300 recipes from the mountain areas of Neamt County were the origin of one book, which, once published, became the pretext for putting them into practice.
This, in turn, became a guide for a tour of good places to dine: sheepfolds, B&Bs and monasteries. The book is an invitation to cuisine travel, with its descriptions of traditional menus consisting of local food and drink.
Vasile Avadanei, representative of the Mountain Forum of Romania, Neamt branch, told us about the circuit: “We went step by step through all the villages in the Neamt mountain area, and wrote a book called ‘Gastronomy in Neamt Mountains’, with recipes supplied by the locals. Someone provided us the idea to make a book and put it into practice. This was the origin of the Festival of Mountain Gastronomy, which we held this September in Piatra Neamt. We subscribed for the European Excellence Destination competition, considering that this year the theme was Excellence Gastronomy Destinations, and we believed we had something to say there. We associated with the association of promoting tourism in Neamt, more specifically Ozana Valley, and we came in fourth in the competition, and now we are here to argue that in Neamt County, as in many other places in Romania, gastronomy is a niche, which may be a way to develop tourism, but at the same time we rediscovered it as cultural heritage. This prompted our slogan, ‘eating is an act of culture’”.
This cultural itinerary takes the tourist to places with strange sounding names, offering them equally strange sounding dishes. Vasile Avadanei from the Romanian Mountain Forum has more on the issue: “We gathered almost 300 recipes, of which we selected 20 and put together a promotion product named ‘The Mountain Delight Trail’ for Neamt County, with various representative recipes, including traditional drinks. You can find them all over Neamt County in places you can eat, and we discovered an opportunity we would like to turn into a tourist trail, including sheepfolds. Sheepfolds offer food with a specificity that does not rise to official standards, but the fact that they are fresh and made on the spot offers enough food security to get us to promote them.”
A brochure was launched called “The Mountain Delight Trail. Small Gastronomy Treaty”, at the Gastrofest 2015 Mountain Gastronomy Festival, where local producers were invited to introduce food and dishes of an original nature. Visitors could sample the local food and drinks, including wine and local spirits, with specificity in terms of when they are served, such as on the weekend or when working in the field.
Vasile Avadanei says where it is worth eating: “We found in every village farms, local accommodation, as well as a local folklore. Everywhere you step out of your car you can ask where you can find a good place to eat, and you will always be pointed to such a place. You also have village celebrations, annual events or religious holidays, when people meet visitors with traditional dishes. You also have monasteries, which boast tempting menus, especially Vovidenia Monastery, which has a delightful lineup of dishes”.
(Translated by Calin Cotoiu)