T E A M DOUGLAS WILLIAMS
Co-owner/Editorial Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
ARABELLA McINTYRE-BROWN Consultant Editor
MARCEL DE ROODE
Co-owner/Commercial Director, 0768 971 647, email@example.com
FULVIA MEIROŞU Marketing Director and Website Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org ADA POPESCU
ALEXANDRU HĂMURARU Distribution Manager
You can get a hard copy of OZB magazine at the following distribution points: International Schools, Ted's Coffee Shops, restaurants and bars in the Old Town - Van Gogh, Café Klein, Mojo; World Class, AFI Palace, Starbucks Băneasa, Starbucks Pipera Plaza and Starbucks Iancu Nicolae, the restaurants on Iancu Nicolae St, hotels Sheraton, Hilton, Pullman, Marriott, Intercontinental; Embassies, Chambers of Commerce.
Hello, bună, and welcome to OZB, your new lifestyle magazine all about Romania, in English.
D ouglas W illiams -
PRINT IS DEAD LONG LIVE PRINT Issue six and this puts OZB halfway towards the 12, which would be a year and that would definitely be a milestone for us. So this is perhaps, well, a half-mile stone, kind of like a kilometre stone in the modern, metric world. Who would use the imperial system? 16 ounces in a pound, 12 inches in a foot, what!? How utterly barmy and yet the US totally does and even funny ol’, silly ol’ Blighty uses miles on its sign posts though it’s mainly metric elsewhere. I’m so over “Great” Britain these days. I’ve been pondering some of the biggies lately, as you can see, the imponderables, like, for example, is print really dead? Do people just not read anymore? Is this exercise, me sitting here typing, hunt and pecking, at my computer a bit like the tree that falls in the forest without anybody witnessing it? Has the phone so comprehensively consumed all other means of acquiring information that there just isn’t really any point in newspapers, magazines or even books? Of course there’s Facebook and who in their right mind isn’t consumed to some extent by Facebook? There is some good materials on there but there’s also an almighty load of guff that will suck the life out of the best of us. Like a lit candle on a sunk submarine at the bottom of the ocean, eating the oxygen while the stricken sailors slowly asphyxiate… Not that I object that strongly to Facebook, I’m an addict like everyone else, but when it becomes 99% of the population’s default source of both news and entertainment then it’s a tad worrying. Especially when, as we’ve seen, it can be heavily manipulated and with disastrous consequences for the planet. So people don’t read, except for Facebook posts? Print is dead? It’s curious then how bars and cafes
in western European countries are strewn with all manner of magazines, brochures and leaflets. And the reason they exist is that they satisfy two clear needs - firstly, the reader’s desire for an aggregation of the blizzard of information out there by like-minded, professional, information-gatherers, writers, photographers, designers and these are professions, not hobbies, contrary what some might think. Secondly, these publications allow businesses to communicate their various messages to existing and potential consumers/ customers in one of the most targeted and effective ways possible. Nevertheless, print certainly has some powerful enemies. Google and Facebook are two of the world’s biggest companies with multi-billion dollar revenues that are largely generated through, err, yup, those very same advertising budgets that print depends upon. And guess where people have been getting the idea that print is dead? You got it. Google, or more specifically Alphabet, and social media like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat don’t like print and they’re not the only ones. Apple, Samsung, LG, Nokia etc - these guys don’t like print either, they’re uber keen on stoking our phone obsessions for obvious reasons and I’d theorise they allocate marketing budget accordingly. And let’s not forget those not so minnows Vodafone, Orange etc. This powerful triumvirate are great in many ways and they have revolutionised the world mostly for the good, but they do want us to believe print is dead. But the thing is: society is weakened without print and crippled when our only source of information is through our phones and through social media algorithms. Therefore, I say, support print. Please.
Charlie Ottley returns to Romania for a new series: FLAVOURS OF ROMANIA.
Food in the village is the core of Vlad Dumitrescuâ€™s photo essay.
32 38 Home cooking and eating out in Bucharest and throughout the country.
44 Tasting some of the best Romanian wines. Massive deforestation is clearing Romaniaâ€™s virgin forests.
Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania - Patrir NGO based in Cluj is impacting the world.
RUGBY FANS GATHERING When: March 17 Where: The Marriott Grand Hotel What: St. Patrick’s Day 2018 Rugby Bonanza
It’s that time of year again when Irish people and their friends prepare to celebrate their National Day. Don’t miss the St. Patrick’s Day 2018 Rugby Bonanza at Champion’s Sports bar in The Marriott Grand Hotel on Saturday 17th March from 14.00! For the third consecutive year the Romanian Irish Business Association is organizing together with the colleagues from the other Chambers of Commerce the gathering of Rugby Fans from the Irish, British, French and Italian business communities to watch the exciting culmination of the 2018 Six Nations Tournament. Each of the three thrilling matches will be preceded by a buffet meal with specialties from the respective teams which can be washed down by beer from the sponsors Guinness, Peroni and Ursus. On top of all the rugby fun, St. Patrick’s Day entertainment will be provided by a performance from the Steysha School of Irish Dance and, for those who have survived the excitement of the day, the evening will be rounded off with live Irish music from Bucharest’s premier Irish Folk band, the Foggy Few. Ticket numbers are strictly limited and available on a first come first served basis on-line at a cost of 180 RON and includes 3 buffet meals and 6 beer tokens. You should print your payment confirmation and bring it with you to exchange for your ticket at the door. For more information, see: www.riba.org.ro
RUSSIAN COSSACK STATE DANCE COMPANY When: March 23 (Iași); March 25 (Constanţa); March 26 (Bucharest) Where: Opera Naţională - Iași; Casa de Cultură a Sindicatelor - Constanţa; Sala Palatului - Bucharest What: Dance Show
Russian Cossack State Dance Company, dubbed the best company in the world, brings to the public in Romania their most extraordinary show. “This is the best, most fascinating dance group!” wrote The Scotsman. The company, under the artistic direction of Leonid Milovanov, has toured the world over - US, Canada, UK and most of Europe, Korea and China. 2018 is the year they enthrall Romania with this two hour long show set up with live music, nine sets of costumes, master choreography and storytelling. Don’t miss! 8
ST. PATRICK’S DAY IRISH BALL When: March 24 Where: The Hilton Hotel Bucharest What: St. Patrick’s Day Irish Ball
St. Patrick’s Day Irish Ball in the Hilton Hotel. A chance to dress up and enjoy a whole nights entertainment! Now in its 5th Edition, the St Patrick’s Day Ball, is the most FUN Ball in Bucharest! You can enjoy the company of high level business leaders, corporate investors, market gurus and Entrepreneurs, network with their peers in a relaxed and friendly space. The evening is set in a top class location, at the Hilton Hotel, with a 4 course menu, especially tailored and beautifully prepared by talented resident chef, Franz Conde. Irish Dance and Irish Music performance by Irish and Romanian artists will be your entertainment for the evening, along with Giffi Corner where you can personalise and print your own fun photos. You can support the RIBA Fund through a Live/ Silent Auction and dance till late with Eduard Santha Band (Eurovision finalist / Romanian Voice/ Stunning live performance). For more information, see: www.riba.org.ro
When: March 29 (Cluj); March 31(Bucharest) Where: Sala polivalentă - Cluj Sala palatului - Bucharest What: Pop music concert
Lara Fabian returns to Bucharest and Cluj with her new album Camouflage, that brings a fresh vibe. This year everybody gets an extra present: when you buy a ticket you will also receive the new album. Get your green outfit ready for a new show!
When: March 29 and 30 Where: ARCUB Bucharest What: Theatre play
ARTISTS TALK is a performance created to connect the artistic discourse to the public it addresses. An artist is an opinion maker thus bears a certain responsibility within his profession. In a world open less and less to dialogue, what are the artistic instruments left to operate with? The performance is held in English, Romanian and French, with subtitles available for each language. ARTISTS TALK by Gianina Cărbunariu was part of Liège Festival 2017 selection, alongside theatre shows from Bolivia, Chile, Portugal, Lebanon, France, France, Belgium, Poland, Italy and US. 9
THE FILM IN THE ATTIC
An opportunity to socialize and kickstart your week with a film screening on Mondays, twice a month from 8pm in the attic at Lente&Cafea, Arcului St nr 8. The entrance is free but you have to call first to book your place. You are invited to stay and chat after the screening and even suggest a film for future evenings.
ITALIAN CINEMA ON TUESDAYS
Every Tuesday evening you can watch an Italian film at Pavesiana Book Shop and feel like you were watching it in your living room with an extended circle of friends. The selection is done by a group of Italians enjoying, living and working in Romania.
Mojo is one of the best Karaoke bars in town with a capacity of 100 seats located on the 1 st floor of the club specifically dedicated to and open for Karaoke every night. Get your friends, have a cocktail and sing your heart out in the Old Town, Gabroveni St, nr14.
LAND FOR SALE 45,000 sqm of land for sale, in an industrial area of Fetești city, Romania. The selling price is 7 euro/sqm. Can sell in parcels. Ideal for warehouse/storage facility due to proximity of Danube port. The land has all facilities nearby: water and gas pipe, sewage, electricity line and the road asphalt is modernised. The Sun-Highway, Bucharest to Constanta is at a distance of 1km. Fetești to Constanța 80 km, Fetești to Bucharest 180 km. Railway - 2 km. Port on the Danube river - 1 km. International airport at Constanța - 55 km. The land is square shape with two sides bordering a road. Contact: email@example.com 10
Kids Club gathers the coolest creativity workshops. All kids are invited to have fun with the best of activities until April 1, at Plaza Romania. Every weekend, between 5 and 8 PM, you can play interactive games, have fun with talented animators, theater plays and kids shows.
Digital illustrations exhibition by artist Cristi Iacob is on display from March 1 st through March 30 th at the Studio Receptor micro-gallery at Cărturești & friends on Edgar Quinet no 9, Bucharest. The artworks - limited edition fine art prints - can be reserved, a catalogue is available at the venue. Visiting hours: 10 am – 8 pm, Monday – Saturday.
VENOM - OUT OF REACH BEAUTIES
‘Venom - out of reach beauties’ is an exhibition (some exhibits alive and well) held by the National Museum of Natural History (Muzeul Naţional de Istorie Naturală “Grigore Antipa”) between February 1 st - March 31 st . The exhibition allows the encounter with some of the most venomous species in the world, in a safe environment, along with a few other valuable exhibits of the museum, usually not open to the public. A good day out with a few thrills and the joy of getting to know the world around us better!
BIBLIOPHILE BOOK BIENNALE
The theme of the event held between February 15 th and March 31 st at National Museum of Romanian Literature (Muzeului Naţional al Literaturii Române, Calea Griviţei St, nr 64-66) is “Unity”. Beautifully designed and crafted books will be showcased, along with four conferences on books as art objects and what seems to be lately a phenomenon around books from an object design perspective. The exhibition will present artist books from all regions of Romania as well as from other countries that have considerable Romanian communities. You can also find workshops for children and adults, related to the historical date of January 24 th (100 years this year since the great unification of Romanian territories), to the celebration of love on February 14/24 (February 24 th is the Romanian Valentine’s Day called “Dragobete”), to 1 st March (Mărţişor, the welcoming of spring) and 8 th March (Women’s Day).
Freestyle Dinner, organised by Lente (Praporgescu St) is an attempt to change the dynamic when it comes to eating out. Instead of choosing something from a predefined menu, you choose the ingredients and let the chef surprise you with his bespoke dish. Every Wednesday night from 19:30 with booking. Ready to try something different?
RAISING A GLASS TO THE BUCHAREST STOCK EXCHANGE BY CLARE NUTTALL in Bucharest
It’s always an unexpected — and sadly rather rare — pleasure when doing my job requires me to drink wine at 11am. The last time this happened was at the initial public offering (IPO) of Moldova’s Purcari Winery Group on the Bucharest stock exchange in February. This was the first ever IPO by a company from Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest countries that is very much off the map for most investors, but it was also a new landmark for the Bucharest exchange, whose managers have been working hard to persuade more companies to list and entice investors — including Romanian retail investors — to put their money to work there. After the bell was rung to mark the start of the trading day, I sat down (glass of pink sparkling wine in hand) with one of the investors behind Purcari, who explained that the decision to hold the IPO in Bucharest was largely because of the momentum created by a string of recent IPOs, most of them in the consumer sector. Combined with Romania’s stunning 7% GDP growth last year, this led to a surge of interest among international investors. It’s still not of a size to compete with the regional champion in Warsaw, but the efforts that kicked off a few years ago with the Eight Barriers programme aimed at removing obstacles to investment are now showing results. 2017 saw no less than four IPOs worth over a quarter billion euros in total, while the market capitalisation of the companies listed on the Bucharest exchange’s main market passed the €35bn mark for the first time, and transaction volumes were 28% over the average of the last 10 years. The positive trend continued into January this year, when the Bucharest exchange ended the month with its main index, the BET, rising by almost 8%, which was the second highest growth rate in the EU after the Athens stock exchange. A more active stock exchange means it’s an increasingly viable alternative to bank finance for growing companies. But while there has been some success in persuading companies to list in Bucharest,
convincing more Romanians to put their money to work via the stock exchange rather than saving it in banks is still a work in progress. At his first press conference after taking over at the helm of the exchange in January, its new CEO Alex Tanase talked of the need to convince the population that investing on the exchange can be “as commonplace as a bank deposit” but can yield higher returns. This is likely to be an uphill struggle even though companies listed on the Bucharest exchange paid an average dividend yield of 8% in 2016, which was the highest in the world according to market research company Berenberg. Surveys have shown a high level of pessimism and risk aversion among consumers, which the exchange is trying to reverse this with various financial literacy programmes. All this is needed if the Bucharest exchange is to secure an upgrade to emerging market status, from its current position as a frontier market, which means it’s shunned by more risk averse investors. An upgrade would put it on the same level as its regional peers in Budapest, Prague and Warsaw, and would also ensure a flood of money from international institutional investors, potentially hiking market capitalisation to 15%-20% of GDP, compared to 12% in 2017. For this to happen, however, liquidity needs to increase considerably, and private sector listings and more retail investment aren’t enough. The real breakthrough is expected to come when Romanian hydropower giant Hidroelectrica holds its long-anticipated IPO. The sheer size of Hidroelectrica is expected to give the local exchange a sufficient boost in liquidity for it to be seriously considered for an upgrade to the emerging markets category. But with plans for the Hidroelectrica IPO bogged down in political wrangling and legal disputes between the government and the company’s main minority shareholder, it isn’t likely to happen before next year at the earliest. This means that while the Bucharest exchange has come a long way in the last few years, breaking open the champagne to toast its success may be a little premature.
Clare Nuttall is a Bucharest-based journalist specialising in Eastern Europe. Currently news editor at bne IntelliNews, she has been with the magazine since 2008, initially in Kazakhstan and more recently in Romania. Clare has also written for the Financial Times and the Economist Intelligence Unit. 12
IF YOU WAKE UP FEELING NEGATIVE, DO YOURSELF A BIG FAVOUR AND JUST STAY IN BED! Developing that exceptional personal brand in business BY COLIN LOVERING
Many times in business we have that one unique opportunity to secure that order or create a great first impression, and many times we simply blow it because we are running at 50% effectiveness and motivation and, in my opinion, you should stay in bed, where you will do less damage! Building a business isn’t easy. Success comes from intensive, hard work and a great deal of learning. Any entrepreneur will tell you that it’s important to love what you do, leverage your passion, work hard and most importantly, never stop building your personal brand. That’s because people like to do business with other people, not companies. Building your personal brand lends credibility and authenticity to your business, especially if that business is you because, without it, you are as vulnerable as a plump pig in December. You can stop brand deterioration before it gets out of hand. Without awareness and active cultivation, others will build your brand image for you, whether you agree with it or not and it’s very hard to turn a bad reputation into a good one! I spent most of my very early business career trying desperately to be liked by everyone as I saw that as a strength to building better business relationships. The outcome was seemingly a good one “Good ol’ Colin” they all affectionately called me leaving me naively unaware of the fact that they didn’t really know what serious value I brought or even what I really did apart from just being that nice guy. Developing a strong profile of being both LIKED and RESPECTED was one of the most powerful recipes I adopted in my sales career and it’s still a firm part of
my business armoury to this day. My dear first Sales Manager told me once “Colin, a client isn’t really a client until you get the second and third order”. Wise words in relationship selling. Allow me to elaborate a little further. Research by Harvard Business Review revealed that in 64% of situations where a company or individual failed in securing an order the real REASONS were actually unknown and, in fact, it was merely EXCUSES given by the prospective client to terminate the interaction such as “I will come back to you”, “We are fixed into a contract”, “I need to speak to my boss”, “your prices are too high” etc. That’s 64% of opportunities effectively lost because we simply failed to create a professional and personal “relationship” and just processed the client like an ignorant waiter dumping your coffee unceremoniously on your table and walking off. Let me be slightly weird for a moment. Imagine you suddenly departed this world tomorrow but were able to write your own eulogy. What would you say about yourself from a professionalism angle and what would be the regrets you would express? People with strong personal brands make deliberate decisions about their time, activities, and the people around them. Choose to surround yourself with people who celebrate and enhance your life. Carefully manage your time and resources to support the reputation and lifestyle that will result in your preferred future. Finally, here’s a quick tip to self-assess your personal brand strength. Simply write down 10 adjectives you think people would use to describe you and be proud of the good ones and work over the next 3 months to reverse the negative ones.
Colin Lovering is senior vice-president of Avison Young Romania and Chairman of the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce. 13
THAT WAS THE MONTH THAT WAS:
BY DEAN EDGAR
and for all the right reasons. It has been reported that Uber pays three times more tax than 9 biggest taxi firms in Bucharest put together, according to data from the Federation of Romanian Transport Operators. Uber paid some €41,200 (the equivalent of RON 187,000 at the 2016 exchange rate) in profit tax. In addition, 100 Uber drivers paid €71,200 in income tax and social contributions. Not only is Uber providing an excellent service, it is also contributing to the public purse, something that the existing taxi companies don't appear to be doing. Long may Uber continue. It seems that the UK’s very own Prince Charles is well liked by Romanians. A recent survey (lies, damned lies and statistics) as to which Royal personages are the most popular has suggested that Charles is their favourite, ahead of Princess Margareta, the Custodian of the Crown and former Prince Nicolae. He is not that popular in the UK, and there has been talk of his son, Prince William, becoming King as and when Queen Elizabeth steps down or dies. So why not make the country a constitutional monarchy and make Charles king? He clearly loves this country and his genealogy has been traced back to Vlad the Impaler. A win win all around.
Uber, liked by everyone apart from the Mayor’s offices of Bucharest and Ilfov and the smart and professional taxi companies, is in the news again
Otopeni airport’s (or Henri Coandă, if you prefer) troubles are still not over. After the debacle of the Japanese prime minister’s visit, it appears that, despite having a budget of approximately €50 million a year for 2013-2105, nothing was spent. Investment for 2016-17 wasn't much better: the Bucharest Airports National Company (CNAB) spent only a minute proportion of 0.03% and 0.16% of the budget in the airport infrastructure. Meanwhile, the report also found that two runways had problems. For example, runway 1 does not provide efficient landing/takeoff conditions and, runway 2 is only operational for a length of 2,237 m, out of a total of 3,500 m. Also, the landing lights are not equipped for low visibility, and the list goes on. To cap it all, some employees seem to have forgotten that they have a job. One of the people given as an example is Camelia Metler, who
apparently came to work for a grand total of only 112 minutes in one and half years. However, she earned more than RON 70,800 for this heavy workload. Fair play to her… And on to the continuing attempts by the ruling PSD to undermine the justice system in Romania. The justice minister, Tudorel Toader, has submitted a request for the head of the anti corruption agency, Laura Codruța Kovesi, to be dismissed. The 36 page report, which was announced in a long press briefing, lists every negative act that Laura has done whilst being the head of the agency. The report was then passed onto the President, Klaus Iohannis, as only he can remove her from office. As far as I can tell, the report is complete nonsense, there doesn’t appear to be any credible evidence of any wrong doing, so it basically boils down to the justice minister saying that Ms Kovesi is smelly, and didn't invite anyone from the PSD to her birthday party. Iohannis has also kicked out the request, saying the request is unwarranted. This could lead to him being impeached, but hopefully this won't happen. Since then, European Commission first vice president Frans Timmermans has visited Romania and met with all the significant leaders to basically tell them all that the EU is watching and don't mess with the justice system. It has been suggested that the EU had been misinformed of what was going on here, Mr Timmermans makes the point that there has been no misunderstanding and that all parts of the political system should work together. Somehow, I don't think that this will happen anytime soon.
Romania is losing people. To be precise 3.4 million have left Romania since it joined the EU in 2007. That’s 17% of the total population, a massive number. Only Syria had a bigger population exodus over the same period, and that was down to a war. Most alarmingly, the number of young Romanians (those aged between 15 and 29) has fallen even more
dramatically, down 28 per cent, from 4.86 million in 2008 to 3.52 million in 2016. “It would be difficult to think of a more pressing priority for Romania than keeping, and perhaps even bringing back, its most productive people,” commented Claudiu Nasui, an MP for the opposition Save Romania Union (USR). “For people to want to return to Romania, they need to see that there is political and economic stability. They need to see that there is a functioning justice system which delivers verdicts in good time and which punishes corruption. They need to be free of bureaucratic obstacles that do nothing to encourage economic initiative.” “What we see now is the opposite,” he continued. “We see more and more qualified people quite rightly losing patience with Romania. Some are fearful of what will happen next. Many have left, and many more will continue to leave as long as things do not change.” Strange but true, a Bucharest dentist had her surgery broken into one night, and the thief’s image was caught on CCTV but instead of the police trying to find the thief, as his face was clearly visible on the film, they fined the dentist €2,100 because she “favored the offender by failing to carry out the risk analysis of the apartment’s physical security.” Rather overzealous on behalf of the police, and there is no news on whether the thief was ever caught. Poor woman. Until the next time.
Dean Edgar has been living the expat dream here in Romania for 11 years. He is General Manager of Moorcroft Services, a company dedicated to assisting foreigners to settle in Romania. They can help with visas, permits, company set-ups, car registration, house hunting, insurance, orientation tours and basically anything that a newcomer to Romania might need see www.moorcroft.ro for further details.
The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the writer, Dean Edgar, and not related to those of the publisher, OZB. 15
BY MIKE ORMSBY
“You want to offer yoga in our village?” Doamna Miruna seems concerned. Worry lines kink her brow as she considers my wife’s suggestion. We’re hoping Miruna might prove a helpful ally but something is wrong. She stares at us, shading her eyes from the fierce sun. It warms the church steps beneath our feet, but the atmosphere has turned chilly. Our local VIP looks increasingly ill at ease, as Angela elaborates. “Yes, Miruna. I want to offer a class for local women. They’ve probably never had the chance. You can come, if you like.” Miruna places a hand on her chest, as though honoured - or scandalised. “Me?” “Why not?” says Angela. “My first class will be free. I’ll charge if people want more sessions, to cover rent of the hall. It’s an ideal venue. I could put posters in the windows, what do you think?” Miruna seems preoccupied. “Sorry, posters in whose windows?” “Over there.” Angela points to the Cultural Centre - a medium-sized, white-walled building where nothing ever happens except for the annual dance and occasional fisticuffs at New Year. The little white sign above the door says Căminul Cultural, but the fat brass padlock seems to have other ideas. Nevertheless, we’re determined to try. That’s why we’ve stopped by the church. Miruna is a hard lady to find, except on Sunday mornings. She folds her arms, thinking. She’s very slim. Long in the torso; probably suffers from lower back trouble, as do I. Yoga would help. She winces at me. “Yoga, Domnul Mike?” “Yes, but we’re not sure who to ask, about the hall. Since your husband is a councillor, we’re hoping that –” Miruna raises her palm, cutting me off in my conjunction. “Yoga is from India, I believe. Hindu, isn’t it, Doamna Angela?” “I believe so, yes.” “Then we don’t need it in our village. We have the church, you see.” Miruna gestures towards it. God is behind her. We are below. The big bell bongs. I won’t ask for whom, because I already know. “But yoga is not about religion,” says Angela, “it’s just gentle stretching, deep breathing, and finding yourself through meditation.” 16
“We can find ourselves through prayer.” Miruna offers a winning smile. You lose. Driving home, past fragrant meadows where wildflowers bloom and moo-cows moo, my wife doesn’t say much. Too disappointed, probably. She needs cheering up. “Angela, I have an idea. Let’s build a Hindu temple in our garden. Buy lots of monkeys from India. Invite some Hare Krishna devotees to have a procession round the village. Get-it-on, bang-a-gong.” She smiles, eventually. “Be serious.” “Hey, why not offer yoga on our terrace?” “That’s a better idea.” “And never mind Miruna. It’s not her village. People here might like yoga. At least, they deserve a chance to try it.” “You know why she’s worried?” “No idea.” “Because of Bivolaru.” “Water buffaloes?” “No, that’s bivoli. Bivolaru’s the guy who taught yoga in Romania during the communist era. They put him in prison, even a psychiatric hospital. Charged him with all sorts. Yoga was banned. If you mention yoga to most Romanians, they think of Bivolaru the bad guy. Perhaps that’s another reason Miruna is wary.” “Except she didn’t mention him.” “Outside church? She’d be scared in case she goes to hell.” “That’s her problem. You’re going to teach yoga, Angela.” “If I put up posters, some busybody will tear them down.” “Why not just phone women who might be interested?” “Might work, yes. And I’ll talk to them in person. Tell them about relaxing, solving back problems, finding yourself in meditation.” “Let’s hope they don’t tell Miruna or you’ll find yourself on the rack.” This story is from Mike Ormsby’s recent book “Never Mind the Vampires, Here's Transylvania”. Mike is the author of bestseller “Never Mind the Balkans, Here’s Romania.” Literary critics dubbed him “The British Caragiale”.
FROM AFRICA TO BUZĂU VALLEY: How an international development
consultant started a culinary tourism business in Romania
Thorsten Kirschner was born in Germany. He travelled around the world - Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe - working as an export consultant for the private sector and later on as a development consultant for international donor organisations, like the German development cooperation GIZ or the European Union. His job brought him to Romania in 2009. His wife Juranda, who was born in Bucharest, returned to her home country with him having left at the age of 18. The couple originally met in Paris, where Juranda had been living for many years.
“Travelling around Romania, I saw so many beautiful but empty buildings, so I decided to buy one and to renovate it,” said Thorsten. The Grigorescu mansion became the family home, office space, head office of the tourism development association and, a bit later, head office of Terra Carpatica – a new company
d INVESTING IN SLOW FOOD After visiting the Dealu Mare wine area, where Juranda’s family comes from, Thorsten decided to start a new chapter in his life. “I saw the immense unexploited tourism potential in the area and realised that I could do something different”, explains Thorsten. In 2011, Thorsten and Juranda founded the tourism development association TravelBuzau and moved to Rătești, a small village in the Buzău valley, where they bought the abandoned Grigorescu mansion that was built in 1930. 18
that Thorsten and Juranda do not refer to as a business, but as a “sustainable lifestyle concept built around culinary topics.” Juranda is an economist, but she has always had a great passion for cooking. And Thorsten is now finally following in his family’s footsteps, his grandparents were owners of a country restaurant
and his father had a local delicatessen shop in Germany. Terra Carpatica aims to promote the unspoiled culinary treasures of the Carpathian Mountains. Thorsten and Juranda are addicted to the slow food concept. “The French call it ‘terroir’ – environmental conditions, especially soil and climate - that give a unique flavour and aroma to high quality products that grow in a particular regional area,” explains Thorsten. “Buzău valley is blessed with an extraordinary climate: 2,000 hours of sunshine and wind-protected hills offer perfect conditions for the growth of vegetables and fruits.”
TRUFFLES AND COOKING CLASSES
Thorsten and Juranda share their culinary passion with their guests. They offer private dining, culinary events and team building for smaller groups at the mansion. For those who want to learn more about local products and Romanian fusion cuisine, Juranda is offering cooking classes. Truffles can be found in the surrounding area. One of Thorsten’s leisure time pursuits is to go to the forests with his own specially trained truffle dog. Two years ago, Thorsten and Juranda started producing small batches of high quality artisanal food (i.e. Truffle Zacuscă or jams), that can be bought as a souvenir at Otopeni airport or in specialized groceries.
The garden and orchard of Grigorescu mansion provides the majority of the products used for the private events, the cooking classes and the artisanal food production: herbs, spices, tomatoes, aubergines, plums and many more. Everything is grown organically and without artificial fertilisers. Other products including meat, come directly from local producers.
Thorsten cannot hide his background as a development consultant in his new role in rural Romania: “There is a huge potential for rural tourism if people come to understand the value of using the natural treasures their country has in abundance. Tourists love local Romanian produce and if we manage to market this country abroad properly to include the wonderful local farmers and their delicious produce and all the other service providers along the tourism value chain, we can significantly boost the regional development and that would be good for everyone.”
Thorsten, Charlie Ottely and Juranda 19
From Within “I have been in love with my country my whole life. All the trips that I made during my childhood helped me feel this way. I did not miss any opportunity to discover new places or to revisit some that were already dear to me. I have met people, I have entered a little into their lives and I have listened to their stories. I discovered photography many years ago. Through my camera, I managed to bring home a bit of what I experienced on my trips and share with others what I saw and felt. In time, I have been slowly drawn into the life of a Romanian village. I like, first of all, its people and the traditions that, fortunately, are still preserved in some places… I like to think that my pictures will be able to keep some of its charm, the charm of the Romanian villages.” - Vlad Dumitrescu, photographer. See Vlad’s photography on his website - vladdumitrescu.ro. You will find many beautiful pictures of all elements of rural, village life in Romania. There is also a shop where prints can be purchased.
photo credit: Oana Mihai
Hai, Let’s Go! Charlie Ottley is back. After the success of his stunning four part Wild Carpathia series, Charlie is presenting another TV series, “Flavours of Romania”, which airs this month for the first time. OZB sat down for a chat with this honorary Romanian from England. BY DOUGLAS WILLIAMS
ou can tell a lot about a person by their heroes. Charlie Ottley, journalist, broadcaster, environmentalist, biker and massive fan of Romania, cites Paul Watson as one of his. Watson was a founder member of Greenpeace, but left, partly because he considered it not militant enough. Watson went on to set up Sea Shepherd, which works in marine conservation through direct action, notably intercepting Japanese whaling ships in the Southern Ocean. ‘Zeal’ is a word that can easily be applied to Charlie. He has it in spades and, currently, that zeal is once more being applied to his beloved Romania and, specifically, this country’s incredible, natural environment and rich heritage. Charlie is, on the one hand, very, very fond of Romania, but he’s also agitated - close to the point of apoplexy - at what he sees as the wanton waste and destruction taking place nationwide.
“Flavours of Romania” is a nine part documentary series that explores the different regions of Romania (Transylvania takes two episodes) and the dishes that hail from each. This will air in English with subtitles on TVR1 at 21.00 from March 24th. In this delightful series, Charlie can be seen crisscrossing the country on his trusty Harley. It’s beautifully shot with his trademark, richly-textured cinematography and it would be easy to see it as a love letter to Romania, except that there are many parts that should act as a wake up call, too. “Romania has the last truly great wilderness in Europe, it’s amazing and it’s invaluable and yet, it is in grave danger. Currently, 3 hectares per hour are being felled. Think about it! At that rate it’s not going to last long,” says Charlie, struggling to maintain his composure. “And for what? To make cheap furniture, flooring or even just for firewood. So this wonderful forest which has stood for thousands of years, that’s home to all of these creatures - bears, wolves, lynx and many others - is being chopped down and then it’s gone forever and who loses out?” Charlie and his team risked life and
limb gaining footage of some of the carnage taking place up near the Ukrainian border. Using drones to film, they narrowly escaped the wrath of the local lumber mafia. “We were followed wherever we went, it was hairy! I worried for our safety.” He continues, “people need to realise these forests are worth far more to Romania standing.”
If you are reading this, then there’s a good chance you are among the 300,000+ people who have seen the Facebook trailer for “Flavours of Romania” which, in itself, is something of a marketing feat.
Charlie and the crew at the Brâncuși Museum in Hobiţa
One of the things that Charlie hopes to impart through his series is the potential revenue that could be available to Romania and Romanians through tourism. “If you look at a country like Scotland and you see what they do with their tourism industry, you get an idea of what could be done here with just a little planning, investment, education etc. And, beautiful though Scotland undoubtedly is, it’s smaller and with less wilderness and, actually, it has less history and heritage than Romania has and yet, it’s one of that country’s biggest revenue generators - you’re hard pushed to get a hotel bed year round. People really want what Romania has to offer and they are willing and able to pay good money for it, but it needs to be better preserved and better presented. There are thousands of Germans, French,
Brits etc who are quite happy shelling out 100 euros a night for a hotel or guesthouse and then paying another 30 euros per head for dinner, but they expect a certain quality for that. There is quality in Romania, look at places like Zabola, the Mihai Eminescu Trust properties and Raven’s Nest, but there are also a lot of places where the quality of both the property and the service is entirely lacking.” He mentions the Imperial Spa in Băile Herculane, which was the grandest spa resort in Europe at the height of the Austro Hungarian Empire as an example: “It is crying out for some investment and preservation, it’s amazing but it’s falling down and nobody seems to care. There’s the mosaic at Histria Fortress in Dobrogea which is 3,000 years old and there is currently nothing to stop people taking a piece home. Can you imagine how such a piece of heritage would be treated in France? Many people here have the mindset that old is bad. It may be the case with a car or a phone, but with heritage like this, protecting it is the civilised thing to do. Romania needs to embrace its past.”
The Column of the Infinite,Târgu Jiu
a huge appetite for this globally. “You can climb mountains, bike through comparatively untouched villages, trek and ride through vast forests, see incredible wildlife, birdlife, ancient castles, fortresses and monasteries or catch cutting edge art, music and bars in the cities and it’s all got this unique Romanian flavour which is incredibly appealing to folks around the world. Much of Romania is Tolkien-esque, like New Zealand but way cheaper and more accessible.” Charlie is hoping TV channels around the world will soon be putting his “Flavours of Romania” message out there encouraging not only people to come and experience this amazing country but also nudging the relevant authorities here to act before it’s too late. Charlie concludes: “With the preservation of Romania’s natural and cultural heritage, its forests, its biodiversity and its patrimony, tourism could grow to become the biggest source of revenue, not just for rural areas but for the country was a whole, as has happened in Scotland. Imagine being paid to hang on to your patrimony and to preserve your ancient forests? This way Romania’s fragile but priceless landscapes can continue to bring prosperity and a sustainable future for everyone.”
Wholesome food and drink made from naturally organic and, of course, local produce epitomises just what Romania has to offer and Making traditional Poale în brâu pie Charlie, for one, is Moldova style convinced there’s
Dance of the Bears at Popa Museum in Târpești
With the carpet makers of Bechet
Cooking lunch with the fishermen at the mouth of the Danube Rarău Mountain at dawn
Traditional Music in Crișana
Ok, so I ate many amazing things all over Romania in the course of making “Flavours of Romania” but of them all probably the very best, most memorable was at Green Village eco lodge in Sfântu Georghe on the mouth of the Danube. We had a “ciorbă off” (err, like a bake off..) between resident chef Sorin and Anca, one of the local ladies. We had two open fires. She cooked the traditional ciorba de peste while Sorin prepared his own variation using a few extra secret ingredients that you can only find out about if you watch the show. The result was something more closely resembling a crab bisque which was impressive considering the main ingredient was catfish and no seafood was used whatsoever. Incredible!
TO STAY - TG. MUREȘ
Hotel PRIVO Târgu-Mureș
BY FULVIA MEIROȘU What is it? A luxury minimalist hotel, in the city of Târgu-Mureș. PRIVO is the most awarded hotel of Romania, with 19 international awards and 12 national prizes. Behind the scenes: Opened in 2014 by the local entrepreneur Adina Plopeanu and her husband, PRIVO is an original hotel concept where history and modernism complement each other in a perfect way. On the same piece of land live together the hotel itself, a 3,500 sq.m park and an Art Nouveau villa that was brought back to life, impeccably restored. Villa Csonka was refurbished with original Thonet and Art Deco pieces dating back a century, being now composed of three rooms and three deluxe apartments. Sleep: The best rooms are the exclusive ones, that combine the subtlety of contemporary design and attention to a minimalist yet elegant style that emphasizes your comfort. High quality materials and services invite you to enjoy total relaxation in a unique ambience. You must try one of the rooms featuring a bathtub in the middle of the room. Eat: Rooms are great, but food is even better. You must try Cappuccino of Shiitake Mushrooms (actually a soup), Smoked Duck Crispy Rolls, Argentinian Beef Tournedos “Rossini”, Purple Sunset (blackcurrant & sun-ripened mango mousse). And then, there is the wine cellar! Configured in two sections, with an entrance room for wine tasting and a cellar dedicated to long term storage and ageing, the Enoteca is for “les connoisseurs”. Who goes there? Business people, foreign tourists visiting
Transylvania, families with kids and multinational employees who come to Târgu-Mureș for team-building events.
What’s there to do? Târgu-Mureș has become famous
internationally for entering the Guinness Book of Records. The record that it broke was of the number of people brushing their teeth at the same time. A truly unique building is the Palace of Culture, built between 1911 and 1913 in the Secessionist style and it remains, to this day, one of the most impressive buildings in Târgu-Mureş. It has some of the most beautiful pieces of stained glass, that were created in order to represent Europe at a world exhibition, a beautiful picture gallery with over 1,000 paintings and a library with over 1,000,000 books. Equally beautiful is the Roman-Catholic Church. It was built by Jesuits in the 18th century in the Austrian Baroque style. The interior is also splendid, with many paintings and adornments that were created by some of the most renowned artists of the period.
We like: The glass walls of the restaurant and the terraces where you can have a quiet breakfast or a lovely dessert in the afternoon. We don’t like: With a swimming pool, it would be the perfect hotel. Also the spa is relatively small. Prices: From €92/double room/night, breakfast included.
To see a full photo gallery with PRIVO Hotel please check our website: Lifestyle>Places>Review: Privo Hotel, Tg-Mures. 29
TO STAY - BRAȘOV
CULINARY FEAST WITH Q U E E N OF THE HOUSE UNEXPECTED FLAVOURS Small bits of chicken will be dipped in a pinkish, sweet sauce of red currant and will be spiced up with ginger and grated orange rind. Next to it, a cascade of sour cream is poured over the hot water in which the spinach was boiled. A wooden spoon gets involved right away and vigorously stirs the mixture until it becomes creamy, releasing a scent of freshly picked herbs all over the kitchen. This is how the sauce for the spinach that will be served to guests is made. The magic ingredients, that seem to be cooking the food by themselves, are not on the menu of an expensive fusion restaurant. These are the dishes offered to guests at the small guest house, The Country Hotel, in the village of Hărman, Brașov county. “All my recipes start from old ones, but the secret of my food lies in the details,” says Marcela Cosnean, a former language teacher, who followed her dream to carve out a new life, aligned with her dreams. During the day, Marcela likes to look after her guests who are visiting her fancy guest house and she likes to cook for them. Now and then, whenever she gets a few
Marcela that she has created a world she relishes, tailored to her dreams. In fact, Marcela IS the guest house. Wherever you look, from the kitchen, where she has lined up spice jars like toy soldiers on the window sill, to keep it neat, to the bed linens, curtains and tablecloths that match each other – Marcela’s mark can be seen everywhere. She is the one who, with attention and warmth, turns customers into guests, discovers Pumpkin soup their culinary desires and translates them into delicious food, listens to their life stories and compliments them with her own brand of the soothing herbal “Tea of Transylvania”.
THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY After Marcela gathered together all her design ideas and a group of skilled handymen, she began renovating the house of her dreams. Transylvanian Saxon households of long ago included an entire universe that gave the family everything they needed: cattle stalls, stables, pigsties and a barn. Each found a new meaning following Marcela’s redesign. The former stables became guest rooms and hosts a studio and a gallery that holds regular artisanal fairs that wear the house brand name: M A R C E L L A. There are many visible traits of those typical traditional Transylvanian Saxon houses, some that date as far back as the mid 12th century: massive wooden gates, the house is L-shaped, with large windows, thick walls and tall rooms.
moments to spare, she withdraws into her workshop, where she can let her creativity loose. Sketches for children’s clothing or models of women’s evening wear, bed linens from natural fabrics, and fabulous Christening Gowns, all of them fully complete the world created by Marcela. One can surely say of 30
Her house became a guesthouse in the early 1990s, after Marcela fell in love with it. She was looking for a house to turn into her home. After months of intensive searching, she found in Hărman a white house that made her heart beat faster: “It was so beautiful, with its dyed masonry eyebrows, it was love at first sight.”
TO STAY - BRAȘOV
So she followed the owners all the way to Germany and didn’t give up until she bought it. Every corner of the house is magical, the more you look, the more beautiful things you see.
GUESTS ARE WELCOME HERE The Country Hotel has become popular with travellers from all over the world since its gates opened in 2002. Not long after opening, the first foreign guest arrived, a young Englishman, who spent hours on end taking pictures of the house and the surroundings. Marcela talked to him a lot and she still does. A few months after his visit, she received by mail “The Lonely Planet” guide for Romania and Moldavia. In it was the young Englishman, who, it transpired, was actually one of the editors. He had described the guest house as “a perfect combination of elegant rusticity and luxury.” Thus, The Country Hotel earned fans among foreign tourists who are attracted to Romania’s picturesque nature. Over the years, the boarding house’s guest book became full of gratitude from all corners of the world, from Ecuador to South Africa, from the Netherlands, England and France to the United States and Japan. And all the signatures are accompanied by the same promise of returning to the fairytale house. “The boarding house helped me learn that good people, who are connected in thought and feeling, can cross any distance and meet any way”, says Marcela Cosnean.
CREATIVITY IN MANY FORMS Marcela confesses that design, of any nature, was always her greatest passion. No wonder that the house was renovated following her vision. Over the years, she moved from creating bed linens made of natural fabrics, like linen and cotton, to designing clothes. This is what gave birth to the wish of designing a special line of Heirloom baptism kits and christening gowns, also made from pure, natural fabrics. The idea started to come together in her mind and since then, dozens of children have been christened wearing Heirloom christening gowns by MAR C E L L A, a brand that has already won a good reputation of style and elegance. The baptism kit pieces respect all the traditional stages of the religious service: dress, trousers, bonnet and vest for the trip to the church, the fabric used to take out the child from the christening bowl and the soft towels necessary to prepare the infant for the ensuing party. And her passion from early years for women’s clothing continues to be nurtured, too. To Marcela however, The Country Hotel was never only a business. It’s an homage to that eternal joie de vivre that describes her so well. A way of living in harmony with others, of sharing every day’s joy with people you don’t know yet, but are fond of.
Two recipe ideas from The Country House: 1
The freshly hand-mixed “Brânză de Burduf” (specific Transylvanian cheese) can be made at home, by cutting the sweet “caș” into small pieces, adding salt and then hand-mixing it in a large wooden bowl until small bulks are formed. You can add basil and mint and store it in the freezer.
In the summer, for a refreshing drink, try to mix a glass of buttermilk with salt, lemon, basil and mint. You can also mix it with a drop of grapefruit juice.
The Country Hotel - Tel:+4 0740 090 987 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.facebook.com/thecountryhotel
u COMPETITION We are proud to be able to offer our first OZB competition in conjunction with Marcela Cosnean and her fabulous Country Hotel, just to the north of Brașov. Marcela has been kind enough to offer one night’s stay along with dinner and breakfast at Country Hotel (conditions apply) for two. For anybody in any doubt about just how good this place is and how utterly amazing the food and general hospitality is, I suggest you look it up on Tripadvisor - it gets an exceptional 5 by the way! Once the winner has been established, we will hook the winner up with Marcela. Two runners up will get vouchers for a box of 12 mini cheesecakes from the delectable Cheesecakery www.facebook.com/thecheesecakerybucharest/ The winners will be announced in the next issue of OZB magazine and online.
SO HOW DO YOU WIN?
Go to our site www.ozb.ro and there you will find instructions as to what you need to do. 31
Cooking f reehand
Arabella McIntyre-Brown chucks out the recipes books My neighbours here in the mountain village cook traditional Ardelean food using recipes handed down through generations of mothers. They are so deeply embedded in the folk memory that I doubt anyone except the newest of brides has to consult the family recipe book. Maybe for festival food or the most complicated of cakes, but even then… I love recipe books. But I confess that I don’t actually read them. I look at the pictures, and I note the ingredients. Then I play it by ear. Some people cook brilliantly using their favourite chef’s instructions. There are Slater slaves, Nigella lovers and Delia devotees. Scrumptious food that looks fabulous. I’ve never been one for recipes. When I try to follow them, they usually go horribly wrong. I don’t cook anything that requires exactitude and delicacy. Food chez moi tends to be peasant food, a hearty muddle of flavours and textures from assorted continents. I can never repeat anything exactly, but as long as it tastes good, who cares? Here in Romania I like to play with my food. Turn traditions inside out. Use my in-born widget of taste, which I consult to see if this will go with that. I find basic formulae that are almost infinitely forgiving and adaptable. Cakes, for instance. I never
made a cake till I came to Romania. Now I’ve discovered that almost any combination of fruit, nuts, spices and flavourings, held together with flour and egg, can work wonders. I’ve now found my signature dish, an anarchic fruit cake that visitors tend to demolish rather greedily. Trying to find new ways with local recipes is fun, too.
Polenta: savoury or sweet Mămăligă, for instance. Simple mămăliga, I confess, is wallpaper paste to me. But it’s gluten-free, local
and cheap – so a useful blank canvas. You can make it salty or sweet, depending on mood and need.
(NB you won’t see or taste the courgette, but it makes the cake moist and springy.)
It’s savoury if you add some flavours and texture: boil the stuff, as per the packet instructions. When it’s just about done, chuck in a handful of sunflowers seeds; a generous double pinch of your favourite herb (or a melange), a bit of salt, and half a packet of telemea de capra. Stir it up, and pour into a cold oven dish. It will solidify as it cools. Later you can slice it, top it with something Cheddar-like and a little grated Parmesan, and shove it under the grill to heat through. Scrumptious with a colourful salad or ratatouille.
If you’re in a chocolate mood, add in a lot of unsweetened cocoa (about a third of a packet) and some sugar to taste. Bake as usual. If you’re feeling cheesey: instead of cocoa and sugar, chuck in some chopped chillis to taste. Snip up a bunch of spring onions (ceapă verde) and maybe half a red pepper (ardei). Some dried herbs of choice, if you like, and a pinch of salt. Then grab any oddments of cheese lurking in your fridge. If it’s a bit tired, cut off any giveaway mould. It’ll be
On the other hand, you can add soft fruit – berries or currants, for instance, for a great dessert, served hot or cold. Here you can find astonishing wild fruit in the markets. Fling some whole raw fruit into the blank polenta, with perhaps a little honey, and make a sauce from more of the fruit and a bit of sugar. Simmer gently till it’s soft, and blend till sauce-like. A square of wild raspberry polenta, with a wild strawberry sauce, would be, well, wild.
Cake: comforting cocoa or fiery cheese On the same principle, courgettes (zucchini/ dovlecei), flour, oil, eggs and baking powder are a platform for chocolate cake and cheesebread. The amounts don’t seem to be critical. As long as there’s enough flour to make a cakey mixture, the eggs and courgettes will hold it all together. Please note: this makes a cake, but since ‘cheesecake’ is something entirely different, I call it cheese bread. Combine a grated courgette (medium sized), a cup of any old flour, two eggs, a packet of baking powder and a glug of oil.
fine. Any combo of cheeses is fine as long as it’s well flavoured and you take off any rind. Chop it up and fling it into the mix. Stir, pour into a pan, and bake as usual. The middle will sink a bit as the cheese is heavy. It should be solid, and is heavenly when eaten straight from the oven. Also heavenly while warm, and when cold. Eat on its own or as part of a salad lunch. Don’t be scared to experiment, and have fun playing with your food!
Arabella McIntyre-Brown moved to Măgura, a village 1,000 metres up in the Carpathians, eight years ago. She has published three books in Romania. 33
FOOD IN AND OUT
HOW TO TELL YOUR GULIE FROM YOUR
A GUIDE TO GOOD GRUB
This issue of OZB seems an appropriate opportunity to look at food in Bucharest both in general and from a vegetarian/vegan point of view. In addition there will be a few words on how to tell your Gulie from your Gutuie, the difference between Vișine and Cireșe and some mention of Leurdă, Lobodă and Leuștean. BY GILES ELDRIDGE
I think that, with regards to eating in Romania, there are two basic expat assumptions: the lack of available differing cuisines/restaurants and that being vegetarian is problematic. Here, I’d like to offer an explanation, dispel these myths and look to the future. Let’s start with a true but, I hope, rare incident that occurred during a visit to a restaurant in Sulina in the Danube Delta a couple of years ago. I was with friends from Romania, England and the US. A waitress came to our table and my English vegetarian friend requested a number of classic Romanian meat-free dishes from the menu; salată de vinete, fasole bătută, that sort of thing, but when he had finished speaking the waitress refused to continue taking orders because he was not eating meat! We insisted that between us we were intending to eat and drink rather a lot of food, including meat and fish, but she maintained her position and finally instructed us to leave! To this day I still can’t quite
believe that this happened. We went to the place next door and all was good. I’d like to think there must have been a reason for this seemingly irrational action, but I suspect it was a hangover from former times, to do with spending money and not sticking to the cheap dishes, a sort of minimum purchase requirement. Obviously this is an attitude well past its sell-by date now. Some customs and approaches take a generation to die out, it’s true the world over. However, with the exception of that weird but ultimately funny Sulina experience, I think avoiding meat in Romania is now very easy.
EASTERN INFLUENCES AND THE ELEPHANT Bucharest might not yet have the scope of cuisines found in other capitals, but there are good things to be found and celebrated. There is the view that the national cuisine is mainly meat based and limited and that foods from other countries are not widely available here. Whilst there are aspects to both these observations that are true, the situation is not so
FOOD IN AND OUT
simple and if we look a little more closely, we can find some fantastic food out there and appreciate why things are the way they are. In many ways, Bucharest is a vibrant capital city, so the situation, in 2018, regarding restaurants, can seem strange, especially to those coming from cosmopolitan cities like London or New York. The main reasons are the rather tired elephant in the room, a communist history, plus, looking further back, Romania is a country that has absorbed influences rather than acquiring them. Bordering or nearby countries such as Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy and Hungary, have all left some gastronomy, such that there are regional
food specialities to be found throughout the country, such as Hungarian Goulash in Transylvania or Roman Plăcintă in Moldavia. One shouldn’t demand that a place be the same as other European cities, especially when its history is so different, even compared to other former communist cities. This is partly because Romania has maintained its rural identity, probably more so than anywhere else in Europe and this is why there is so much unspoiled wilderness and wildlife here. Bucharest was once a wealthy capital, before the second world war. This status was halted and reconfigured under the new regime from 1947 onwards. Thus, although large, Bucharest lost its former cosmopolitan grandeur. Our elephant wanders back into the room to explain the obvious; communism forced people to live in a certain way.
People did not travel for over 40 years from 1947-1990s. This produced a certain sensibility that is also historically reflected in attitudes towards food; holding onto the tradition and not developing the international. It’s difficult for a populus to acquire new tastes if they are simply not there. However, there is another side to this. During the ’70s and ’80s Arab countries were favoured by Ceaușescu for their anti-imperialist (anti American) stance and movement between Bucharest and Beirut was eased, particularly for Lebanese students studying in the Romanian capital. This bit of communist heritage is responsible for some of the city’s best restaurants, namely Lebanese/Middle Eastern: El Bacha (also has Greek menu), Coin Vert, Piccolo Mondo, Tulin, Moudy’s Kitchen and Damascus Palace plus plenty of others. The same cannot be said for Chinese cuisine, although there are some similarities in historical politico-cultural relations. Prior to ‘89 the Nan Jing Chinese restaurant was without doubt the best Chinese restaurant in all Romania. This was an easy claim to make since it was also the only one. Others followed after ‘89 and are still distributed throughout the city. These are generally only average in the main, although I think there is a place for Old Skool ‘90s like Qian Bao in Dristor and Marele Zid (The Great Wall) near Obor, which are good. These days there are some very good and quite authentic newer restaurants such as Bejing Garden and Shanghai Garden, both of which indicate a relatively new positive direction.
Qian Bao dish
Of course there are many good Romanian restaurants such as Zexe, La Copac, Caru cu Bere… etc. Then there is a welcome newcomer, Kāne at 35
FOOD IN AND OUT
cel Mare, which fashions itself as a seasonal bistro preparing exclusively, locally produced ingredients with a small but perfectly formed menu. The other wholeheartedly good cuisine in Bucharest is Italian with restaurants like Grano, Il Peccato, Horoscop, Belli Siciliani (The only Sicilian in Bucharest), Cucina Borghese and so many more. In Bucharest, Italian cuisine is the basic default choice for good eating out.
get in France. The point is that everyone understands that for some of the time many people do not eat meat or dairy. Of course there is also the fashionable, raw-food, vegan thing currently at large with the likes of Little Tyke and Rawmazing: the idea of differing diets is catching on in Bucharest.
THE FOOD MARKETS
The main way that Bucharest comes into its own is with its food markets and these fresh food markets EATING DE POST IN BUCHAREST need to be championed and used: Piața - Obor, Gemeni, Doamnei, Râmnicu So, onto the other Sărat, Metache, Norilor, aspect, that of not Floreasca, Țăranului and so eating meat. The idea of on. There is one in virtually being vegan or vegetarian is every corner of the city. I not necessarily appreciated suggest you find the one near in Romanian culture, you and shop local. As well outside of Hipster Bucharest. as the usual abundance of However, in a religious fruit, vegetables, meats and context the idea of not eating cheese etc. there are local meat and dairy products ingredients that are maybe is in fact fully understood, not so familiar. These food since it is an integral part of markets therefore become an “fasting” during large chunks opportunity to break habits of the Romanian Orthodox and buy the things that locals Calendar. At certain times of cook with. Here are a few the year it is true to say that examples: gulie (kohlrabi) is a winter vegetable that can huge quantities of meat are be prepared, for example, devoured, around Christmas by shredding with some and Easter, but prior to these Zexe - Grădina Icoanei sfeclă roșie (beetroot), olives two religious times there are and olive oil for a coleslaw. Gutui on the other hand lengthy periods of vegan “fasting”. In addition to are quinces. Here they are much larger than the these times, some people will also observe a similar ones in the UK and can be simply poached with weekly meat and dairy free diet on Wednesdays and star anise. The hard fruit becomes soft and turns a Fridays and during the first two weeks of August, fabulous golden pink. Prior to use in the kitchen, meaning that for many people they are practically the Romanian tradition is to store gutui on a sunny vegan for half the year. To accommodate this window sill and allow the fragrance to fill the room. religious cultural feature, restaurants develop special During the Spring/Summer season, cherries can “fasting” menus in the 40 days prior to Easter and Christmas. The Romanian for fasting is de post. So if be found in huge quantities. There are two basic you go into a restaurant anywhere in the country and types, vișine (sour and good for cooking) and cireșe (sweet). Țelină is celeriac and is easily found during mention this you will be fully understood without the winter season. It is best simply chopped up question. There will be no “oh, so you’re vegetarian, with carrot, parsnip and boiled to produce a simple you can have the fish or chicken” and you won’t soup, not unlike French vegetable consommé with get that sorrowful look, as though you’ve just told tremendous sweetness and flavour that becomes a someone that you have six months to live, like you
FOOD IN AND OUT
Romanian speciality with the addition of herbs such as leurdÄƒ (wild garlic leaves), loboda (the dark purple leaved pigweed) or leuČ™tean (lovage). So the raw ingredients are there for sure in abundant seasonal glory in the markets and as for native and international restaurants alike, I would say that a huge leap forward has been taken during the past three years or so. Appropriately, this change has occurred in places like Shift or Simbio; both catering for hip, well-travelled, young clientele with demanding and cosmopolitan tastes. Places like these have developed with sound ideas about the design of interiors alongside inventive but often actually quite simple dishes. The future looks good for eating out in Bucharest. Customers are demanding more diversity and restaurants are responding. I am therefore very optimistic about food in the capital. The local ingredients are fantastic, restaurant environments are beautiful, inside and out and the potential for diversity and scope is endless with a new vanguard of cooks, entrepreneurs and customers. 37
Eyes Peeled and Mind Open Entering Spring, it is perhaps the time of year people are most aware, in this part of the world, of the green starting to make its way out from the ground again, up in the trees and all around. And since awareness is something that can always be expanded, there seems no better time to take a closer look at this greenery that is taken for granted, yet remains a mystery. BY ADA POPESCU
On March 1st flowers and tokens are offered to every school teacher and female acquaintance, friend and family member, in celebration of Spring returning. On March 8th everyone does it again, but this time the flowers are mostly for mothers (Mother’s/
WHAT? REALLY? • Wood Wide Web is a complex underground structure of fungi and plants’ roots that spreads all over the forest and enables communication between trees. It has been proved that trees can exchange nutrients and also amazing ”data”, such as chemical defence signals, for protection from predators. • By mass there are many hundreds of times more plants than animals on earth. Plants have more genes related to environmental perception than animals do (they must come in handy when standing still). • People are not the only ones keen on coffee. Plants use caffeine to hook insects! • Corn can hear! It reacts chemically even if you only play a recording with the sound of a caterpillar who eats leaves.
Women’s day in Romania). Between 1st and 8th March, the tradition says that if you choose a day, the weather on this particular day reflects the mood of the year that you will have ahead (so you have eight days to choose from and they are called “the hags” - if you pick a sunny day, all is good).
PLANTS BEHAVE TOO Everything in March is linked to flowers, the sun and the awakening of nature. Nature seems to be in your face whatever way you turn, still many remain unphazed by the serious changes that the climate has undergone over the past decades. It’s no surprise that when looking at plants, relative to the human time, it appears like nothing is happening. It’s little surprise plants look like inanimate objects, brainless, boring things, easy to be ignored. Yet, in recent years, a new approach to the study of plants has been developing and it is putting forward some pretty unthinkable concepts… such as “plants behave”. It’s not just animals who interact with the environment, with each other and with people. Scientist suggest, and more than that, have proven, that plants, despite not having eyes, limbs, spoken language and brains, do act strategically to defend themselves, to hunt,
sense and interact with the environment and other plants, animals and birds, they adapt and change their shape, colour and chemistry to ensure pollination, they exchange resources… so in short they think, talk, “behave”, in much the same way as animals.
EXERCISING AWARENESS Why should this matter to regular, non-scientists people? How is this relevant to everyday lives or even in the global context? It could be an exercise in being aware, of encouraging ourselves to look at things slightly differently and to trying to expand consciousness if nothing else. As abstract as it might sound, the stakes seem high, one might argue that it was a lack of awareness that has brought about many of the major crises facing humanity and the planet today. “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better,” Albert Einstein said. It is safe to assume, taking a closer look at plants to expand awareness might be a very practical thing to do in these troubled and confusing times. OZB spoke to some people who are passionate about plants, edible ones in particular, and more than that, work with them. Mushrooms too.
THE IncrEdible Forest Resources PROJECT Iulia Demeter and Quim Rueda are the initiators of the IncrEdible Forest Resources project, a project that aims to showcase the natural resources of the forest and also to show the links that exist between species in the wild by looking at plants, mushrooms (ethnomycology) and also at the way these different elements can be cooked. They believe that if people gain a better understanding
of these living things, they will be more concerned with the need to protect our natural environment.
What drew you to foraging and for how long have you been doing it?
Living in Bihor, Romanian born Demeter and Spaniard Rueda are involved in various activities for people interested in plants. They often travel to Cluj and Hunedoara to host workshops that aim to help people identify the many mushrooms, plants and berries that grow freely in the forests and on the fields.
Rueda: Ever since I can remember, my father and grandmother have shown me how to make the most of all the available natural resources - my father in the Pyrenees Mountains, in the north of Spain and my grandmother in a very dry area in the south of the country, in the Filabres Mountains. All of the family’s leisure time would take place outside, in nature, identifying and processing the resources that we would either find or the ones resulting from agriculture and ecological zootechnics.
Foraging - finding natural food in the wild - is something more and more people are getting into. Romania has a long history of foraging, with a huge diversity when it comes to spontaneously growing edible plants and mushrooms, but, as yet, there is no formal training available for this. This is why Demeter and Rueda had to study abroad and they are currently in the process of becoming certified mycological guides, through attending courses in Spain. The main things Demeter and Rueda teach people in their workshops is about the many and varied resources to be found in nature and how to store and eat these natural delights. They do this through culinary demonstrations in restaurants and even through private parties. For more information about their workshops visit their Facebook group which is packed with useful information “IncrEdible Foraging Romania”. Demeter and Rueda were kind enough to answer a few questions...
Demeter: Since I was 2-3 years old my grandmother would take me with her up in the mountains (Apuseni Mountains, which are very friendly and not very high, with rich biodiversity); that was my playground, among blueberries, blackberries, trees and mushrooms. She would pick all the goodies the forest had to offer and she taught me, gradually, every mushroom species she knew. The berries are easy to learn, but the mushrooms take more time. What do you think about this notion of plant behaviour?
There’s quite a controversy among scientists, ecologists and naturalists. We ourselves believe that plants and trees communicate, that they have an intelligence that has only just started to be discovered and that they display certain social behaviours that can seem amazing. Mushrooms are our main field of
interest and we also study their interaction with their immediate environment. Seeing the fungal tissue, which is recognised as the way they use to communicate, is what makes our conviction stronger. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that Hericium erinaceus for example, a rare mushroom which should not be picked from its natural environment because it is so rare, but which can be cultivated, helps regenerate the neurons,
developing the nervous system. It is also highly antibacterial and used for digestive afflictions. [e.n. the Gastrointestinal system is also called the ‘second brain’] Why do you do what you do?
We want to remind people that everything that surrounds us is not something outside of us, we are part of everything. We feel it is our duty to help preserve the environment because we are part
of this ecosystem and the survival of this ecosystem depends on our ability to understand it and the way we behave. Not to mention, our own survival depends on this ecosystem just as much as it depends on us. At IncrEdible, we invite you to join us discover the nature that surrounds us and that we are all part of, to work together to understand it and help it to thrive.
Forgotten Weeds (Ierburi uitate) is the personal project of graphic designer Mona Petre and it started following her curiosity about the Romanian names of some of the plants she was discovering for the first time while she was living in London. When she first ate broad-beans (or fava), she didn’t know what they were, let alone their Romanian name. She believes that traditional foods and the way of cooking them is gradually disappearing because we are forgetting about key ingredients such as seeds, grains, sprouts, roots, fruits and flowers 40
that are not found in the local supermarket. When she got back to Bucharest, slowly but surely, she started studying the local, seasonal plants and she started gathering them both virtually, online, on her food blog, but also out in the real world, foraging around Bucharest and, on occasion, throughout the entire country. She hopes more and more organic suppliers will diversify their offerings to include plants that grow spontaneously in the fields and some of the pre-industrial cultivated herbs like ferns, turnips, alfalfa (lucerne), sorghum, amaranth and many many more. She answered a few questions too.
How would you say foraging and your interest in plants over the last few years has changed you?
I used to work in an office like most urban people do nowadays, but after years spent inside at one point I started to feel trapped and found myself longing for the sun and open spaces. It wasn’t easy to switch from my desk work as a graphic designer to something that allowed me that kind of freedom, but my new found passion for botany eventually lead me to new experiences and a more active life. I quit my job five years ago— and took the path of freelancing—and I now have more time to explore and learn new things everyday about the
edible plants and the spontaneous flora.
observe taking place right now in the span of our lifetime.
What do you think about this notion of plant behavior? Did it become obvious to you in any particular way through your work?
Could you name one thing that might encourage people to get out into nature and take a better look at it?
The plant behavior is, in short, what plants do in response to their environment. For most of us they might seem static, but in fact plants have a wide range of morphological or physiological responses to events. For example, some plants turn their inflorescence to face the sun, others start to close before rain and, probably the most obvious because of the rapid movement in this case, others will curl up at your touch. But the most important plant behavior, for me, must be their adaptability to climate changes that we can
The natural environment is more and more at risk from our careless lifestyles. We tend to think that nature will always be there and that lush green forests, clear springs and breathtaking meadows full of flowers will be there anytime we want to go out of the city but that’s simply not the case anymore. I encourage people to go, explore and realize how important it is to try and take an active part in the efforts to preserve and protect our precious nature. What’s the most exciting plant you’ve discovered lately and how
Broad-beans (fava) and potatoes - Abelmoschus esculentus
Acacia flower pancakes - Robinia pseudoacacia
did you use it in a recipe? Foraged plants entered my diet a few years ago and through experimenting they are now an integrated part of what I cook and what I eat. It’s hard to pinpoint just one plant, as I have favourites in each season, but I can name the ones I use most—the ramsons (Allium ursinum) I pick in early spring and use fresh as long as their season lasts, but I also freeze the leaves and use them all year long in sauces, casseroles or with pasta dishes. I pick medicinal plants for tea and create my own blends. I also pick wild fruit: barberry, sloes, cornelian cherry, crabapples or wild cherries, to name but a few, and I make jams, sauces or cordials. Also, flowers for many kinds for homemade fizzy sodas—wild roses, elderberry, staghorn or black locust. www.facebook.com/IerburiUitate/
Green wheat with nettles risotto - Urtica dioica
Levantiicata - lavander flower juice - Lavandula angustifolia
Regatul Plantelor - The Kingdom of Plants is a colouring book for adults that Ierburi Uitate released in 2016 through a collaboration with The Botanical Garden ‘Dimitrie Brândză’ in Bucharest. It contains 44 pages with the original watercolour illustrations of Angiolina Santocono, that you can then try your hand at rendering yourself.
The Quadrilingual Parfait Mihaela Dima, Pastry Chef Athénée Palace Hilton, is the one that adds the sweet touch to the hotel's restaurant menus. She has more than 23 years of experience in the hospitality industry and 20 years since she devoted her passion and expertise to the hotel, where she creates spectacular desserts for Romanians, expats, diplomats and celebrities. Throughout her career, she has prepared desserts for banquets of over 1,500 people, for large-scale events such as the Nato Summit, the George Enescu Concert, King Michael's 90 th Anniversary, the Centenary of the Athénée Palace Hotel and for famous names such as Nicolas Cage, Duffy, Roxette and the Rolling Stones.
Chef Franz Conde is Executive Chef at the Athénée Palace Hilton Bucharest, following nine years at Hilton Amsterdam. Originally from Venezuela, Chef Franz Conde’s professional development was helped greatly by gastronomic giants such as Patrick Dwyer and Armando Scannone, who he had the privilege of working with.
The current foodie love affair with quality chocolate is relatively recent, dating back perhaps to the mid 1980’s when, Valrhona, a French chocolate maker started to manufacture couvertures that were true to the complex spectrum of cacao flavours. Before this time, most chocolate manufacturers were creating bland and over-sweet blends to appeal to consumers that were unaware of the universe of flavour that the best chocolate can make us experience. When Guanaja, the first ever 70% couverture was launched, it only had appeal among chefs that saw the sensational gastronomic potential of such a chocolate! Most consumers rejected it for being unbearably bitter and strong. It is paradoxical that the original Aztec xocolatl was “a bitter drink only suitable for pigs”, as one conquistador wrote after trying the drinking concoction that Moctezuma offered Hernan Cortés, having tragically mistaken him for a reincarnated deity instead of a conquering invader. In fact, Mayans and Aztecs believed that the cacao bean had magical, or even divine properties, and was often used in sacred rituals. When cacao was brought to Europe, it was prepared by mixing it with cane sugar, and in time it became
THE QUADRILINGUAL PARFAIT dedicated to Irina Margareta Nistor Ingredients for mousse a. 550g double cream, whipped b. 525g black Guanaja chocolate 70% (or similar) c. 325g whole egs d. 225g granulated sugar e. 112g soft butter f. Pinch of cayenne pepper Instructions for mousse • Boil the sugar with 80g of water to prepare a syrup • Beat the eggs in the mixer and add the hot syrup, while continuing to mix • Melt the chocolate in a Bain Marie, to create an emulsion • Mix in a bowl, with a spatula, the chocolate and the mixture of the sweet eggs • Now carefully add the whipped cream, the soft butter and the last touch: a pinch of cayenne pepper
the most fashionable drink throughout Europe for its nutritious, medicinal and aphrodisiac properties. Recently, the popularization of Bean-to-Bar chocolate bars has rescued small cacao producers from bankruptcy and obscurity, and has saved us consumers from the ruin of flavour standardization. Recently, while talking to Irina Margareta Nistor for the “100 Chipuri” project, she confided to us that her favourite foods were chocolate, chili and wasabi, so in homage to her extraordinary legacy to Romanian culture, our Executive Pastry Chef Mihaela Dima created the most amazing dessert using all these tastes in one unique cup!
Ingredients for crispy hazelnuts a. 150g hazelnuts praline paste (or hazelnut butter) b. 90g melted milk chocolate c. 80g shelled hazelnuts toasted and cracked d. 150g of cornflakes Instruction for hazelnut crisp • Mix together the hazelnut paste and the melted milk chocolate • Add hazelnuts and corn flakes, stir to combine Instructions for the wasabi bonbon • Take some sugar syrup made with 1 part water and 1 part sugar, and add a pinch of wasabi powder. Stir well until dissolved • Keep in a freezer for 2 hours How to assemble the parfait: 1. At the bottom of a martini glass put a little of the hazelnut crisp 2. On top of the hazelnuts, put some chocolate mousse. Better to do it with a pastry piping bag. 3. In the middle of parfait put a
spoonful of the frozen wasabi syrup 4. Continue to fill the glass with chocolate mousse 5. Decorate with pure 70% chocolate curls Enjoy!
Undiscovered gem of the wine world? BY ROBERT MARSHALL
Perpetually poised to become the next great wine producing country, Romania has the largest area under vine of any of its neighbours in eastern Europe and whilst having the volumes to satisfy the thirst of export markets, only recently has it started to define itself as a producer of quality wines. A continental climate of long and sometimes hot summers paired with cold winters allows viticulture to be spread throughout Romania and grape growing here has a long history dating back at least 4,000 years. The most recent and evident impact on Romanian viticulture was authoritarian communist rule. State controlled wineries were dedicated to pumping out large volumes of sweetened, cloying wines that still dominates the supermarket shelves today and they remain firmly stuck to the palates of an entire generation. The fall of Ceausescu in 1989, and the immediate aftermath, was even less fortuitous for the industry. If you wanted to make money fast in a kleptocracy then viticulture, with its dedication, conscientious and patience, is not the way to double your dollar overnight. Romania’s accession to the EU in 2007 provided the much needed funding and recruited passionate investors, many foreign, who anticipated the country’s potential for quality wine production. Fresh plantings of commercial clones of well-known international varieties, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, have been a safe and commercial bet for many vineyards, but several producers have opted to replant historical, indigenous Romanian and
Balla Geza Cellar
regional varieties, in particular the Fetească grapes – Neagră (red), Albă and Regală (both white). This remains the present dilemma for many winemakers – to continue on the path of producing affordable, generic wines with well-known grapes, which are selling well on foreign markets and with a new generation of Romanian wine drinkers or to establish an individual and defined Romanian wine style with less familiar, tried, tested and tasted grapes that are as capricious and varied as Romania’s history.
5 WINES TO BUY AND TRY CRAMA GIRBOIU - EPICENTRUM It’s the mineral rich soils and a marginally cooler climate than southern Romania that make the Moldova region perfect for fresh and often zesty white wines. Epicentrum, made by the family run Crama Girboiu, is a reference to the vineyard’s proximity to Vrancea, one of the most active seismic points in Europe. A blend of two local white grape varieties, Șarba and Plăvaie this
is a dry wine with delicate floral aromas, with well rounded fruity and balanced by fresh citrus and zesty minerality.
BALLA GÉZA - CLARUS Sparkling wines have experienced continued global growth over the last few years. Although the Italian made Prosecco spearheaded the trend towards affordable sparkling wines other countries have invested in the technology to make some delicious, bubbly examples. Balla Géza, from Minis in the Banat region of Romania, make a sparkling wine from the local Mustoasa de Măderat grape. What you get in the bottles is a delightful and vibrant sparkling wine, with hints of nectarine and peach, both versatile and affordable.
AVINCIS – NEGRU DE DRĂGĂȘANI Avincis is a success story of Romanian investment. This modern and impressive winery sits on the rolling hills overlooking the Olt river in Drăgășani, home to
the equally impressive wineries of Prince Stirbey and Oliver Bauer. The grape variety is Negru de Drăgășani, unique to the region, and Avincis make a wine that is soft and velvety with flavours of black cherries, blackcurrants and delicate spices.
CORCOVA ROY & DÂMBOVICEANU FETEASCĂ NEAGRĂ Still in Oltenia but heading southwest from Drăgăşani you reach the County of Mehedinți, home to two great wineries Corcova Roy & Dâmboviceanu and Oprișor. Corcova makes a round, smooth and fruity style of Fetească Neagră. If you like your easy drinking merlots and malbecs then you will love this easy drinking Fetească Neagră. Perfect with pizza or Romanian pork dishes and like many great wines its strength is the uncomplicated balance between ripe, black fruits, a velvety texture and freshness.
OPRIȘOR - DRĂGAICĂ ROȘIE
Harvest in Corcova
A blend of world class, international grapes - Cabernet Sauvignon provides backbone and strength, Merlot – fruit and velvety softness, Pinot Noir elegance and style and Shiraz – spice and complexity. Drăgaică in Oltenian folklore refers to the flower laden young maidens that ward off evil spirits from the crops. They certainly seem to have been doing a good job with the vines because this is a serious red wine with ripe blackberries, dried plums and rich, deep flavours. It has spent some time aged in oak which gives succulent complexity and nuances of vanilla, dark chocolate and spices. If you like your wines bold and fruit forward- Aussie Shiraz, Californian Zinfandel or even Rioja Reserva - then this is a wine for you. Robert Marshall is a wine and spirits consultant living and working in Romania since 2007. 45
‘Sunetul Avincis ’ together with
Avincis, one of the most esteemed premium wine producers in Romania, along with Alexandru Tomescu, famous contemporary Romanian violinist and Omar Massa, bandoneon virtuoso born in Argentina, have launched `Sunetul Avincis` - a classical music album which bears within its chords the harmonious sound of the Vila Dobrușa domain.
Enjoy the music together with Avincis wines!’, declared Valeriu Stoica, owner of Avincis. The first classical music album ever recorded at Avincis was born from the passion for music and oenology, in which Alexandru Tomescu's Stradivarius violin meets Omar Massa's bandoneon for the first time.
‘Through all its dimensions, the Vila Dorbușa domain – Crama Avincis is a cultural project, thus the rendezvous with music in the middle of the vineyard is a natural one. Having inspired artists for millennia, the concept of wine has become, by its own self, an aesthetic object. Together, the vineyard and the wine create a discreet music, an almost silent, serene sound. Sunetul Avincis indeed suggests a dialogue between music and the melody of the vineyard.
‘The idea of this association came naturally to me: a small wine tasting session was held at the end of each recording day. I quickly realized that music can be felt and heard differently when paired with the right wine’, said Alexandru Tomescu.
Therefore, Alexandru Tomescu and Omar Massa interpret and discover, at the same time, the voices of composers and those of the Avincis wines as well.
Sunetul Avincis brings something new to the classical music market, because every musical piece is associated with a certain wine from the Avincis cellar. Wines represent a symphony of flavors, and if matched with extraordinary music, they can be a delight for all our senses. The album contains 12 tracks, featuring pieces that explore the famous South American tango repertoire, as well as legendary, classical works of art, to which Omar Massa’s bandoneon added a new dynamic and vivid touch. ‘Music and wine – not only do they compliment each other perfectly, but they also enhance one another. I’ve always felt that the story of a place also features some sort of melody of its own, and the Avincis winery, projected by Alexandru Beldiman, has a remarcable acoustic, which enriched the sound of the Stradivarius violion and of Omar Massa’s bandoneon.’, added Alexandru Tomescu. The launching event took place at Ghica Victoria Palace, a place defined by history and culture, in the presence of over 50 guests, Avincis friends, journalists and bloggers. The ambassador of the event was Andreea Micu, owner of Avincis. `It is a real honor for us to collaborate with Alexandru Tomescu and Omar Massa - two musicians whom we admire very much - in order to bring to light, for the first time in Romania, our dear project, `Sunetul Avincis`. Music and wine create both sensory and soul experiences in close connection with each other, and the songs on this album are the best proof in this respect. This initiative is another important step that Avincis is making to support arts and culture.`, said Andreea Micu, owner of the Avincis.
Alexandru Tomescu, Andreea Micu and Omar Massa
The Sunetul Avincis album is for promotional purposes only and is not for sale.
Slightly Disordered The Mono Jacks are a synthesis of thoughts and feelings in musical form, they’re an intense fusion of alternative rock and post-punk. If you like Interpol or The National, you’ll find The Mono Jacks are very much your cup of tea. Doru Trăscău (vocal, guitar), Andrei Zamfir (guitar), Cristian Chiru (bass) and John Ciurea (drums) formed the Mono Jacks in 2008 and they have been enchanting their public with vibrant, energetic shows and a visceral rawness along with layers of pervasive melancholy ever since. OZB talked with Doru Trăscău, the leader of the band, chief Mono Jack, ahead of their end-of-the-month show which promises to be a cracker. BY OANA VASILIU
THE NEW ALBUM
It was a while since the last complete The Mono Jacks album, so on November 3 fans gleefully gathered to celebrate the launch of “Ușor Distorsionat”. This new album features
10 songs and it’s a veritable roller-coaster of raw emotions encompassing expansive and diverse instrumentation. It’s a “wild ride”, according to the band with intense emotions channelled through music. 47
What is slightly disordered (English translation of the album’s name “Ușor Distorsionat”)?
It can be a wordplay. You can even link it to the sound of the entire album, but, eventually, Slightly Disordered is the way we perceive reality.
I feel it’s already an old trick, but it is very possible that I misunderstand the phenomenon, especially when you take into consideration that I only made a public Facebook account a year and a half ago. I would say that having an online presence definitely helps you to pass on information quickly.
The new album has stories about love and divinity. What’s love for you? Divinity?
Love is the greatest power we have and I think we use it too little. Divinity is still an unanswered question for me at least. The Mono Jacks have many English songs. On the new album, there are none. Why?
Singing in English is a choice I made years ago. We thought that English would help us to cross borders and thus we’d be able to live through playing music, a job that’s almost impossible in Romania. But meanwhile, our fans at home unconditionally supported us, they bought our albums and came to our concerts. The return to our mother tongue was a natural choice and a kind of gratitude to those who have always supported us. But there will be songs in English.
SOCIAL INTERACTION Now with the internet platforms and social media, it’s easy for you to get your music out there for people to listen to it. Is this better or worse for the alternative music? It’s bad for the actual sales, it’s good for band’s exposure. The albums aren’t sold, but people listen
What’s the best thing that social media has brought to The Mono Jacks?
Many OZB readers are from abroad, in a few words, how can you describe the Romanian alternative music scene?
The alternative scene here? I see it as a gang of passionate people working hard despite the many shortcomings. Working class heroes! What’s next for The Mono Jacks? What will bring 2018 for the band? But for the public?
Gigs, gigs and more gigs, a new rehearsal space, a couple of videos at least and we are already working on the new album. DISCOGRAPHY 2010 - Now in Stereo 2011 - Fortunes (EP) 2012 - Gândurile remixed (EP) 2015 - Tablou (single) 2016 - Drumul (single) 2017 - Un sfert de secundă (single) 2017 - Ușor Distorsionat
Next confirmed gigs: March 23, The Drunken Lords, Bucharest March 24, Krypton Pub, Drobeta Turnu Severin.
SILVERFISH Photo credit: Anca Dionisie
“The crickets in our hills will not let me sleep, they’re scratching out a living with families to keep”. So run the lyrics of the haunting title track on the debut album created in Transylvania by British author/ singer-songwriter Mike Ormsby. If you’ve enjoyed reading his books, listen to his songs, which range in genre from jazz to country, pop to rock, reggae to punk. “Isabella” is a lovely ballad about a trilingual four-year-old. “Don’t Call Me Honey” a scorching riposte to a smecher lover, and “Dear Geronimo” a rousing call for civic action, written a few months before Romania’s recent street protests. An eclectic mix for discerning ears, the fifteen tracks on “Silverfish” were recorded and produced by veteran Romanian keyboardist Walter Dionisie, whose lovely accompaniments fit seamlessly. “Walter is a musician’s musician, heart and soul,” adds Mike, “we worked hard but had lots of fun.” Mike Ormsby and Rebecca Zaharia
Brașov starlet 16-year-old Rebecca Zaharia sings on three duets and has a powerful voice for one so young. If she’s this good now, accolades await? Ormsby plays a mean guitar, slinky bass, and deft harmonica; his melodies flow easy on the ear and his inimitable wordplay enhances every line. Sometimes amusing, always affecting, this album is contemporary, yet timeless. Give “Silverfish” a spin on Spotify, Deezer, Apple, or Amazon. Walter Dionisie and Mike Ormsby
Stephen McGrath is a British journalist living in Sighişoara. His work appears regularly in the international press, for pubications including The Times, BBC and The Guardian.
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FALLING Heavy rain clatters on the windscreen of Ion Holban’s four-by-four as he shifts through the gears to make it up a steep dirt track deep in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, a wilderness where pristine forests host bears, wolves, lynx and wildcats. Holban wants to keep it this way, which is why he has organised a 50-strong group of experts and campaigners to join him on a week-long mission to map out the vast tracts of ancient woodland before it’s too late. “There’s pressure from logging all across Romania,” says Holban, the campaign co-ordinator of Agent Green, an anti-logging NGO. “The government is not treating the virgin forests with the respect and value that they deserve. There’s very little protection in place.”
PROTECTED AREAS FAIL TO PROTECT Romania is home to more than half of Europe’s last remaining primeval forests – some 200,000 hectares of beech, spruce, fir, oak and other species – much of it in the Carpathian Mountains, which sweep in an arc across the country. But by some estimates, it is losing as much as three hectares of total forest cover an hour, including valuable virgin forests, as a result of legal and illegal logging and degradation. The problem has grown since the fall of communism in 1989. With corruption
BY STEPHEN MCGRATH
endemic in Romania, successive governments have been unwilling or unable to put a stop to illegal logging. Foreign timber companies have also been accused of taking advantage of the lax enforcement. The Austrian company Holzindustrie Schweighofer is Romania’s biggest exporter of wood, with annual revenues of more than half a billion euros. Much of the timber ends up in other member states of the EU, which Romania joined in 2007. In 2015, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a US-based NGO, published a report on a two-year-long investigation that accused Schweighofer of purchasing illegally sourced wood. The company denied the claims. Few areas are out of reach for illegal loggers. According to Greenpeace, of the 280,000 hectares of Romania’s total forest cover lost between 2000 and 2011, nearly half was located in national parks and other so-called protected areas. “Even inside national parks, nothing is safe. There are ways in legislation to get around it,” says Holban, a well-built man, over a beer after a long day mapping the forests. “They can say they have an infestation of insects, and then they’ll inflate the issue and cut many more hectares than necessary.” The race to save the trees has suffered
several setbacks over the past year. Environmental campaigners claim that the Social Democrat (PSD) government, which won power in December 2016, reversed hard-won measures designed to prevent illegal logging. According to Agent Green and other NGOs, the government has been pushing to withdraw the official status of a key register of virgin forests that
was funded by the Royal Dutch Society for Nature Conservation in 2005. The PSD has also stalled a real-time tracing system for timber â€“ monitored by satellites â€“ that was initiated by the previous government and was supposed to come into full effect last April. The government questioned the validity of the contract with the software company.
WHAT CAN BE DONE? Recently, however, five key timber companies including Schweighofer, have shown positive signs of willingness to tackle the scourge of illegal logging. Two NGOs, Euronatur and Agent Green, had year-long discussions with the companies who are responsible for cutting around 5 million cubic metres of wood annually — and whose end products can be found in at least 100 countries worldwide. “We convinced a significant amount of companies to refuse wood from national parks and virgin forests, but they cannot prevent it completely,” says Gabriel Păun, founder of Agent Green. “Because the forest inspector app is not operational the traceability of timber is easily lost so it can end up in the wood yards.” The effect of illegally logged timber on Romania’s rich biodiversity is clear. In June last year, Greenpeace Romania released aerial-view photos from Sadu Valley in Transylvania, in the centre of the country, where 100 hectares of state-owned forest disappeared. The once-picturesque spruce-covered slopes revealed a barren expanse of earth scarred by fallen and dragged timber. Greenpeace called the site an ecological disaster. “Sadu Valley is a sad example of how legal papers can cover for disastrous logging done without any respect for the law and the ecosystems,” says Valentin Sălăgeanu, the head of forest campaigns at Greenpeace Romania. Greenpeace claims that the trees in Sadu Valley should have been selectively cut – removing fewer trees over a larger area – rather than clear-cut, which is much more damaging to the wider ecosystem. “It’s not at all an isolated incident, but a widespread practice in state and privately owned forests,” Sălăgeanu says. The campaigners’ claims are backed up by official statistics. Between 2009 and 2015, the number of reports of illegal logging to local authorities increased from 30 to 96 per day. A study by Romania’s National Forest Inventory, a state body, estimated that nearly half of all the timber harvested in the country between 2008 and 2014 was illegally cut.
Enforcement efforts by the previous government appeared to be paying off, with the number of reports of illegal logging falling to 26 per day in 2016. But according to the campaigners, these gains are now in danger. In Semenic National Park, Romania’s fifth largest, illegal loggers have destroyed large swathes of forests and damaged the local riverbed from dragging felled timber through it, leaving behind industrial oil from logging machinery. The destruction cuts a forlorn sight.
PEOPLE REACT Public anger over illegal logging is widespread. In 2015, thousands of Romanians took to the streets in 14 cities to vent their anger over the alarming rate of deforestation. The European Union has also expressed its concern. In 2015, the European Commission highlighted Romania’s weak enforcement of EU regulations on timber and threatened to take the country to court if it continued failing to meet the required standards. This month, Păun is set to meet with environment minister Grațiela Gavrilescu to discuss measures to prevent logging in all national parks. That the government is open to discussions is a sign of hope for both campaigners and the natural world. Without more external pressure, it may be up to the activists to lead the campaign to protect the country’s natural heritage. Thanks to their efforts, around 10 percent of Romania’s virgin forests won Unesco World Heritage status last summer. “We’re regarded as a nuisance for the government,” says Octavian Anghelescu, a campaigner who joined Holban’s camp with Agent Green. “In time, hopefully, we’ll have a stronger voice and we can change the situation in favour of nature. Our forests are unique in Europe. It will be a great shame if we lose them.” As the sun sets over the 18th-century former hunting lodge in Covasna County, several campaigners leave with Holban in his Jeep for home. But in a few hours, Holban will return with more volunteers eager to help save the forests.
A version of this article first appeared in New Statesman magazine. 52
Făgăraș Mountains Massive Deforestation Photo credit: Ion Holban
Born in Romania, impacting the world From its headquarters in Cluj-Napoca in the heart of Transylvania, the Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania - PATRIR - is impacting the world. Recognised as one of the leading institutes in its field internationally – having been awarded both the World Vision International Peace Prize and the Luxembourg International Peace Prize -- PATRIR has been engaged in peacebuilding and peace support operations in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Afghanistan, Darfur, South Sudan, Colombia, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. In Romania they work across a range of programmes, from improving women’s rights and overcoming domestic and gender-based violence to youth empowerment, civic participation, peace education in schools, and working to celebrate and promote inclusion and multiculturalism while challenging hate speech and polarisation. With the world facing increasing challenges, conflicts and crisis, Romania’s first international organisation in the country’s history is making an impact at home and abroad – and transforming the way the world deals with conflicts.
our work and communities. Conflicts aren’t the same thing as violence though,” explains Kai Brand-Jacobsen, one of the co-founders of PATRIR and Director of the Institute’s Department of Peace Operations. “Violence is what happens when we systematically fail to deal with conflicts effectively. Our job is to help people, communities, governments and national and international organisations see how to deal with conflicts more effectively, both at a local level here in Cluj-Napoca and around the world. We do this through international mediation and peace support, through training government leadership, officials and conflict parties in how to do peacebuilding and deal with conflicts more effectively, but also through introducing peace education into schools so that children and youth learn more effective ways of dealing with conflicts and handling diversity and differences constructively.” What is an international organisation, and even more than that, a “peace” institute doing in Romania? That’s a question many people ask when they first hear about PATRIR. That is, until they discover what this organization is all about. In its 17 years, PATRIR has gone from a start-up team of three volunteers to being recognised as one of the leading centres of excellence in its field in the world – called upon by the United Nations, Commonwealth Secretariat, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), governments, and national and international organisations alike. Working for meaningful change from Romania, in Romania
Women's Peace Movement, Nineveh
“Conflicts are normal. Every single one of us has them– whether in our families and personal relationships or in
As an Institute though, PATRIR’s work starts at home. Its team are proud to be located in one of Romania’s most beautiful, culturally diverse and dynamic cities. The Institute carries out a wide range of programmes to make a real difference in people’s lives in Romania and contribute to the country’s development. They work with teachers and schools, implementing peace education, human rights, gender and leadership training in schools. They partner with government institutions and civil society organisations to contribute to real progress on women’s rights, combating gender-based and domestic violence, promoting multiculturalism and
empowering youth, civil society and civic engagement. From 2001 until today the Institute has been at the forefront of also empowering citizens to stand up for good governance and accountability in Romania. “To put it simply” says Ambassador Oana Neacșu, also from Cluj, “PATRIR is a success story. A success through its people, its programmes, its outreach and its commitment to bring about change. PATRIR's leadership is outstanding and undoubtedly a key element in the building of its success. PATRIR is also an example of going global from the local level. Based in the university town of Cluj in Transylvania, a multicultural setting in central Romania, PATRIR has crossed boundaries and borders both geographically and mentally. The results and outcomes of its endeavours have been visible throughout the globe.” Shajjad Rizvi, Founder of the Little People, says “PATRIR is one of the best organisations in Romania. The passion and dedication of its leadership, staff and volunteers is inspiring and catching. They are a true inspiration to the organisation I represent and many other organisations in Romania.” Transforming the way the world deals with conflicts So what is peacebuilding? That’s not a word many people in the world are even familiar with yet. Peacebuilding for PATRIR is about finding practical and effective solutions to conflict and working to prevent violence. This isn’t easy, but as anyone watching the evening news can tell, it’s needed. PATRIR does this through its Department of Peace Operations, currently involved in peace support programming in Syria, Libya and Nigeria, and until recently heading up the largest UN-backed programming in Nineveh, Iraq, where ISIS was operating. In 2008 – 2010 the Institute’s team was engaged in Northern Ireland by the parties to the Good Friday Agreement - working a decade after the signing of the agreement to deepen the peace process. Importantly though, the Institute’s approach to this is to do it quietly. Its philosophy is that peacebuilding is best done by local people in their own communities. An example of this has been the Institute’s work in Syria since 2007. This has focused on strengthening and supporting Syrian capabilities to deal with conflicts and violence in the country. Now, as the war escalates further, PATRIR is supporting partners across the country to see how to de-escalate violence, and to lay the foundations for long-term recovery and healing. Training is also a big part of its work. The International Peace and Development Training Centre (IPDTC) is the training arm of the Institute, providing programmes at home in Romania and around the world. n the last months alone PATRIR has provided trainings in Syria, Lebanon, Morocco and Darfur. 10% of its programmes are hosted at the Global Academy in Cluj or as Executive Leadership Programmes in London. Altogether more than 4,000 people from 70+ countries around the
world have taken part in PATRIR trainings – from senior ministers and government officials to grass-roots community workers, former combatants, military officers, youth and more. Anusi Dori of the United Nations said of the Institute: “PATRIR is second to none. In their activities all over the world they blow your mind. They open your eyes to the realities of this world. PATRIR’s peacebuilding training has really helped me to turn my weaknesses into my strength. They are doing this work all over Europe, America, Africa, Asia. In any civil society or government meetings you must count the number of people that have participated in one training or another with PATRIR. Through their programmes they are having an extraordinary impact on the world, and provide inspiration for everyone working to make real, meaningful change.”
In pursuit of peace 2015 Documentary Film following the work of PATRIR Department of Peace Operations Director Kai Brand-Jacobsen and 3 other practitioners in the field. In the film PATRIR’s work in Iraq and Turkey are featured. vimeo.com/150351138 In pursuit of peace – TEDx Talk War isn’t inevitable. It’s not even the best or a particularly effective way of dealing with conflicts. With more than 20 years’ experience working in many of the worst war zones in the world, PATRIR Department of Peace Operations Director Kai Brand-Jacobsen shares what is being done every day to deal with conflicts practically, prevent violence, and help communities and people heal after war. www.youtube.com/watch?v=RO-rUb2fMA0 See www.patrir.ro for more information.
2018 FIFA WORLD CUP RUSSIA 14 June – 15 July
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN BY MARCEL DE ROODE
Just a couple of months to go until the biggest football event on this planet will start again. In 2014 Germany defeated Argentina in the final 1-0, to win the tournament and secure the country’s fourth world title. Will they do it again, or, to quote Gary Lineker: “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” Over the next 3 months OZB will give you insights into the teams, the player to watch and the odds on who is likely to win the championship. GROUP A
Russia, this year’s World Cup hosts, finished fourth in England in the 1966 World Cup. After the disappointing Euro 2016 event, they changed managers. Can Stanislav Cherchesov lead them to new heights and get them into the top 5? He’s brought in a lot of youngsters to replace Fedor Kudryashov and Sergei Ignashevich. All eyes will be on the brilliant midfielder Alan Dzagoev. He has to be the power source for the Russians. Ranking FIFA: 65 Player to watch: Alan Dzagoev Odds to win tournament: 40/1
For the first time since 2006, Saudi Arabia is again present at the World Cup. The Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk lead them to this success. But because of a disagreement with the Saudi National Football Association, he will not be the coach during the championship. Juan Antonio Pizzi takes his place, to lead this inexperienced team to maybe a second round. Ranking FIFA: 63 Player to watch: Nawaf Al Abed Odds to win the tournament: 1500/1
The Pharaohs are making their first World Cup finals appearance since Italy 1990. They’re a very hard team to beat due to their defensive style of playing. Responsible for all this is coach Hector Cuper, the Argentinian who knows how to build an unbreakable defence. Egypt’s attacking hope, Liverpool star
Mohamed Salah, has to take the team by the hand and try to surprise some of their opponents. Ranking FIFA: 31 Player to watch: Mohamed Salah Odds to win tournament: 300/1
La Celeste were world champions while hosting the World Cup in 1930 and again in Brazil in 1950. The team of Oscar Taberez qualified quite easily behind the Brazilian winners. Their attacking style of playing is praised the world over. Barcelona star Luis Suarez will lead the attack and, with his inspiring way of playing, the youngsters in the team will follow his example. Keep an eye on this team, for many people they are a dangerous outsider. Ranking FIFA: 21 Player to watch: Luis Suarez Odds to win tournament: 33/1 GROUP B
The European 2016 champions are, of course, one of the favourite teams for the title. The attack of Portugal is led by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo; he is backed by a solid defence. These are, most of the time, the ingredients needed to get very close to a title. For Portugal to go all the way will depend largely on one man, Cristiano Ronaldo. What kind of shape will he be in after a long and tiring season with Real Madrid? Ranking FIFA: 3 Player to watch: Cristiano Ronaldo Odds to win tournament: 28/1 57
Spain What is there to say about brilliant Spain. They have dominated the game for a long time and if you look at the names in the team that will possibly play in the World Championships, you can only be impressed. To name but a few: David de Gea, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba , David Silva, Fernando Isco. For sure one of the favourites. Ranking FIFA: 6 Player to watch: Fernando Isco Odds to win tournament: 8/1
Morocco After 20 years, the lions of the Atlas are back on track. The heart of the team is build by players we know from Dutch football. Players like Karim El Ahmadi, M’Barek Boussoufa are bringing a lot of experience to the team. This, combined with the brilliance and intelligence of Hakim Ziyech (Star
player of AJAX Amsterdam), makes this a team to look forward to. Getting to the second round will be a huge success for this team. Ranking FIFA: 40 Player to watch: Hakim Ziyech Odds to win tournament: 500/1
Iran The most well known name in this team is the coach, Portuguese Carlos Queiroz. He has been coach of the Portuguese National Team and Real Madrid. It doesn’t come as a surprise that this team heavily leans upon defensive tactics. But what else can you expect from a coach who’s also named “Master of Defence”? Counter attack is the name of the game. Striker Sardar Azmoun is the great attacking Iranian hope for the World Cup. Ranking FIFA: 32 Player to watch: Sardar Azmoun Odds to win tournament: 750/1
OF BRAȘOV BY JULIA LEESCU
My grandfather, a former war alpinist, lived up to his motto: “Your Right Foot Should Always Be Stable When You Put Your Left Foot Forward”. After having moved to Brașov, I got to practise his principle daily, especially in winter, when the days are short and the streets are slippery. It’s cold outside, but oh, it’s beautiful. You cannot stay all four or five winter months just looking at the fluffy white hills and icy mountain tops, so every week we go out for a little exploration with friends.
“Will I meet a bear on top of Tâmpa?” - asks my French friend, while catching his breath on our way up to the “Brașov” sign. He loses his balance and is saved from falling by a tiny white-haired lady. Three old ladies pass us by and, when we finally reach the sign, they are already enjoying the view, sharing chocolates and a bottle of schnapps. Never underestimate Brașovians in their 80s: 58
Photo credit: Brasov Explorers
they’ve had a lot of weekends to train. Each winter offers many beautiful opportunities to practise hiking in and around Brașov. Depending on the amount of time you have available, you can go for an adventure with one or two overnights at a cabana or plan one full day hike. I’ll talk about my favourite day hikes here.
UP THE TÂMPA MOUNTAIN Level of Difficulty: Low Necessary equipment: trustworthy hiking
shoes and clothes, trekking poles highly advisable in winter.
It’s an easy and picturesque day hike or walk, depending on one’s level of fitness. Your route starts right in the middle of the Old Town. Have a nice morning cup of tea or coffee at Cafe Pub or Nola Coffeeshop and let's go! “Muntii Nostri”, an app and map mentioned before by Simon Parker, has an informative website describing the most popular Romanian trails. I often take a trail # 35 or “Serpentine Track”. It ends right on top of Tâmpa, where one can examine the ruins of an old Brașovia fortress. If tired or bored of using the same route, you can use the cable car to travel back to Old Town. Trail # 34 is also fun to take. It ends in the Răcădău part of Brașov, from where it’s easy to get back to the centre. A derailment can occur when you are hungry. Warning: it’s very easy to end up at “Casa Ungurească”, well-known for its heartwarming portions of goulash and pancakes. Pros of this day hike: no real chance of meeting
the bears, one of the best views of Brașov from the top of Tâmpa mountain. Cons: no real chance of meeting the bears, slippery ice hidden by snow on your way.
EXPLORING TAMINA CASCADE Level of Difficulty: Medium Necessary equipment: adequate hiking shoes and
clothes, quality hiking gloves and trekking poles.
LUCKY SEVEN LADDERS OF BRAȘOV Level of Difficulty: Medium Necessary equipment: very trustworthy hiking
shoes and warm clothes, quality hiking gloves are a must.
When you are freshly arrived in Romania, they tell you all about the “beauty and uniqueness” of wild Transylvania. “7 Ladders” or “7 Stairs” is the place where you really get to experience what that means. This is my favourite destination and in winter it’s only accessible on the weekends, from 10:00 to 16:00. To make sure it’s open on your weekend of choice, it's always worth to give the guys from the hut a morning call: www.facebook.com/7scari/ Just 5 minutes of driving from a small village of Timișul de Sus, there is another small village of Timișul de Jos. If driving from Brașov, you cannot miss the big board on the left side of the road, advertising the “7 Ladders Canyon”. Drive up the road on the left, where you will find a parking space. Follow the yellow arrow and it will lead you to the hut, where 10 Lei will buy your future portion of adrenaline. It feels like giving out a movie spoiler, so I will not disclose everything that awaits for you. Take it easy on the third ladder: here goes your left foot, then your right foot. The stairs have been recently renovated and are reliable and this certainly gives one confidence. If the winter is snowy and icy, I have found it easier to hold on to the steps rather than to the railings of the stairs.
Just 20 minutes of driving from Brașov, there is a small touristy village of Timișul de Sus that boasts several breathtaking natural locations and no cafes that open in the morning. With your strategic hot tea thermos and snacks in the backpack, take the following trail until you reach “Cascada Tamina”: http:// muntii-nostri.ro/en/traseu/05mb-traseul-nr-6-timisude-sus-cascada-tamina-stana-sub-piatra-scrisa-2/
Pros: great adventure for groups, romantic and thrilling hike for couples. Cons: it never feels as exciting as the first time!
Near the cascade which is, in fact, a group of very photogenic cascades, there will be a little rock formation. Climb it carefully minding the slippery rocks, and you will be rewarded with the great view.
The season of snow in Brașov is up and running, so you will have plenty of time to explore these day hikes. After all, there are still three winter months - March, April and May - remaining!
Pros: the route never gets boring, it has several types of forest, a river crossing and several photo-taking points: your friends on social media might be jealous. Cons: last time we were there, many indicators and information boards had been destroyed by the wind.
At the end of all the “stairs”, take the route marked with a red dot to return back to the hut where you bought the tickets. Your hot chocolate or hot wine is well-deserved!
Dušan Žuža “Superbet has always been a product based company”
At the end of last year, Superbet started operations in Poland and announced entry into Serbia and Slovakia. Other countries are in the pipeline. OZB Magazine talked to Dušan Žuža, the new Chief Marketing Officer of Superbet, who worked and lived in several countries, about the marketing strategy of the most ambitious betting company in Romania. BY FULVIA MEIROȘU
Why did you choose to work for Superbet?
Superbet’s CEO Sacha Dragic has put together an incredible team. In the company we have people who made Superbet the number one betting company in Romania from just one agency, in less than 10 years. We have top industry executives joining Superbet and bringing remarkable experience from the global betting companies. We also have people bringing experience and knowledge from the global leaders in other industries (IT frontend, retail, FMCG). All these talents together, driving global expansion of the company, make Superbet an outstanding place to work for.
What is the marketing strategy of Superbet for the next years?
Superbet has always been a product based company. Our success has been built on the superior retail product and an execution that made consumers so satisfied they were spreading word of mouth, making it unnecessary for the company to invest in large scale advertising. Now, as we are expanding outside of Romania, our marketing strategy is to drive our products’ trial, creating as soon as possible a critical mass of satisfied consumers who will spread the word of mouth in the other markets as well.
What is the secret of a successful marketing strategy for a betting company? How different is it from the marketing for Procter & Gamble, where you worked for several years?
The fundamental concepts of a successful marketing in almost any business to consumer industry are more or less the same: understand consumer behavior and needs, drive innovation, create and provide superior products, give the most value to the consumers and focus on users` satisfaction. Betting is sports/male audience focused, so there is not much similarity in marketing communication between betting and detergents or female beauty products, but if you put betting next to male brands like Gillette for example, you will see there are many similarities (top athletes as the brand ambassadors, sponsorship of sport events etc.) How important is the digital/online marketing?
It is very important, if not already the most important one. Traditional advertising is in decline and people are getting more and more connected online so that now F-factors (friends, family, Facebook fans, Twitter followers) have more influence on consumersâ€™ decisions that the traditional brand communication. How do you fight competition?
We are focused on our consumers and providing them the best value and userâ€™s satisfaction. That is how we fight and win against the competition. How does the future look like for Superbet?
Bright, very, very bright! We are very much looking forward to what the future brings as Superbet is launching new products, implementing new technologies and expanding the operations to the other markets.
What is the biggest challenge for Superbet?
Scaling the business outside of Romania. That is the focus of the company in the upcoming period. We have already started operations in Poland and announced entry into Serbia and Slovakia with some other countries in the pipeline, soon to be announced. Do you bet :) ? If yes, on what?
Yes, I do bet. I love to put money behind my hunch on the outcome of basketball games. Also, occasionally I bet on football, water polo and tennis. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but every time I enjoy the experience, as putting money in the game makes me feel more like an active participant than just a passive spectator. How is it to live in Romania compared to living in other countries?
I love Romania and have to admit it is my favorite country. Living in every country has its good sides and bad sides. It is in human nature to notice only the bad and take for granted all the good things. I have been blessed with an experience of living in different countries, which helped me to develop an ability to notice and enjoy fully all the good things as well. Being said that Romania is my favorite country, I find it to have the best good to bad ratio of all the countries I have lived in. What do you like/dislike about Romania?
I like the people, how sociable they are and the fact that they always have time for friends and family. I like how safe the country is and also the nature. The mountains, the Danube, the Black See are just astonishing. The traffic infrastructure is still developing and I am sure Romania will be an even better place to live in when all highways and the other road/travel infrastructure are fully constructed.
SELECTIVE NETWORKS OF LUXURY BRANDS:
ARE THE RESTRICTIONS OF ONLINE SALES IN HARMONY WITH EU COMPETITION LAW? Andreea Micu, Partner and Ramona Bădescu, Associate, STOICA&Asociatii Andreea Micu
Selective networks are the result of selective distribution agreements concluded between suppliers and dealers, through which companies wishing to distribute their products set out certain criteria for the intermediaries. Selective distribution is a very useful instrument for brands which create high-end items or luxury products, such as jewellery, premium watches, cosmetics, leather goods, high-end cars or hi-fi sound systems. Allowing an increased control over their image and reputation, this contractual tool entitles companies to distribute their luxury products only to certain dealers that satisfy their requirements in terms of prestige, features of the sales location, advertising or product accessibility. However, the selection of some dealers means the exclusion of others, with the effect of limiting intra-brand competition on the market. This is why the selective distribution agreements, included in the general category of vertical agreements, are highly supervised by the European provisions regarding competition law. According to the EU legislation, any agreements and any concerted practices between companies, susceptible to affect trade between member-states and whose object or effect is to limit or alter competition inside the common market of the European Union, are prohibited. Exceptionally, selective distribution agreements for goods that request a certain type of intermediaries (e.g. for luxury goods) are allowed, on the condition that dealers are selected solely on the basis of qualitative criteria. Moreover, the application of such criteria must be non-discriminatory and proportionate to the objective of ensuring that the goods are 62
distributed under appropriate conditions. Taking into consideration the impact of the new digitalized era and the increasing importance of online commerce, the system of selective distribution applied by the companies offering luxury goods is facing real Ramona Bădescu struggles: on one hand, luxury brands seek to preserve the prestigious image of their products through a selected network of reputed dealers with highly-equipped points of sale, while, on the other hand, the same luxury brands envisage to widen their access to customers through online sales which, however, might not be able to offer them the same guarantees of prestige. This is the reason for which the producer Pierre Fabre Dermo-Cosmetique (PFDC) chose to insert a clause in the selective distribution agreements concluded with its dealers which prohibited any online sales of the PFDC products, in order to preserve the prestigious brand image and to be able to provide the customers with personal advice. In 2011, in a case brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) against PFDC, the Court considered that an absolute prohibition of any internet sales constitutes a restriction to the competition on the common market, if such clause could not be objectively justified. Further, the CJEU highlighted that neither the necessity to provide customers with personal advice nor the requirements of protection of the brand’s image represent a legitimate purpose justifying for such
a clause. Therefore, the contractual clause, which severely restricted passive sales to end-users outside the territory of the suppliers, was prohibited by EU competition law. The CJEU ruling gave birth to serious concerns for luxury brands, which feared that the interpretation of competition law provisions would actually compel them to consent to the sale of their products by dealers to platforms like Amazon or E-bay, which could, in some cases, affect their prestigious image. Fortunately, on 6th December 2017, the CJEU has issued a new ruling on the topic, which brings valuable clarifications regarding the selective distribution and the online sale of luxury cosmetics. Coty Germany GmbH is a luxury cosmetics supplier which concluded several selective distribution agreements with its dealers, through which it allowed them to offer and sell its products on the internet. However, the internet sales had to be conducted through ”electronic shop windows”, which preserved the luxury character of the products and belonged to Coty’s dealers or to other third parties’ platforms that were not visible to the customers. One of Coty’s dealers refused to accept this clause and started reselling Coty’s products on Amazon’s platform, which determined Coty to file a court claim in view of stopping the online sales initiated by the dealer. In the context of these proceedings, the CJEU was requested to clarify the interpretation of the relevant EU law. According to CJEU’s decision in the Coty case, a selective distribution system designed, primarily, to preserve the luxury image of goods, is permitted by the EU competition law, to the extent that resellers are chosen on the basis of objective criteria of a qualitative nature, laid down uniformly for all potential resellers and not applied in a discriminatory fashion, that the characteristics of the product in question necessitate such a network in order to preserve its quality and that the criteria laid down do not go beyond what is necessary in order to preserve the quality. In addition, a contractual clause which prohibits authorised distributors in a selective distribution system for luxury goods from using, in a discernible manner, third-party platforms for the internet sales of the contract goods, is coherent with the EU competition law, provided that the clause has the objective of preserving the luxury image of those goods, that it is laid down uniformly and
not applied in a discriminatory manner and that it is proportionate in the light of the objective pursued. Proportionality must be understood in the context of electronic commerce and refers to the necessity to offer the supplier a guarantee in terms of the conditions in which the goods are sold, the preservation of the luxury image of the goods and the quality of the selective network which sells such goods. In order to rule such a decision, the CJEU was influenced, also, by the fact that Coty Germany GmbH did not prohibit entirely the internet sales, but only the sales through visible third platforms. In conclusion, according to the latest developments in European case-law, luxury brands can forbid the online sales of their products through third parties’ platforms, if the legal requirements described above are met. The CJEU ruling brings a more flexible approach on the restrictions of the internet sales in the selective distribution system of luxury products, in a legal frame which must be continuously adapted to the new digitalised era. In Romania, the market of luxury products is constantly evolving and therefore, a special attention should be given to any new European case-law which brings additional criteria for the interpretation of the relevant competition law provisions. Therefore, do not forget to enjoy luxury wisely! STOICA&Asociatii is specialized in legal assistance and representation regarding mergers and acquisitions, joint-ventures, horizontal and vertical anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position, state aid, both in front of the Competition Council and the national courts. Over the years, its lawyers were constantly involved in administrative procedures regarding the investigation of competition law breaches, as well as in litigations in connection with the annulment and suspension of the sanctioning decisions issued by the competent national authorities. STOICA&Asociatii also provides tailored legal advice in relation to different types of commercial contracts, negotiations and exchanges with enterprises acting on the same or related market, as well as in relation to the implementation of distribution structures and pricing policies in compliance with competition rules. 63
Angelic Realm BY ANCA DONIŞAN BOTEZ
I am in the Airport in Tenerife, in a small coffee shop, waiting for my 07:00 pm flight back to Bucharest. I have fever, I got sunburned yesterday and my skin hurts and I slept poorly the last three days. I am sitting with the laptop in front of me trying to focus on my work. Randomly, I start to look at the tables around me and I see peaceful and happy people: a young mother draws in a colouring book with her son, a couple in their forties are both reading a newspaper, and three generations of women - grandmother, daughter and granddaughter - are sharing a bowl of vanilla ice cream. For a brief moment, I stop what I am doing and I allow myself to close my eyes and to feel only gratitude. What a blessing it is to be here, to be alive, to feel the people around me, to experience the peace on their faces and the love they have for each other. These are indeed the little moments that make life worth living and give us hope to make the best out of our lives too. For the last seven days I have been here on Tenerife, attending Andreas Kortes workshops on the Healing Power of Flowers, Animals and Crops essences. My emotions and thoughts are all over the place, especially after connecting with the whales and dolphins’ essences, very strong experience remembering our origins and mission here on Earth. Also, doing all these essences activations and meditation at strong energetic sites like Guimar Pyramids, Teide Mountain or by the Atlantic Ocean, definitely put me on an emotional self-discovery path. I must say, I am grateful beyond words for this experience because I also work with Andreea’s essences and his results, starting from emotional healing up to treating cancer with HLT, are showing truthfully how nature can heal us. We just have to acknowledge this quantum healing, and that nature, Mother Earth, Gaia is always there to support us physically, emotionally and spiritually and to allow it to manifest. For me, a lot of my spiritual experiences and growing happened in nature, in the forest behind my apartment, where I do my daily meditation. Here I started to connect with the Spirits of the plants and trees, with crystals. On the Bucegi Mountains I discovered that trees can also be Portals to other dimensions and this is how I connected with the Creator, with God for the first time. I wanted to continue sharing my experience with you about the Source and then I realized each of us will meet God at the right time and in different ways. So, I was sitting at the coffee shop in the airport thinking to write about how this essence can help other people heal, when a man approached me. He was tall, grey hair, in his mid fifties and he had the kindest brown eyes ever.
He asked me if I am American, what is my opinion on President Trump and on gun regulations and what do I think about God. I must say, I had to stop my writing, close my laptop and I started a beautiful conversation with this man. He had a very graceful way of talking, of being and I could feel a divine energy in him. I always trust my intuition and I always talk to “strangers”, yes. I also believe “strangers” is a harsh word in a world where we are all connected in oneness, where we are all part of the collective consciousness. “Strangers” is like a mental program that keeps us separated from the others, hooked on to the consciousness of separation. How can we be “strangers” if we all have the same Source DNA? This man told me his name is John and I immediately felt like calling him John of God or John of Light. I was feeling in each cell of my body this man was sent to me by God and that he has a message for me. I even felt he is not from here, but from the Angelic Realm. He asked me if I read “Conversation with God” and we had a deep talk about creation and about the Laws that govern the Universe. Apparently, John had been trapped in the Airport for a while. I asked him if I could help and he said “No”, there was nothing I could do. I wanted to give him my business card information so that he could call me if he needed anything and John said he threw away his phone 6 months ago when God told him it is “time for him to go up”. So, no need for my contacts then. I really, really wanted to help John and I did not know how. He said he loves to read, so here I was holding Andreea’s book “The Healing Power of Animals”. He accepted my gift with deep gratitude and I was so happy and blessed to be able to do something for him. Eventually, he accepted my business card too, saying “you never know in this life”. I had to board, so I gave John a big hug and I saw God inside him, his divine Light shining so bright. And I just started to cry in his arms, tears of joy, tears of gratitude. How blessed I am to meet this Angel on Earth! Then John of Light looked at me and said the work I do comes from God, as I work directly with the Creator. He told me in what country to go to help people heal and how to do it. John of God revealed the beautiful Souls that will come into my life and how my Divine Journey will never be the same again. I woke up this morning thinking about my encounter with John yesterday and I promised to myself “I will make my Life the best Story ever”, today, tomorrow and every other day!
Anca Donișan Botez is a U.S. certified NLP trainer, interested in personal and business training, founder of mameinafaceri.ro project.
HOME AGAIN BY RADU GOIDESCU
If you would had to decide upon the best year of your life, the most significant, which one would it be? For me, 2017 was the year I was granted a long desired wish. My wish to return home. My name is Radu, I’m 17 years old and today I’m going to tell you my story. A story which defines the saying “Be careful what you wish for”. “An adventure must start with running away from home”. So I did, back in 2013, when, together with my family, I moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, leaving all my friends and all my relatives behind. Back then, the 13-year-old me joined the British School of Kuala Lumpur (BSKL), which was my educational temple for four years. The place where I would establish precious friendships, join many outside organisations (Roots & Shoots, Duke of Edinburgh International Award etc.), building bridges and learning what it means to be a proud Romanian. It was also the place where I would meet a dynamic teacher and tutor who was to become my friend: Douglas Williams. Unfortunately Douglas left Malaysia two years later. Back then, I never expected I would see him again, but fate has put us in the same city once again: Bucharest. Today, almost five years later, I’m writing this article for the magazine he founded. After four years of living abroad, in July 2017, my family and I came back home, to the country of our roots: Romania. During the twelve-hour flight, I contemplated a lot. “Romania must have changed,” I kept telling myself. Stepping out of Henri Coandă Airport, I started noticing that things were moving faster than perhaps the locals liked to admit. Bucharest wasn’t in that continuous vicious cycle of disrepair anymore. Many multinationals have set up here, there are more modern buildings appearing on the outskirts of Romania’s major cities. Untold, Neversea, Electric Castle music festivals were now on the youth’s bucket lists, attracting hundreds of thousands of foreign guests. Romania was now slowly converting into a truly European nation. Undoubtedly, the honeymoon phase didn’t last
long. As my family drove north up the A3, getting further away from Bucharest, our eyes fell upon the enormous cooling towers of a refinery. Shortly after, another two petrochemical refineries completed the skyline. I felt giddy with excitement. I was back in my hometown: Ploiești. A gust of dry wind blew through the maze of the vast Stalinist city blocks. The majority of the locals were out enjoying a medieval festival in the old town, complete with the customary, super-cheap beer. During our one month stay in Ploiești, I hung out with old colleagues and friends. Sadly, time had passed and common interests were rare. Everyone, understandably, was grouped according to what local high school they attended and with discussions based purely around their school lives, left me as an outsider. Additionally, my hometown, which before had given me a sense of comfort and belonging, now seemed stifling and yet bereft of warmth. I slowly started missing Malaysia, my school and the entourage I’d had. Today, it’s been eight months since my return. Eight months in which I’ve widened my perspectives, discovered a resilience I never knew I had, and I’ve found new passions and interests and turned them into reality. All of this with the help of the British School of Bucharest, a learning institution which I’m proud to be studying at. I’ve learned to better appreciate all the effort, advice and support that my parents have given to me while understanding that everything happens for a reason. I’m also beginning to understand that Romania does have massive potential but it’s up to us, the Romanians, to better communicate all the great things about this nation and therefore shift the image we have internationally. This is my story about learning to appreciate what I have. What’s yours?
Food, Food, Glorious food, or is it? BY DEAN EDGAR
Whenever I meet new Romanians on my travels, I am nearly always asked if I like Romanian food and, if so, what. For me there are two types of Romanian food: the food offered at a restaurant and the food that’s cooked at home. The standard fare offered in most restaurants I have tried consists of mici (skinless sausage), cîrnați (sausage), ciorbă (soup), ciolan (hock of ham) and, of course, mămăligă (polenta). What can I say about these staples of the Romanian cuisine? Let’s start with everybody’s favourite, mici. Well, it has to be served with a massive dollop of mustard, bread (more of bread later) and beer. So far, so good. Problem is, most of the times I have had it, it’s either pink in the middle or nuked beyond recognition. This changes when my friends and I have a BBQ. It isn’t my favourite Romanian dish, but cooked properly, it can be tasty. There is a great place in Bucharest that serves it exactly to my liking, the mici and beer terrace at Bucur Obor market, a must visit destination. Beer at 3 lei a glass, across from the terrace is a fantastic fruit and veg market, with butchers, fishmongers, and spice shops on the first floor. Shop then eat, a great afternoon out. Next up are cârnați, traditional Romanian sausages that come in various different flavours, served as mici is served, bread and mustard, but they are seriously tough and grisly, I now steer clear of these, I gave it my best shot. Give my English sausages anytime. Ciorbă or a sour soup, generally with a choice of chicken, beef, meatballs or tripe, I am sure that there are others too. Served with the ever present bread, a chilli and sour cream. The bread I understand, the cream and chilli, I don't. One of my favourite Romanian dishes however is ciolan, ham hock, served with cabbage, or fasole (beans). Cooked properly, this is an excellent dish, a dish I always look for on the menu. Last and by no means least, we have mămăligă. I have a love/hate relationship with this dish, again, when cooked properly, it is a treat, most of the time it has the consistency of either runny porridge or a house brick! I try and avoid the “traditional” Romanian restaurants such as Caru cu Bere, as they offer a soul-less experience,
packing people in, offering dishes as described above, but there are a few little gems packed away in Bucharest. One of my favorites is a small restaurant on the Old Town called Bodega La Mahala. Based on the eating houses of communist times, it has a great terrace, great wine, an eccentric chef, but offers great food, cooked traditionally. They offer roasted pig cooked on a spit just outside the kitchen. Served with grilled vegetables, washed down with Romanian country wine and țuică. For me this restaurant brings out the very best in Romanian food. So far, I haven't mentioned sarmale, cabbage or vine leaves stuffed with rice and pork served with sour cream (acceptable with this dish) and it’s best eaten at somebody's house, using a recipe handed down the generations. I love it! Served most often at Christmas and Easter, it is a dish that you have to try. Easter also brings lamb, a meat that isn’t that popular here but served as a traditional Easter dish. There is one offering which, like sarmale, has to be home-cooked, and it’s called drob, a course lamb pate which can be quite superb. One of my pet peeves here in Romania is the service in restaurants, this was brought home when I popped over to Manchester to see me mum and sister. I ate out most of the time, and the service everywhere I went was friendly and efficient, something that is sorely missing here. Another thing that I miss here is the lack of good Indian and Chinese food. At the last count, there are four Indian restaurants in Bucharest, all pretty average and inconsistent, so when I was back I made sure I had a curry! There are several Chinese restaurants, but again average and inconsistent, I have found a good one though, near my apartment called Din Fu, the owner and the chefs are Chinese, try it, I hope that you like it. Well, all the talk of food, is making me ponder upon where best to lunch today. Until the next time...
OZB Magazine and IWA - International Women Association are celebrating Women Power. We kindly invite you to be our guest on 28th March at the Sheraton Hotel, starting at 18.00. Special guests: HE Stella Ronner-Grubacic, the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Romania, Ximena Reyes, President of IWA and Arabella McIntyre-Brown, British writer.
Insight, Culture, Lifestyle Magazine for the International Community in Bucharest and Romania.