Archive for January 25th, 2012

My last full day in Vienna, I woke up with the city. Before the cafes opened, I stepped out of my hotel into the misty haze hiding the slowly rising sun. I boarded a small bus and sat next to the driver as we made our way through the sleepy streets.  Past the men in light green jumpsuits sweeping the pavement. Past the early pedestrian commuters waiting on the curb for the light to turn before crossing the road, despite ours being the only car in sight.

Less than an hour into the drive, we watched from the highway as Bratislava approached and faded away. Hours before the time I normally wake up on a Sunday, we arrived in Budapest.

We spent the remainder of the morning criss-crossing the Danube from Buda to Pest and back again. We spent some time in the Castle District, roaming around the cobblestone streets and snagging glimpses of the buildings over on the Pest side.

A few minutes scaling the walls and I was ready to eat.

I was planning to step into the oldest cafe in Budapest for a slice of cake and tea, but got sidetracked by the scent of caramelizing sugar wafting from an open window. I entered the little bakery and watched as the woman in the white and black polka dot apron made Kürtőskalács, also known as chimney cakes. She rolled out the soft sweet dough and used a pizza cutter to separate out long strips. She methodically spiralled the strips of dough around a small long-handled rolling pin. She rolled the pin on the counter to smooth out the edges. She brushed the dough with butter and rolled it in sugar. She placed the pins of dough in the oven  hearth. A motor in the back turned them slowly as the caramelizing sugar crept around and around the dough.

Prompted more by my unwavering daze than the several Euros I dropped on the counter with a clink, she placed the still crackling brûléed sweet in a cellophane sleeve and then in my outstretched hands. I walked out, unraveling my snack as steam puffed out of the center like the chimney it was named after.

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