April 2016 archive

Fried mushrooms, allium ursinum (wild garlic) and kale with pork meatballs and simple tomato sauce.

WHAT? Kale in Bulgaria??? This is the first time in over 3 years I’ve seen it in a store! Last time we were in Sofia we stopped at a super fancy new grocery store and picked up a few un-Bulgairan items. I’m not going to lie, kale isn’t really that crazy delicious, I’d rather eat a whole leg of prosciutto to myself but I was happy to bring it home and prepare it as best as I know how.

 

Allium ursinum on the other hand, I go super crazy for the stuff! I was first introduced to it 2 years ago at our friend Hussein’s “restaurant” (more like a shack made out of plywood, old carpets and dirt) while drinking Bulgarian moonshine Rakia and dancing with random gypsies…you know, a usual Tuesday night. Here they dip it in a slightly dirty bowl of salt and eat it with shots of hard liquor and Ayran (a watered down sour yogurt drink kind of like buttermilk).  I’m 90% sure I’m allergic to the wild garlic as every time I eat it I lose sensation of my tongue for a week and have down-in-the-gut, no matter how many times I brush, floss or Scope my mouth, dragon-slaying, bad breath. I don’t care, for the one month it is available here I eat as much of it as I can and stuffer the consequences with a huge, happy (and stinky) smile on my face.

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Allium ursinum

White fish soup with spinach, hoisin mushrooms, carrots and leeks from my balcony, homemade rice cakes and mushroom broth.

Omit the rice cakes and this soup is very simple to make. Warm up mushrooms in hoisin sauce, lightly grill a piece of white fish (this was frozen hake), add hot mushroom broth, spinach and carrots and you are done. The rice cake recipe needs to be refined. It’s just rice flour, an egg, Asian dried shrimp seasoning (or just salt will do) and water. I think next time I make them I will heat the water almost to a boiling point so that when I mix the dough it gets more gluttonous and stretchy. I’ll also try cutting them thinner as they take much longer to cook than expected.   

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Yoga on a pirate ship.

Spring is here and the sun rises much earlier (around 6 am) which is wonderful but that also means my stupid cat starts meowing and dancing on my head so I wake up and play with her. Some mornings I wear earplugs and eye covers but she sits on my chest and paws at the eye cover, snapping it back in my face over and over (while meowing progressively louder). Who raised this monster!?! Why do I live in a loft? Why don’t we have a room with a door that locks? Why can’t she be like the other cat?

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Anyways! This morning I got this super crazy idea to actually wake up, put some clothes on and do yoga on the beach. Yoga? Who am I? I usually go to the beach and drink morning beers.

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Not one person on the beach, I got the whole pirate ship to myself! I obviously don’t have a yoga mat so my exercises were done directly on the wet, splintery wooden planks, paying extra attention not to fall through the broken and missing ones.

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Overall it wasn’t so bad, I MIGHT try this again one day. P.S. I came home a couple hours later and Matt and both cats were all cuddled together snoring loudly, no one noticed I left. 

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A few snacks.

Tahini sauce and eggplant dip.

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Lamb and pork souvlaki.

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Potato stuffed Armenian bread.

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We had to…

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Terrible dogs but the nachos were unique to this Ikea and tasted yummy.

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Ikea sunset.

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Over the Green Line, Turkish Cyprus.

Take a selfie in front of passport control then continue on into Turkey!  Warning, this side of the line suffers from extreme poverty. 

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Playing construction materials is always fun!

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Just in case.

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Danger ous.

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I still can’t get over how odd the separation is.

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Turkish workshops and food market, Cyprus.

Once again the Turks have not let us down, their hospitality and warmth is unparalleled to any other humans we have met along the way. While touring the Turkish side of Nicosia we veered off the touristy path and stumbled upon a series of workshops ranging from cabinet makers to vintage bike restorers. Everyone was beyond welcoming (didn’t matter if they spoke English or not) and let us explore their shops.       

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Greek Nicosia.

Yesterday, we jumped on a bus and traveled to Cyprus’s capital city. Nicosia is the only remaining split capital in the world. The UN  has been here since 1974 protecting the “Green Line”, a stupid 180 kilometer wall made out of razor wire separating Greek Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus! On the Greek side tourists line up and show their passports then walk across an imaginary line into Turkey where everyone speaks Turkish, eats Turkish food and uses Turkish Lira as currency…so weird!

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Having a good old Cyprian time.

Best smelling flowers in the world and they are everywhere!

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Costa, our friendly neighborhood butcher.

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Costa’s smoky paprika sausages used in our Airbnb stew with taro, fresh cilantro, leeks and hot peppers.

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Larnaca salt lake is behind this field and it is filled with brine shrimp which feeds many pink flamingo in the winter time.  On the other side of this lake lies the Hala Sultan Tekke, one of the holiest of shrines within Ottoman Islam. It houses the tomb of Umm Haram, Muhammad’s ‘wet-nurse’. Apparently she fell off her donkey and died in that exact spot.

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Landed in Larnaca, Cyprus.

Larnaca is designed for beach-loving tourists (mainly Brits and Russians). The brand new sea side walkway, beaches and cafes in the town center are clean and attractive, yet you only need to walk one block inland to see the poverty and neglect true Cypriots live in.   

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