I will absolutely never top the 2008 Halloween that I spent in eastern Romania on the Dracula Tour. I have told this tale many times with a fondness and nostalgia only paralleled by the idyllic childhood that I experienced living out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by the woods. Knowing this, the best that I could hope to do is to attempt to recreate some of the highlights of my revered trip with my dear friend, Michael Hora. So here's my best (pardon the pun) stab at it.
Michael and I ate very well when we were there. The included continental breakfasts were anything but a wimpy box of cornflakes, or a lukewarm dollop of canned sausage gravy on a stale biscuit. We stayed at many very pleasant hotels on our journey: in Bucharest, Brasov, Sighisoara, Sibiu. The included breakfast buffets alone were like something out of dream: plates of every succulent homemade pastry you could imagine, hot plates of eggs, sausages, potatoes, cold plates of cured meats, pickles, olives, several artisan cheeses, fresh vegetables and fruits, blintzes, juices, and well-made strong coffee. The dinners were nothing to sneeze at, either. Yes, Romanians know how to eat! But I digress. The best way to describe this fare would be a mix of Serbian, Russian and Greek-style dishes – hearty and well-seasoned.
In planning your Dracula dinner menu, why not stir up some homemade Hungarian "ghoull-lash" with extra garlic toast and cheese on the side? If you're feeling ambitious, grill some steak kababs (get it, steaks/stakes). Have several appetizer platters of the cold snacky fare mentioned above. Finish off with some "Vampire Bite Marshmallows," roasted over a big bonfire in your backyard. To achieve this effect, dip your toasting fork in some dry cherry wine to start. Impale the hapless marshmallow twice, and roast to your liking. When ready to eat, dip the half of the marshmallow below the bite marks in some more of the wine, then sink your own teeth in.
Besides knowing how to eat, the Transylvanians instilled in me a love for highly potent fermented pure fruit beverages. The ones to get a hold of are pálinka (apricot brandy) and Țuică (double distilled plum brandy). Beware, as these little firebombs will kick you in the butt and keep one partying all night long. For some more mellow stylings, opt for the always popular Vampire wines, available in pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot. This is not a night for white wines.
If you do not know any local gypsies in your area to play around the fire, download some atmospheric and authentic gypsy music, such as: "Authentic Gypsies," by Laszlo Borteri & Niko Radic. Gypsy Kings and/or gypsy jazz are probably a bit too upbeat for this affair, but in the end you must go where the spirit moves you. At some point, play the ultimate vampire crowdpleaser, "Bela Lugosi's Dead," by Bauhaus. Invite people to perform gothy interpretive dances.
As far as dress, I'd suggest folks attend as their personal favorite fanged one – there are so many to choose from! Have a steady stream of beloved bloodsucker flicks playing on the telly. Visually, they are always a treat. A word to the wise: this kind of event may inspire spontaneous biting. Consider yourselves warned, children of the night.