The Lakewalk Along the Shores of Gitche Gumee

Not a lover of cold weather, I do not want to be in Duluth, Minnesota, in the winter.  The website 24 / 7 Wall St. lists Duluth as the fifth coldest city in our nation. The lowest recorded temperature is -39 degrees.  Brrrr!

The Lakewalk 

IMG_1520

The Lakewalk, Duluth

Traveling to Duluth in the summer instead of the winter changes that “Brrrr” to a “Bravo!” My morning started pleasantly at Canal Park where my husband and I explored the Lakewalk, a pedestrian and biking path that meanders 7.25 miles along the shore of Lake Superior, otherwise immortalized by Henry Longsworth Longfellow as Lake Gitche Gumee, The comfortable 71-degree weather was partly cloudy with a slight breeze and not a shiver in sight.

Aerial Lift Bridge

fullsizeoutput_2bad

Aerial Lift Bridge at Canal Park

Our research on the walk suggested that we start at either Canal Park or at Leif Erickson Park and the Rose Garden.  We chose the former, mainly because it was closest to our hotel.  We are glad we did because that site allowed us to view Duluth’s iconic landmark, the Aerial Lift Bridge. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see this massive structure actually rise up to allow ships to sail beneath it. Fortunately, we can turn to YouTube, to see this magic of 20th century technology happen.

The Lighthouse

IMG_1516

Duluth Harbor North Pier Lighthouse

Also of 20th century technology, but not massive yet impressive never-the-less, is the 36-foot tall Duluth Harbor North Pier Lighthouse. Built in 1910, this working lighthouse guards the entrance to the Duluth Shipping Canal. Visitors who walk from the Lakewalk to the lighthouse pier and up the steps can see the lock on the door facing the lake. Unfortunately, no weathered lighthouse keeper greets them.  The last one served from 1928 to 1940; today, the lighthouse is fully automated.

Sights Along the Walk

There is never a dull moment on this walk.  In addition to the natural beauty of  Lake Superior, there is a series of  ancient anchors in repose along the shore.

IMG_1513

One of several anchors along the shore

In addition, if you can’t find the banned locks of love on Paris’s bridges any more, you can find them on Duluth’s pier posts.

fullsizeoutput_2bcd

Locks of love

Sculptures also enliven the area.  Some are in front of shops,  a few blocks from the Lakewalk,

fullsizeoutput_2bc9

A sculpture celebrating family fun in the great outdoors

while others require you to exit the Lakewalk on strategically placed steps.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to explore this option.  If we had exited at Lake Place, we would have found Sister City Park and Enger Park and the sculptures gifted by Duluth’s Sister Cities. At the former park, there is The Green Bear from Petrozavodsk, Russia, and The Stone from Växjö, Sweden.  At Enger Park, we would have heard the mellow tones  of The Peace Bell, a gift from Ohara Isumi-City, Japan.

fullsizeoutput_2bcb

Exiti the park at Lake Place to find the Sister Cities’ sculptures.

We retraced our steps 1.5 miles back to the car, which we parked in one of the many lots in Canal Park, an area that prior to 1985 was a rusting industrialized area whose waterfront was shut off to the public.  Visionaries have revitalized Canal Park into a vibrant venue that attracts nature lovers, sports enthusiasts, gourmets, and art afficiandos.

fullsizeoutput_2bd7

The walk back to Canal Park

We relunctantly left the Lakewalk, but the serendipity continued. My favorite find was a fanciful fountain that spouted a lively spray on a sliding water nymph.

fullsizeoutput_2bb7

A fountain of fun

Another surpise was a brick wall that heralded the work of sailors, past and present, reminding us of the influence of the maritime industry on Duluth’s cultural heritage.

fullsizeoutput_2bc5

If walls could talk, what would these mariners say?

‘There are ample opportunities to both walk and shop until you drop. The revitalized waterfront also hosts a bevy of restaurants and shops from the familiar, like Cold Stone,  to the unfamiliar, like Antique Boutique.

fullsizeoutput_2bc1

Just a few of the myriad of shops in the Canal Park area

Arriving back at our car, I noted that according to my Fitbit,  I had walked three miles roundtrip, which leaves almost six miles of the walk yet to explore. There is nothing left to say except the obvious:  “Bravo to Duluth!” We will return.

SaveSave

The Best Free Thing to Do in Tampa

Put on your walking shoes and trek off to the best free adventure in Tampa.  You have two choices:  explore the Riverwalk or discover Bayshore Boulevard. Better yet, do both. Walk until your drop.  You won’t be bored.

Join me for a “speed walk” in Tampa through photos, starting at Riverwalk’s 2.5 mile pathway past the city’s best museums, parks, hotels, and restaurants. Being there at the end of a rainfall with the setting sun sneaking past the leaden clouds was a serendipitous experience. Reflections, refractions, rainbows, remarkable!

fullsizeoutput_21cf

IMG_0361

img_0349

img_0353

fullsizeoutput_21c5

fullsizeoutput_21cd

img_0380

Walking Bayshore Boulevard the next day, I experienced a different vibe from Riverwalk’s urban scene , as the 4.5 mile path winds parallel to the expansive Tampa Bay.   Prestigious mansions, sculptures, and wildlife (elusive the windy day I was there) provide non-stop entertainment along this route.

fullsizeoutput_2173

fullsizeoutput_22c2

fullsizeoutput_217d

If you are lucky enough, you will see another form of “wildlife”:  a pilot flying and landing the ICON A-5 Amphibian Aircraft.

IMG_0106

Tired of walking but want to explore some more?  Take a short drive to Ballast Point Park and enjoy the views from a bench on the pier and reflect on your two days of walking in Tampa:  Cost:  $0.0; Experience:  Priceless.

fullsizeoutput_2191

Anti-Semitic Attacks Increase in USA: Don’t Forget the Lesson from Mauthausen Concentration Camp

img_7309

Birth to death is the natural progression of life. Unfortunately, this truism only applies to humans but not to attitudes. Bigotry, inexplicably, never dies, as evidenced by the rise in attacks on Jews and other minorities in America today.  Where are the lessons learned from the atrocities committed by the Nazis in World War II?

Take a metaphorical walk with me back to 1938.  The Nazis were constructing their death camps; Mauthausen,  a work camp in Austria, was one of them. While it is not as well known to most people as Dachau and Auschwitz, Mauthausen was a major concentration camp.

ALARMING FACTS

Here are a few of the alarming facts about Mauthausen:

  • This was a forced labor camp with prisoners working nine to eleven grueling hours a day in the rock quarry.
  • Malnourished prisoners were literally worked to death, carrying 100 pound blocks of granite up the 186 rough, slippery steps out of the quarry.
  • Sick prisoners were killed by being pushed to their deaths from the top of the quarry,  by being shot, or by being gassed.
  • Women prisoners were sent to work as sex slaves in a brothel set up here for the Nazi workers.
  • Not only Jews, but also Jehovah Witnesses, Gypsies, criminals, and homosexuals were imprisoned and tortured here.
  •  Of a total of about 190,000 people imprisoned in the Mauthausen concentration camp and its subcamps over seven years, at least 90,000 died.

Eleven million victims in total were tortured and killed in all the Nazi concentration camps.  This number is equivalent to eliminating  the population of both Los Angeles and New York City today.

NEW ALARMING STATISTICS

While these statistics are startling, there are new alarming numbers. NPR reported that since January 2017, according to the JCC Association of America, there have been  69 bomb threats at Jewish Community Centers in 27 states and one Canadian province.  Bigotry, therefore, was not buried forever in Hitler’s bunker.  Like a vampire, it resurrects from its tomb to feed on the innocent.

MAUTHAUSEN CONCENTRATION CAMP MEMORIAL

While most bigots commit their crimes wearing a dark cloak of anonymity, the Nazis brought their hate into the daylight. Today, when you approach the Mauthausen Memorial, its idyllic setting belies the evil enacted there.

fullsizeoutput_21e4

Mauthausen Memorial today.

Visitors walk freely through the entrance gate, knowing they can exit at any time.  It is impossible not to imagine the prisoners’ panic when they entered this place, knowing they had no freedom to leave.

img_0433

Thousands entered here and never left alive.

fullsizeoutput_21ea

Visitors leave flowers to memorialize the victims and survivors in the courtyard bordered by the barracks.

THE SCULPTURES:  MENORAH AND BARBED WIRE FENCE

Bold sculptures dot the Memorial’s landscape to remind us not to forget the lessons taught here. In victory, a menorah rises majestically and decisively above the rolling plains.

img_7304

Israel’s memorial as well as being a menorah is reminiscent of the Tree of Life.

In contrast to victory, this sculpture sets on the cliffs above the infamous rock quarry, a reminder that bigotry is as cruel, painful, and  hostile as a barbed wire fence.

img_7312

This sculpture is the memorial from the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

fullsizeoutput_2210

Looking down into the quarry and at the 186 steps on the right the prisoners had to traverse carrying 100 pound pieces of granite.

THE SCULPTURES:  MOTHER GERMANY

To the right of the barbed wire sculpture is a mournful statue representing Mother Germany.

img_7307

On a wall behind her are the prophetic words written in 1933 by Bertolt Brecht, German poet and playwright. The English translation is the following:

“O Germany, pale Mother,
How your sons have hurt you
So you are sitting among the nations,
A thing of scorn and fear.”

This is a message for all nations and is applicable for the United States at this time.  This is our lesson from Mauthausen. We cannot allow the small minority who harbor hate in their hearts to speak for the majority of our sons and daughters who believe our country’s credo of “all men (and women) are created equal.”

OUR DEFINING SCULPTURE:  MOTHER LIBERTY

In fact, now is the time to be defined by our country’s own Mother Liberty who gloriously lifts her flame of freedom in a “world-wide welcome” for all regardless of nationality, religion, or gender. After all, our legacy is to be the land of the free and the brave, not the land of the bigots. We are better than that. Always have been; hopefully, always will be.

 

Cooking with a Master Chef in Prague: A Don’t Miss Experience

Calling Radek Subrt’s Cooking School in Prague a “cooking school” does it an injustice. It’s like saying  Prague is a just a city instead of one of the grand capitals of the world. Chef Subrt offers a grand world-class cooking experience not to be missed when visiting this iconic city.

MEET THE CHEF

This talented chef worked in notable restaurants in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.  His culinary journey also took him to the New York kitchen of Michelin award-winner, Daniel Boulud. In Prague he has established himself as a restaurant owner, a caterer, a cooking instructor, a television personality, and an ambassador for the high-end Miele appliances. In fact, he holds his cooking school at the Miele Experience Center in Prague.

ON ARRIVAL: CAN’T BEGIN EATING SNACKS AND DRINKING WINE TOO SOON

While our husbands were attending an aviation conference held at Prague Castle, my friend Marcia and I, unable  to get a cab, scurried on foot, dashing between raindrops to arrive at Chef Subrt’s class exactly at the starting time of 11 a.m. One other student, Jennifer, was already there. The chef enthusiastically greeted us, gave us black aprons with the Miele logo to don, and then, in a flash!, we had glasses of white wine in our hand, and trays of hearty  nibbles in front of us. Obviously, this course on cooking traditional Czech foods was going to be strenuous, and we would need sustenance to cook.  (It’s a good idea to leave guilt at home and bring rationalization to a cooking experience like this.) We couldn’t resist these beauties below:

  • steak tartare–artfully seasoned, the best I have ever had.
  • stuffed baby potatoes–it’s all about the cheese.
  • chicken  salad on crostini–with herbs sprinkled prettily on top.

img_7417

The tray of appetizers before the “real”appetizer.

THE APPETIZER:  SMOKED TROUT FILLET WITH HORSERADISH DIP AND COCKTAIL TROUT SERVED WITH A MIXED-GREEN AND HERB SALAD DRESSED WITH LEMON VINIAGRETTE

While snacking and drinking wine on the fly, we were immediately put to work.   Our efforts were clumsy, but watching Chef Subrt was watching a culinary artist at work. Preparing the salad for the smoked trout appetizer, he minced dill in a flash,

img_7434

and then stripped tiny, tender thyme leaves off their hard stalks.

img_7431

He had pre-prepared the trout filets,which he smoked with an innovative technique that doesn’t require a BBQ grill.  Here are the steps:

  • Line an oven-proof  skillet with aluminum foil.
  • Add a couple of cups of sawdust: oak, hickory, or any of the fruit woods would work.
  • Heat the skillet on the stove top until the sawdust starts smoking.
  • Place a rack into the skillet.
  • Place fillets seasoned with coarse salt and pepper and brushed with olive oil on top of the rack.
  • Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  • Put the pan into a pre-heated 350 degree oven.
  • Bake fillets in the oven for 5-6 minutes.
  • Take the fillets out of the pan and remove the bottom skin.
  • Trim the fillets with a knife to make rectangles.  Reserve the trimmings.
  • Plate, garnish, and serve.

fullsizeoutput_2051

The chef places the fish fillets on a rack above the smoking sawdust while Marcia looks on.


fullsizeoutput_2035

Chef Subrt surveys the perfectly cooked fish.


fullsizeoutput_2038

Now that the fillets are cooked, the chef easily removes the skin from the fish.

The end result is poetry on a plate.  This dish is so much more than just smoked fish.  Here’s how he finished it off:

  • Salad of red chard, beet leaves, frisse, watercress, and dill.
  • A salad dressing of olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper.
  • A dip of creamed horseradish, sour cream, and salt.
  • A quenelle made from the chopped fish trimmings, cream cheese, sour cream,  shallots, chives, dill, salt and pepper.

fullsizeoutput_203b

Using two spoons, I rolled the fish-cheese mixture to make the oval-shaped quenelle.

THE MAIN COURSE:  FALLOW DEER WITH CRANBERRY-PORT WINE SAUCE,  BREAD DUMPLINGS, AND ROASTED VEGETABLES

The entrée was a worthy successor to the appetizer. First, the chef showed us how to use muscle to whip egg whites by hand for the bread dumplings.

img_7423

Next, he assembled a misen en place to make the dumplings–a marriage of toasted bread cubes, whipped egg whites, melted butter, eggs, milk, and parsley. He then steamed the dumplings in Miele’s sophisticated Multi-Steam Oven for 15 minutes. When  it was time to serve, he browned the dumplings in butter in a skillet on the stove.

fullsizeoutput_204f

The simplest dish, but a most colorful, delectable one, was the roasted beets, carrots, and celery root tossed with oil, cumin, cayenne, and sugar and then placed on a baking sheet.  The vegetable concoction roasted in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Chef Subrt reminded us not to discard the beet leaves, which are  delicious sautéed or in a salad.

fullsizeoutput_203a

We also made the luxurious sauce for the venison, a mélange of vegetables, wine, cranberries, venison bones, wine, tomato paste, and butter.  The sauce was simmered, strained, and puréed, soon to be a silky burgundy bed for the venison.

img_7447

As he did for the fish, Chef  had an innovative technique to cook the venison tenderloin fillets. He added oil and thyme to a hot oven-proof skillet. He then seasoned the fillets with salt and pepper and browned them in the skillet. Here’s a new way to finish the cooking in the oven:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place the skillet with the fillets in the oven.
  • Open and close the oven door until the temperature reduces to 195 degrees.
  • Leave the oven door closed and cook for one hour.
  • May leave the fillets in longer, and they will stay medium rare.

The advantage of this technique is you can start cooking the meat before you begin fixing the rest of the meal, so you don’t have to cook the meat at the last minute.  Also, you can’t over cook the meat.

img_7426

The meat is ready for the door to be opened and closed to lower the oven’s temperature.


fullsizeoutput_2039

Perfectly cooked venison is ready for plating.


fullsizeoutput_2044

Happy Chef Subrt puts happiness on a plate.

DESSERT:  BAKED APPLE PIE WITH VANILLA SAUCE 

The deliciousness is not over yet.  Dessert is the grand finale, and as any person who has ever made pie knows, the phrase “easy as pie” is a misnomer. This recipe for apple pie is the exception. It really is easy, but we weren’t given the exact measurements:

  • Peel, core, and slice apples (three slices per serving), but do not cook. Set aside.
  • Thaw store-bought puff pastry, cut into squares, and place on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  • Peel, core, chop, and sauté apples in a non-stick skillet on the stove until soft.
  • Add sugar and cinnamon.
  • Place a couple spoonfuls of the cooked apples in the middle of each puff pastry square, top with three apple slices, and fold the puff pastry edges to the middle.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

While the pie is easy, making the vanilla sauce, a classic crème anglaise, requires skill. You don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs in your sauce. The trick is to bring cream, sugar, and vanilla just to a boil, and then quickly whisk the  yolks into one-half of the heated cream. Then whisk in the rest of the cream.  Heat the mixture to 175 degrees, and it is done.

Yes, this is a hands-on cooking course. We helped with each course.  Here, Marcia is assembling the apple pie.

fullsizeoutput_203f

After the dessert exits the oven toasty brown, Chef Subrt displays the perfectly baked pie slices.

fullsizeoutput_2049

THE GRAND MEAL

Cooking completed, the chef called us into the Miele Experience Center’s elegant, modern, dining room where the smoked fish appetizer and a Slovenian white wine awaited us.

fullsizeoutput_203d

With big smiles, we were ready to enjoy the fruits (and the fish, meat, vegetables, bread, and sweets) of our labor.

img_7440

The chef’s beautiful wife was with us too, assisting in the kitchen and being the wine sommelier. She poured a full-bodied Slovenian red wine that reminded me of Pinot Noir.

fullsizeoutput_2048

The wine was the perfect complement to the wild game and its culinary accoutrements.

fullsizeoutput_2046

While we ate, Chef Subrt was busy in the kitchen plating the dessert:  a spoonful of cooked apples and a slice of pie dusted with powdered sugar, both swimming in a pool of rich vanilla sauce.

fullsizeoutput_204a

My, oh, my, just in case we were still hungry, a tray of decadent treats un-expectantly showed up.

fullsizeoutput_2047

A tray of berry creams, brownies, and fruit tarts is a surprise treat.

THE AFTER PARTY

While the three of us were enjoying one of the best meals of our lives, the kitchen “magically” got cleaned up.  While cooking with Chef Subrt was a joyful experience,  cooking in a kitchen equipped with Miele’s latest, top-of-the-line appliances was a home cook’s dream.  The stove was an induction one, and I am now sold on induction cooking.  It offers the instant heat of a gas stove, the easy clean up of an electric stove, and the added benefit of speedy boiling.

I asked the chef about the round indentation on the stove top. He showed me that it held a wok.  He then placed a hot pad into the indentation, put the wok with some water in it on top, and turned the heat on high.  The water boiled almost immediately, and the hot pad did not catch on fire.  Welcome to cooking in the 21st century!

fullsizeoutput_1cd6

We asked for a final photograph to remember this informative, fun-filled cooking experience, one worthy to be offered in one of the most exciting, beautiful cities in the world.  My final suggestion:  Travel to Prague, witness Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, and all the other wonders of this historical city.  Don’t leave, however, without a visit to Chef Rudek Subrt’s Cooking School at the Miele Experience Center.

Would you like to have this cooking experience?  Have you had one like it?  I would love to hear about your culinary adventures while traveling.

fullsizeoutput_2074

Lights of Joy on the Outer Banks of North Carolina: Beyond Sun, Surf, and Seafood

What sights come to mind when envisioning the Outer Banks of North Carolina? Sun, surf, and seafood are the obvious choices.  At this time of year, you can add Winter Lights at The Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. For twenty-two days during late November, December, and early January, the gardens glow with sparkly holiday joy.

fullsizeoutput_1f03

WALKING AMONG THE WINTER LIGHTS

Queen Elizabeth I herself welcomes guests at the beginning of a leisurely walk through her namesake gardens.  Her roses are not in bloom at this time of year, but seasonal sights and sounds beckon you to take a walk of discovery.

fullsizeoutput_1efb

REMEMBERING THE LOST COLONY

You won’t be the first discovers here. Other displays of Elizabethan characters, including one with the Queen and Sir Walter Raleigh awashed in rose-colored light, remind visitors that these gardens are built on the historic site of the first English settlement in the New World. In 1584 Sir Walter Raleigh, as directed by Queen Elizabeth I, recruited 117 men, women, and children to establish this inaugural colony. By three years after their immigration, the colonists had inexplicably disappeared, thus earning the sobriquet, The Lost Colony. These gardens, which memorialize the brave colonists, were designed to be a “garden Elizabethan in spirit and style but adapted to the present.” Luckily, the Winter Lights celebration is a magical adaptation that transforms the gardens into a night-time wonderland.

FINDING SPARKLY CRITTERS

Wonders galore await along the paths that meander throughout the gardens.  Strollers can get up and personal with four-legged critters that don’t become skittish and run away.

fullsizeoutput_1ef1

Their home, the dark forest, twinkles with red, white, and green fireflies birthed by lasers and brought to life on the trees’ bare branches.

fullsizeoutput_1edf

DISCOVERING THE TWELVE GIFTS

Suddenly, a famous bird appears on “The Twelve Days of Christmas” path, which plays homage to this popular holiday song. The partridge in the pear tree points the way to discover the next eleven days of exotic gifts. By the way, if this colorful display inspires you to give two turtle doves, three French hens, etc., you better have deep pockets. Cost? $34,130.99!

fullsizeoutput_1ee1.jpeg

SPYING GLOWING CREATURES

Other paths lead to fantastic creatures like lavender butterflies, whimsical crickets, and albino peacocks.

fullsizeoutput_1eff

TREKKING TO THE GINGERBREAD HOUSES

The trek down the Gingerbread House path offers a visual taste of the sweet side of the season with not a wicked witch in sight.

fullsizeoutput_1ee7

 

DISCOVERING THE BOTANY IN THE BOTANICAL GARDEN

For a reminder that this venue is a botanical garden, there is a glistening topiary highlighting the flowering cabbage patch and an illuminated container of seasonal greens and flowers lighting the way to an event tent.

fullsizeoutput_1f09

img_0025

PLAYING LIKE A KID

While the above two images will appeal mainly to adults, children and the child in all of us will discover kid-friendly activities on the Great Lawn area. Sit on bales of hay and watch the movie about a much-loved snowman and then roast marshmallows over the toasty fire pit, (marshmallows and graham crackers provided) while listening to local choirs singing songs of comfort and joy.

fullsizeoutput_1ec2

fullsizeoutput_1ece

Before the evening is over, stop by to visit Santa and whisper your secret Christmas wishes in his ear.

fullsizeoutput_1f05

On exiting through the gift shop, you don’t have to leave the sparkle behind. You also can purchase glittery presents to take home.

img_0016

DON’T DRIVE STRAIGHT HOME

Before departing Manteo, take a short drive to the waterfront and see the illuminated boats, including the ship, the Elizabeth II, a reproduction of one of the seven English merchant vessels that brought the ill-fated colonists to Roanoke Island.

img_0001

Photo by Bruce J. Holmes

If there are any doubts about finding Christmas joy on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Fishing Santa reminds you otherwise.  Listen closely to hear him exclaim:  “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good Winter Nights!”

fullsizeoutput_1ebe

Women, Wine, Weenies, and Wow!: At the Great Market Hall, Budapest

fullsizeoutput_1e79

Great Market Hall.  Photo by theusj at http://budapestmarkethall.com/great-market-hall-budapest

FOLK ART IN LACE

Women from Eastern Europe are getting a lot of press these days, thanks to our president-elect’s gorgeous wife, Melania Trump. My observation is that Eastern Europe is indeed the home of  a bevy of beautiful women.  In fact, one greeted us at the front door of the famous Great Market Hall near the Pest side of the Liberty Bridge. While Melania wears the latest fashions, this beauty wears the oldest fashions, lace and embroidery made by the women of Hungary for centuries. Her colorful, art-full greeting was our first “wow,” and we hadn’t even gotten in the building yet.

img_7130

Inside, there was a plethora of stalls selling table linens crafted with this folk art needlework.  Are they really made in Hungary?  A discerning consumer needs to inspect the pieces closely because some of them are made in China, so look for the local ones which are clearly marked.  Don’t just look for them at the Great Market Hall. Women all over the city–in shops, on the sidewalks, along the Danube’s promenade–are selling these works of tradition.

img_7139

WORSHIPPING AT THE ALTAR OF CONSUMERISM

At the Great Market Hall, you will find three floors of shopping and restaurants to explore.  The view from the top floor produces the second “wow” of the day as it showcases the beautiful art nouveau design  of this building in the iron work on the second floor. The glowing gothic-arched windows on the opposite wall seem to whisper: “Welcome, Pilgrims, prepare to worship at the Altar of Consumerism. Leave a monetary sacrifice, and you will be blessed with riches beyond your imagination.”

fullsizeoutput_1e76

THE “TRINITY”:  PÁLINKA, PEPPER, AND PATÉ

Luckily for my budget, I am more of a “looker” than a shopper, so I did not supplicate myself to the shopping god.  Temptation , however, was down every corridor and around every corner.  The attractive displays look as if they were composed by the Dutch masters of still life paintings. The canvas before me presented sweet Tokaj wine, glistening gold and amber in glass bottles; the heady fruit brandy, Pálinka, with realistic renderings of berries, apricots, and plums printed on the labels; as well as the hearty red wine, Egri Bikaner, hiding its blood-red beauty in dark bottles. Tucked amid the alcohol were the red, white, and blue tins of Hungarian paprika and the black cans of decadent goose or duck paté and fois gras.

fullsizeoutput_1e77

THE “WOW” OF THE WEENIES

While the spirits, paprika, and paté selections were impressive in their orderliness, they didn’t have the “wow” factor the next canvas did.  Salami, weenies, hot dogs, sausages, whatever you want to call them, hung in neat rows, rested in symmetrical slices, and hovered together on the shelves.  Not just tourists, but the locals also, find culinary salvation through the purchase of the perfect sausages.fullsizeoutput_1e7b

In fact, as you walk the streets of Budapest, you see the how high the populace holds the lowly weenie in esteem. It is elevated gourmet street fare.

fullsizeoutput_1e78

SLOVENIAN STILL LIFES

The canvases showcasing Natures’s bounty could have hung on the walls of any great art museum:  golden butternut squash, purple eggplants, creamy parsnips, and variegated green vegetables.  A big “wow” here is definitely well deserved.

CHOCOLATE ART

Others could convincingly argue that artisanal chocolates earn the loudest “wow”!  Chocoholics claim that these works of art painted with a jeweled palette of fruit and nuts are a sweet, sublime treat akin to a religious experience.

fullsizeoutput_1e67

I say “amen” to that!  You will also exclaim “amen” when you find your gods to worship during your own pilgrimage to the Great Market Hall in Budapest.