Monday, January 7, 2013

Epiphany ...Ancient Tradition


Epiphany or Theophany on January 6 and St. John the Baptist on January 7, mark the first week of January for the Romanian people with great reverence and renewal.

On these holy days the Romanians go to church to bring home the blessed water, used for curing and purification.

In the villages and towns with rivers and streams, young men compete in bringing back to the shore the cross that the village priest throws into the frozen waters.

Holy Water

It is believed that those who succeed will have great fortune and prosperity in the new year. During this time all waters are believed to be holy, which is why women do not do laundry for the following 8 days.
Back in the kitchens, celebrations and feasts are planed for the new year, and simple everyday meals are being created as they have been since the beginning of time.

One place to discover folk traditions, food and wines as well as Transylvanian culture and history is Brasov.

Its particular charm comes from its details, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture, as well as a wealth of historical and cultural attractions. 

Brasov is one of the most visited places in Romania. Founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1211 on an ancient Dacian site and settled by the Saxons as one of the seven walled citadels, the city exudes a distinct medieval ambiance.

Stroll around the old Town Hall Square (Piata Sfatului) where you can admire colorfully painted and ornately trimmed baroque structures.

Take a peek inside the Black Church (Biserica Neagra), the largest Gothic church in Romania. Its name derives from damage caused by the Great Fire of 1689, when flames and smoke blackened its walls. The interior is impressive, very well preserved and houses one of the largest organs in Eastern Europe.

One simple and delicious Transylvanian dish from Brasov is:



1 small cabbage

2 eggs
2 tbs flour

Italian style bread crumbs
salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil
fresh flat leaf parsley
fresh dill

  • Cut the cabbage in 1 inch thick slices and place them in a pot of boiling salted water for 5 minutes.
  • Gently remove with a spatula and drain on paper towels to cool.
  • Beat eggs and add the flour making the batter.
  • Place the bread crumbs in a large dish.
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan, enough to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Dip the cabbage slices in the egg/flour batter and then in bread crumbs, making sure both sides are coated.
  • sauté in the hot oil on medium heat turning after few minutes or when golden brown color. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve hot with a sprinkle of fresh herbs chopped and a dollop of sour cream.
The dish could also be a side to roasts and grilled meat or served as a vegetarian meal. It calls for a Riesling wine from Apold Vineyards, Sibiu.

I always find an excuse to linger in the mountains around Brasov, particularly in a heavenly spot called
Poiana Brasov.

One favored place to stay is CASA VIOREL, a complex of charming villas and horse stables on the side of the mountain.

The hospitality of the Viorel family and the superb dining experience at COLIBA HAIDUCILOR their restaurant brings me back each time I visit Brasov.

Coliba Haiducilor Romanian Restaurant

Casa Viorel- Poiana Brasov, Romania