This post is more for foreigners living in Romania and I hope to be able to explain a little about Romanian cheeses. Sometimes when we live abroad we want to make a specific recipe from back home and, of course, we sometimes have to look at replacing ingredients with suitable alternatives. There are, of course, a lot of foreign cheeses available on the market but often you can get excellent results with local cheeses, with the added advantage that a good local cheese will probably cost no more than an average imported one.
This is probably the most common cheese found in Romania, alongside cascaval. Telemea is generally quite a fresh cheese, moderately soft and crumbly, white in colour, and can be made from the milk of different animals, typically sheep (telemea de oaie) and cows (telemea de vaca), but also goats milk (telemea de capra). It is stored in brine and is an excellent replacement for feta in salads and other recipes. Learn to make your own telemea at home here.
A smooth yellow hard cheese usually made from sheeps or cows milk. Varies in maturity and quality from the plasticky commercial brands to harder vintage varieties. Often comes in a smoked form (afumat). Melts melt, grates easily, and is a fine substitute for chedder.
A very fresh curd cheese using made in the evening and left overnight to curdle and lightly salted. It has a smooth almost ‘squeaky’ texture. It’s often eaten for breakfast with eggs, shredded into salad, or used in pies (it can be sweetened).
Branza proaspata (de vaca)
A fresh cheese which is usually made of cows milk. It is soft, spreadable, and a little sour. It is used in pies or mixed with herbs (parsley, dill) and spread on toast or as a sandwich filling.
Branza de burduf
A traditional Romanian shepherds’ cheese produced from sheeps milk. It is matured in some areas in a sheep’s stomach but more commonly it is wrapped in tree bark and left to mature. Burduf is often used in mamaliga (polenta) dishes and it has a aromatic, dry but fatty texture that holds its form. I recently found a very tasty goats cheese burduf in the local market, see here.
A soft, moist, fresh cheese made from whey. It is low in fat and an ideal substitute for ricotta.
A geographically-unique cheese, it is mold-ripened in a cave in a location of the same name. I haven’t had the chance to taste it yet but when I do I’ll get back here and edit this.