Romanian Lunch

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Our friend Alina made us a Romanian feast! We work with Alina at the restaurant, and we’ve become friends. She’s an incredible asset in the kitchen, hardworking, beautiful, and best of all, fun to be around. We’ve been through a lot in the kitchen at Erba Luna, and she is a great team player to have around.  The other day, to say thanks for some help that we had given her, she went all out and made us a Romanian lunch.
We’re not talking about a little lunch, we’re talking about multi course extravaganza.
To start:
Salata beuf: a chopped vegetable salad with chicken meat. Alina described it as being like the Italian Russian salad, but this was much lighter on the mayo and more flavorful. Italian Russian salad is this vegetable salad that is swimming in Russian dressing. It shows up at parties and potlucks, and it is a strange dish indeed.
Salata de vinete: a pureed eggplant appetizer that is best spread on bread. It has a lovely char flavor, but no pictures because it’s a little shy and not very photogenic.
Ova Umplute: a sort of deviled egg, with parsley and no mayo. The egg is seasoned and compacted; almost back into it’s original texture and served at room temperature. Delicious. Then again I’m a big fan of deviled eggs, even if they are sort of retro.

Then came the soup course: ciorba.  According to Alina, some variation of this soup shows up on the table at most meals.  This was a tomato base, flavored with meat and lemon juice. It was light and flavorful. You could see why on a cold Romanian evening, in the frosty shadows of the Carpathian Mountains, this would be a very good thing to eat.

Now we are up to the meat course: a stuffed cabbage roll called sarmale, served with a bit of cream.  Alina says that when she can, she makes the same dish using grape leaves. I ate more than my share of these, they reminded me of my mom’s stuffed cabbage, and it’s been a long time since I’ve had that!  Mom, are you listening??
Then just in case we were still hungry, out came some roast beef and sautéed zucchini.
By this time, we had opened the second bottle of wine and our stomachs were full and we were just so touched that Alina had gone to so much trouble on our behalf.
Then she brought out the cake! My, my, my.

A Romanian friend of Alinas heard what she was cooking, so Loridana showed up around 3:00 specifically to eat all the leftovers….and she did manage to devour quite a bit in a short time. She had to head back to work, but not before we indulged in some Romanian dancing. I’m afraid Jeff confused Romanian folk dancing with the jitterbug, but it didn’t’ seem to matter!    Thank you Alina for a very special time.

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