Thursday, June 10, 2010

Eating My Way Through Sofia

Some friends of mine in Iowa, the Hamiltons, had told me years ago about how much they had enjoyed Bulgarian food when they had visited. I wanted to make sure that in my short two days in Sofia, I too made a point of experiencing great Bulgarian food.

A local hotel recommended a wonderful restaurant with authentic Bulgarian cuisine. It was but a short walk away (everything in Sofia seems very easy to find and get to on foot).  I loved the family story on the menu which I've linked to here. It kind of let me know "you're not in Kansas, anymore!" figuratively speaking.

Here's the restaurant name in
our alphabet.

And then again in Cyrillic.
The inside of the restaurant
had a wonderful rustic feel.
Very comfortable.
Bulgarian gypsies
  played for each table.
They could instantly come up
with a song
for any nationality
dining there
no matter where people were from.

I would love to load my video
of their music
but I'm writing this from Turkey
where YouTube is censored.

As a feminist, I have no problem
dining alone anywhere in the world.
I like my company!

But I struggle when tipping the musicians.
I do it, but it just seems like it's 
"a man's job."
Hopelessly out-of-date thinking, isn't that?

I noticed that I tipped, but the
table of six businessmen
from various nations
next to me didn't.
They sure made a point
of complaining loudly about gypsies
after the musicians had left the room.

 Yet, these artists were doing a lot
to enhance the cultural reputation of
Bulgaria while earning an honest living to boot.
They deserve to be honored for it,
don't you think?

This gorgeous plate of food
is called Chicken Shashlik.
It's a marinated grilled chicken kebab
with grilled lemons.
It would bring out the inner carnivore in anyone!
I paired it with Bulgarian wine
called Logodoj.

For desert, I had this
extraordinary concotion
Grandmother's Cream
with Carmalized Pineapple.
To die for!

My waiter Konstantin
was very funny.
When I told him
I was from America
he said,
"America, that's a small country
close to Canada, right?"
He teases his British customers
the same way:
"England, that's a small island
near Ireland, right?"

I finished my evening at
Pri Yafata
with Black Sea Gold,
a regionally-produced cognac.
What a great time and
what a great meal!
Shopska salad on the left (fabulous),
A stuffed pepper and stuffed cabbage roll
on the middle plate, and
does anyone know what that
mystery salad is on the right?

I also wanted to make sure I tried a stuffed green pepper while I was in Bulgaria.  I had made stuffed green peppers as a young cook, but I had given them up, because they always seemed a bit bland to me.  I wondered if Bulgarian stuffed peppers would be any spicer?  They weren't.  I was glad to know it wasn't me.  They're good, just without a kick. This represented my first taste of a stuffed cabbage roll too because I would never have had the guts to try wilted green leaves as a kid.  My thought back then would have been "eeew."  Cabbage rolls were also tasty, but standing tall rather than kicking hard.  The chef threw in the salad on the right.  I don't know what it is, I only know it had some sort of Balkan cheese in it.  Anybody out there know? This meal was from the Bulgarian Kitchen Cafe, inside one of the local mall food courts.

My last great meal in Sophia
was at a restaurant called 43,
named after the street it was on.

At my sidewalk table,
I enjoyed a Bulgarian brew
called Zagorka.

This delicious stew of chicken meat and other good stuff
was called pileshka kavarma.
Wow, was it tasty comfort food.

I especially enjoyed the chance to savor it
in this traditional Bulgarian pottery.
After this meal,
it was time to catch my night bus
to Turkey.
I loved doing that on a full, satisfied stomach.


Sheila said...

Love reading about your adventures! i'd love to meet up w you there someday...but a little tough w a nearly 7 and 5 year old!

Leslie Strnadel said...

Stuffed peppers are "pulneni chushki" in Bulgarian. It's one of my favorite Bulgarian dishes! - @RakiaAndRoses

Leslie Strnadel said...

Stuffed peppers are "pulneni chushki" in Bulgarian. It's one of my favorite Bulgarian dishes!

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