The first Local Gastronomic Point in Podu Dâmboviței

By 12 April 2022 No Comments

Visitors to the Dâmbovicioara – Sătic – Rucăr area can enjoy the taste of authentic meals at the new Local Gastronomic Point of the Burnea-Țigău family at no. 343, Podu Dâmbovitei village, Dâmbovicioara commune. It was recently authorised by the Argeș Sanitary Veterinary Directorate for Food Safety, with consultancy and technical assistance provided by Foundation Conservation Carpathia, through the Conservation Enterprises Programme.

The Burnea-Țigău family welcomes guests who are eager for a cockerel sour soup (ciorbă) or other dishes made with raw materials from their farm. Luiza relies on her husband when it comes to taking care of their livestock and the rest of the family help cook and tidy the house for visitors. Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance, by calling +40 744 757427.

The opening of the first Local Gastronomic Point (PGL) in Dâmbovicioara is an important step for our area and a confirmation that we are adapting to the needs of our guests in recent years,” says Raluca Busioc, Coordinator of the Podu Dâmboviței Tourist Information Centre. “They want experiences, authentic food cooked slowly, local stories, interaction with the hosts, and these elements are exactly what define a PGL. We encourage other locals to take the steps for this type of project or any other activity related to rural tourism, as it is an opportunity to showcase the resources, people, traditions and crafts of the area,” continues Raluca Busioc.

In 2021, we started a free consultancy programme for small entrepreneurs in the Făgăraș Mountains area or for those who want to get started on environmentally friendly activities. The authorisation of several Local Gastronomic Points is a novelty for Argeș County, and tourists already have access to four such places, with home-cooked food made from home-grown raw materials.

The Făgăraș Mountains area is one of the richest in terms of nature and culture in Romania. It has the potential to offer beautiful experiences to tourists visiting the area, whether we are talking about the wild nature unique to Europe or the way people’s lives are shaped, based on the heritage of mountain life in the southern villages of the Făgăraș area.

What are Local Gastronomic Points?

Since 2018, the National Sanitary Veterinary and Food Safety Authority (ANSVSA) has allowed the setting up and authorisation of Local Gastronomic Points. This initiative is aimed at guesthouses that do not have a licensed dining establishment or for tour operators who want to offer a meal to locals. The aim of these Local Gastronomic Points is to bring traditional cuisine closer to visitors, with natural products prepared according to family recipes, with healthy ingredients. Basically, the locals invite guests, who come to the village on holiday, to dine with them, which can become an important source of income.

The Local Gastronomic Points are set up in a legal arrangement (Family Association, Commercial Company). The first condition, given that these types of activities go beyond the framework of private consumption, is the need to obtain the sanitary, veterinary and food safety registration document, in accordance with ANSVSA Order no. 111/2008.

Very often people in the countryside are afraid to go through the authorisation process,” says István Szabó, conservation enterprises manager, Conservation Carpathia. “What we have done during the last year is to show that you can work with DSVSA Argeș or other institutions. In the green business programme, we made this link between what the locals want to develop and the steps needed to achieve authorisation. They have our support, from filling in the first application to the last bit of advice they need, and in this way, we relieve them of the stress of a process they are unfamiliar with,” continues István Szabó.

Menu of a Local Gastronomic Point

The daily menu has a narrow range of choices, specific to the area in which it operates, based on food prepared only by the owner or members of his family, Basically, the menu of the Gastronomic Points is different from that of restaurants, with a daily menu of no more than 2 soup courses, 2 main courses and possibly 2 dessert courses. All freshly prepared and served on the same day. The methods of preparation of the menu will be as traditional as possible, respecting hygiene conditions during preparation.

How do you authorise a Local Gastronomic Point?

Those wishing to develop such a Local Gastronomic Point must follow a few steps. Fill in a standard application form (also available on the website or DSVSA). The file submitted to obtain the sanitary, veterinary and food safety registration must also contain: a sketch of the food production site, a copy of the certificate issued by the National Trade Register Office, a copy of the identity card. The county DSVSA inspectors will visit the food preparation site, where they will carry out an assessment of the establishment to see if it complies with the general rules for this type of activity, stipulated in Annex II, Chapter III of the Regulations. If this is not the case, the owner will be notified of the deficiencies found and the deadlines for their correction (see Reg. EC 852/2004).

We have simplified the process a lot. I respect the time and work of the locals because we are also very busy,” says DSVSA Argeș director, Dr. Sorin Sorescu. “Last year we had three meetings that resulted in four Local Gastronomic Points. More are in the authorisation stage, people have come, they have shown interest, my colleagues offer advice, in the sense that when they pass through the area they pay a visit to the interested residents for more detailed discussions. A mandatory request for a Gastronomic Point is the existence of a farm – you either raise livestock or grow something. From your own production you sell to the final customer something produced on your farm, not from the hypermarket,” continued Dr. Sorin Sorescu.

The Conservation Enterprises Programme is developed within the LIFE18 project NAT/RO/001082 – Creating a wilderness area in the Southern Carpathians, Romania and aims for the development of a conservation-based economy, combining local economy, development and job creation with long-term nature conservation objectives in the Făgăraș Mountains.

The project does not provide funding – it will support the establishment and development of at least 10 functioning green businesses that will create a sustainable, environmentally friendly economy that will positively influence livelihoods in local communities.