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7 Food stories from Romania
Very often I say that I could go to Romania solely for the food and drinks. Actually Romanian food is unknown, hence has a brilliant starting point in being able to surprise the traveller in a good way.
I love how Romanias can talk about food and drinks for hours : the texture of a walnut and why it is like that, the quality of the water melon, the quantity of grapes in the garden compared to last year, who makes the best sarmale and why and so forth.
When I come to Bucharest I always have a list in my head on what I would like to eat and where I would like to go. For example, I always wish to taste the food in season, at my best friends’ place. Maria makes the best salata de vinete in the summer time and fantastic ciorba in the winter.
There are things that I am dying to eat upon arrival to Romania such as white cheese, juicy tomatoes, bursting with taste and smell, red, crispy onion and some chili to go with it. Very simple and so delicious.
Here are some of the places I love to go to to when in Bucharest . I was limited to 7 by the editor of Republica, but my list could be endless.
Sole d’Italia at Militar. I have a fresh memory coming from Sweden in December last year, it was cold , and all I could think of was going to Sole d’Ittalia for a warm, tasty ciorba de pui , with smantana, aide iute and some red onion, accompanied with some white wine. Sole d’Italia has a warm ambiance and despite the fact that it has an Italian name, you find an extensive Romanian menu there too. Everything I tried there has been delicious, be it fish, meat, salads, pizza, or desserts. It is as if you were eating home, that your mum or grandma cooked for you. I happen to know one of the chefs and you can tell she cooks with all her heart ! The staff is very friendly there and I can promise you that you will walk back home happy !
Gradina Eden is that kind of place that you really have to know where it is, otherwise you just simply walk past it. It is situated at Calea Victoriei and it is behind a big, stone building. You need to walk to the right of the building and there, in a whim, a huge garden opens up before your eyes. It is a true garden of Eden, an urban oasis, where you can relax and leave a buzzing Bucharest at distance. There are hammocks, sometimes, people play pingpong, there are great chill out areas with poufs and big tables to sit and talk by. This is more of a bar, that sells super healthy fruit juices and smoothies plus beer and wine. Last summer when I was there with a foreign journalist friend of mine she spontaneously exclaimed positively surprised : I never thought of a place like this in Romania ! Yeah, my idea is to WOW people ! I succeeded that time ! I have enjoyed limonada out of this world at Gradina Eden. Anything tastes nice on a hot summer’s day there and it is almost like you expect there to be a beach just on the side of the bar…It’s that kind of place that makes you feel you are on holiday !
Muzeul National al Taranului Roman If I am in Bucharest on a Saturday I have this urge to go to the market at the Peasant’s Museum. I can’t express with words how much I love being embraced by all the handcrafted goods you can find at the market on a Saturday. I love coming there early, before the sun is too strong and I adore getting swept away by all the stories that the craftsmen and women has to tell. There is always and occasion to eat some good food too. Usually I stop by the barbecue and get some sarmale with mamaliga , smantana si aide iute or I opt for the grilled fish or grilled chicken squeers. The smell of the barbecue fills the air and it is so tempting ! Nothing beat the feeling of eating outside ! I often ask friends to meet me at the market and we usually have some lunch together after looking at all the beautiful items at the market.
There have also been many occasions when I stopped by the Museum restaurant Clubul Taranului in autumn, winter and spring, just for sitting down and do my writing with a nice cup of coffee, or a vin fiert or a glass of wine, depending on the season. Off season its really calm and quiet there. Perfect for a morning of writing .
Carturesti at Pictor Arthur Verona 13 street. If I simply would like to drink a nice cup of tea on an autumn afternoon I would go to Carturesti. I have a good memory from here , taking my first steps learning Romanian with Violeta Ieremie. I remember how I ordered my first tea in Romanian there and I remember exactly what I said and which tea I ordered. It was called ‘ Butterfly’. I was fascinated that three vowels were adjoined together in the word: ceai and was perplexed on how beautiful the Romanian language is, flowing like a river. There is a big selection of different types of teas at that little tea house, and the staff is helpful. The place invites to quietness and it’s just a perfect place if you feel like giving yourself some breathing space.
M60 is fairly new urban eating place not too far away from Piata Amzei. The reason why I went there the first time was because someone said that they where like a semi work place where people had meetings, sat and worked, charged their computers and smart phones, and I needed that. When I come to Romania I always have work to do for The Bucharest Lounge and at M60 I feel that I can sit and become inspired by the pace of a city I love.
I quickly noticed that they make, in my view, the best cappuccino in Bucharest. It is rich and the milk they use is also perfect ! The interior style is inspired from Finland so I feel kind of at home there. They usually have a fantastic salmon salad and all is presented on wooden trays. I like it when people think of details. It brings quality to a moment and it creates stories.
The corner store in Piata Amzei
I have some small pleasures in life that I enjoy so much and don’t want to me without – which puts a smile on my lips anytime. One of them is coffee. I like picking up a coffee for 3 lei in my special corner shop at Piata Amzei. The lady in the corner store she smiles when I order something in Romanian. I am very happy, those mornings, when they have freshly baked cornulete, directly from the oven. Then I buy too many !
La Copac is close to the Piata Romana metro station and definitely worth a visit. There are many reasons why I like this place, but most of all it is because everything is thought through and there is an overall genuine and authentic love for all that is Romanian. The food is so tasty and delicious that you never want to leave. It’s like music, like a serenade. Reading the menu there is like reading poetry. When you have a look around the interior design ‘speaks Romanian’, there are symbols from the folklore and the red colour is used everywhere. The food there is health itself. I have a feeling that the food provided is taken directly from someone’s garden not too far away. I had a fantastic cheese and meat platter there, this summer , when I visited Bucharest. I especially remember the cheese with cumin inside ! A Romanian wine to go together with the cheese and meat and the night is fulfilled ! My company and I were planning on having another plate of food , but the platter was so abundant we just couldn’t eat more! We had to come back another time !