- magnolia Jan 9, 2002 08:44 AM
Am going there for work. Not sure of exact intinerary, but wine region factors in.
Any/all suggestions about food, wine, tourism, general atmosphere, as well as sources of info...are welcome...only thing I found on the board so far is a reference to the worst meal s/o ever had (!) and, not surprisingly, some restaurants in Queens.
If you like polenta, Rumania is the place for you... they call it "mamaliga" and it's served as rice would be elsewhere. I wish I could tell you more but I went to Bucharest when I was a child and don't remember anything except the pictures of Ceausescu with that god-awful smirk, and the mamaliga.
Got a Lonely Planet guide for it yet?
I LOVE polenta - and I saw that post on mamaliga on one of the other boards but didn't know it was relevant, so thanks! That's a relief because everyone has told me that the food there is...er, not great (and doesn't resemble Sammy's Roumanian).
There are a few guidebooks - LP I think has one, Rough Guide and Blue Guide too - may purchase one of these but and not to cast aspersions, but I know some guidebooks are written sometimes as many as two years in advance, and the sections are often updated by phone in a very haphazard manner - which is not such a big deal in a well-trodden place like France or UK but in a place like Romania where things seem to change drastically, it's a bit tricky...so personal recommendations are always welcome.
While I think Romanian food is fantastic, one doesn't go there for the food these days. I spent a week travelling around Romania last summer with a cousin who lives there, and I have found that it's almost impossible to get a good restaurant meal there. In fact, restaurants don't even make "real" homestyle Romanian food; most will serve up some variety of grilled porkchops ("gratar") or traditional sausages ("mici") with fried potatoes. There are also countless cafes that serve sandwiches, pizza (always served with ketchup--yes, ketchup!), or other fast food-type things. The best restaurant food I had was in a tiny Moldovan village where my cousin knew the proprietor and where the only other customers were the road crew that happened to be working there . . . . In short, the really good Romanian food is to be found in the homes of ex-patriate Romanians, who have access to and can afford ingredients. Second best would be in someone's home in Romania. Restaurants there don't even approximate real Romanian cusine, in part because there is no culture of eating out like there is in the West (let alone spare cash for restaurant meals). When people do eat out, they want something a little sexier than what mom dishes out at home, and this, unfortunately, is often in the form of fast food.
That said, there might be some places in Bucharest that you might try out. I'm thinking in particular of a place that's decked out like a traditional Romanian village (it's called Hanul something) which might be fun particularly if they have music on the night you go. Sorry I can't really help you with more specifics, but you can check a recently published guidebook. Also, if you're in Bucharest and you see street vendors with hot pretzel-type breads for sale, by all means try them. They are delicious.
Finally, drink bottled water while you're there. And beer, it's quite good. And have a great time!