Despite our best efforts to acclimate to the timezone by "pushing through" and exercise, I still woke up around 05:00. This trip I'm trying (failing) to cordon off internet access to set periods of time, or at least not be "always on". This meant I spent most of the morning reading (Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology), and then writing in my journal over coffee. Which I guess is precisely the motivation behind disconnecting from devices.
Late morning Andy's parents arrived and it was time for our next step of the adventure to begin:
Bucuresti → Port Cetate
Our destination for day one was Port Cetate - An artist retreat / function venue / bed and breakfast owned by Mircea Dinescu a writer/poet who became famous during the Romanian Revolution.
This is the first time I've been out of Bucharest without heading to the mountains, and only the second time I've done any significant travel by road, not train. The quality of the roads - even two lane roads in the middle of nowhere - is very good, and there was also the shock of seeing roadwork signs and PEOPLE ACTUALLY DOING ROADWORKS!
Our lunch stop was a mildly embarrassing affair, buying a couple of pastries to "justify" basically making our own sandwiches at the shop's tables, but it meant we had a nice sit down picnic in the middle of the day's driving. Nobody seemed to bat an eyelid.
We arrived at Port Cetate in the late afternoon and had a walk along the Danube, looking at the "Park of Angels". It's still a bit weird (as an Australian) the idea that looking across a river can be looking at a different country. The sun was streaming down and it was glorious just walking along the shore.
Dinner in the evening was amazing. We had a table set by the shores of the Danube, as the sun was setting, and the food was all freshly prepared, locally sourced and superlative quality. Of course this was accompanied by tuica (made with local nectarines, rather than the traditional plums), as well as several recent releases of Dinescu's wines. The menu:
- First course - served with tuica and then a 2016 feteasca alba
- Plate of mixed smallgoods
- ghiudem - dry salami made from goat
- smoked duck pastrami
- cured pork sausage with herbs
- smoked pig fat/skin
- roasted eggplant salad
- fish roe with capers
- Salad with very mild feta, tomato and basil flowers
- fresh (still warm) bread
- home made mustard - blended with quince paste, amazing
- home made chilli jam
- Plate of mixed smallgoods
- Second course - served with a 2016 pinot grigio
- Catfish cooked in white wine sauce with buttery potatoes
- Fried carp with polenta and mujdei (This is "garlic" the same way that the Dead Sea is "salty")
- Third course - served with a 2013 dry feteasca neagra
- whole roasted goose
- more buttery potatoes
- leafy salad with sorrel where you might normally have rocket, giving it a nice and sour taste
- Bonus course
- mititei made from pork, beef, veal and goat
- Dessert - served with a 2011 semi-sweet feteasca neagra
- The wine was super-interesting, because it was basically a stuff-up. They let the grapes dry too much on the vine, and then ended up with this sweet-ish, port-ish wine that worked quite well as a dessert wine.
- Crepes with home made jams - apricot and sour cherry
After such an epic and delicious meal, we crashed pretty hard at about 23:30 - fat and very happy.