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Jan 12, 2010 12:17 PM

What Can You Tell Me about the Cuisine of Moldova?

My wife and I are considering a trip to Moldova. This could be an interesting place to visit, but outside of a reputable wine industry, cabbage rolls and a fairly heavy reliance upon cornmeal, I know little about the food and drink of this country. Further insight would be appreciated.

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  1. (I'm anticipating this will be moved to the International forum... I have an unreplied thread about Transnistria there...)

    I am also planning a trip this summer (including Transnistria) and haven't found much information. I've been doing as much reading as I can ("Lost Province: Adventures in a Moldovan Family", "Playing The Moldovans At Tennis" and Lonely Planet Romania/Moldova are pretty much the only books available at the public library here, and that's in a city of one million!). I'm sure your research has lead you to the town of .

    5 Replies
    1. re: Jetgirly

      I had not yet been to this site last January. Just now, out of curiosity, I did a search for Moldova and this thread came up.

      I was in Moldova in 1999. I realize that a lot can change in a decade, but it was an interesting trip and the food was interesting as well. I was curious if either or both of you ever made your trip Moldova and if so, what are your thoughts about your visit.

      Jetgirly, my father is mentioned in the book, 'Playing the Moldovans at Tennis'. He's the guy the author refers to as Big Jim on page 144.

      1. re: John E.

        Yes, I did spend a few days in Chisinau this summer. I found the food to be fantastic. I'm a vegetarian so I was somewhat limited in what I could order (and there aren't really all that many restaurants), but every restaurant seemed to have delicious vegetable-based dishes. I had some fantastic salads, vegetable tarts, soups, etc. That being said, most of the restaurants I ate at seemed to have mainly foreign or young Moldovan customers. I saw very few families dining out (in fact, I can think of only one family- in Tiraspol), and very few older Moldovans dining out. I don't think Moldova has made enough economic gains to have a fully established restaurant culture yet.

        I'm attaching a photo of a dish I ate at Cactus Cafe in Chisinau.

        1. re: Jetgirly

          I was in Moldova with my father in June '99. He was working, I was along for the ride because he didn't want to return there alone. (He was there for the month of November. Apparently, it's very cold and dark there in November). We were there in June. On the other thread you posted about Moldova, I mentioned the four restaurants that I remembered. Of the 4, Cactus was the least impressive. The last night we were there we took a group of 12 to The Barracuda restaurant in downtown Chisinau. It is a jazz club/seafood place. Everyone had drinks and wine with dinner and the bill before tip was $63. The food was fantastic. We were told not to eat the fish because of the uncertainty of the cleanliness of the waters they came from, so I had rabbit. It tasted good, but they didn't seem to know how to butcher it. We seemed to have fresh cucumbers and tomatoes with every meal. We also had the opportunity to have two traditional Moldovan meals in the apartments of business associates. They were even more memorable than the restaurant meals.

          I think the economy still is very bad in Moldova. When we were there the exchange rate was 12 lei to the USD. It was 1 lei to ride the small bus/vans which was about .08 cents per ride.

          When we were there, they didn't really have much of a tourism industry. There were only about two places really worth seeing, the monestary at Old Orhei and the Cricova Winery.

        2. re: John E.

          Have not made the trip although still considering it. May be on down the road a piece, however. In the meantime, hopefully Moldova's economy will bloom.

          1. re: Perilagu Khan

            If you do go, make sure it's late spring, summer or early fall, because without good weather, the trip wouldn't be much fun.

      2. We have several Moldovan grad students. They say the cuisine is similar to that of Romania and Ukraine.

        It sounds like a desperately depressing place. jetgirly, if you posted about Transdniestra and nobody replied it's probably because that's an incredibly dangerous part of the world and nobody has experience with it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: John Manzo

          I visited Transnistria this summer and felt it was very safe. In retrospect I would have much rather spent most of my time there as opposed to Chisinau, but as a young girl traveling alone I erred on the side of caution during the pre-planning stage. On my minibus from Chisinau to Tiraspol there was an elderly German man visiting with his Moldovan wife, and at the "border" :) there was also a Swedish family crossing for tourism in a rented car. I didn't encounter any other tourists after crossing the "border", however... I'm not sure where they all go. Also, my border crossing (in both directions) was slow but threat- and bribe-free. I practiced saying "thank you" in Russian, and everyone at the guard booth thought it was AMAZING when the Canadian girl thanked them in Russian! I now have a weird desire to visit all of the BBC's "Places that Don't Exist"!

          From a culinary standpoint it's "nice" that the Kvint factory is only about three minutes by foot from the bus/train station (I don't think any trains are currently running?). I have mentioned before I don't know what cognac should taste like, but the stuff I bought is so gross I gave all but one bottle away (and that bottle is for souvenir purposes!). They have other products as well- I didn't have a hard time finding vegetarian food, as most servers spoke some English. There was a nice(ish) restaurant on the main street in Tiraspol- it had white booths- where the menu had pictures I could point at. I don't remember seeing any menus with English translations (as they obviously speak Russian and use the Cyrillic alphabet). I'd been hoping to find a Sheriff restaurant, but I didn't have any reason to go out to the area around the stadium and didn't notice anything downtown. As I was leaving I passed through Bender- I will say that looked like the yuckiest market I've seen (yet).

        2. Spent a month last year in Roumania and Bulgaria. Yes, lots of cabbage and potatoes and alcohol, like Latvia, but a lot of cheese bureks as well, and they were wonderful. In Transylvania many strange local 'delicacies', but was certainly not a great food trip. Every family makes a plum brandy that will burn holes in clothing, harsh stuff but universal.