I’ve said it before that Sibiu has a lot to offer in terms of events almost all year long, but when something like a Food Culture Festival is happening in town, we have to be there, especially since it’s all about ‘eating local’ – save old tastes and varieties, preserve beautiful cultural landscapes.
My Transylvania Association (www.mytransylvania.ro) and Reky Travel (www.transylvanian-taste.com) are the ‘guilty’ ones for making this festival happen, in cooperation with the Sibiu official tourism agency (sibiu-turism.ro). It’s all about promoting the local producers, about reinventing old local recipes, about bringing the natural and rural in an urban environment, making everything more accessible to those who appreciate the true taste of the local culture and traditions.
The Sibiu county cuisine is something to say at least, special. It’s incredibly diverse, a culinary mosaic with so many influences. In this region, we are talking of about no less than 11 different cuisines: we first have the people that have lived here (Romanians, Saxons, Hungarians, Armenians, Jews and Roma), but also the influences from Austria, Turkey, Russia, France and Greece.
The main direction still remains the cuisine from the Mărginimea Sibiului based on raising sheep and the Saxon cuisine. Both are characterized by using herbs and medicinal herbs instead of spices, making a mixture of sweet and salted in their dishes.
Be prepared to find thyme, parsley, mint, basil, dill, garlic, sage, tarragon (which I find amazingly tasty) and allspice in the recipes of the region, together with tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, peppers, cabbage, wild mushrooms and veal, lamb, pork and even rabbit.
What makes it even more special is that all these recipes and dishes come with culture, with beautiful villages, with legends and stories, with old monuments, with traditions.
The ‘Transilvania Gastronomică’ – Food Culture Festival 2017 lasts for 11 days and has events in Sibiu, but also outside of the city. This year it’s the 3rd edition already. We didn’t manage to go to all the events, but those we attended were beyond any expectation.
The first one was the one that happened on a Friday night at the Jules Bistro. Jules is a very nice restaurant in Sibiu, offering dishes including local products, with a beautiful summer garden inside the walls of the old fortress of the medieval Sibiu.
For Friday night, we had a special menu with local season ingredients in reinvented old recipes of the region, the New Transylvanian Cuisine, like the organizers like to call it.
Starting with the sarmale, continuing with the tomato soup with goat cheese and finishing with the rabbit steak (cooked slowly in the oven for several hours) served with homemade pasta (a Saxon recipe) and wild mushrooms, our taste buds where spoiled to the maximum.
Not to mention the desert, with fresh raspberries and muffin, which, even for me, not a big fan of sweets, was something tasty beyond borders.
All mixed with a delicious rose wine and with stories about the recipes and the people behind the tasty local ingredients.
On Sunday evening we went back to Jules Bistro for another amazing culinary experience, this time with recipes with Turkish influences.
The event started with a live cooking demonstration from Ozan and Dana Mitea, preparing a dish called Ottoman Lamb – a mixture of delicious herbs, with plumbs and apricots and lamb, a incredible mix of textures and tastes. A perfect combination of ingredients, a delight for the mouth and soul in the same time.
Not to mention the starters, made from fresh ingredients from the region: eggplants cooked in all sorts of ways (which I totally loved as I would eat eggplants at least 3 times a day, if I had the chance), all sorts of hummus recipes, salted pies and cheese from the Mărginimea Sibiului.
In my opinion, the dish that surprised me the most was the watermelon salad with mint and cheese, something I never had before, but for sure it’s going to be the way I will have watermelon from now on.
Now about eat-local.ro. It’s a platform aiming to promote those who use local products in their gastronomy. It has started with the Sibiu region, but the aim is to extend it at a national level in the near future.
You will find here local gastronomy events like brunches in villages, tastings at local farms and producers, events organized by different restaurants who want to promote local flavors and local producers. All these will be mixed with all sorts of other activities, to integrate the cuisine in the specific area.
eat-local.ro will bring all these closer to the people who are in search of the most authentic cuisine there is in our country. You just have to find the event that suits you best, book it and eat local, letting the masters in this domain to their best.
For us, it’s such a great news to hear that we have such initiatives in out country and we think that we have so much to offer on this subject. It’s a starting point to a more authentic tourism, enjoying local experiences.
My Transilvania Association and Reky Travel will make sure, prior to all events, that the products are indeed local ones and the quality is the best for you to have the best gastronomic experience.
The ‘Transilvania Gastronomică’ has more than this included in its program, but unfortunately for us, we couldn’t make it to the rest of the events. A brunch in Cisnădioara, dinner at SyndicatGourmet (one of my favorite restaurants in Sibiu), an all vegan dinner at She’s Green plus a brunch and a producers fair in Mediaș, all which I’m sure follow the same etiquette as the events we attended.
2019 Sibiu European Region of Gastronomy
In 2019 Sibiu will be the European Region of Gastronomy and these kind of events are what will make Sibiu be truly authentic on the map of the world cuisine. We still have the natural in our country, we still harvest vegetables and grow animals the traditional way and this is a part of our country and of our brand.
We have traditions, we have culture, we have stories to tell and one of the best ways to tell the story of a nation is by cooking its recipes.
Here’s a short video of what Transylvania and its cuisine look like :
And the full photo galleriy from :
Gastronomic Evening and the launch of eat-local.ro
All photo credits go to My Transilvania Association and Gabriela Cuzepan.