We are still in Transylvania, this time at Meșendorf 65 with Oana and Andrian Udrea. Adrian is a cheesemaker and he supplies some of the best restaurants in Bucharest, the capital, and in Brasov and Sibiu, and also locally. The herd grazes on the Transylvanian meadows that still have some of the oldest wildflowers and plants in the Carpathian mountains. Now, this is what makes the cheese special.
Oana, on the other hand, passes on the culinary traditions of the Saxons by cooking for tourists in her charming old Saxon barn. They offer accommodation in a nearby village called Criț. When Chris and Euan first entered her garden, they said ‘This is like Austria’, to which Oana replied, ‘Except that it is not Austria, it is Romania’ This is exactly what I keep saying not only about the country but about the cuisine too. When people tend to say that pilaf is Turkish, moussaka is Greek and zacusca is Russian, I say that they are different, they are Romanian recipes.
Oana shared with us her family recipe for caraway soup, an interesting way to make stock by infusing the oil with spices. Caraway is a wild plant here, and she remembered how her mum used to send her to forage for the best seeds. ‘You need to hear the seeds popping in hot oil to make a good soup’ says Oana. The soup is usually served with croutons, and Oana made us Meșendorf cheese crackers with caraway and paprika. So good that we fought over the last one.
All ingredients for everything Oana cooks are from the garden or people in the village, in a perfect barter system. ‘If I have too many tomatoes, I take them to my neighbour, and if they have, let’s say, a rabbit, they offer it to me in return’ Both Oana and Adrian made me think seriously about moving to Transylvania, to reconnect with my ancestral homeland, but it’s a distant dream.
In the meantime, I will offer gourmet tours, 5-6 days, in a visit to Transylvania, where we’ll mainly eat and drink. The groups will be small, and I don’t have all the details yet but if you think you’d like to come with me, send me an email email@example.com