Summertime in the domain of the Esterházy’s
Hungary in the summer is particularly delightful, especially when one is also lucky enough to be making music. In the second half of June, I was fortunate to spend a week recording Haydn Symphonies with the wonderful Capella Savaria and staying in the Eszterháza Castle, which really is Haydn Central! Even better, we did the recording in the newly restored Marionette Theatre. It is an amazing experience to think that Haydn worked there and actually composed the symphonies just down the road. The inspiration behind the restoration of the theatre is the present head of the family, Prince Anton (Antál) Esterházy. Here is a jolly photo of him, Monica Huggett, and me taken after a concert in Sept. 2016. It is hard to believe that he is 80.
There are several dishes associated with the family including the Esterházy Torte which I have often eaten in Vienna. I’ve never tried to make it but it is well worth looking out for next time you are in the area and of course it is perfect with Viennese coffee.
Beef Esterházy is also a favourite of mine. This is an Austrian version
The beef should be well cooked but the vegetables should not be squishy beyond all recognition. Here is a Hungarian version that avoids both these pitfalls.
After we had finished the recording, I went to Vác, a delightful baroque town on the Danube just north of Budapest. I was there to teach a course with the divine Emma Kirkby and Nicholas Clapton, a pal from university days, and a very wise chap on everything to do with 18th century singing.
Once again the influence of the Esterházy family was everywhere: we were working in a bishop’s palace founded by Karl Esterházy, the cathedral where my concert was held had been built by him, we were staying in Esterházy Street, and every morning we had our breakfast in the Esterházy Café on the corner right by the river.
Aside from truly wonderful coffee, the café (shown in the photo above) specialized in very traditional cakes and pastries that are hard to find these days. Two were especially tasty:
Flódni is a delicious recipe handed down by Jewish families over many generations.
The other wonderful breakfast treats were Bratislava Croissants or Pozsonyi Kifli in Hungarian. There are two types one filled with walnuts and the other with poppy seeds
To tell the difference between the fillings the walnut ones are in the shape of a C while the poppy seed ones are more like bananas.
A special touch at the Esterházy Café was that there was a little sour cherry juice added to the poppy seed mixture. Perfection!!
As you can image we were very sorry to leave.