“La Cuptor”- 2020

A plateful of favours, like a rainbow on the sky.

This is what I chose this year at my favourite restaurant: “La Cuptor”.

For the ones of you that are knew on the blog or simply  don’t know,  “La Cuptor” is a restaurant in Sibiu, Romania.

This was the first time I visited on summer, and was absolutely dreaming of their terrace for some time.

Their terrace is a mix of Provencal and Italian, and when looking at how their menu looks like one understands that it’s the right place to be.

In my previous visits I had their signature  burger, the  velvety cream soups, the  duck with black rice, the buttery marrow served with toast and roasted peppers and many others.

I imagine that you already started to taste the flavours and understand the magic of the place.

This time, I missed these tastes I knew, but I was also curious about what was new.

So after carefully reviewing, I chose this one: duck thigh with brown mushroom mash, apple mousse and Marsala wine jelly.

Hence my comparison with the rainbow in the sky mentioning on the beginning.

The duck thigh was cooked to perfection, and I chose to have it like this:

  • A small pice of tender  duck, topped with a tiny dollop  of apple mousse
  • A fork full of the mushroom mash to wash down  the sweetness of the apple
  • A bit of the Marsala wine fruity jelly to wash down the earthiness of the mushrooms 

This order of eating took me to heavens and kept me there throughout the entire meal.

I am a slow eater but this time I deliberately ate even slower, to prolong the moment as much as I could.

I praised the chef for creating such a dish, for the owner of La Cuptor for being so open minded for approving such a dish, and to the divinity for allowing me to experience this.

When choosing this new dish, I decided I a good wine would pair nicely, so tried  a new Romanian wine: Busuioacă de Bohotin – C’est soir, hoping for the best.

Let me tell you it blew my mind away.

I always read reviews of foods, drinks and curious about what notes people identified in them, although they were not always my findings.

With this wine, it was the reverse.

I ordered it, tasted it and …whoaa…. This had an amazing  floral scent at the end.

And  later that evening, the reviews on this wine confirmed my theory.

This  was a rose wine, not  harsh, with just a light sweetness, the ones that grapes probably gathered in July, but with this amazing crispiness and bouquet of flowers in the end.

And this comes from a person that usually loves two types of wines (my parent’s countryside production and Porto wine) and enjoys occasionally testing others.

A lovely meal in a beautiful location and served by nice waiters, in a cozy atmosphere, with lovely people around… what could be better?

Do pay this place a visit and try their delicious treats.

You will not regret it, promise.

Find your passion

I find bursts of creativity and the best AHA moments triggered by ordinary things.

This happens for some years now, since finding my passion for both photography and writing.

I’m like treasure hunting through my lenses.

So, I discovered this beautiful sewing machine, and for a moment it took me back in time.

Back when I was a child and on my aunt’s carpet, an aunt who is a seamstress and used to worked on orders.

I was too little to have access to that machine.

Being a stubborn child I conviced her into teaching me how to manually sew buttons on random pieces of cloth.

So one day, after she finished working on her machine,  she couldn’t fine one single button (from hundreds that she had) to work with on her ordered dress.

I was so used of listening the sounds of her sewing machine and observing her feet setting up the rhythm, while me sewing all those buttons… so  laughing at it.

Now, when looking  at this machine, I realize no piece of clothing gets ready only by wanting it or by wishful thinking.

It has to have an input: all the needed threads, materials, the human factor.

This is what happens with our passions too.

We need the materials and tools and then, the most important:

  • The effort: to show up and do the work (my aunt had a large household back then, lots of animals and fields to take take care of)
  • The time: to make it, since the expression of “having time” is doomed from beginning (I don’t remember to hear her saying she has no time because each day in the afternoon she was making time as religiously as made time for going to church)
  • The willingness: to have ups and downs, success and failure (more than 20 years ago, she did it all from scratch and papper patterns, with many fittings, and failures were worked up to successes. She always found the perfect button for that one dress.)
  • The perseverance: to never quit, because having a passion and not living it can count us as dead inside ( orders kept on coming for my aunt because her passion and good work were transmitted by the spoken word so fastly. She was working her and into her passion every day)

Now, it’s me and you with all that we know as passions for ourselves, and we here to do the same.

It should be way more easier now than 20 years ago, and if she managed we will manage.

And if by chance you don’t have a passion to fire up in your heart, do make yourself a favor and find it.

A passion in life is like seasoning to a food… like that extra special button to my aun’t dress.

Are you up for it?

The world as a stage

There is something up in the air.

I love looking up, just like a kid in a fair: eager to find all the beauty and just relax.

To be more precise, each beginning of January hosts an exhibition of sunsets.

Fluffed up clouds painted in sophisticated nuances, juts like candy candy in summer.

Savage orange shades like shamelessly splashed from furious volcanos.

A free exhibition for us all, ultra HD, crafted by nature and offered for our indulgement.

If only people would only trade their black mirrored smartphones for  the navy deep skies.

There is something below the clouds.

I love also looking down: like being fully present and mindful.

To be just as precise, each tiny moment counts as unique, and all summed up equals our life.

The sunset is gone, the air is crisp and thin, making it’s way through my lungs in tiny needles.

Like a wake up call to pay attention. The pavement under my feet is frozen.

I look around at people passing by, like soft silhouettes melting into the night.

Snuggled into thick coats and hats, with heads bent while looking ahead and not being in the moment, maybe not even seeing me.

I can feel their breath and sighs.

It’s an exhibition the civilization puts down for us.

A contrast between fluff and cements, pastels and greys, warmth and cold, mindfulness and the lack of it.

I absolutely love both kind of shows, and trying to be present and engage you TO  BE.

Allow yourself to be amazed today, this year… always.

Art: as never seen or felt before

Are you up to for  an “out of the box” approach?

Allow me to offer you some context:  I was spending the end of 2019 in Brasov, Romania, and I indulged in daily evening walks.

These walks, in the old city center were special that time of the year for all the decorating that happened on the streets and in the window shops.

It felt like through the crisp air, all the beauty I was witnessing was absorbed in the mere strains of my DNA, enriching them beyond words.

Hundreds of shops, of lights and shadows, of side streets like chests of treasures to be discovered.

And yet, I confess, nothing had me ready for this candy shop.

It was not that well lit, and I almost passed by it when something caught my attention in the sense I went closer to make sure I am seeing right.

And yes, I did, and this is what I saw.

My first thought: wow. And then silence.

See that card in the left corner? (MARZIPAN made & hand painted by Radu Solovastru).

Was looking at it speechless, admiring the incredible craftsmanship, the proportions, the finesse.

All those details made me imagine the artist , Radu Solovastru, at work, offering his time to this, one millimeter of marzipan at a time, breathing almost life to it.

For me this  is a metaphor for slowing time a little bit in this too fast and furious century .

For  accumulating  and filtering  information, and creating a solid perspective of life and of the world.

With these on mind and looking a bit further away, a new piece arises.

And I really knew that for me, this second one continued my thread of ideas.

In the way that once we have this solid set of opinions, we need to weigh when to express them, in which way, and when we should be more reserved.

Reservation not to be equaled by any kind of censure.

Not even with self censure.

But as a form, in which we , by our words, just like artists… we create moods, generate feelings, we shape the world.

Taking all in, I took these photos I showed you, and left the candy shop in the night, crossed into the new year 2020 and got back home.

Unloaded the photos, looked at them… and again: wow. And silence.

This time, a silence in which I was grateful for discovering these pieces of art and being inspired by them to feel more, enriching more my universe.

Thank you Radu Solovastru for your wonderful gift.

When in Brasov: Goodfood

The morning was all about the king: the chimney king from “Goodfood”.

Below I will show you what happens when ordinary encounters a playful idea.

Let me explain: it’s not about a regular icecream, nor a regular ice cone.

The cone is a tiny chimney cake.

For the ones of you less familiar, according wikipedia:  chimney cake, also known as “Kürtőskalács (Hungarian: [ˈkyrtøːʃkɒlaːt͡ʃ]  sometimes transliterated kurtosh kalach) is a spit cake specific to Transylvania, Hungary and especially popular in the Hungarian-speaking regions of Romania, more predominantly the Székely Land.”

Here they are, tiny, freshly out of the oven and sprinkled with nuts, or pistachio or coconut.

The location is rather small but everything comfy that you could have ever dreamed of.

The lady from serving was so incredible nice and welcoming…

Asked for the chimney king as you may have seen above, and it contained:the chimney cake sprinkled with crunchy nuts and filled with  home made vanilla ice cream, brownies bits.

All these topped with chocolate sauce and salted caramel.

The nice lady told us about the vanilla ice cream being freshly made this morning, and we can actually see the tasty vanilla seeds that found a home in the creaminess of the milk.

It really is a different experience which I highly recommend to you all whenever you visit Brasov.

And I dare say whenever because they a lovely selection: from appetiser like chimneys filled with rucola and tomatoes, or filled  with warm mac&cheese , to strudel  and cinnamon topped with home made whipped cream.

And if these seem too rich for your taste.. do try the gin& tonic chimney, or the Aperol one…

Good ideas, good food, good mood..

Fast or slow in Brasov?

As told you in the previous post, I’m spending the end of the year in magical Brasov.

Exploring the streets at night here is for the fast one and for the slow one.

The old city centre decorated in millions of lights, and animated by the dedicated artists embraced by the waves of tourists that keep on arriving.

For us, Romanians, this a familiar image of our winter traditions, and if you’re not from here you might enjoy it very much.

We are well cherished and appreciated by tourists, like you, and it’s a delight for us to initiate them in all our Romanian delightful bits and pieces.

This one from the photo it’s a mix of ancient traditions, “hardcore”drums and rivers of energy from these people that seem restless.

All this flood the famous Republicii street, and night is suddenly transformed into day.

At least until people harnessed by a terrible hunger to the amazing culinary locations prepared just for them.

An then, with warmth running through the veins and a comfy full belly, they slowly fill in the tiny streets, fulfilled with happiness and peace.

They will arrive at their hotels, hostels, air b&b’s and slowly fall asleep in this world of winter wonderland.

Enjoy and be magic this evening my friends.

Reporting from Brasov with love,

Andreea

A glimpse of wintery Brasov

Arrived in Brasov early in the morning to be honest.

So early that cars were still sleeping from last night, covered in a sheer blanket of fresh snow.

I completely forgot how cold the “mountains cold” really was it but I was bitten by it without hesitation.

A slow beautiful day without any plans.. just BEING here: Brasov, and taking photos in Piata Sfatului and surroundings.

It’s amazing how through so much technology the magic of a Christmas tree is a crowd gatherer and enchanter.

From the smallest to the eldest, everybody was taking in the scent and the light.

Warming up with hot chocolate, warm apple juice with rum or mulled wine..

Everything seems possible in this mix of cold snowflakes on the cheeks and spicy hot sips down through thirsty throats.

Next days will be spent in long fresh walks, lots of photos and hopefully lots of goodies to be discovered.

Wishing you the most peaceful winter evening here.

Transylvania: The Corvin Castle

Tranylvania (in Romania) is like this huge magnet for tourists from all over the world.

If not for for its myths then for its medieval castles and wonderful traditions.

And today I am taking you with me through The Corvins Castle/ Hunyadi Castle.

The most well preserved medieval castle from Transylvania, built in the 14th century in a full gothic architecture.

And we will stop here with the theory because the last thing I said was “gothic architecture”.

But not only the architecture was gothic.

It can easily be used as a set for “The beauty and the beast” story.

I will show you, in photos why I sensed it as being a castle of contrasts: the rich and the poor, the good and the bad.

It was not hard imagining fine banquest being held here, with all the honors and intrigues.

And in the mornings, how the high class ladies enjoyed zooming the suroundings from the insides of the thick walled castle, keeping them safe from the outward world..

Long afternoons used for choosing the outfits for the evening to come: selecting from the finest silks, to sweeten up some bitter realities .

Because just below, on abrupt stairs, and dark hallways, things were far less glamorous and much more cruel.

In their own castle, whom to protect them for evil, from cold hearted people?

Life was not easy in medieval ages, people were not easy in their manners or in their ways in attaining different pursuits.

No matter how many candles burnt out to bring light to the dark ages, there were places where light never reached.

Not always people was patient enough in finding how their peers acted, so no surprise that in the hidden black rooms a painful truth was born: torture.

Looking at these could not ask myself: how to produce tools with wich to inflict pain on other people?

Masks to be heated in fire and applied to the prisoners’s faces, or to screw their eyes inwards.

This is not imagination, yet it was other people’s nightmare and reality.

Dozens of torture methods, one meaner and more horrifying than the other.

Forcing people to confess their sins, or worse.. things they were not guilty at all just confessing whatever for gaining freedom.

It’s mindblowing when you study their expressions and try to relive these glimpses of history.

It’s revolting to see faces of authority who perhaps could have stopped it , and yet they chose the other way around.

Trust me: this is a castle to be seen. Not all enveloped in milk and honey, fairies and princes.

A true castle, giving us the ultimate universal history lesson.

A lesson about people, humanity and the lack of it.

A “not to do” history lesson, which to make us appreciate our health, our rights, our freedom.

This is a reminder that we should always be pro peace and not anti war, standing up for both ourselves and for the weak ones who can not see the light just yet.

The Corvin Castle will imbue into yourself, like a living entity.

You will leave from there richer than you entered, ready to overflow with humanity onto the others.

The Magic Turda Salt Mine

30 something Celsius and in Cluj , Romania… let’s cool off by delving in the “A”mazing Turda salt mine.

Amazing with capital “A”, because look:

A salt mine that produced salt since Middle Ages, closed and 1932 and reopened exclusively for tourism in 2010.

Ok, totally agree.. for that Wikipedia exists, here numbers are just for fun.

Let me take you down with me.

What do you prefer? The modern elevator, or climbing down the 13 floors?

Ok, I took the elevator and felt how I was sliding slowly down into the heart of Transylvania.

It’s breathtaking what these people managed to do in tons of salt, dozens of meters below the surface of the earth.

The heat and noise of summer were left somewhere up and here it was a totally different world.

A pure, salty air transporting me back in the time when people worked here most of their years for a living and when this was a job:

A time when people appreciated seeing the daylight each time they returned back to the civilization.

Nowadays, thousands of tourists can choose to unwind by visiting galleries, the underground salt lake or even bowling, pool, minigolf, or different sports.

I visited some galleries then enjoyed a peaceful tour with the 20 meters Big Wheel :

It’s incredible the patterns that salt designed across thousands of years, and these wet salty ceilings and walls hosting us and purifying the air that bathed us.

Let me zoom you into some salt that look like true cauliflower:

After 8 minutes, back down… and realized I need to show you the “salt waterfall”, because perhaps you’ve never seen it, right?

Look:

And deep down… the salt lake… pitck black and 8 meters deep… would you dare sailing a bit down there?

I’ve heard is very cold 🙂

I bet that by now you managed to cool off a bit and that perhaps a visit to the souvenir shop would be a nice idea.

Now… do I need to say that even the guys from Google visited, mapped and shoot for Street View and agreed that the salt mine is a wonderful place to visit?

I highly recommend you to both cool off in summers an warm up in winters in the Turda salt mine.

Visiting Istanbul: not ordinary tea and coffee

If you are like me, you just can’t say no to a steaming cup of tea or to a cup of fresh coffee.

And if you are in Istanbul, you will see they developed a splendid craftsmanship around the pottery that serves both brews.

At art level.

Delicate yet strong enough to face the hot liquids from the summer hot days till the snowy December nights.

Don’t get fooled by their apparent frailty.

If tea is what steams up your soul and you want to buy some, head over the Egyptian bazaar (part of the grand bazaar).

Please do not even consider those sad tea bags we are used with in our rushed lives.

What bout these?

Mountains of teas arranged in such a harmony that create a delight for your eyes and enchant your nostrils.

For those of you who prefer single plant teas… behold 🙂 rose buds, linden, apple, pomegranate, mint, of course the black tea, and so many others.

But just for the love of it and for senses to be totally swept of their feet, tea blends are also present.

Be honest: aren’t you just a bit curious what’s the deal with this “love tea”?

Should I even mention you can take that and spice it up a bit more perhaps with 2 slices of dehydrated coconut slices, or blood oranges? Just to add a glimpse of summer in your concoction.

I was explaining you in a shopping related post about their merchants: their skills combined with a special gift of sensing what people want and need.

That was not an exaggeration. You will find yourself entering in a such a shop for curiosity and there the “treasure unfolds” before your eyes.

And of course, the vendor will try to offer you his best supplies. And by offering I mean he will prepare you a glass of fresh tea.

There, in the store. He will catch the glimpse of satisfaction from your eyes that will confirm him which is your favorite flavor.

Who cares outside is burning hot and perhaps you are too? The tea is there to comfort you, and you will not leave empty handed, that’s for sure.

Tea is more than a tradition and a ritual in Istanbul.

Perhaps you know the special tea glasses, perhaps you heard about Turkish people enjoying tea while socializing, after meals, and pretty much each time they have the chance.

It’s lovely seeing the small colored tulip glasses flying up and down the streets, from hand to hand, putting a smile on everyone’s face.

I did not come home without a kilo from 2 of their tea blends and without a gorgeous set of glasses.

And, each evening, before retiring to the living room, I brew some fresh tea, pour it in the glasses and enjoy it… like I learned from them: in totally peace and gratefulness.

That’s the lesson I learned from Turkish tea: being in the moment, grateful, in peace and creating an unique moment.

Ok, coffee lovers, haven’t forgot about you, I got your back also.

I enjoy coffee, in all forms, and to be honest espresso in Italy is my favorite coffee strength, creaminess and quality wise.

Turkish coffee: that’s not just a different story, but this tiny cup is a story by itself.

From the tiny cups in which it is served, to the pinch of cardamom that spices it up, to the sand where it’s traditionally prepared in.

You can enjoy it along a nargila (hookah) or just plain, in small sips, but only after a couple of minutes after they brought it to you.

This is a great tip, trust me (just after it being poured in the cup, coffee grains float around, and they need some minutes to.. relax on the bottom of the glass).

Please for your comfort, don’t skip this step. Otherwise you will get annoyed (perhaps), and start the experience from an unfair position.

You enjoyed your coffee and to complete it, fresh water is always a perfect end to it.

I imagined that in this point it doesn’t surprise you that even the glasses for water are so “not ordinary”.

Why everything so tiny, little, minuscule? Well I asked myself this question over and over again.

And this is what I learned from this: we cherish more all that is amazing and that comes in the smallest quantities.

Now that you know, I am so curious what would you try first when visiting Istanbul.

It’s it coffee or tea?