June 2014 archive

4 Bulgarian dishes you must try.

1.Shopska Salad

A simple salad made with tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, raw or roasted peppers and Sirene (feta) cheese. Everything is salted and  lightly dressed with oil and vinegar.

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2.Pukani Piperki

(marinated hot peppers)

Toasted in a hot pan or on a BBQ, marinated with oil, red wine vinegar, salt and garlic.

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3. Sharena Sol

(Bulgarian salt mix)

This great spice goes well with most meats, fishes and salads.

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4.Country Style Chicken Livers

Fried onions, chicken livers, butter, Sharena Sol and parsley.

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Harissa squid and imitation crab.

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Clean and cut the squid into rings. Chop the imitation crab sticks into smaller pieces. Boil both squid and crab in boiling water for 40 second, set aside. In a every hot pan, fry the squid and crab in a little oil, a big spoonful of harissa and a tablespoon of soy sauce for 2 minutes.

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Ratatouille type dinner.

Zucchinis, red peppers, green peppers, shallots and tomatoes on top of a sweet basil tomato sauce. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and fenugreek.

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20 minutes in a 375 degree oven. I added a few hard boiled eggs just for fun.

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Sweet and delicious! Blend the leftovers and use it as a pasta sauce.

The best discovery of the trip, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

If you can’t fly out to Ljubljana anytime soon, I would recommend watching Rick Steve’s Slovenian episode to truly understand how magnificent this capital city is.

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It has a castle and mountains.

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Cool walking streets.

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A crazy central bridge.

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Mysterious alleys.

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Strange tourists.

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Interesting architecture.

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A lovely river.

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And picture perfect views.

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Why don’t we stay another day? Grado, Italy.

We love Italy. Instead of driving home in a rush we decided to stay an extra day in one of our favorite little seaside towns Grado, Italy.

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You enter Grado by driving down a long road with water on either side. Last time we were here I spotted hundreds of pink flamingos in this marsh.

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Saturday night we stayed up late watching a FIFA match at the local pub, drinking 1 euro wine and free eating pasta.

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On Sunday all the locals flock to the beach to sun tan and windsurf.

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Italy knows their meat, they are truly masters of cold cuts.

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Other highlights include; buying a bocce ball set, visiting the Sunday market, playing soccer with kids, trying different wines at the Wine and Fish Festival, making friends with 3 sisters originally from Bangladesh  and walking home with our black stallion helium balloon.

Notice Matt to the left running after the ball.

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Sorry for the bad picture (especially the lady in the back), the littlest one (not shown) had crazy wild hair and a gloriously bedazzled shirt.

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Everyone loves a two legged horse.

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The cats think we’re crazy.

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This is the Kyle and Carrie story. The beginning.

Though we left Canada over two years ago I rarely feel home sick. Of course, I would do anything to have a roasted chicken dinner at Mom’s house with all my friends or I would trade anything for a session of all you can eat sushi in Vancouver, but in reality, I just don’t miss Canada that much. Does that sound a little harsh? Absolutely not, why would I miss home when all my favorite people come and play with me in Europe!

This story starts in Nice, France. After a fun time watching the F1 races in Monaco, Matt and I took it easy on the French Rivera while we waited for our Canadian friends Kyle and Carrie to arrive. The morning before their scheduled arrival Matt and I woke up in a hazy state (brought on after a night of cheap Rosé), slipped into our bathing suits and headed to the beach. As I was locking the door I could hear Matt gabbing loudly to someone, “oh boy, what story is he telling now?” I thought as I turn the key. It took me a second to register what I saw, Kyle and Carrie were standing on the sidewalk, a day early, ready to party! 

Hugs, screams and more hugs then we all went for a nice dip in the Mediterranean.

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This is us hanging out in Nice eating pizza.

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A quick visit to St Tropez.

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Kyle and Carrie in Cinque Terre.

Matt doesn’t do well in hot weather, especially when the task at hand is hiking up steep tourist crowed hills in 33 degree weather. Kyle, Carrie and I left him at in an air conditioned environment and took the morning train to the Cinque Terre.

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First stop, Riomaggiore. This was my third time there so I can safely say that the town is much more enjoyable in the fall. Less hot, no ugly tourist groups and the sea, greenery and houses seem more colorful.

I take this picture every time I go.

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Staying in Volterra, Italy.

Our fantastic friends rented a room for a few days in a beautiful agriturismo style Tuscan villa just outside the hilltop town of Volterra. The place was unbelievable, huge bedroom, large common area, great kitchen with gas stove  and a swimming pool overlooking the rolling Tuscan hills. We were fortunate enough to stay on the farm grounds and enjoy the amenities.

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Carrie and I hung out with Giuseppe the donkey, he started to cry as soon as we left.

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Cheap wine photo shoot.

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I’m sporting a farmer’s tan on a farm.

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Italy’s Next Top Model.

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We found that our cats hate other cats and once they see or smell an unknown cat they start to fight one another. It takes about 2 hours before they recognize each other again…Bulgarian cats aren’t know for their smarts.

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The story ends with a Tuscan villa feast.

All great things must come to an end, Kyle and Carrie are on their way to Rome and we packed up and started our long journey home. The time spent with our lovely friends was absolutely amazing…especially our last night hanging out at the villa. During the day we hiked up an excruciating 4 kilometer road up a ridiculously steep hill to visit the town Volterra  and collect some goodies for that night’s feast.

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Inspired by my surroundings I whipped up a Tuscan dinner which we ate in the garden then washed it down with liters of wine.

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Butter and lemon turkey scaloppini.

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Fried zucchini flowers stuffed with pesto risotto.

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Roasted vegetable, balsamic, oil, bread, salami, cheese and party bird!

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The rest of the night was ridiculous, we had so much fun talking about everything from politics to teeth. Carrie cut my hair and then Matt’s in the dark, Kyle argued with Matt about world views/ and conspiracies.  We all told embarrassing tales, jokes and compared our silly pet stories.

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We ended our magical Tuscan night with a moonlit stroll, chasing after thousands of fireflies. Matt and I are so fortunate to have such amazing friends and get to do all these incredible things. Kyle and Carrie, we miss you so much, see you in Bulgaria…hopefully next year???

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