Moulin de Plovdiv

Plovdiv is a lovely town. I had a great visit there and look forward to returning soon, especially after visiting Moulin de Plovdiv! They have a boulangerie/patisserie or bakery right in the center of town. The folks at Gaillot Chocolate told us about their French friend that was a baker, so I knew immediately that is where I would be having breakfast.

The first think that caught my eye were the Galettes, a buttery cookie that has just the right amount of sweetness… got some of those!

The assortment of delights was unreal. I couldn’t resist the croissants, so got a few of those, a pain chocolate, and a Breton galette with apricots…

And of course the bread… didn’t really need a loaf, but should have brought some home.

Everything was amazing. Angel, Gabriel and I sat in our hotel room covered in crumbs savoring every bite. Finding a good croissant is hard, but they aced all that we tried. Wonder if I can persuade them to open a shop in Kyustendil.

UPDATE – March 8th 2014: While in AGRA again this year, I followed the advice of my own post from last March to Moulin de Plovdiv, only to find out that they moved, almost immediately after the post was published.  I have updated the photos to include those of the new shop, but I have to add that I was deeply disappointed with the quality. I was there bright and early on a Friday morning and ordered a few croissants, but they were not fresh, not in the least, it was as if they were leftovers from the night before. I ordered three different varieties, original/butter, ham and kashkaval. All of them were deeply unsatisfying. I expect that a bakery, a French bakery, should have fresh croissants! I hope this was a fluke. Please share your thoughts.

Ul. Leonardo Da Vinci, 21
4000 Plovdiv, Bulgaria 
Hours Mon – Sat: 8:00 am – 7:00 pm 
Phone +359 87 886 7720

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GastronoMe – The French Market Next Door

GastronoMe opened in the autumn of 2011. Somehow the news of a French grocery store came to me quite quickly, but traveling back and forth to the States and my limited visits to Sofia this winter and spring, I only got to check out this delightful little shop this week. The shop owner Maria, also a Bulgarian food blogger of the site LaMartinia, shares her love of good food by offering Sofians French products imported directly from France.

The design is very provincial, it almost has that L’Occitaine vibe. A quaint and intimate shop that alleviates the need to trek to Carrefour for your French gastronomic needs.

They carry a variety of mustards, pates, rillets, mayonnaises, waters and other non-perishable items.
A nice selection of wines, condiments, sauces and chestnut purees and other products.

They also carry natural French skincare and cosmetics.
The shop is a great resource for those living in the center or wanderers like me. I truly enjoy strolling through Sofia, especially during the warmer months when the flora are in bloom.  During my jaunts, finding a shop like this hits the spot. As I walked away and rounded the corner, I regretted that I didn’t buy a bottle of Volvic water, which is one of my favorites.
Little Five Corners (Малките пет кьошета)
63 Neofit Rilski Street (ул. “Неофит Рилски” 63)
1000 Sofia, Bulgaria 
Mon – Thu: 10:30 am – 8:00 pm 
Sat: 11:00 am – 7:00 pm 
Phone 088 750 7794 
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Saint Jean de Luz, France – Farmers Market

Hendaya, France

My family and I spent two weeks traipsing across the European continent from Bulgaria to France’s Côte Basque region on the Atlantic Coast. I set out to procure two things from our family vacation; one, I wanted to find a true French Tarragon plant for my garden and two, buy some french pink garlic for myself and my friend Sally. As the shopping habits of the French seem to have morphed from small markets and individual shops to the American-style shopping centers or hypermarchés, so I found my search for garlic and tarragon becoming more difficult. But, thanks to a guide book that I acquired a few years back, I knew that St. Jean de Luz held a bi-weekly farmers market, which due to the age of my book is now daily.
Like a kid waiting for Christmas, I woke up around 7 am, while my husband snored in the tent, lying beside me. I started tossing, turning and yawning hoping my subtle clues would rouse him, but he just grumbled and handed me my book and glasses from his side of the inflatable mattress. I got the hint.

Getting more use out of our WWOOF-ing tent!

I was worried that the information in my book wasn’t accurate, plus there was no time frame mentioned.  Maybe it started early and would be done before lunch… I had no idea. Angel kindly informed me that this was France and he doubted it started before 10am, as the french go. He was right, but I was still anxious. I love wandering around markets and I go to any length to incorporate them in to my vacations, like in Fremantle, WA, Australia.

After struggling to find a parking spot, I used my “unagi” to guide us to the correct location and there it was… a vision of delectable bounty. If I hadn’t been with my husband I could have spent time at every table sampling meats and cheese, absorbing the intoxications smells and visions, but I was on a time crunch to make the most of this experience and not waste a good beach day!
Beautiful Paella!

My garlic mission was accomplished. I found garlic and as an added bonus, some huge shallots, which are by far my favorite cooking ingredient, I only wish my garden had produced such beauties, but I did get enough to plant this fall and hopefully have a better harvest next Spring/Summer! I also, eventually found my tarragon plant, which was covered with rust spots. I was sure I could salvage it, but as luck would have it I left it at the campsite and only remembered that I left it when we passed Toulouse on our return to Bulgaria. My husband suggested going back, but I knew it just wasn’t meant to be…

Les Halles at St. Jean de Luz is a huge and wonderful market. If you are in the area worth checking out. For more information on the market (in French) please click here.

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7 hours in Paris

7 hours is not quite enough time to leave the Charles de Gaulle airport, but this was Paris and the Giants game was on. Even if the Giants game wasn’t on I still wanted to take the train to Paris, if not to have a fabulous meal than to have some street food.

When Angel and I lived in Paris in 2001-2002, we stayed at the Cite Unitersité for 2 weeks and there was an amazing crepe place near the metro stop Alesia. Every now and again we hunger for those crepes. In Bulgaria, we have palachinki, but the batter is different, sweeter.

I managed to find a bar in the 5th called the Long Hop, which coincidentally I have been to at some point in my life, but I can’t recall exactly when. The game was abysmal and they G-Men got their asses handed to them, but the night was not a total loss. On the way back to the airport Angel and I managed to get some grub. A champignon et fromage (mushroom and cheese) crepe for me and a hot dog for Angel. Not as great as the one I remember, but a slice of Paris none the less.