WHAT IS DE MÂNĂ?
Welcome to De Mână… We aim to source and showcase the finest food & drink directly from the small producers of Transylvania, a corner of untouched Europe, and share it with you. ‘De Mână’ which means ‘By Hand’ is our collection of food treasures with big food stories. Made by the hands of the people that live an everyday life in harmony with this ancient land.
We pride ourselves on sharing with you products that are unique & traditionally Transylvanian or Romanian, that are made only from fresh, local, natural ingredients. Products that have absolutely no contact with the modern intervention of chemicals and additives. We work very closely with our producers to ensure that we bring to you products of only the highest quality and consistency.
WHO ARE DE MÂNĂ?
Partners in life and now in business, Mircea & Laura have over 10 years experience in the food and hospitality trade.
Mircea who was born and raised in Brasov, Transylvania spent his childhood watching & helping his dad, a head chef, in kitchens & restaurants in Brasov. From there stemmed his love for cooking and he decided to follow in his father's footsteps and train to become a chef. After developing his skill initially in Brasov he then made the move to the UK, where he began work in one of Raymond Blanc's restaurants in Bristol. A few years down the line he was working as a head chef in Cumbria where he met Laura.
After running a kitchen together for a year, the couple decided they wanted to work for themselves and for something close to their hearts, along with breaking free from the stresses and strains of kitchen life. What better than combining their love for the region Transylvania and their passion for food. They felt that Transylvanian/ Romanian gastronomy was almost unknown in the UK and that it deserves to be recognised and shared with a wider audience. From here De Mână was born…
Transylvania itself, translating in Latin to ‘The Land Beyond The Forest’ is one of the historical regions of central Romania. One where you may just find bears dancing with wolves and wild boar and where people are shaped by their environment rather than the other way around. This diverse landscape of riches is plentiful with virgin forests, wildflower meadows, medieval towns, mountain arcs & rivers. An abundance of unique beauty that has one of the richest flora & fauna in Europe.
From meadow, from forest, to jar, to table… The food offering of Transylvania tells it's own slow paced story from the beginning until today. What started as a way of life, a culinary necessity dictated by seasonal severity, has become the definition of a self sufficient, sustainable culinary tradition. However, these terms ‘sustainable’ ‘self sufficient’ ‘slow food’ and ‘organic’ do not pass the lips of the local shepherd, haymaker or beekeeper. For them this is a way of life, some may call it a hard life of resilience, some may call it a life of rural simplicity we like to think of it as idyllic survival.
Transylvania, although now part of Romania has an extremely varied heritage. Having such a diverse history results today in an influence from Saxon Germans, Hungarians, the Ottomans and of course Romanians and can be found not only in the regions ethnicity, culture & architecture but also in the food you will find on any Transylvanian plate.
Long, harsh winters with frequent sub freezing temperatures and short, warm Transylvanian Summers have founded a cuisine that has a need for preserving foods. Eat the seasons but also preserve them… Through the summer people shop at their local markets and feast on plentiful, local, fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, meats & cheeses.
By time the winter comes, giant jars of multi coloured pickles line pantry walls - mixtures of red peppers, grapes, apple, cabbage and cucumbers. Herbs hang drying in bunches from ceilings. Meat is cured, smoked, made into sausages, salami or pastrami. Meadows covered in carpets of wild flowers are collected and dried to make medicinal teas after a summer of providing the locally made honey a unique flavour. Aubergines, peppers & tomatoes are cooked slowly for hours over a wood fire to make a vegetable spread known as ‘zacusca’. Fresh cheeses are smoked or preserved in pine bark. All kinds of fruits from orchards or mountains are made into jams, syrups, fruit liqueurs or ‘tuica’ - the country’s national drink often created in backyard distilleries, a clear spirit distilled from fermented plums.