Small bits of chicken will be dipped in a pinkish, sweet sauce of red currant and will be spiced up with ginger and grated orange rind. Next to it, a cascade of sour cream is poured over the hot water in which the spinach was boiled. A wooden spoon gets involved right away and vigorously stirs the mixture until it becomes creamy, releasing a scent of freshly picked herbs all over the kitchen. This is how the sauce for the spinach that will be served to guests is made. The magic ingredients, that seem to be cooking the food by themselves, are not on the menu of an expensive fusion restaurant. These are the dishes offered to guests at the small guest house, The Country Hotel, in the village of Hărman, Brașov county.
“All my recipes start from old ones, but the secret of my food lies in the details,” says Marcela Cosnean, a former language teacher, who followed her dream to carve out a new life, aligned with her dreams.
During the day, Marcela likes to look after her guests who are visiting her fancy guest house and she likes to cook for them. Now and then, whenever she gets a few moments to spare, she withdraws into her workshop, where she can let loose her creativity. Sketches for children’s clothing or models of lady gowns, bed linens from natural fabrics, and fabulous Christening Gowns, all of them fully complete the world created by Marcela. One can surely say of Marcela that she has created a world she relishes, tailored to her dreams.
In fact, Marcela IS the guest house. Wherever you look, from the kitchen, where she has lined up spice jars like toy soldiers on the window sill, to keep it neat, to the bed linens, curtains and tablecloths that match each other – Marcela’s mark can be seen everywhere. She is the one who, with attention and warmth, turns customers into guests, discovers their culinary desires and translates them into delicious food, listens to their life stories and compliments them with her own brand of the soothing herbal “Tea of Transylvania”.
The beginning of the story
After Marcela gathered together all her design ideas and a group of skilled handymen, she began renovating the house of her dreams. Transylvanian Saxon households of long ago included an entire universe that gave the family everything they needed: cattle stalls, stables, pigsties and a barn. Each found a new meaning following Marcela’s redesign. The former stables became guest rooms and hosts a studio and a gallery that holds regular artisanal fairs that wear the house brand name: M A R C E L L A.
There are many visible traits of those typical traditional Transylvanian Saxon houses, some that date as far back as the mid 12th century: massive wooden gates, the house is L-shaped, with large windows, thick walls and tall rooms.
Her house became a guesthouse in the early 1990s, after Marcela fell in love with it. She was looking for a house to turn into her home. After months of intensive searching, she found in Hărman a white house that made her heart beat faster: “It was so beautiful, with its dyed masonry eyebrows, it was love at first sight.”
So she followed the owners all the way to Germany and didn’t give up until she bought it. Every corner of the house is magical, the more you look, the more beautiful things you see.
Guests are welcome here
The Country Hotel has become popular with travellers from all over the world since its gates opened in 2002. Not long after opening, the first foreign guest arrived, a young Englishman, who spent hours on end taking pictures of the house and the surroundings. Marcela talked to him a lot and she still does. A few months after his visit, she received by mail “The Lonely Planet” guide for Romania and Moldavia. In it was the young Englishman, who, it transpired, was actually one of the editors. He had described the guest house as “a perfect combination of elegant rusticity and luxury.”
Thus, The Country Hotel earned fans among foreign tourists who are attracted to Romania’s picturesque nature. Over the years, the boarding house’s guest book became full of gratitude from all corners of the world, from Ecuador to South Africa, from the Netherlands, England and France to the United States and Japan. And all the signatures are accompanied by the same promise of returning to the fairytale house.
“The boarding house helped me learn that good people, who are connected in thought and feeling, can cross any distance and meet any way,” says Marcela Cosnean.
Creativity in many forms
Marcela confesses that design, of any nature, was always her greatest passion. No wonder that the house was renovated following her vision. Over the years, she moved from creating bed linens made of natural fabrics, like linen and cotton, to designing clothes. This is what gave birth to the wish of designing a special line of Heirloom baptism kits and christening gowns, also made from pure, natural fabrics. The idea started to come together in her mind and since then, dozens of children have been christened wearing Heirloom christening gowns by M A R C E L L A, a brand that has already won a good reputation of style and elegance. The baptism kit pieces respect all the traditional stages of the religious service: dress, trousers, bonnet and vest for the trip to the church, the fabric used to take out the child from the christening bowl and the soft towels necessary to prepare the infant for the ensuing party. And her passion from early years for women’s clothing continues to be nurtured, too.
To Marcela however, The Country Hotel was never only a business. It’s an homage to that eternal joie de vivre that describes her so well. A way of living in harmony with others, of sharing every day’s joy with people you don’t know yet, but are fond of.
Some recipe ideas from The Country House:
The freshly hand-mixed “Brânză de Burduf” (specific Transylvanian cheese) can be made at home, by cutting the sweet “caș” into small pieces, adding salt and then hand-mixing it in a large wooden bowl until small bulks are formed. You can add basil and mint and store it in the freezer.
In the summer, for a refreshing drink, try to mix a glass of buttermilk with salt, lemon, basil and mint. You can also mix it with a drop of grapefruit juice.
The Country Hotel
Tel:+4 0740 090 987
Don’t miss our COMPETITION!
to win a night over at the Country Hotel and some of Marcela’s lovely meals!
More about it here.