Gastronomic adventures in Székelyföld, Romania
Last week I visited Székelyföld for the first time in my life on a really special gastronomic tour.
I've heard about the legendary Transylvanian hospitality and how amazing the food is there, but I thought people were just exaggerating - well, no! I don't think I have ever eaten so much and such delicious food in 2 days - but let's not rush ahead!
I was invited to this gastronomic tour on the occasion of Vitéz Kürtős' 20th birthday. Our hosts, Tünde and Gáspár, the founders of Vitéz Kürtős, as well as grandmother Irma - whose recipe is still used to make the divinely delicious chimney cake - and her husband Gazsi, who in 2000 have established Lehel Kürtősház in Székelyudvarhely in Transylvania, which was presented for the first time in Hungary in 2001, and later the Vitéz Kürtős brand, which I think you have already heard of, was launched by further developing the family business.
Our first stop was Segesvár - a truly magical place, I really liked it. We walked through the narrow, cozy streets, discovered the medieval castle, and also walked up the so called student staircase, which was built in 1642 and consists of 172 steps, but it is worth the struggle because climbing it leads to a wonderful church and the Saxon Lutheran high school.
Perhaps the most infamous native of the city is Vlad Tepes, i.e. Dracula, who inspired Bram Stoker's book and who made thousands of covers - that's why the city is full of Draculas souvenirs - being a big vampire fan, I got myself a beautiful mug.
The Battle of Segesvár, which I think many of you have herad of during History classes, took place on the nearby Fehéregyház plain, where the revolutionary Hungarian army led by József Bem was defeated by the Russian army in 1849.
We visited Petőfi's pear tree, where, according to a well-known legend, Sándor Petőfi spent his last evening before his death. On July 30, 1849, under the sprawling pear tree of the Gyárfás manor in Székelykeresztúr, he recited his poem "A thought hurts me" as a kind of prophecy. Although the original pear tree is no longer in very good condition, in 2017 the descendants of the original pear tree were replanted in the garden of the Gyárfás mansion.
We also visited the Petőfi memorial house, where we could learn more about our famous poet.
Being a gastronomic tour, I have to mention lunch and dinner as well, let's start right away with the famous blueberry brandy - before the trip, several people told me to try it, and I was really not disappointed, it was very delicious, and as a bonus I also tasted the caraway brandy. I have to admit, we were not thirsty during the day.
The other specialty for me was the French salad, I'm used to it being made of frozen vegetables and apples at home, which I can't stand, but here, to my greatest surprise, delicious vegetables out of the meat soup and some meat were added to the mayonnaise salad, it was delicious, in this version French salad became one of my favorites..
For lunch we had a beautiful golden broth, fried chicken, roasted onions and mashed potatoes, along with many sweets, and that day we were also able to learn about the secrets of making homemade bread, and chimney cake.
And for dinner, stuffed cabbage was served, and it is needless to say, of course it was delicious.
We didn't have much time to rest after these filling dishes, because for breakfast we gotsome mutton curd puliska, blood and liver sausages, and different cheeses - and of course we had to taste everything!
On the second day, we first visited a charcoal burner, where we could learn how charcoal is made, which we use for example for grilling and which is also used making chimney cakes.
Afterwards, we headed to the grave of Áron Tamási.
The famous writer died in Budapest in 1966. At his request, he was buried in his native village, Farkaslaka. The tombstone in the churchyard, created by Transylvanian sculptors Jenő Servátiusz and his son Tibor, bears the following inscription: He was a Szekler by descent, son of Hunnia. A loyal servant of his decaying squadron. His tombstone is from Hargita and. was made of an 8-ton basalt block.
Then we arrived at the Mini Transylvania park, where we can see miniature versions of Transylvania's most significant attractions - we can walk around models of more than ninety Transylvanian historical buildings and medieval castles.
Right at the entrance, we were able to taste boron water, which I admit was not my favorite, but at least I can say that I tried it.
If you visit the park, do not miss the Balázs Orbán visitor center, which presents the life, work and legacy of Balázs Orbán.
Then we visited the Lehel Kürtősház, where the grandmother of the founder-owner of Vitéz Kürtős, grandmother Irma - who for years used to visit the local beaches on weekends in her red polka-dotted apron, with a basket full of home-baked chimney cakes hanging on her arms, before this wonderful place opened - showed us how the traditional cakes are being made and we could taste some of them.
The Lehel Kürtősház opened its doors in 2000 in Székelyudvarhely in Transylvania - it has been operating for more than 23 years, where, in addition to the chimney cake, other traditional cakes are also made - plum pies for example.
We were very busy on the second day as well, in the afternoon we climbed Madarasi-Hargita, the highest mountain peak in Székelyföld. But only after we went to the public market to buy even local chocolates. Don't ask me how I could eat so much!
Arriving at the top of Madarasi-Hargita, a multitude of headstones, crosses, carved wooden statues and shaman's pillars await us, after we have arrived at a very important pilgrimage site for the Székely and Hungarian communities. In addition, the view is magnificent, in good weather you can see tens of kilometers away.
Before you start to worry that we might have been hungry on the second day,I can reassured you it wasn't the case - for lunch we had bean goulash, and for dinner, various grilled meats, mich, bacon, fried mushrooms and other delicacies were served, and of course accompanied by cranberry brandy.
Unfortunately, we left early in the morning on the third day, but the whole trip was so lovely and very memorable, not to mention the delicious food, I think I gained at least two kilos during this time... in any case, I will definitely come back to Transylvania again, because I had a wonderful time there, thank you again for the invitation!
Roaming and gastronomic adventures in Székelyföld, Romania