Entering Kurtosh surprised us is two ways – on one hand, a large glass display case was filled with the bakeries products, lit expensively and seductively. On the other hand – a surrealistically designed bench, adorned with colourful mosaics, that looks like something out of Park Guell in Barcelona, transplanted to Lincoln Street in Tel Aviv. Without thinking twice we sat near the bench.
We started with some spiked hot apple cider, an excellent winter beverage, enjoying the lovely warmth that spread to our stomachs and our heads. We stirred the cider with the cinnamon stick floating in it, and immersed ourselves in conversation. Despite the fact that most people come to Kurtosh for the kurtosh and other sweets, we started with some samples for the bakeries savoury corner. Strudel filled with feta cheese and olives (and adorned with caraway seeds), and onion quiche did excellent work. The onion quiche was interesting with the intense cheesy presence (a mixture of Bulgarian cheese, kashkaval and parmesan) that went excellently with the onion flavour.
After an appropriate break, and with the help of a comforting cider refill, we decided it was time to move on to the sweets while surveying the landscape. As we were sitting next to the entrance, we couldn’t help but notice that most of the customers entering seemed like members of the family – exchanging greetings with the staff and expressing familiarity with the bakery’s more obscure offerings. The staff demonstrated a heartfelt welcome not only to the family-like customers, but to us new faces in the parade as well.
And speaking of new faces in the parade, we started our sweet parade with a chocolate and halvah filled kurtosh. This is the point (for those who still haven’t visited once of the stores in the chain) to point out that kurtosh is a Hungarian yeast dough pastry which was a traditional winter street food. At the 12 locations you can see the staff rolling the dough around a wooden pin and then baking it until it’s crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The pastry is sprinkled with sugar, resulting in caramelisation during the baking process. The kurtosh is served hollow, in a few different flavours, and various toppings can be added, like walnuts, pistachio, cinnamon and vanilla.
My curiosity led me to attack the steaming kurtosh with a knife – but the staff quickly gathered round to explain that ‘kurtosh is like hummus – you eat it with you hands!’ But I didn’t feel reprimanded. Their shouts, which had come from the heart, touched my own – because, of course, the kurtosh is much tastier when eaten with one’s fingers.
The sweet selection was completed with a yeast tricolade cake, dobosh (the classic Hungarian layered torte – in an excellent and perfectly shaped version), and last but not least, AMAZING Florentines! Flat discs made of caramel, chocolate and slivers of nuts.
That which we couldn’t finish we packed up for later in Kurtosh’s colourful bags. With foresight in my eyes, I saw visions of myself dunking the remnants of the kurtosh into my morning coffee…
18 Lincoln Street, Tel Aviv (and 7 other locations around the country)