☰ menu   

Cheesy Must-Eats in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains

Telemea cheese from Romania

This is featured in Carpathian Spring in our Spring 2017 issue. Learn more about cheeses produced in Romania’s mountains and regional dining, activity, and lodging recommendations.

If you’re headed to the Carpathians, seek out these local specialities:

BALMOŞ: For this porridgelike specialty of the stână, fresh sheep cheese is boiled in sheep’s milk over a wood fire and then thickened with a bit of cornmeal.



BULZ: A big grilled ball of polenta, mashed brânză de burduf cheese, ham, and butter that’s known among shepherds as urs (“bear”)—because a bulz gives them the energy to fight off the lumbering mammals when they come for the sheep.

MAMALIGA: Polenta blended with melty caş cheese, smântână (sour cream) and, if you’re lucky, thick hunks of slănina—cured pork fat.

 SARMALE: A mixture of ground pork, smoked ham, and rice all rolled up in a pickled cabbage leaf and topped with smântână.



PLACINTA: A thin, pancake-esque pastry sold on every street corner. It’s stuffed with whey cheese (urdă), sweet cheese (brânză dulce), or other sweet and savory fillings (such as cabbage or apples).

PAPANAŞI: These urdă-filled mini doughnuts are served piping hot, topped with sour cherry preserves and sour cream.

Photo Credits: Toni Hermoso Pulido/Flickr (bulz); Rowena/Flickr (papanaşi)

Molly McDonough

Former Senior Editor Molly McDonough worked for cheesemakers in Switzerland and the US before earning a Master's degree in Agriculture and Food Science at the Ecole Supérieure d'Agriculture in Angers, France. After spending a year in Romania working on rural development projects with Heifer International, she returned home to Boston and joined the culture team in 2015.