On the Truffle Trail
at Valea Verde Resort
We decided to spend the last few days of 2015 and the commencement of 2016 in Transylvania, at the Valea Verde Resort, a place beautifully tucked away amid hills and surrounded by forests in a village called Cund. This wasn’t in fact the first time we were there, since we went to Valea Verde a few years ago, to celebrate the wedding of dear friends. We didn’t spend a lot of time then, but we did get the chance to taste the lovely food prepared by Jonas, the co-host of Valea Verde Resort and his staff, as he provided the menu for the wedding reception. The wedding was a wonderful affair held in a tent especially made for the occasion to circle around old chestnut trees in the garden of the Apafi Manor. I remember being quite impressed by the fact that the food had been brought from Cund, cooked to perfection on location, most of it in the garden and also, expertly timed. Upon returning home, I remember telling our friends, much to their disbelief, the story of a resort in a somewhat secluded Transylvanian village where you can actually have a fine dining experience. It was a nice anecdote, albeit true and I’ve always wanted to return.
So we did return and this time, we decided to spend a longer while at Valea Verde, enough so that we could go truffle hunting and sample a more diverse array of dishes prepared by the resort’s kitchen staff, under our hosts’ careful, yet poised supervision. I knew before arriving in Cund that the food would be good and I knew to expect a fine dining experience. What I hadn’t realized is that the Valea Verde Resort doesn’t just sell food or scenery or truffle hunts, but a whole experience. And it’s quite an amazing experience.
The Valea Verde Resort is run by the Schäfers, Ulrike and Jonas, and they excel in being wonderful hosts by intertwining hospitality with knowledge and passion with earnestness. What is also remarkable is that their understanding of food and experience extends to respect for local produce and a sense of commitment to work with fresh vegetables, dairy, eggs and other ingredients available from farmers in the village or close by. As for hospitality, Jonas always takes the time to thoughtfully present each dish that is served to the dinner guests from each table, he will gladly clink a glass of wine with his guests and has some of the funniest food and wine anecdotes around. Add to this Ulrike’s courtesy as she greets you with a smile and a glass of chilled champagne when you arrive for dinner and you’ve got a recipe for a great travel and dining experience.
While at Valea Verde Resort, we got the chance to enjoy some wonderful dishes and since the truffle was at the core of our trip, acting as star ingredient, we had quite an abundance of lovely truffle dishes. Much to our delight, we had a chance to savor poached quail eggs with truffles, truffled duck breast carpaccio, truffled rout soup of celeriac and potato, risotto with truffles that was prepared outdoors over the fire pit, trout that had been stuffed with truffled butter and smoked in a vintage upright drum smoker that can be admired in all its greatness in the gravel paved garden just before entering the restaurant area. All these truffle dishes were wonderful, both pleasant to the eye and palate spoiling. I loved them all, but the dish I most enjoyed was probably the Truffle Ravioli, where everything is made from scratch and a couple of truffle slices get wedged between the two sheets of pasta, along with an egg yolk and then everything is immersed in boiling salted water for no more than two minutes, after which it is placed on a deep plate and served with mushroom-infused stock, and then immediately devoured. It’s truly an amazing dish and the hosts were gracious enough to include the recipe for it on their blog; you can find it here. And before I finish, I have to mention the Salty Caramel Ice Cream with Chilly Walnuts that was absolutely divine and that I got to enjoy two servings of, as it was too odd for daughter’s palate, lucky me!
I think I should also say that there were lots of other lovely dishes that didn’t feature truffles that we got to enjoy during our stay. The New Year’s Eve dinner was quite special and it was graciously presented by our hosts and boasted dishes that are traditionally served in Romania on this evening, alongside other more refined ones. An absolute shining star of the New Year’s Eve buffet was the smoked salmon, as the whole process takes place in the garden. I dare say I have yet to taste a more buttery-melt-in-your-mouth-oh-so-delicious smoked salmon.
If you are planning to travel in or to Romania and also happen to a food aficionado, then I recommend Valea Verde Resort from all my heart; feel free to check more info about them here. I should also mention that the wine pairings are very nice, so that will also be something to look forward to, if you’re passionate about it.