By Alan Clark
In Romania it sometimes seems hard to avoid short term changes to plans. And so I decided to go to Cluj at 6 days notice to promote my cider in person recently, at a “tap takeover” event at Blend Brews and Bites.
This was my first trip to Cluj since 2009, a business trip on that occasion. I was eager to experience first-hand its Bohemian cafes, if not its vigorous night life (Lonely Planet). I hoped to use the opportunity to create some interest in our Cider, which brought me in direct contact, albeit during daylight hours, with a few establishments worth passing on.
Blends Brews and Bites is a lively location with a large packed terrace, and excellent food. Its also a leading promoter of made-in-Romania craft beers and now cider, and the host of the tap takeover for draught medium dry and medium sweet cider. A keg of each was ready for sampling at 19.00 hrs Friday evening, and sampled it was: within an hour of my arrival my table included Romanian, Polish, English, Canadian and French nationals, drawn together by at least one common passion. Watch “Blend’s” Facebook page for forthcoming similar events.
Next day I was ready for a full Austrian Breakfast to put me back on my feet, and found one at the Bistro Viena, with full view of the Matthias Corvinus statue and the passing groups with their tour-guides. King Corvinus, of Hungary and Croatia, was born in Cluj 4 years after the printing press was perfected by Gutenberg, and his life overlapped with both Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. As I finished my 3rd egg in the increasing sunlight, I couldn’t help but wonder how it was to live through that period of tumultuous change and progress.
Later on I visited Jaxx American restaurant, with its wonderful secluded back terrace, situated at the edge of the busy old central Cluj. Another Cluj landmark with excellent cocktails and great food, and a leaning towards excellent rock and blues music.
The Comtesse du Barry brand is synonymous with luxurious
high-end produce, and the Cluj store is no exception. I received a very warm welcome from the main man, Ezechil, and was quickly co-opted into the wine tasting session under way. If you want to procure a revolution-year (1989) limited edition of Glenmorangie single malt whilst in Cluj, or a champagne that would raise James Bond’s eyebrows, it’s definitely the place to go.
And, finally, en route to the airport, my Cluj whistle-stop tour at an end, I had to concur with Lonely Planet which states that most people leave Cluj wishing that they had stayed longer.