Finger licking in Romania: Ep.2 The Hungarian Experience in Brașov

 

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The separatist preamble

I don’t usually try Hungarian goods that are being sold in Romania. It’s not about the fact that I don’t trust their quality but I try not to contribute to the economy of a country that very much tries to break the centre of my country. Though not a crazy nationalist, I do have an issue with separationist tendencies in my country. The last thing we would need would be a civil war based on the rage fueled by Budapest into the small Hungarian community, concentrated in a few counties. While these people have no guilt for being poisoned with hatred, the ones over the border have lead this policy for years, after ’89. Now, with their despotic, ultra-nationalist, prime minister, things are becoming instigative so pardon my reluctance when it comes to Hungarian goods.

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We got into this restaurant because my foreign friend wanted to try it. Especially their wine selection, because as it seems PILVAX is a wine bar. I didn’t know that, at the time of making the reservation because then, I wouldn’t have had so much hopes about the food.

The place is in the old centre of Brașov, located on one of the small alleys. You can get to it only by foot but the parking places are all around the old centre so you have a maximum 10 minutes walk if you leave your car in totally the opposite side of the former citadel. It’s a nice walk anyway so don’t be afraid to leave your car a little bit far from PILVAX because walking through the old town of Brașov will always give you a fullness feeling.

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While I’m not a wine connoisseur, my friend is one hell of a “nose for grape juice”. Having a lot of experience, with wineries all over the world, this guy knows how to check even the most faded scents and aromas. And he’s not even in the business but he’s passionate about it, so I never miss one chance of taking him to places in Romania where he could have a nice time trying wines he never tried before. After all, we do have one of the most impressive wine industries in Europe and some wines are uniquely produced here because of the soil, the inclination of the hill, its exposure towards the sun. I guess @rbm could talk whole day about this 🙂 cheers mate!

But this time it wasn’t about our wines, it was about the wines of Hungary. Also, that 95% flat-land of a country has some incredible breeds when it comes to wine.

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The wine

Still, because we went for some traditional starters that included cheese, not very aged, we went for a white, Romanian sparkling wine after all, as through the Hungarian collection they had only stronger breeds. Moreover, while Hungary really excels in red, white wine is not their strongest point.

I loved the fact that the guys serving, though young, had a clear opinion about what they were selling and what combinations should be checked out and they agreed that for the starter we should go with a Romanian sparkling wine. So we went for a Carassia Blanc de Blancs Brut. The year was 2014 and though totally dry, in combination with the cheese this tasted sweet to me but sweet in a very, aftertaste way. My friend was making fun of me, like in the movie “Sideways”: “Are you chewing gum?!”.

But I wasn’t!

Along with the traditional cheese they brought, we also tried their “finger food” which were nice toasts with geese fat, marmalade and aged duck breast. That last one, the aged duck breast, was made by their owner, in his special way, smoked according to some old Hungarian recipes. Delicious I tell you! Together with the sparkling wine we chose, this was great!

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I also took a nice salad and good thing that I did because I have to tell you… the plates are small here despite the prices. We were not very inspired and we ordered only one plate of each starter, thinking that 4 hungry grown-ups will ease their hunger until the main course. We practically wrestled on the food.

Now, for the second course, being in a Hungarian restaurant, serving Hungarian cuisine, we decided to go for the duck. Everybody knows that Hungary is the land of the duck and of the geese. They are experts in feeding geese with vodka and making a great Fois Gras.

Fois-Gras was over that night so the duck leg, on sweet cabbage layer, was the normal thing to do. So the guys recommended for this Takler, Bartina Cuvee, 2006.

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Takler is the brand of a pretty small winery close to the city of Pecs. It’s pretty much a family tradition and a family winery still. Though the Takler family makes wine around since the 1700’s, the modern winery started in 1987 and they now cultivate around 50 hectares.

Coming back to the wine, the choice was splendid. At least by itself. A full bodied dark red, with a long finish in the mouth and some sweetness from the berries, taste that stay on the tongue some time after you’ve sipped.

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The duck

I would’ve given these young guys more than the rating of about 3 stars from 5 if I would write my review on TripAdvisor. And that would not be because of the starters, or the wines (I liked the diversity they had and the fact that if you are into Hungarian wines you can find a good selection here), or the way they served us.

The problem was the duck leg. All boiled and little to no oven. Really guys, you are a Hungarian place, it’s not possible to serve such a faded duck leg. I mean, you killed the duck for nothing. Absolutely fade and the only thing that was giving some taste, was the sweet cabbage, which was not great, but at least it was correct.

Moreover, why kill that wine, that strong and powerful taste, with the taste of duck, even if it were greatly cooked…? Which was not! Very poor choice of wine for that particular dish. Don’t get me wrong. The wine most probably would’ve made a perfect pair with a nice, thick, Black Angus steak. But we have no way to find out now because we ruined it with the duck leg.

Poor duck…

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The conclusion

Go for the wine and starters, forget about the duck. Maybe try some other things because it’s clear that this is not their powerful side. Some marrow dish got me thinking about some ordeal I would put my stomach through if I ever decide to revisit it. Maybe for the wines. Though it’s hard to believe, sorry Hungary. I still believe we have much better wine, there’s no quarrel there.

Moreover, like in the pic below, showing some mural they had in the entrance, the prices are pretty peppered.

There are, I consider, better places to eat in Brașov.

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