Culinary Theology on the Road: Transylvania

Sunset over Bran castle

OK. I must admit that when I had to travel to Romania for work I was not thrilled to try the food. I was really excited to see the area of Transylvania and to visit sights connected with the legends of Count Dracula. Everything exceeded my expectations! We stayed at the Pensione Nicoleta. If you can get past the overtly touristic exterior and get into the kitchen you will meet Nicoleta (yes the hotel is named after her.) I have to admit that when it comes to hearty homestyle cooking, she is one of the best cooks I have met. For five days I feasted on traditional Romanian fare. Everything from roasted pork stews with polenta to perfectly seasoned potatoes and fried trout. I was stunned. I tried Romanian cheeses ripened in fir bark, meatloaf stuffed with boiled eggs, all sorts of pickles, and yes I even enjoyed the variety of soups, including the famous Ciorba de burta (tripe soup).  [Mariko says that I have to mention the desserts, which were fresh baked and to die for.  She was especially fond of the warm donuts with sour cream and homemade plum preserves.]
When I think of Transylvania, the legends of Dracula have been supplanted by hearty straightforward Romanian country food… Dare I say comfort food?

Me and my new Romanian friend
National dish??

Bran (Dracula’s) castle

The town of Bran

Shallots on steroids

Local (unpasteurized) smoked cheese

Local sausages 
The town of Brasov

Warming up with fresh Churros and warm chocolate 

Branza de burduf (sheep cheese aged in pine)
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