the little ones, care provided by experienced nursery teachers. So the adults can play too!

For those of you outside the Tokaj region this is a special weekend. Not only can you visit the Tokaj Hegyalja market, you can also combine it with a trip to nearby Mád, the town of the legendary István Szepsy, and home to numerous high quality winemakers. The Mád Furmint Festival (7th-8th September) is an excellent opportunity to find out more about these wines and their creators. There will be vineyard tours, open cellars, wines to taste and a whole host of cultural events too. Certainly one of the highlights in the area – and how lucky for all that the dates coincide! Whether you have or haven’t been before, I would definitely say it is worth a trip. The harvest is starting, so you will also experience the grapes of the coming 2012 vintage!

And if you can’t make it next weekend, then an October visit... Fortuitously the market also coincides with another outstanding wine event of the area, the Mindszent mulatság in the village of Bodrogkeresztür (a chance to visit wineries and the vinegar manufactury too!). (More about these events later.)

So, apart from a short diversion, I’ve only just finished translating the poster! There will of course be our old favourite traders, and some new too. New friends and old - and ones you haven't yet met. Tokaj Hegyalja Market may only have started this year, but it has already found its way deep into people’s hearts. People who are delighted to have a chance to celebrate the producers, their wonderful creations, and life itself. Look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Thirst for taste

The elixir of the holy sheep, soft clouds rhythmically munching the green shoots. The hairy pig, snuffling around in the orchard, savouring the curds from the freshly made cheese with stone-ground bran from the bread-flour milling. Enjoying the drunken apple from last year's harvest, snuggling into a self-made ditch with a handful or two or straw...

Wines, carefully made, shared. And the next possible step, the barrel-matured vinegars, with honey, herbs and fruits. Of Furmint, Muskotály and Aszú. Balsamic vinegar, caramel syrup that tingles with sweetness and acidity equal and opposite to a good Aszú.

A community buzz. People delighted to see old friends, and meet new. For a stranger is only a friend in waiting. How does that sound as a way to perceive the future?

Here is the poster in Hungarin, for the next market:

12th August 2012, 10am-5pm

And this time the market will be followed by a concert at the top of the hill. August means Zemplén Festival in Tokaj, and here at Disznókő we will also have a band playing too In Media Brass, leading us on a journey through time with their notes sounding out from the top of the hill. There will also be a wine tasting included in the 2000 HUF ticket. The market is obviously free.