Travel destinations

Romania travel: Destinations to discover traditional foods


Discovering the culinary specialties of a region is part of the fun of any trip, and more and more local initiatives seek to showcase traditional regional foods. We outline a few destinations and activities to try out below.

A European Region of Gastronomy in 2019, Sibiu is a place to see on a food tour of the country. The region is known for its cheese and meat specialties, including Telemea de Sibiu, a semi-hard cheese made from sheep’s milk. It is still made entirely from unpasteurized raw milk, as was the case before the development of modern pasteurization techniques, and most of the production process is done by hand, with producers relying on tools and traditional techniques. Telemea from Sibiu was granted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status from the EU in 2019. It is one of the many cheeses produced in the Mărginimea Sibiului region, alongside urdă or brânză de burduf , among others.

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The bakers in the region make the tasty potato bread, but also flaxseed bread, pumpkin seed bread and sunflower seed bread, made in large loaves. In addition, the farmers in the region are proud of products such as Avrig sweet potato, MoÅŸna cabbage, LudoÅŸ cucumbers, Sibiel apples, Cacova red apples (currently Fântânele) or Cisnădioara sweet cherries and visitors. can also taste the apple juice of Slimnic or Mălâncrav. and many other berry syrups, fir bud syrup or elderberry juice sweetened with honey, but also Tălmaciu plum brandy (Å£uica) or Sadu brandy (rachiu) . Reflecting the region’s ethnic and cultural diversity, there are also Saxon hencles or Hungarian poppy seed sponge cake to try.

In addition to trying the local food when visiting Sibiu or villages in the region, local products can be tasted or purchased at various fairs organized by the Astra Museum in Sibiu or at events held in the region, which range from fairs dedicated to specific products to street food festivals or events dedicated to Saxon heritage, such as Haferland week.

Highlighted a few years ago for its coffee culture, Cluj-Napoca is another base for exploring the culinary traditions of the region. One dish to try is the one named after the city: Varză a la Cluj made from cabbage (A recipe to try at home is available here). Many other cabbage dishes can be tasted at Vărzărie, one of the city’s best-known restaurants, open since 1967. They also serve vargabéles, a sweet noodle and cheese pie illustrating the region’s multicultural history. and the mix of culinary influences. The popular varieties of pálinka and È›uică fruit brandy are served with many large meals.

Photo: Cristina Alexe / Dreamstime

Another region where several cultures meet, Banat captures a variety of influences in its gastronomic offer. Cream, rântaÈ™ flour thickener and homemade noodles are featured in many dishes. Those visiting the area can try the sour ciorbă soup, with added cream and homemade noodles, iofca – a noodle dish with added cheese, nuts, milk, poppy or cabbage, or sarmale. from the region, which are larger than those prepared in other parts of the country and made from minced meat with the cleaver. An initiative launched this summer by the Association for the Promotion of Tourism in TimiÅŸ County has seen ancient recipes of traditional cuisine included in the menus of TimiÅŸoara restaurants, a place that can serve as a base for exploring the offer gastronomic region. Among them were zupa cu găluÅŸte (dumpling soup) and gomboÅ£i cu plum (plum dumplings). Another initiative, from the NGO Acasă în Banat, involves collecting recipes and stories about dishes from the region. They are available in the La Masa în Banat project. The same association is behind an effort to revive the region’s water mills, the most famous of which are in Rudăria – Eftimie Murgu, a place with its own specialties. More on that in this article.

Photo: Sebalos / Dream time

Known for the painted monasteries erected in the 15th and 16th centuries, now a UNESCO heritage site, the local part of Bucovina brings its share of tasty dishes to the table. Among them ciorbă rădăuÈ›eană, a chicken soup with vegetables and thickened broth, or tocăniÈ›a de hribi – porcini stew. A recipe for Ciorbă RădăuÈ›eană is available here.

An impressive territory for its biodiversity, and also a UNESCO heritage site, the Danube Delta is a place to try many fish dishes – soups, grilled varieties, saramură (soaked, sprinkled or boiled in brine) and many more. As for sweets, there is the cozonac (sweet bread) made according to local recipes, or the varieties of piroÈ™că and vareniki dumplings. Traditional recipes, reflecting the cultural diversity of the region, have been brought together in this project.

The traditional agricultural markets are another option to taste local products. In addition to seasonal fruits and vegetables, mostly sourced locally, these are also places where small producers sell a variety of preserves, including pickled vegetables and sour cabbage, zacuscă vegetable spread, honey and syrups. .

Among Bucharest’s markets, Obor is one of the largest and oldest. Arranged on several levels and halls, it hosts butchers, fishmongers, dairy and cheese shops, organic or eco products, medicinal and aromatic plants (pleura), as well as stalls of spices, confectionery and cookies, but also of detergents, carpets and interior decor items, and key repair or duplication stores. It is near the store of the same name, the only one of its kind in the city, housing a variety of stores and products, from haberdashery and fabric stores to leather goods, tailor and watch repair stores. Learn more about Bucharest’s traditional markets here.

One way to have a culinary experience and spend time in nature is to go truffle hunting alongside professional hunters in the forests of Transylvania or the Buzău region. Some sites offering such an experience include the Valea Verde Resort in Cund or Terra Carpatica – Conacul Grigorescu in Buzău. A macchiato recipe with Carpathian truffles and mushrooms is available here.

(Opening photo: Opreanu Roberto Sorin | Dreamstime.com)

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