Garabonc, Zala, Hungary

Kránicz - Pincészet és a Többi

The Hungarian countryside is awash with ribbon villages – long straight roads lined on either side with houses that mark the progress of development in the country. The cube houses from the Kádár era slot in between more stately looking homes that date back to the early 1900s. The land has been divided and divided again, plots sold off as the need arose. One such village is Garabonc in the county of Zala. The village was first mentioned in the papal registry in 1333. It saw its first church in 1496. And, they say, the legendary János Hunyadi, a notable fifteenth-century politician and military might, once wrote a letter while in residence. Back then, that would have been a big deal.

Today, it’s a long, long road, the gamut of houses broken by a large green space in the middle that tricks the unknowing into thinking they’ve left the village only for it to reappear around the corner.

Coming from Zalakaros, the Kis-Balaton nature reserve stretches out of sight to the right while to the left, in the hills above the village press houses stand guard the vineyards than unroll from their terraces. Driving the narrow, one-lane road that winds around sharp bends and climb steep hills is a game of chance. Will you make it to where you’re going without having to reverse to let another car pass? Assuming, that is, that you have a destination.

Many of the houses are weekend houses, occupied as and when the vines need pruning or the grapes need harvesting. I’d gone to visit one that’s for sale. Not for me. For a friend. On our way, we passed the family-run Kránicz Borház és Étterem, the sign drawing murmurs of appreciation from those who’d eaten there before. Me? I’d never heard of the place and was keen to try it out.

St Martin’s Day in Hungary

November 11 is Saint Martin’s Day, a feast widely celebrated in Hungary. This week and next, menus across the country will nudge out their trinity of staples – pork, chicken, and duck – giving first billing to the goose. Goose liver paté. Libatepertő (goose crackling). Stuffed gooseneck. Gooseneck soup. The traditional roasted goose leg with red cabbage and garlic potatoes. Foie gras. Goose breast in a mushroom sauce. Honeyed goose breast with pumpkin seed oil. Goose. Goose. Goose.

Why this fascination with goose on St Martin’s Day? They say if you eat goose on the 11th, you won’t go hungry for the next twelve months. I’m all for tradition.

There’s a choice of stories as to why. November 11 was traditionally the end of the working year on vineyards and farms. It was when the workers received their annual pay and their bonus goose. It’s also the last day before the 40-day fasting season of Advent. Party time.

St Martin was born in what is now Szombathely in the early fourth century. He made a name for himself and went on to become the Bishop of Tours. Reluctantly. He was lured to Tours under false pretences and once he heard that he’d been earmarked for the post of Bishop, he ran away and hid in a goose pen. But the honkers gave him away.

There’s also the story that the Romans looked on the goose as the holy bird of Mars, the god of war – Avis Martis. It’s not hard to imagine how this might morph into Avis Martin.

Meteorologists in their day would use the goose bones to predict the weather. A white sternum meant a snowy winter; brown meant wet and muddy. If the leaves on the vines were still green on November 11, then it’d be a mild winter, as it would if it snowed that day, too. Rain on the day forecast drought. Our November 11 was dry and cold and sunny and the leaves on our vines are a lovely golden orange so maybe we’re in for a cold one this year.

Kránicz Borház és Étterem

Whatever the reason, these two weeks are all about the goose and Kránicz Borház és Étterem is worth checking out. It’s good, simple food, well prepared. No pretensions. The special goose menu runs till November 22nd with mains ranging from 3650 ft to 4500 ft (€10-€12). You can even order a whole roasted goose by calling in advance. And with every goose dish ordered, you get a complimentary 1dl of their wine.

And they have an extensive range of wines. I had heard great things about their peszgő (sparkling wine) but sadly it was all gone. We came away with a bottle of their Cserszegi Fűszeres, a deceptively full-bodied white that they recommend with their dödölle pirított hagymával és tejföllel, a Zala speciality. Fans of the Királyleányka grape, we couldn’t leave without a bottle of that, too, and not only because it came in at #20 in the top 100 wines in Hungary this year. With a nod to red wine drinkers, it had to be the Kékfrankos. Next time, I won’t be driving.

The lads at Kránicz know a thing or two about what their customers need. They offer a wine tasting – try four for 1500 ft (€4/$4.6), 6 for 2000 ft (€5.45/$6.20), and 8 for 2500 ft (€6.80/$7/80) and even better, they also offer free transport within a 10 km radius of Zalakaros. If you’re holidaying in the spa town and fancy a change of scenery, they’re worth dropping into.

The regular menu is available in Hungarian, English, and German, and comes with suggested wine pairings from their cellar. They do the work for you. The lovely Mónica was helpful and friendly and added greatly to what was a lovely evening. To be repeated. Open 11 am to 9 pm. Closed on Tuesdays.

Telefonszám: +36 30/330-0016 
E-Mail: kraniczborhaz@gmail.com
Cím: 8784 Garabonc, Bajkos-tető 937 hrsz.




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3 Responses

  1. Green leaves on our vines on 11th… just. A weather split coming between Western and Central Hungary?
    Fascinating stories, and for sure Kránicz owe you at least a free meal for the excellent promotional work.

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3 Responses

  1. Green leaves on our vines on 11th… just. A weather split coming between Western and Central Hungary?
    Fascinating stories, and for sure Kránicz owe you at least a free meal for the excellent promotional work.

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