Gimel Organic

Driving by CCS off Cherni Vrah, I noticed this interesting little shop with a wooden facade and what seemed to be the word “organic” written on the side. I made a mental note of Gimel Organic and visited the shop on my next visit to Sofia, what I found was rather impressive, not because of the assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables, packaged goods and wine, but they had two parking spaces outside reserved for customers.

 
The Gimel brand is quite recognizeable. You will find most if not all of the bio/organic shops that sell fresh fruits and vegetables carry Gimel’s brand. The offer a huge assortment of fruits, vegetables and herbs. According to their website they are the largest produce of greenhouse cucumbers and tomatoes in Bulgaria. Their products are also available throughout Europe.
This shop is the first for the brand and it features the entire spectrum of what an organic shopper wants, except meat. Unlike most shops they focus on the fresh more so than the non-perishable.
They also have freshly made food items on hand like these cream soups, which are prepared daily and freshly squeezed juices.
I think the location will really cement this shop with organic shoppers that live on the outskirts of the city and Lozenetz. It is a unique shop, but I have some questions about the source of the food, which are primarily grown abroad. This fact raises a larger debate, what is more important to you local, clean and seasonal or year-round availability and certified organic? I personally subscribe to the former rather than the latter, but regardless this rising level of consciousness is trend that I see continuing into the foreseeable future.

23 Arsenalski Blvd./бул. Арсеналски 23
Sofia, Bulgaria 
понеделник до петък (Mon – Fri) – 8:30 – 20:30 
събота (Sat) – 10:00 – 20:30 неделя (Sun) – 10:00 – 19:00

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Vietnamese Grocery Shop

This shop is somewhat of a mythical beast… there are people who have spoken of seeing it and shopping there, but no one could say exactly where it was… like spotting Bigfoot roaming in the forest then trying to explain how you found it… Well I found a blog post by a Vietnamese cook, living in Sofia that shared a round about location… Thanks to Google maps and persistence I managed to find the shop and gather some concrete details.

The shop is run by Bao, who has been living in Bulgaria with his wife for 30 years. The interior of the shop is quite cozy, but all of the space is utilized and packed with goodies. The prices are incredibly reasonable. I bought a bag of loose green tea leaves for 5.50 lv, which has fantastic flavor. 

Even with directions, the shop is tricky to find. It is located on the outskirts of Sofia in Iliyantzi, near the  the stadium Lokomotiv at the intersection of Petar Panayotov St. and Blvd Rozen. There is no specific street number, but the shop is number 26 and it is located on the south side of the street, same as the stadium.

Bao Ngyuet – Vietnamese Grocery Store
Shop 26, Petar Panayotov St.
Sofia (Iliyantzi)
T: +359 878 864 958

Foodies’ Shop

The best way to describe the Foodie’s shop is that they sell real food, real Bulgarian food and other products that they deem worthy. They invest copious amounts of time and energy vetting the brands that line their shelves. In addition to running the shop, they also cook and cater events, such as TEDxBG!

Boris and Boyana the proprietors of Foodies’ are quite an interesting duo. Before starting their new venture they worked amassed experiences in various backgrounds, such as photography, chemistry and economics, which they have incorporated into the food they create… applying science and math to food is also something that I get quite passionate about as well. I (heart) Harold McGee! The Foodies’ dabble in molecular gastronomy and seek to quench their never-ending thirst for food.
 The dairy products come from small Bulgarian producers.
You can find a decent offering of pantry/ dry storage items.
A variety of dried spices and herbs.
A selection of nuts and dried fruits.
All of the products that you will find in the shop are Foodies’ approved. The shop is just the first step. In the future, they hope to growing and expanding in all aspects of their business’.
Foodies’
11 Belasitza St./ул. Беласица №11 
1233 Sofia, Bulgaria 
Hours Mon – Fri: 8:30 am – 7:30 pm Sat: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm 
Phone +359 886 833 155; +359 897 025 142 
Website http://www.foodiesbg.com

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Ciccione Panini Bar & Bakery

Of all the international cuisines available in Sofia and Bulgaria in general, the Italian influence is by far the most ingrained into society. A majority of Bulgarian restaurants have some interpretation of Italian staples like pizza and pasta. Ciccione is a relatively new addition to Sofia offering a nice alternative to traditional fast food options in the center.

Located on Hristo Belchev, Ciccione is ideally situated across the street from Confetti and directly next door to the Irish pub 19th Hole. The foot traffic alone will help to ensure plenty of hungry Sofians visit the shop.
Upon entering Ciccione, to your left you find the bakery and sandwich counter. Freshly made sandwiches line the glass counter waiting to be pressed. Since I had already eaten lunch, I opted for a coffee.
Guests can sit at one of the counters located street level, or they can find an abundance of seating downstairs. There is a staircase located in the middle of the shop, so you can’t miss it.
At the back of the shop, you can find a deli counter with the cheeses, meats and other cold products that you can purchase for home. As, I was not hungry, I picked up some cheese nibbles to share with the family. I would have to say that the ranges is limited and the prices are on par with other gourmet shops, selling similar products, but if one is looking for an extensive range of Italian meats and cheeses, I think iSensi and Dar ot Bogovete offer a wider selection, although usually at a higher price.
Next time I am in Sofia for lunch, I will be sure to stop and try a panini… If there is any additional notable information, I will update this post. Having access to fresh bread and imported Italian cheeses and meats will almost guarantee a tasty sandwich. The prices are decent, so you can find something in the 2 – 4 lv
Hristo Belchev Str. №6, ул. Христо Белчев 6 
1000 Sofia, Bulgaria  
Hours: Mon – Fri: 8-23:30 
Sat.10-23:30 Sun.11-19 
Тел/Tel: 0882 503 040 
Email: ciccionecv@abv.bg 

Сирене и Вино за Приятели

For those who follow my site, know that I am always looking to try and experience different aspects of Bulgaria, and at present, mostly Sofia. It is hard living in Kyustendil to discover new places and spaces without help. I was fortunate that someone on EGL’s Facebook page suggested Сирене и Вино за Приятели, which translates to Cheese and Wine for Friends. I had asked if anyone could recommend a nice spot for lunch, in the area around Orlov Moct; this was the spot suggested, and I must say that it was quite a good find indeed.

The interior of the shop is warm and inviting and warmth refers both to the coziness, as well as the temperature. When I first opened the door on a brisk afternoon, the heat from the ovens and the smell of freshly baked bread imediately caused me to salivate. Cheese and Wine for Friends (CWF), is a delicatessen, bakery, sandwich shop and with a selection of grocery items. 
The philosophy of the place is to emphasize good quality food, but at an accessible price. The majority of the goods sold are Bulgarian made and highlight small farms and producers. There are many boutique shops that offer similarly products, but the majority of the competitors’ offerings are foreign goods. This focus on local products enables CWF to keep the costs manageable by avoiding import taxes and delivery fees, as reported in Kapital.
Cheese and other dairy products are on display throughout most of the shop. They have traditional Bulgarian cheeses, but also Bulgarian interpretations of Italian cheeses as well. CWF works with Dobrev Cheeses for their dairy goods, which has a a few dedicated cheese shop locations in Sofia, and Burgas. Besides cheese, the cold counter also offers meats and sausages, plus all the nibbles one would need to put out a good antipasto spread.
My original purpose for visiting CWF was lunch and I ordered a sandwich on a freshly baked roll with cheese and meat, I forget the specifics. The cost of this sandwich was a shock at 2.90 lv. With a bottle of water, my lunch was less than 4 lv. The size of the sandwich was large and satisfying. The simple sandwich was made with fresh and quality ingredients, which made for a tasty lunch with a friend. A sandwich at a similar delicatessen shop like Dar ot Bogovete, which sells foreign products can cost upwards of 8 lv. While not everyone will consider 2.90 lv cheap for a sandwich, but despite the price the quality and taste was high and this is important.
I am not sure if the owners or managers are friends with Gourmet Publishing, but Menu and DiVino magazines are available for customers to peruse while lunching or shopping. The selections of wine are fantastic and quite familiar after Taste 2012. You can find many if not all of the Bulgarian Association of Independent Winegrowers‘ labels available. I do however question how the warmth of the interior effects the storage of the wines?
I am grateful for the recommendation and I look forward to exploring the cheese and dairy offerings from Dobrev. My family and I are big fans of cheese… all cheese. Worth a visit if you are in the Orlov Moct are and hungry for a quick bite!
Сирене и Вино за Приятели
Tsar Ivan Asen II 62 (on the corner of Rakitin)
Tel: +359 87 728 7900 
Hours Mon – Fri: 8:30 am – 7:30 pm 
Sat: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm

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My Organic Market

 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with My Organic Market, it is a great shop for all your organic needs and it is conveniently located right in the center of Sofia. This a plus if you are on foot, but parking is a bit of a nightmare, but a bit better with the new parking zones and increase in the tariff.

My photos are a bit dated. They have switched things around, but the product offerings are about the same. What I like about My Organic Market is their selection of baby goods and seeds and grains sold in bulk. I visited the other day to buy stuff for Gabriel: amaranth, black & red quinoa, barley and millet.
They have a range of beauty care products as well as teas and other packaged snacks.

The freezer section is filled with beverages, tofu and other protein substitutes, dairy products and more…

As far as I know this was one of the first organic shops in Sofia. It was formerly part of Sun & Moon that includes many shops and restaurants all keeping with the same philosophy as My Organic Market, which you can read about in detail on their website, where you can also shop online.

София, ул. Парчевич 48/Sofia, 48 Parchevich Str. (Vitosha Blvd.)
 тел./Tel. + 359 878 878 342
 Отворено всеки ден 9 – 20ч. събота 9 – 19ч./Open every day 9-20h, saturday 9-19h
 skype: BioSlunceLuna.com и myorganicmarket_parchevich

Zoya BG

The purpose of my visit to zoya.bg was to find some natural massage oil for my baby. Part of his nightly ritual is a full body massage, lucky boy; right! The shop is centrally located in the heart of in my opinion one of the coolest neighborhoods in Sofia, right off Ivan Shishman, near Motto. The shop was started primarily focusing on organic and natural body care, skincare, haircare, bath and body products. They say it was the first shop of its kind in Bulgaria.

I found what I was looking for, but I have to say I was a bit disappointed in their baby and kids selection. I found two different varieties of massage oil one was about 15 leva and the other was 22. This is just my opinion, but I find that their target clientele are young and hip, so they might not be at the stage of their lives where they are looking for a family; again, just my thoughts.

Their offerings have increased significantly to include a wider range of produces and services. They offer organic and natural food products, mostly non-perishable. I was impressed by their selection of sweeteners and sugar alternatives. They also offer a decent variety of seeds and grains available in bulk, plus a selection of books.

Some of their offering include sesame seeds, amaranth, whole quinoa and quinoa flour, hemp, millet, buckwheat, and brown basmati rice just to name a few. The majority of these seeds and grains come from outside Bulgaria, but most of them are organic.

For your convenience, Zoya.bg has a comprehensive website that offers two delivery options, by mail or by bicycle. You can “like” their Facebook page or visit their website often, as they are constantly running special and promotions.
22 Aksakov str 
1000 Sofia, Bulgaria 
Mon – Sat: 9:00am – 8:00pm 
Sun: 2:00pm – 7:00pm 
phone: +359 899 884115 
fax: +359 2 491 8606