Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sofia Samplings

Striking Sofia, land of McDonald's and these unique underground shops. Until I visited Sofia, I had never seen so many McDonald's in a foreign country, even two across the street from each other. Then there are these little shops strewn all over the city. Need something fast and want to practice your third world squat? Squat down and order something here whether it be smokes, water, candy, or other "necessities".
However, this is not a blog for Maccas. It's for visually stimulating Bulgarian food like the breaded yoghurt, housemade charcoal grilled bread, yoghurt soup, and peppadew peppers topped with more Bulgarian yoghurt at The Red House.
It's for the Beans in Furnace dish with smoked bacon, peppers, tomato, and onions. This was a very hearty meal and a wonderful start for my Sofia stay. Yoghurt, as demonstrated above, is a regular staple in the Bulgarian diet. I asked several people about purchasing the bacteria cultures, but did not have much luck.
This is Tarator soup from O!Shipka, a highly recommended pizza restaurant. This Tarator featured dill and garlic. While here, I also learned how not to pour water. Bulgarians have a custom of pouring wine (read first paragraph) on a relative's grave and it is done very specifically, so if you do it in a restaurant, it might be shocking. Hold your glass in your right hand and twist your wrist clockwise to pour.
This was one of my favorite spots for a small, but filling bakery snack. According to my translator, the bakery's name translated and spelled in English was Bomato. However, I can't find this bakery on my maps or TripAdvisor. It is next door to the Luciano Padovan store at 1 Vitosha Boulevard.
The second time I returned, I enjoyed a dense, glutinous roll, poppy seed cake with caramelized orange, and a Bulgarian white cheese and spinach (? it was green) muffin. The food is nutritious, fresh, colorful, cheap, and very good.
Further toward the NDK building, you'll find many more low level convenience shops and this very popular outdoor pizza place. The lines cycle through quickly and you'll get this large pizza slice for 2.50 Lev. This is at the corner of Vitosha Boulevard and Patriarh Evtimiy. The cheese was most noticeably delicious, then the red pepper, and finally the underlayer of meat.

That wraps up my smaller Sofia restaurant experiences. The food is hearty, the yoghurt plentiful, and the people friendly. English menus abound. Oh! One final thing: order the yoghurt drink. First, try it without salt. Then add some salt, mix it in, then taste it until you have a sweeter saltier flavor.

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