A: All 3 were all in the same part of town last night when Sante Restaurant hosted another of their incredible Seeds of Diversity dinners, this time brilliantly hosted by the Ambassador of Moldova, Ala Beleavschi. This most gracious lady created an almost magical atmosphere, weaving the magic of her country into the cosy space occupied by Sante and by the threads of food, wine, art and music presented throughout the evening. She enthusiastically shared her love of her country with ex-pats, foodies and travel-hounds wanting to live vicariously. I fell into the latter and she had me hooked for sure!
Where is Moldova? It is a country shaped like a bunch of grapes and is situated in South-East Europe between Ukraine & Romania in what used to be the far eastern part of Romania. The main language of the country is Romanian.
What also had me hooked on loving this country was the food! It started at the door. We were met by a costumed pair (in traditional folk attire) from Moldova, welcoming us in their traditional manner…with braided egg bread which you then dipped into coarse salt and chased with a glass of one of Moldova’s best known wine varieties, Rara Neagra.
I love the set-up of these Seeds of Diversity dinners (I have attended both Slovenia & Hungary dinners also) with family style tables that allow…no encourage…conversation with omnipresent interesting people. Last night, my friends & I had the pleasure of sitting beside the musical entertainment for the evening, Vitaliy Reutsky, a professional pan flute musician out of Montreal. He barely got a chance to eat….between answering all of our questions and entertaining us with his traditional music from the Republic of Moldova. Also at our table were the delightful Ambassador and several ex-pats from Moldova as well as a couple who had travelled there and fell in love with it. Conversations were varied….. all interesting and soooo informative.
Did I have difficulty with the names? Absolutely. But God was watching over us and made it easier. Of 4 men sitting on either side of us….two were named Vitaliy (sounds like Italy but with a V in the front) and the other two were named something with about 10 letters that started with G. I mistakenly called one of them Ken….so Ken it was for the rest of the night. So…I guess the name thing was not made THAT much easier. How strange though that so many would have common names at the table.
If the people of Moldova all eat like we did last night….they should not be a small people. Our menu for the evening:
Being a self-professed foodie, I loved that those Moldovans around us helped to explain the food and the customs tied to the food. Stories from home about the food. I mean really….isn’t life all about the story?
The soup…for example. You either loved it or did not love it. A chicken noodle soup, it had an intriguing sour taste to it. I thought lemon juice. My friend thought vinegar. Our musician, who does not like Zeama soup by the way, said that it was neither. I am guessing that with his schedule that he does not make too much home-made Zeama…..so he was unable to share with us exactly the ingredient was. It was incredible though.
As was the lamb. I thought it would be the size of the tiny….”yes I am on your plate if you look hard enough”….lamb chops that I serve at home. No way. They serve them big in Moldova!!! Read the rest of the ingredients on the menu above to see what helped make my taste buds so very happy.
BUT….it was the dessert that I would go back for again and again. Dry plums stuffed with walnuts and topped with whipped cream. I cannot even begin to put it into words how good it was. The room became much quieter when this dessert came out as all of the attention was turned to this absolutely sinful treat.
Moldova is situated in the Black Sea basin and is home to some of the finest wines in the world! The first wine-making in Moldova dates back to 7000 BC. I did a little bit of research on it today and discovered that it is the 13th largest wine-producing country in the world with their wines already well known in Europe. (the LCBO is promising to start bringing in some of their wines!!) . It has the largest underground cellar, 200 KM in size, made out of old caves left over from lime stone mining. It has the largest collection of wine in the world with 1.5 million bottles!!! My new-found friend to the left of me last night had taught a guest course in dentistry at the university there a few years ago and had DRIVEN over 50 Km through this wine cellar! The wealthy stored their wine there through the wars.
With this I will segue into the wines that were served last night. Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra are the main grape varieties in Moldova. I wish that they had added the pairing wines that were served last night to the written menu. BUT…the reds and whites served were all absolutely lovely and well-paired with the dishes. I have always found wine pairings with meals to be difficult….if I am the driver. I discovered a way around this at my last Sante dinner and that was to share a pairing with another driver, just asking for an additional glass and then pouring half into the extra glass. It gives you enough to experience the wine…and yet you are able to drive home! Noroc (cheers in Moldova)
And how did our incredible hostess say “Good night and thank you for coming tonight. We hope to see you in Moldova”…..at the door with a lovely gift bag with a bottle of wine (they were flown in for the occasion!), tourism brochures and a lovely original piece of art by Moldovan artist Vasile Botnaru….painted with wine!!! How appropriate!
It was an incredible evening and one that has convinced me that Harry is going to be making a trip to the Republic of Moldova with me soon!!!
So…back to our condo for sale on 179 George St……this is what life downtown is all about….experiencing events such as this….so close to home. You should try it! http://evansteamottawa.com/listings/unit-604-179-george-street/