Zoltan Szabo

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Villa Westfalia, sausages galore and mititei ala Dracula

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By Zoltan Szabo

I had dinner the other day at Villa Westfalia located at the outskirt of Kezdivasarhely, a picturesque little town in the heart of Szekelyland, Transylvania, 30 min. drive-away from Sepsiszentgyorgy, the city I was born in (Kovaszna district of Romania).

We arrived in a sunny late-afternoon and sat around in comfortable wood and straw-made caoches, had local “Ciuc” beer and tasted a few pretty good Romanian wines, dry and nicely aromatic Muscat Ottonel* & Feteasca Alba** blend from Jidvei DOC and a soft and tasty, just a bit off-dry Cabernet Sauvignon from the Deaulul Mare DOC. Liked the fact that these wines were served at accurate temperature and in decent stems.

As we started salivating by the intriguing smells of the BBQ, we were invited and seated inside at a large table with art-deco candleholders. The room was mid-size and cozy with dim lights.

Never looked at the menu, just the way I like it!

So, there was great conversation going and some more wine arrived.
We were also promted by Csaba and tasted his home-made "szilvapalinka", a traditional, local (from a nearby village, Ozsdola) and dangerous, prune-made, double-distilled spirit. He said "just to have the appetite goin'"... Remind you, that this fine elixir is also at least 50% alcohol per volume, but hey, so tasty!

A nice and fresh mixed garden salad arrived, just like that, on its own with no dressing.

Then Arpad, the owner and one of the chefs served us BBQ ribs and thick, grilled pork loin chops.

The ribs were really nicely done, the whole rack grilled at once then sliced in single ribs, but nice and meaty, smokey, and served with a garlic-herb-based sauce aside. The pork loin was perfectly grilled, just medium well, stuffed with lots of fresh garlic cloves... Garlic always does the trick of lowering my blood pressure, so I kept drinking red vino, just to counter-balance the effect...smart, eh...?!

Then, forgetting about the food and wine pairing aspect of gastronomy, there was some more "szilvapalinka" consumed... you go figure...and by then our little crowd got courages & loud, jokes were tossed around, and Mr. Lukacs in his usual high form had entertained us all...Mr. Nagyolah, a fine young man, whos father is the "potato king" of the country, was elaborating about the sad aftermath of much "szilvapalinka" drinking and the effects of hung-over... Both these aforementioned young gentlemen bear the distinguished first name of "Zoltan"...so, when our wives were trying to address to any of us, all three were turning heads...you imagine...but, after a while nothing was a matter anyway!

And, there was some more wine flowing, and some more "szilvapalinka" for dessert...I mean for digestife...ha ha, I am such a gourmand...

Some of the the ladies also had "palacsinta", kind of crepes’ Hungarian version, well drizzled with liquid chocolate and powdered sugar.

A very fun night had by all, for sure, Szekelyland-style! You eat and drink so well in this mysterious area (think of Dracula…) and meet wonderful people with a unique sense of humor and life-ideology.

Big thank you to Arpad and his wife, Ester (who’s from Germany’s Westfalia province… Nordrhein-Westfalen in German) for their hospitality! Same sentiment goes to Csaba for his outstanding generousity!

I’d highly recommend this fine spot to anyone from the Americas should they happen to be around here. They should indeed visit! Villa Westfalia is a gem with sophisticated clientele…I’ve seen more impressive BMW parked in front than at any Ritz-Carlton…!

They also have stylish rooms for rent for over-night stay. Service is friendly, the staff very accommodating, showing you genuine “szekely” hospitality.
Check out http://www.villawestfalia.ro/ for directions and contact.

*Muscat Ottonel or Muskat-Ottonel (in Germany) is a white wine grape that is a member of the Muscat family of Vitis vinifera. It is most notable for its use in dessert wines from Austria and Croatia as well as dry wines from Alsace and Hungary. In Alsace, the varietal designation "Muscat" is allowed for the varieties Muscat Ottonel, Muscat blanc à petit grains and Muscat blanc à petit grains in any combination (but not for other members of the Muscat family), and blends between these are common. First cultivated in Alsace by the Loire grower Moreau-Robert in 1852, the grape's parentage is believed to be the Muscat de Saumur and Chasselas. Also widely planted in Romania and dry to sweet wines made from it.

**Fetească albă is a Moldovan white grape variety, mainly cultivated in Moldova and Romania. In Moldova, it uses the biggest area planted among local varieties - 900 hectares. This grape is used a lot for sparkling wine production, but also for varietal Fetească wine. Also called Leanyka in Hungary.


I've attended the "Haromszeki Kolbaszfesztival 2009" held in Sepsiszentgyorgy, an amateur sausage fest, although few of the local chefs were in attendance as well, offering the most delicious home-made sausages for sampling, along beer, wine and local spirits. I have no clue who emerged as the winner, but that's of no importance anyway...the "spirit" of community is and of appreciating gastronomy, and life...a succesfully completed affair. People were dancing on tunes of "csardas" played by a live duo.

Off to Tusnadfurdo after, to have a fabulous lunch on the patio by (artificial) Lake Ciucas, ("Stânca-Soimilor" Restaurant), situated in a "crater" of gorgeous (volcanic by origin) mountains covered by pine trees, with pristine air and calming ambience. Had bean soup with ham and sweet red onion, grilled chicken and veal tenderloin, "mititei"* with mustard...beer and bulk red wine from Mehedinti district that tasted so awesome...!  Most likely a Cabernet, but who knows...

*"Mititei or mici (Romanian for little, small or very little, very small - plural) is a traditional Romanian dish, grilled minced-meat rolls made from beef (usually mixed with mutton and pork), which contain garlic, black pepper, thyme, coriander, anise, savory and sometimes a touch of paprika. Sodium bicarbonate (and sometimes broth or water) is also added to the mixture. It is best served accompanied by mustard and beer. Ideally the mustard should not contain too much vinegar, because the sour taste does not fit with the Mititei. The mititei are very popular in Romania, together with the Shkembe or (burta) chorba - a cow or pork stomach soup".


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