Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


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A Visit to Talkeetna

Nagley's Store - Talkeetna, Alaska
Yesterday, Vince, myself, and one of my employees volunteered in Talkeetna for their Earth Day festivities.

Talkeetna – a quirky little town of about 800 residents – is about an hour from where we live. It’s famous for being the home base for climbers of Mt. McKinley, the inspiration for the town of Cicely on the TV show Northern Exposure, and as the filming location for the Disney film Snow Dogs.

Bustling downtown #Talkeetna, #Alaska. Can't wait for many summer adventures here!Untitled

I’ve visited the town several times in years past but it never gets old. I absolutely love its artsy vibe, unique stores, and fun restaurants.

After helping out the National Park Service at their event, we headed to the Roadhouse for a treat. Vince and I shared a giant cinnamon roll with frosting. Oh my. It was delicious! We’ll definitely be stopping by again on our next visit.Talkeetna RoadhouseTalkeetna RoadhouseEnjoying a "Frosty" after our Earth Day volunteer project. So good!He said it was "too sweet." He has so many things to learn, my new American boy! ;)

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On Food

I love Bulgarian food, don’t get me wrong. But this time around, I got a little sick of the same things over and over and I longed for the variety that America provides.

(this variety and the enormous American portions are precisely why I am less than svelte!)

Since being back in Utah, I have eaten pretty much everything I craved while in Bulgaria. This, of course, means that I have had pizza (more than once), Mexican, Italian, Thai, and random junk food and candy.Lunch date with mom and Sher. #deliciousthai #yum #welikeitspicyBeer and a pie at Flat Bread Neapolitan PizzaThe BEST lemonade in the world!Cafe Rio pork burrito

The novelty is quickly wearing off and I find myself wanting my mother-in-law’s bean soup, baklava, mekitsi, and…well… pretty much everything she makes!

Alaska poses some challenges when it comes to food. Vince and I will not have our own full kitchen in our room in employee housing at the lodge. We will have a mini-fridge and microwave. During the summer not having a kitchen isn’t much of a concern as we will be eating in the employee dining room and there are TONS of options. When winter rolls around, however, and the lodge is closed…making all our meals college dorm-style is going to be interesting!

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Shiroka Laka’s Pesponedelnik (Kukeri) Festival 2013

We’ve only been back in Smolyan for a few days and already we are traveling up a storm! On Saturday we drove out to our village house to pick up some potatoes and bottled goods and see how the property fared over the winter (it was looking good and there wasn’t even a hint of snow left!) We then went to visit family (our adorable 14-month-old grand-nephew, Konstantin) nearby before taking a longer route back to Smolyan.

Sunday we went to the 2013 Pesponedelnik Festival in the village of Shiroka Laka. We went last year as well and knew that we had to try and make it back this year because we enjoyed it so much. I’ve said it before, but I absolutely adore Shiroka Laka. This little village is beyond charming on an ordinary day; add a lively festival with Kukeri’s, unique shopping, and yummy food and I am there!Shiroka Laka Pesponedelnik Festival 2013Shiroka Laka Pesponedelnik Festival 2013Shiroka Laka's main squareMe with some kukeri

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Saturday Brunch

They may look like scones but mekitsi are SO much more than that! They are fluffy pillows of deliciousness sprinkled with powdered sugar. Most people like to eat them with jam or honey, but I just like them with plain with sugar. Mmm! I sure missed my Mother-in-Law’s cooking!

mekitsi

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Restaurant Review: Pri Mitaka (При Митака)

Restaurant Pri Mitaka--Gradeshnitsa, BulgariaWhen Vince made the reservation for our hotel in Melnik, the employee on the phone recommended we stop at a little roadside restaurant in Kresna on our way down because they had huge grilled chicken breasts. I initially thought that was an odd selling point–oh how wrong I was! She didn’t give a name or address, so we had a bit of a hard time finding the place, but I am so glad that we did!

Restaurant Pri Mitaka (При Митака) is actually located in a little village past Kresna called Gradeshnitsa. It’s right on the main road from Sofia to Melnik; if you are looking for it, you can’t miss it!DSC_1565

It’s clearly a family run business. The young daughter sat us at a table inside (there is also ample outdoor seating), the son was running the outdoor grill, the dad was sitting about supervising, and the mom brought the food out. We ordered one chicken breast to share, a shepherd’s salad, bread, and two Cokes.

And so began my recent obsession with the Bulgarian shepherd’s salad. This delicious mix of cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, roasted peppers, corn, ham, hard-boiled egg, olives, mushrooms and parsley (also normally comes with cheese, but I’m not a fan!) with oil and vinegar on top, is so delicious and fresh. I absolutely love it and have eaten it several times since.Shepherd's salad Homemade breadChicken fillet and Shepard's salad
The restaurant does in fact specialize in freshly grilled cuts of meat, as do several of the neighboring restaurants. The chicken breasts are hammered flat so they come out about 3 times the size of the plate. Grilling meat by the roadside

Everything we ate was incredible! The chicken was perfectly seasoned and grilled (not to mention ENORMOUS!); the bread was homemade and also hot off the grill; the salad was HUGE and made with the best quality vegetables; heck, even the Cokes tasted better than they normally do!

The second we started eating, both Vince and I agreed that it was some of the best food we’ve ever eaten in a Bulgarian restaurant. We stuffed ourselves silly for only 18 lv ($13.00). The service was awesome as well and as we were leaving, Vince told the mom how much we enjoyed the food and how it was some of the best we’d had in all our travels around Bulgaria.

We liked it so much that we stopped by again for lunch on our way home! It was slightly embarrassing to be back so soon, but I think it speaks volumes to how much we liked their food. We ordered the exact same thing only we took one piece of bread to go because one piece is plenty for two people. The bread is among the best bread I’ve eaten. EVER! It’s also shaped in such a way that you can open it up and slap the chicken breast on it for a quick sandwich for the road. We saw several people pull up in their cars and order them this way.

I can’t say enough good things about Pri Mitaka. If you are ever in the area and are looking for an affordable and delicious place to stop for lunch or dinner, look no further!

More wine from Kordopulov house and another meal at Pri Mitaka: two more reasons to return to Melnik!

W.

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Pernik Surva Festival 2013

22nd Suva/Kukeri Festival in Pernik, Bulgaria

Last weekend Vince and I drove about 40 minutes outside of Sofia to the nearby town of Pernik.

Each year the city plays host to the largest Surva Festival in not only Bulgaria but all of Eastern Europe (according to the event’s website). Kukeri/Mummer groups from all over Europe attend the event and parade through the city center in their costumes and masks before performing a short routine before a panel of judges.

Kukeri Festival--Pernik, BulgariaParticipants of all ages

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Sacher Torte: Vienna’s Famous Sweet Treat

Historical Cafe Sacher
Vienna is well known for a few different foods, but Sacher Torte takes the cake (literally). The “Original Sacher Torte” (or Sachertorte, as it is spelled locally) is still served at the five star Hotel Sacher and the adjacent Cafe Sacher. Stepping through the front doors of this opulent café feels like stepping back in time; the period decor is beautiful and the white tie service was really fun to experience–although I felt very under dressed in jeans and a long sleeved shirt!

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