Archives March 2015

How to make a traditional Romanian Easter lunch

This is a good time of the year to impress you dear ones with how much you know about your new home and its cuisine. Whether it’s you family back home or your new friends in Romania, plan a surprise and cook them a Romanian Easter menu. It is rather simple to do it and fun. You can even invite them over to cook together. We came up with the best-known dishes Romanians cook on Easter. Here are the recipes:


Drob (similar to a haggis; cooking time: about 120 minutes)

Ingredients: lamb guts (heart, liver, kidney), 5oo grams of chicken liver, 4 boiled eggs, 4 raw eggs, 4 bunches of spring onions, 3 bunches of fresh parsley, 3 bunches of fresh dill, 2 slices of bread, one cup of milk, salt, pepper and bread crumbs.

Place the lamb guts and chicken liver in a saucepan with cold water for about an hour. Wash them well and boil them in clean water with salt. If they make foam, make sure you clear the foam with a spatula or sieve. Boil 4 eggs for about 5 minutes from the moment the water starts boiling. Chop finely the spring onions, the parsley and the dill. Let the lamb guts and chicken liver cool well and then grind them together with the two slices of bread soaked in milk. Mix them together with the chopped herbs and raw eggs and add salt and pepper. Grease a baking pan (the form is the same as the one used for the cozonac recipe, see below) with oil and dust it with the bread crumbs. Place half of the mixture in it, put the boiled eggs and then pour over the rest of the composition. Bake it for 40 – 45 minutes.


Lamb sour soup (cooking time: about 45 minutes)

Ingredients: 1 kg of lamb meat and bones, 2 or 3 bunches of green onions, 1 dry onion, 2 carrots, 1 parsley root, 3 or 4 spoons of vegetable oil to cook the vegetables, 30 – 40 grams of rice, 2 bunches of fresh lovage, 1 liter of fresh borş (fermented mix of bran and water) or the juice from one lemon, 2 yolks, cream and salt.

Chop finely the green onions, the dry onion, the carrots and parsley root, then cook them just a bit in oil. Wash the meat well put it in cold water to boil. Once it starts boiling, throw away the water, wash the meat well and the put it back to boil in fresh water. Put the cooked vegetables to boil together with the meat. When they are almost done, wash the rice and add it in. after the rice is boiled, add the borş or the juice from one lemon. Let it simmer until the meat is well cooked. Turn off the stove and add the fresh herbs. Mix the two yolks in a bowl and add soup from the cooking pot, little by little, until the bowl fills, mixing gently. Add this to the soup and mix well.


Cozonac (traditional cake Romanians make on Easter and Christmas) – check out the recipe for cozonac here


Pască (pictured; traditional round cake with cottage cheese and raisins Romanians make on Easter and Christmas; cooking time: about 50 minutes)

Ingredients: Dough – 2 ½ teaspoons of dried yeast, 1 cup of warm milk, ½ cup of sugar, 80 grams of soft butter, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 eggs, 4 ½ cups of flour (type 000, available in any hypermarket). Filling – 500 grams of cottage cheese, sugar, 3 eggs, 3 teaspoons of vanilla-flavored powdered sugar, raisins, 5 tablespoons of semolina and lemon zest.

Put the yeast in warm milk, adding the soft butter. Mix well the eggs with sugar and add salt. Pour it over the milk, add the vanilla-flavored sugar and the flour. Knead until you have an elastic dough, slightly sticky, but which doesn’t stick to hands. Cover it and let it rise until it doubles its size. Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing together all its ingredients. Split the dough into three unequal parts. Spread one in a greased and dusted baking pan. Split the second into two: from one, make decorations to put on top of the cake, and from the second make a ribbon to place around the walls of the cooking pan. The last part of the dough is used to make a braided ring to be placed on top of the ribbon. Add the filling, grease well the top of the cake with a mixed egg and put it in the oven. Take it out when it is browned enough.


Painted eggs (cooking time: 15 minutes)

Ingredients: 10 eggs, kit for painting eggs (available in any hypermarket in various colors), 7-8 tablespoons of grape vinegar, oil.

Wash the eggs well and put them to boil in water for about 10 minutes. In another pot, boil 200 ml water, add the egg paint from the kit and the grape vinegar, add the eggs. Take them out after 2 minutes (or the time mentioned in the instructions on the kit) on a plate to cool. Grease them with oil for shine, once they are dry.



Train stations to visit in Bucharest

Whether for a historical curiosity, an interest in the capital’s less visited sights or a search for good photo opportunities, a tour of Bucharest’s train stations has something to offer to everyone.

The oldest train station in the capital is Gara Filaret. It was inaugurated in 1869 as the capital’s first and the only one until 1872, when the Gara de Nord station opened. In 1960 its use was changed into a bus station but since its establishment, the area surrounding Gara Filaret was one of flourishing trade. In its close vicinity one can find the Carol Park but also many other industrial-purpose sites such as the Matches Factory, the National Minting and the Stamps Plant. The first train to leave the Filaret station had King Carol I of Romania as passenger.

Gara de NordThe construction of Bucharest’s and the country’s largest train station – Gara de Nord – kicked off in 1868. When it opened in 1872 so did the Roman-Galati-Bucuresti-Pitesti route. The building of the station combines classical architecture elements with ArtDeco details. The area itself where the station stands is filled with ArtDeco and Modernist-style buildings. Initially the station was called Gara Targovistei as one of the streets upon which the building overlooks today – Calea Grivitei – was called Calea Targovistei. The building is U shaped and made of two parallel buildings linked through a corridor. Nowadays, almost 200 trains make their way in and out of the station. There is a direct link from here to the Henri Coanda International Airport, through a train operated by the Romanian Railways Company CFR Calatori. Around 10,000 people are estimated to pass through the station daily. When getting to and departing the station beware of over-priced cabs parked in the area and offering transport.

Very close to Gara de Nord stands Gara Basarab. Built in 1959, it is used mainly as a railway node for short-distance running trains. It is served by the Basarab subway stations and several bus lines. A visit there can be a good opportunity to admire the views from the recently built Basarab overpass to which it links.

Also in the historical sites series is Gara Baneasa. Although rarely used today, it remains known as the Royal Train station because it was built in 1936 with the purpose of accommodating guests of the royal family of Romania. It had this purpose until 1947 when it was turned into a presidential station. After 1950, the communist authorities used it to welcome foreign dignitaries here. You can find it close to the Miorita fountain and Miorita bridge in Northern Bucharest, to which it shares common architectural elements. Another royal train station is to be found in Sinaia, the city accommodating the Peles castle.

And for the ultimate railways enthusiast, the tour of Bucharest train stations can be expanded with visits to sites out of use or of changed used today. The two now-extinct stations of the capital are Gara Herastrau, which used to stand close to the Herastrau park and Gara Dealul Spirii. The latter was part of the destroyed Uranus neighborhood.  Currently under renovation works is Gara Progresul, hosting the rail link of the country to Bulgaria. A transformed station is Gara Cotroceni, which lends its name to two train stations in the capital city. The first one used to stand close to the Cotroceni palace and was used by royal trains. After 1950 it was put out of use and turned into an entrance building for the Cotroceni palace.


Festivals in Romania to go to this year

Besides the upsurge of festivals that Bucharest has seen over the past years, Romania is home to many other arts& music festivals catering to the hippest and edgiest of audiences.

One of the oldest-standing such event is the Transylvania International Film Festival, scheduled to take place this year between May 29th and June 7th in Cluj Napoca. Established in 2002, it was the first international film festival in Romania and has its 14th edition approaching. The multitude of screenings, events and concerts, outstanding films selection and high-spirited atmosphere make it a go-to event each year for cinema die-hards and newbies alike. It is the event at which the most important domestic productions are released nationally, from Cristi Puiu’s The Death of Mr. Lazarescu to Alexandru Maftei’s Miss Christina. Over the years, it awarded many personalities of European and worldwide film, such as Julie Delpy, Vanessa Redgrave, Catherine Deneuve, Claudia Cardinale, Wim Wenders, Jacqueline Bisset, Geraldine Chaplin or Jiri Menzel, who came to Cluj to collect their distinction.

Classical music lovers will get their share of entertainment when the George Enescu Festival begins in Bucharest in September. Running once every two years, the festival is expected to bring this year around 2,500 foreign artists and 500 national artists at 58 concerts. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra will play at this year’s event for the first time, led by conductor Sir Simon Rattle. Other top orchestra lined up for the 2015 edition are: London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, San Francisco Symphony, Munchen Opera Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Sankt Petersburg Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Bayerische Staatoper, Royal Liverpool Symphony Orchestra and Monte Carlo Philharmonic while the Romanian side will be represented by the National Youth Orchestra, George Enescu Choir and Orchestra Philharmonic and the Radio Hall National Orchestra with the Radio Academic Choir. Among artists headlining the event are: Anne Sophie Mutter, Fazil Say, Murray Perahia, Yfrem Bronfman, Andras Schiff, Pierre Laurent Aimard, Maria Joao Pires, Renaud and Gautier Capucon, David Garett, Alexandra Dariescu and Janine Jansen. Subscriptions to the event sold out the day they were put on sale but individual tickets are still available on

On the other side of the musical spectrum comes the Electric Castle Festival, getting ready for is third run this year. It is held on the domain of the Bontida Banffy Castle, close to Cluj-Napoca, and documented since the 16th century. It offers participants all-day urban activities, ranging from extreme sports to audio-video production workshops, and a variety of electronic music, all set in a historical location. This year over 150 artists are expected to line up. You can get there by car, with buses running from Cluj to the location over the duration of the festival or by train (to Cluj-Napoca).

As far as theater experiences are concerned, the Sibiu International Theater Festival has become, during the 19 years since its establishment, a landmark for attendees in more than 68 countries. This year the festival is scheduled to run from June 12th to the 21st. Besides the performances shown over the span of ten days, the festival hosts the Sibiu BookFest fair and the Visual Arts Platform supported by Romanian graphic artist Dan Perjovschi.

A similarly long tradition has the Garana Jazz Festival, taking place for 18 years now in the village of Garana, in Caras-Severin county. It is Europe’s only open-air jazz festival and the lineups worth the travel. The location can be reached by car, within 50 Km from the Timisoara airport, or by train, within 20 minutes from the Resita train station. Artists stopping so far at Garana included: Eberhard Weber, Mike Stern, Jan Garbarek, Charles Lloyd, John Abercrombie, Miroslav Vitous, Zakir Hussain, Bugge Wesseltoft, Lars Danielsson, Avishay Cohen or Nils Petter Molvær

Another open-air festival, this time of alternative music and located close to Bucharest, on the Stirbey domain, is Summer Well. It is at about half-an-hour drive from the capital and usually gathers top names, as previous years’ Bastille or Placebo. The two day event is set for August 8th and 9th of this year.

And to cover even more of musical tastes comes Rokolective, at its tenth edition this year. Focused on abstract electronic music, the festival will run from April 23rd to April 26th and line up around 25 artists. The opening night is taken by Aisha Devi (previously known as Kate Wax) and other confirmed artists are Fatima Al Qadiri, Objektand Abdulla Rashim, and appearances by Ninos Du Brasil, Lena Willikens and Mondkopf. The event is set in venues such as the National Museum of Contemporary Art MNAC or Halele Carol.

Survey: a quarter of Romanians discard culture, while half of them read books

Almost 25% of Romanians believe culture is ‘not very important’ while 63% of Romania’s population never goes to the theater. These are some the findings of the Cultural Consumption Barometer to be launched next week.

However, Romanians are not ignoring culture altogether: almost half of them read a book or more a month and 43% visit museums once a year or more often.

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Saving the Romanian wooden churches

The European heritage organization Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute have a plan to save wooden churches in Romania’s southern Transylvania and northern Oltenia regions while creating some jobs in the process.

The churches were included in ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ heritage sites in Europe in 2014, following a nomination by the national heritage NGO Pro Patrimonio Foundation.

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New mall in Western Romanian city of Timişoara

South – African fund NEPI recently started work on its new shopping mall in the Western Romanian city of Timisoara. The mall will cover 70,000 sqm in southern Timisoara, and will include a 4,000 – sqm multiplex cinema. NEPI will invest EUR 78 million in the new mall, whose completion date was not yet announced.

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Fire destroys 5 hectares of Bucharest’s Văcăreşti Delta

A fire destroyed some 5 hectares of vegetation in Bucharest’s Văcăreşti Delta, on Wednesday, March 11. Several fires affected the area in the past months.

Bucharest’s Delta is located in the area of the former Văcăreşti lake, in the south-eastern part of Bucharest. It covers around 200 hectares, including some 80 hectares of water.

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Castle Break: discovering castles and mansions in Romania

A Romanian NGO called Arche Association recently launched Castle Break, an initiative that aims to promote less known castles and mansions in Romania through cultural tourism.

Tourists can choose from several cultural tours organized in different regions in Romania. The tours include visits to local craftsmen, city tours, traditional products tastings and visits to castles and mansions. For this year, the association planned seven tours comprising over 20 castles and mansions in Romania.

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20 funny expressions Romanians use

There are plenty of expressions and sayings in the Romanian language, many of which very hard to translate. Foreigners who embark on a journey of learning the local language sometimes learn it the hard way.

Romanians have their own funny ways of expressing feelings or talk about different things, but most of the time these expressions are hard to understand if you are not a local; some of them however might be similar, or close to expressions in English.

Here’s a list of 20 funny Romanian expressions, their word-by-word translations into English, followed by explanations of what exactly do they mean.

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Romania’s Prince Nicolae crosses Romania by bike

Romania’s Prince Nicolae will cross Romania by bike, on a route linking Sighetu Marmatiei in the northern Maramures region to the Black Sea port of Constanta in south-east Romania, for humanitarian purposes.

He will travel over 1,000 km in 11 days, between April 23 and May 3.

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Debenhams will re-open in Romania

British retailer Debenhams will make a comeback in Romania end-March, by re-opening and expanding its first shop in the country. Debenhams plans to open its three-storey shop in the Bucuresti Mall shopping center, which will cover some 2,800 sqm. The retailer previously occupied the space under a different local franchiser, until 2013.

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5 most beautiful lakes in Romania

Zănoaga Mare

With a maximum depth of 29 meters, this is Romania’s deepest glacial lake. Located in Retezat Mountains (Southern Carpathians), the lake is surrounded by a wild area covered with slabs and juniper trees and has a mountain shelter on its shore. Tourists can get to the lake by three mountain trails: Gura Zlata – Zănoaga Lake (4- 5 hours, 9.5 km; trail mark: red triangle), Bucura Lake – Zănoaga Lake (3 – 3½ hours, 5.1 km, trail mark: red triangle), Gura Apei – Bucura Lake (10 – 11 hours, 20 km, trail mark: blue cross).


Sfânta Ana

Saint Anne (in Romanian) is the only lake in Romania to have formed in a volcano crater. It is located in Mohoş Natural Reservation in the Eastern Carpathians and is part of a spectacular natural scenery that includes the Red Lake (Lacul Roşu, see below), canyon Cheile Bicazului and old spa resorts like Băile Tuşnad. Sfânta Ana can be reached by car on DN12. Coming from Brașov, turn right on DJ 113. Before Băile Balvanyos locality, enter road DJ 113A and drive for about 7 km.


Red Lake

A natural barrier lake, Lacul Roşu (Red Lake, in Romanian) was formed in 1837 following the collapse of a slope in Ghilcoş Mountain, in the same Eastern Carpathians, next to canyon Cheile Bicazului. The colour of the lake comes from the red soil rich in iron oxides and hydroxides that ran down from the slopes in the lake basin. The easiest way to get to Lacul Roşu is by car, from Brașov (about 180 km). Drive from Brașov up to Gheorgheni on road DN12. From Gheorgheni, turn to DN12C and drive for about 25 km, until you reach the lake, on the left side of the road.



Located in the same area of the country as the Red Lake and Sfânta Ana, this 40 km long reservoir is still being used in electricity production by the hydroelectric power plant nearby. It is also known as Izvorul Muntelui (The Mountain Spring, in Romanian). This is the second largest artificial lake in Romania, set at the heart of the Eastern Carpathians, between two natural parks: Ceahlău Mountains Natural Park and Vânători Neamţ Natural Park. The shortest way to get to Bicaz is from Piatra Neamţ on road DN 15 (about 55 km).


Iezerul Ighiel

Iezerul Ighiel and its surrounding area are a mixed natural reservation in the west of Transylvania, in Trascău Mountains. The lake is a natural dam formed in Jurassic limestone, on a base of eruptive rocks. What makes it so special is the beautiful setting of the eastern side of Trascău Mountains and the tranquility of this less popular natural attraction. You can get to Iezerul Ighiel from Alba Iulia, on road 74 to Zlatna locality. Once you reach the rail road at Şard, turn right on road 107 H, pass Şard, Ighiu and Ighiel localities and continue until the lake appears on teh right side of the road.


Photo source: Wikipedia

New mall will replace Bucharest’s Pipera market

Bucharest will welcome a new mall this spring as the first stage of Pipera Plaza shopping center in Bucharest will be completed in May.

Alpha Property Group, part of Intercora group, and Romanian investor Marius Ivan develop the project on the former Pipera market premises in Northern Bucharest.

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What are the Romanian Mucenici & how to make them

A religious celebration and a tasty sweet dish – this is what the Romanian word Mucenici (used in plural) means, in short. Here’s what’s behind the tradition, plus two traditional recipes for the two main regional variations of the same dish.

Every year on March 9, the Orthodox Church celebrates the Forty Martyrs (commonly known as mucenici): these were Roman soldiers in the Legio XII Fulminata who lived in the time of Emperor Licinius (308-324), a persecutor of Christians. They were tortured and executed in Sebaste (present-day Sivas in Turkey) because they refused to apostatize their Christian belief.

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Costumes from Romanian Berlinale – awarded film, displayed at Bucharest mall

The costumes used in the feature length historic drama Aferim, which got director Radu Jude the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival this year, are currently on display at a mall in Bucharest.

The outfits took six months to make, said designer Dana Păpăruz, and over 30 people, including craftsmen, worked on making them.

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4Dx cinema at Bucharest’s newest mall

The new Mega Mall shopping center will have the first 4Dx cinema in Romania, operated by Cinema City, as well as a sports bar, a family leisure area and a playground for children. Mega Mall will open in Bucharest on April 23.

The new Cinema City multiplex will occupy one of the largest surfaces in the new mall. It will have 14 digital cinema halls, including a 4Dx auditorium.

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Romanian biologists break the ice in Polar research

Three Romanian biologists have recently returned from an Antarctica expedition and brought hundreds of ice, water, and soil samples which they will study in Bucharest. The trio researches the effects of global warming and pollution. The results of their studies could be used in biomedicine and industry.

Cristina Purcărea – expedition leader, Cristian Coman – coordinator and Corina Iţcuş are the three researchers who want to contribute to the worldwide studies on global warming.

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Famous Communist-era restaurant to re-open on Herăstrău lake

Romanian restaurant chain City Grill will open an 1,000-seat restaurant in Bucharest’s Herastrau park, on the lake shore. It will be City Grill’s biggest restaurant. The chain recently leased the Pescăruş restaurant, famous in the Communist period, now a historic monument. It will keep its name – which is the Romanian word for seagull – and build on the existing brand.

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French industrialist turns Romania into an international fashion brand

A tall, elegantly dressed man greets everybody with a smile in the Formens suits factory. His suit jacket fits him perfectly, and his dotted hanky in his breast pocket, matching his dotted socks, gives him a chic, youngish look. He can’t be more than 40. Where is the old confections magnate we were supposed to meet?

When reading Gerard Losson’s bio, one would expect an elderly man, of at least 60. After all, he started a business in Romania in 1997, so he would have had to be already a seasoned businessman back then to make it through the muddy waters of the post-communist transition period.

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