Saturday, August 21, 2010

Romanian food, part 2

The Standard Cheese Plate

This basic combination was repeated many times in our trip to Romania, most memorably at a sheepfold party where we walked up (and staggered down, many glasses of palinka later) a steep hill to the shepherd's worksite, where they make the daily fresh cheese, feed the hogs, and milk the cows before dispersing again to the pastures with their flocks and enormous mountain dogs.

The more textured cheese is caş, made daily from sheep's milk. It is tangy and moist, with a flavor like dry cottage cheese. The more uniform looking cheese is urda, made from the liquid left after the caş solidifies--the same basic process used for ricotta. Like ricotta it is very mild, but more solid and richer. Sometimes it is made from a combination of sheep and goat's milk. Either way, It's wonderful stuff, served at all meals and also used to stuff savory pastries such as plăcintă, a filled bread that also has dill.

Parsley and smoked pork fat round out the presentation.

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