No Bloody Marys for Dracula at This Transylvanian Brunch - Modern Farmer

No Bloody Marys for Dracula at This Transylvanian Brunch

This roving brunch festival held in provincial Romanian villages brings swarms of people into the countryside to celebrate local culture and cuisine.

The roving fÁªte features live performances, from folk dancing teens to tunic-garbed singers with accordions. Meanwhile a team of babushka-wearing volunteers chop vegetables and stir pots in a cottage kitchen, prepping a feast of traditional dishes like ciorba de tarhon (tangy tarragon soup), zacusca (vegetable spread), and sarmale (meat and rice stuffed cabbage), which they serve al fresco on wooden tables. “The night before the event, the kitchen is often filled by singing old women,” says Joachim Cotaru, one of the founders.

Like everything served at the Transylvanian Brunch, the cheeses were homemade.
Like everything served at the Transylvanian Brunch, the cheeses were homemade.
Doughnuts, crescent cookies similar to rugelach, and other desserts rounded out the meal.
Doughnuts, crescent cookies similar to rugelach, and other desserts rounded out the meal.
A stack of country bread topped with spring herb puree and radishes joined homemade cheeses, charcuterie, and a mushroom tart.
A stack of country bread topped with spring herb puree and radishes joined homemade cheeses, charcuterie, and a mushroom tart.

The brunches began in 2008 when a consortium of local agriculture and tourism groups set out to promote Transylvania’s overlapping amalgam of Hungarian, Saxo and Romanian foods and traditions ”“ not to tourists, per se, but to urban-dwelling Romanians who might otherwise pooh-pooh the virtues of country life.

A guest sneaking a peak at the food, while listening to announcements.
A guest sneaking a peak at the food, while listening to announcements.
Willy Schuster explains how he first became an organic farmer in 1999.
Willy Schuster explains how he first became an organic farmer in 1999.
Brunch participants exploring the sloped fields behind the Schuster's house.
Brunch participants exploring the sloped fields behind the Schuster's house.

It worked. “The first events had 20 to 40 guests, including the organizers,” says co-founder Mihai Dragomir. Today nearly 200 people gather at each celebration to kibbitz in the sunshine while nibbling on squares of placinta cu rabarbar (rhubarb cake) and bites of locally-made sheep’s cheese.

The brunches capture Transylvania’s history and vibrancy, and point to a growing movement of farmers who want to bring their unique foods and rural take on life to the wider world. “Our villages have so much to offer in authentic traditions and knowledge,” says Cotaru. “For a few hours the villages become famous, and the locals feel that their home is appreciated.”

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