A perfect dinner

‘As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.’

-Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast 

This is the quote that my brother hooked me with before taking me to my first proper eating oysters experience, at Umarfisch Restaurant in Naschmarkt, Wien. I was actually curious about these love it or hate it pieces of salt-water bivalve mollusks, because I had tried some in past,  ate them fast and without even adding lemon, and it didn’t feel quite right.  Some say that the first time it is better to try oysters raw, without any condiments, but I don’t think it’s such a good idea. So, at Umarfisch I did it by the book, by my brother’s book, following what he was doing, for he is passionate about oysters and good food in general.

Here’s what I say, when you try oysters for the first time, pour some Tabasco sauce in the oyster, some cocktail sauce, lemon, mix’em up and only after this, sip the meat from its shell. Then close your eyes and enjoy the aftertaste and feeling. Invigorating, divine, just like Hemingway said!

I mean the rest of the meal was yummy too, the baked potatoes, the fresh fish, even the lovely presentation of the plates, but the oysters were something else. It made my forehead stretch and lighten up. I think I even lost a couple of wrinkles. It was solar! Oysters are actually known to bring happiness.

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So, this experience was happening in November, last year.

End of March (small note, oysters are best eaten in months containing letter R, like September to December and January to April), I visited my brother  again, he has been living in Wien for three years now, and we decided to keep the tradition and go for oysters once more, this time adding the company of his lovely wife and choosing a different restaurant, Fischvierterl , as well in Naschmarkt Wien (btw I really love this market, don’t miss it if you’re visiting the city!).

In comparison to Umarfisch which had a Scandinavian colder feel to it, design and atmosphere wise, Fishviertrl felt more cosy, like a family owned Italian restaurant, maybe because of its more classic design, carnations adorned the table, which I really found to be an elegant touch, or because the fact that Fishviertrl is also family owned. As well, the Italian feel could have come from the fast-talking, funny and loud waiter that made things even more pleasing. Anyways, I really liked both these restaurants and I would recommend them for a nice dinner in Vienna.

But getting back to oysters, they came as the same wonderful surprise as the previous time I had them. We ordered a bottle of Austrian white wine to wash them down, like old Hemingway said and it was memorable all over again.

 

oysters 2 oysters 1

 

I will say no more, but when you try oysters for the first time, and anything else for that matter, make it right, enjoy it, get the best of the experience.  And it will be rewarding.

Thank you, Alex and Cip for your wonderful company and of course, for feeding me so well! 😉 Love you guys!

 

 

Back to the roots

Well well everybody, last time I posted I was in beautiful Ireland, taking six sabbatical months to chill and try new things. And what a wonderful time I had in fairyland! I recommend to all a holiday to Ireland, if only just to take a walk around their wild parks and enjoy the wonderful light that pours from the forever changing skies.

For the moment, I am quite happy to be back in Romania and I’m going to show you some photos from my first trip to Iasi county, to be more specific, from a small village near Iasi, called Madarjesti, in the north-east of Romania. That was back in October but I think it’s never too late to tell a good story.

And this is the story of an ancient lady working in the middle of a heap of corn cobs, doing the same thing she learned to do since she was just a child, keeping her household with the constancy and rhythm of a mantra, irrespective of everything else happening around the world. The story of a time capsule where seasons pass, women do their cooking and cleaning and no force in the world is bigger than the sense of duty,  of routine, of the old ways dug deep into the lives of locals. It’s like a prayer that never ceases to lose its strength.

This story is also about pieces of pita bread cooked in the oven and the little birds made of dough by a grandma with an artistic sense. Why make simple dough when you can make a bird shape, and that proves to me one more time that love of beauty needs no education, no cultural background, it is just there in people’s hearts, a seed to be grown. This same grandma also asked me to search Facebook to look for photos of her and other local ladies that gather once in two weeks at a Daycare Centre for elders in Baltati, a village close by Madarjesti, to make handmade garments and chat and celebrate their birthdays. The vest I am wearing in the photo below is handmade by her!

What else is in this story from Madarjesti? A walk in the open field, at sunset, to gather mushrooms, everyone spread around hunting for the little white treasures that we brought home and cooked. And they tasted like the best Michelin stars food!

Also, I want to mention the beautiful colored houses, blue and green and most of them made from clay. They are small but cozy and beautifully adorned with carpets made by hand, embroidered towels, holy icons and family photos.

Hope the photos below speak a bit more about this ancient story that is life in the Romanian village.

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collage ciuperci

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I made pizza

So what, you might ask? Everybody cooks nowadays and they post it on the Internet too. But in my case it’s different, because I don’t necessarily want to show you my amazing looking pizza (cause it actually didn’t look that amazing) or give you the recipe (which I will, nevertheless) but I want to tell you for starters, that it was my first pizza dough and that I did it for me. I was in a bit of a bad mood so I started doing it maybe because there is something soothing in kneading dough, or maybe it warmed my heart to think of Italy and an Italian mama cooking a homemade meal, or maybe just because I’ve been thinking of ordering pizza for the last couple of days and I was hungry.

It doesn’t actually matter why, but I did it caring deeply for myself, not being selfish but just wanting to do smth nice for me, to be ok, you know?

Oh, and it really turned out great, no more pizza orders for me. From now on, I’m making my own irregular shaped pizza and I will go crazy and creative with all sorts of toppings, and yeah, life seems better.

So here it is, the recipe:

INGREDIENTS

  • 150ml/5 fl oz lukewarm water
  • ½ tbsp dried yeast
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g/9oz strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt

METHOD

In a bowl, mix the warm water with the yeast, sugar, and oil. Leave for 8‑10 minutes or so to froth up.Meanwhile, place the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the wet ingredients and mix with your hands or a spoon until you have a sticky dough. Keep adding handfuls of flour or drops of water until you have a workable consistency.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for five minutes until stretchy and glossy. Return to the bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise somewhere warm for one hour.

Turn out again and knead for a few more minutes before rolling out on a floured surface, then transfer to a pizza stone or a hot tray to cook.

PS: And don’t be shy, put anything that you have in the fridge on it and let it bake for about 10 -15 minutes, it bakes fast, but you’ ll figure out when to take it out, from the lovely smell!

Be good to yourself and Bon Appetit!

Eggs, the ever inspiring protein

Just yesterday I was musing about the simple joys of life after taking in my hand a warm egg laid fresh by a chicken from my parents small farm. Then today I find out about this Kevin Bacon commercials for eggs.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O56gXy4usHI
So funny!

And I have to mention that on the wall of my kitchen I have this Sarah Lucas photo.

Lucas-Self-Portrait

What are your egg fetishes?! 😉

 

Coffee before change

Before we get to work on changing a couple of things in this beautiful country that is Romania, we should all think about it very well over a cup of coffee. Perhaps coincidentally with awakening events happening in the city, the latest trend around Bucharest these days (along with barber shops, but i’ll get back on that one) is coffee shops openings.  Quite a few in the last year, among which Steam(new location on Bd Dacia),T-zero(just this month), Bloom, 5 to go, Origo, etc. You might find one in your neighbourhood at a closer look.

These are not just any coffee shops  but really cool places, with urban design, attention to detail and passionate people who know how to make coffee drinking a different experience than you’d have making coffee at home by your sleepy self. Its just awesome.

Someone said that  people working in corporations got tired of it and decided to take up a business on their own and coffee shops were at hand. Nevertheless, taking the courage to start a business, making it well and dedicating yourself to it is smth I for one admire and I think it  changes and awakens(literally in this case) the world bit by bit.

Here are some pictures of these places(with facebook contacts), go in  if passing them by,  if only to have a glass of water and get the vibe.

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https://www.facebook.com/T.zero.coffeeshop/?fref=ts
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https://www.facebook.com/bloomspecialtycoffee/?fref=ts
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https://www.facebook.com/five.to.go.coffee/?fref=ts
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https://www.facebook.com/SteamCoffeeShop/
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T-zero’s plant hero.

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https://www.facebook.com/OrigoCoffee/?fref=ts

 

 

 

 

Mother Victoria’s pastry shop

Classic story: mother bakes a great cake, the whole world should be able to enjoy it, let’s open a pastry shop!. Well, maybe not so classic but still, it is the true, romantic, story of Cofetaria(pastry shop) Victoria. Victoria is actually the name of the mother that baked such amazing sponge cakes(cozonaci), that the neighbors in her block, drawn by the incredible smell,  would come knocking at her door to ask for a piece. So Victoria’s family decided, ten years ago, to open a pastry shop.

And it all went great, just last week they opened their third pastry shop in Bucharest, in Floreasca, keeping the same yummy all natural ingredients recipes and yes, their famous sponge cake  (apparently, it took Victoria 10 years to teach another person to bake the cake like she does).

My favourite spot for coffee in this new  location on Banu Antonache 59,  is a small corner in the back of the shop, with a wall full of plants and a ceiling that imitates the sky, and my favourite cake is the colourful eclairs and the owners recommendation, „prajitura cu nuca”( cake with nuts, lemonade creme and meringue).

But you can find their menu and locations here http://www.cofetariavictoria.ro/.

And don’t forget my little cupcakes, in a world full of muffins you are indeed beautiful and special!

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Mother Victoria and family
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My fave spot

Prajitura Casa Victoria Floreasca (9) Prajitura Casa Victoria Floreasca (11)  12112377_1645701699019786_7152793841000569295_n