Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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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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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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…Lately…

I thought I would forgo the picture and travel madness that have consumed my blogging lately and instead update you all on the recent happenings in my little corner of the world… 

-Vince is away on a business trip to Stara Zagora. Not having him around to pester and giggle with is getting to me (and it’s only been one day!) His work said I could go with him but I’ve been there already and I figured I should stay home and get some packing and cleaning done.

-We are moving out of our apartment this week. We’re saying goodbye to Sofia and moving back to Smolyan for a bit.

-Having to give up my apartment on the whim of our landlord and real estate agency for showings is really starting to grate my nerves. I finished reading Maze Runner on my Kindle in the span of two days when I had to go out and sit in the car while our landlord showed our apt. to prospective tenants. It’s just too darn cold to sit out on a bench and read!

-I’ve managed to keep a plant alive since December! We bought this little beauty at Carrefour before Christmas and it’s still hanging in there.

My cute plant

No idea what kind of plant it is, but it’s cute!

-I found a new favorite cookie. These suckers are DE-LISH! They vaguely remind me of Paradise Bakery’s sugar cookies. Yum!

Butter cookies--Mmm!!

Butter cookies. Mmm!

-I spotted the first of the martenitsi stands last week and boy am I excited! Baba Marta is on Friday! I love this time of year in Bulgaria!

-We are hoping to attend this year’s Pesponedelnik/Kukeri festival in Shiroka Laka this weekend. We went last year and it was awesome! We’ve been invited back by the town’s mayor so we are really going to try and make it, even though we will be tired from moving and driving.

-Vince and I went out to dinner at Made in Home over the weekend. While the service was horrendous, the food was yummy and it was a fitting end to our time in Sofia as it was the first restaurant we ate at after moving to the city.

-The strikes and demonstrations continue in downtown Sofia. Bulgaria is without a government and things look like they will get worse before they get better.

-For Valentines’s Day, we went out to dinner at Pizza Niagara (some of the best pizza I’ve eaten in BG) and to a movie; Identity Thief. I needed a good comedy! Movie popcorn in Bulgaria is SO much better than in the states. I don’t quite know what it is!

-Lauren’s post on pancakes made me laugh because Vince is a pancake (crepe?) making machine–it must be a Bulgarian thing! I wake up to a delicious breakfast every weekend. He specializes in Nutella (or whatever knockoff we happen to have at the moment) and banana. They are amazing!

Rollin' up the banana and crepe (pancake?)

Ventsi: The Great Crepe Maker!

Nutella and banana crepes

Reddit. That is all.

I know I’ve been alluding to big changes for Vince and I in the very near future. I apologize for the vagueness; it will all be revealed very soon!

What have you been up to lately?!

W.

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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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229 Parks: Another Go-Round

Last season, after hearing all of the rave reviews, I visited 229 Parks with some friends.

It was AMAZING.

I have been meaning to go back since the season started, but its location (about 20 miles from where I live) coupled with the relatively high prices prevented me from going…until tonight.

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229 Parks is an incredible restaurant and tavern located at mile 229 on the Parks Highway, just outside Denali National Park.

They specialize in offering only the freshest organic and sustainable ingredients, most of which are grown in the owners’ own gardens.

Think fresh edible flowers, micro greens, and perfect herbs served alongside grass fed beef, duck, and lamb. Their fresh Alaska seafood is also a big draw.

Their website is bare bones and they don’t post a menu online because it changes daily and depends largely on the ingredients they have on hand. It’s not a flashy place. They rely on their unique food, fresh ingredients, and cozy atmosphere.

I played the part of tourist tonight (much to the chagrin of my co-diners, I am sure) and took photos of each course.

I had to start things off with a yummy wheat beer.

For a starter I had fresh Alaskan Rockfish tacos

Handmade soft corn tortillas, pan-seared rockfish dusted with cumin and lime, shredded local greens, creamy adobo sauce, house made salsa, fresh avocado, and lime.

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Randomly Me Monday: Volume Eleven | 10 Day You Challenge

Up today: five foods

Thought I’d do a bit of a love/hate combo for this one…

–Loves–

1) Pizza–Yum! I’m not into the pies with a huge number of toppings or gourmet ingredients, I am a plain ol’ pepperoni and cheese kind of girl. When I visited Chicago last fall, I made sure to hit up some of the city’s most famous pizzerias. My opinion? Chicago deep dish doesn’t hold a candle to New York thin crust.

2) Seafood–Crab legs are a particular favorite. When I sit and think about it, crabs and lobsters are a bit gross, but they sure do taste delicious!

3) Veggies–There really isn’t a vegetable that I don’t like. I am much more a veggie person than a fruit person. Thankfully, the salad bars offered in Princess employee dining are well stocked. This will come in handy next month when I attempt to become vegetarian for 30 days (one of my 30 before 30 goals).

–Hates–

4) Cheese–OK, not all cheese, but most. I like real cheddar and mozzarella. That’s about it. Anything that smells like feet, comes from a goat, or  has visible mold? NO THANKS!

5) Veal–I am not a big red meat eater in general, but I will eat steak and hamburger. I have never eaten veal and I don’t think I ever will. I know it’s hypocritical not to eat it because of the way the calfs (or is it calves?) are treated when the adults are treated poorly as well, but mentally I just can’t do it.

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There you have it. A bit of a boring blurb on my eating habits.

I think four books will be a bit more interesting!

W.

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Want to see previous posts in this series?

Randomly Me: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

10 Day You Challenge: ten secrets, nine loves, eight fears, seven wants, six places

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I truly appreciate it!


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Eating Our Way Across Bulgaria

On our recent road trip, my husband and I made it a point to experience {devour} some of the culinary delights Bulgaria has to offer.

Trying new foods is one of the best parts of traveling; and while I love Smolyan, it certainly isn’t the gourmet capital of Bulgaria. So I was eagerly anticipating the foods we would eat while we were away.

Luckily, we were not disappointed!

A few of the highlights:

• Fig ice cream in Hisarya. Probably the best ice cream I have ever had.

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