Daily Archives: 10 December 2017

Paprika Vendéglő — First Taste of Budapest

Meanwhile, back in Budapest…

It had been eight years since my first visit to Budapest, but I’d never forgotten how sensational Hungarian food tasted. It’s not a delicate cuisine, but it’s a rich one.

This time around, I had my first meal at Paprika Vendéglő, a traditional Hungarian restaurant a few blocks from Heroes’ Square. “Vendéglő” is Hungarian for “restaurant” or “public house”, and “Paprika” is, well, paprika.

The look-and-feel here was Hungarian Rustic.

Photo from the Paprika Vendéglő website

Garlic Soup

I’ve never been afraid of garlic.

I started my meal with this Cream of Garlic soup, a Hungarian standard which I plan to try to duplicate at home. Savoured every drop.

Pork Steaks

Visitors to the US frequently comment on the portion size of food served in American restaurants, which tends to be larger than it is in Europe and Asia. I doubt you’d hear that complaint from many Hungarians. I’m a hearty eater, he said euphemistically, but on more than one occasion in Budapest, I had to pass on dessert because I was just too full to eat another bite.

Take, for instance, this dish of Pork Steaks with vegetables and “dollar chips”. The “dollar chips” turned out to be big fried potato slices, about twice as thick as American potato chips.

It was first-rate, but just look at the size of that serving! I had half of it packed up to go.

A good start, and a hint of what was to come.

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Ready Player One – Official Trailer 1

The official trailer for Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg’s film version of the Ernest Cline’s novel of the same name, hit the Net today.

Here’s what I wrote about Ready Player One last summer, when an earlier version of the trailer played at Comic-Con:


Ernest Cline’s science-fiction novel, Ready Player One was the fanboy must-read book of 2011. It’s set in the unhappy and decaying United States of 2044, when a decades-long recession, a trashed environment, and the general collapse of civil society have driven many people to spend much of their time hooked into a virtual reality universe called the OASIS. When there’s a two-year waiting list for jobs at Burger King, escapism is a logical choice.

As our hero and narrator, Wade Watts, known in the OASIS as “Parzival,” points out:

“Now that I was eighteen, I could vote, in both the OASIS elections and the elections for U.S. government officials. I didn’t bother with the latter, because I didn’t see the point. The once-great country into which I’d been born now resembled its former self in name only. It didn’t matter who was in charge. Those people were rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and everyone knew it. Besides, now that everyone could vote from home, via the OASIS, the only people who could get elected were movie stars, reality TV personalities, or radical televangelists.”

[Keep repeating, “It’s only a movie. It’s only a movie. It’s only a movie.”]

Anyhow, the now-dead creator of the OASIS was a man named James Halliday who, not unlike many of the readers of this book, was a 1980s obsessive. You know, the kind of person who goes nuts over spotting the 80s allusions in Stranger Things….

OASIS made Halliday very, very rich. When his will was read, it revealed that he’d hidden three “keys” in OASIS and that the first person to find them, and solve the puzzles linked to them, would be the sole inheritor of OASIS and of Halliday’s massive fortune. All that would be required to solve the puzzles was an encyclopedic knowledge of the movies, music, video games, and TV shows of the 1980s.

Enter Parzival.

I liked the book, but didn’t love it. It’s a fast, easy, enjoyable read, full of Easter eggs for those of us who have, well, “an encyclopedic knowledge of the movies, music, video games, and TV shows of the 1980s,” but it was definitely light reading, without much depth or meaning. It’s a book that’s the perfect source for a big spring/summer movie.

Steven Spielberg (who else?) is directing. The film is scheduled to be released on 30 March 2018.


The fanboys are already salivating over this one. Ready Player One might be the first blockbuster of 2018. It’s certainly one of the most anticipated movies of the new year.

I’m Back from Fall Euro-Break 2017

Well, that was refreshing.

I went to Budapest, where I wandered along different streets, breathed different air, and listened to different voices.

And now I’m back in Washington, revitalized, with a clear head and a renewed sense of purpose.

More to come over the next few weeks.


You know, I don’t think those little planes you see on airline flight monitors are drawn to scale….