Sofia’s Green Days 2010

I would have never have found out about Green Days in Sofia, if it wasn’t for Latty Boncheva, who worked at My Organic Market. I was traipsing around Sofia looking for interesting topics for the blog, when she mention the event, which intrigued me because I am always looking to find out about new companies and products that are available in Bulgaria.

The events and sponsors!

The festivities started with traditional Bulgarian folk music and dance, the horo. For those of you who are not familiar with Bulgarian culture, please check out these two videos.
Singing traditional Bulgarian folk music.
Once the music start the horo is never far behind
After the music, Emily (my sister) and I wandered around in the rain checking out some of the booths. Food wise, there were few things that I hadn’t already heard of. I even ran into Dessislava Dimitrova the head of Slow Food in Bulgaria.
Instead of providing a long commentary on each of the booths I visited, I will give a short description and a link to their side as well as their addresses, with one exception, Faith in Nature. 
This company was handing out free samples of some of their natural cosmetic produces. One of the samples that my sister received was Feminine Wash. I just want to say that I am completely against the idea of feminine wash. The fact that companies believe that woman need to by a separate cleanser specifically for their vagina’s is absurd. When is the last time you’ve seen penis or testicle wash?

Moving on! I did try all of the samples that I received: Hemp and Meadow foam Shampoo, Conditioner and Lavender and Geranium Body Wash. Overall, I was happy with everything, but I missed the lathery, foamy feeling of the shampoo. You can find there product in many organic, bio-shops in through out Sofia. I have a list, but they are over 20 shops. For those of you who aren’t Bulgarian or live in Bulgaria, feel free to skim through the rest.

If you like pizza then check out Тумба-Тан (Tumba-Tan). There are one of the first, if not the first organic pizza restaurant in Sofia, plus they deliver. Not everything on their menu is organic, but they identify which are the organic products… and they have whole-wheat crust, which is a rarity in Bulgaria. For delivery call: +359 871 0606

Slow Food products were represented, such as Smilyan Beans and Meurche.

Some fliers were distributed about fighting the GMO ingredients in Bulgaria. For more information visit www.bezgmo.info
SIGG had some products on display. I have to make time to pick up some of their ECO-logical water bottles. www.sigg.bg

Enza Zaden, a seed breeding company had a booth that had live bees, which have been breed to pollinate green house vegetables. They are located at: Tzalapitza, m. Cherhota  № 135 А Tel: +359 314 92 117/ +359 32 94 20 99 (с. Цалапица м. “Чернота” № 135 А Тел: +359 314 92 117/ +359 32 94 20 99)

The bees!
Another great booth was Био Свят/ Bio Sviat, which translates to bio world. I got a free sample of Rabenhorst Red Grape Juice, was tasty, but too sugary for me. They distribute many of the wonderful organic products, which are available in Bulgaria. Although their website is only in Bulgaria, you can purchase items online! Tel: +359 2 955 9501or email: info@biosviat.com
While driving around Lozenetz, I came across Здравословен Живот or Healthy Living.  I intend on writing a proper post about this organic/bio supermarket, but this will have to do for the moment.  They are located in Lozenetz, off Kozyak Street. block 27, near bar/restaurant South Park. Tel +359 2 963 02 82, Email: info@zdravosloven.com
Organic store Zoya, which carries mostly cosmetics, but some food products as well.  www.zoya.bg.  They don’t have a shop, but a showroom in Sofia on 6 Graf Ignatiev Street, Entrance A.  Tel: +359 899 884 115
You can find Himalayan salt crystals at 22 William Gladstone Street, Tel: +359 887 641 711
There were some activist at Za Da Ostane Priroda (За Да Остане ПРИРОДА) interested in preserving Bulgaria’s natural areas, which are constantly under attack from developers and corrupt politicians. For more information please visit www.forthenature.org
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Alex – Asian/Japanese Grocery Store

Like most of my culinary adventures in Sofia, they come about randomly.  I was at Cru last week and noticed that one of the items on the menu contained dashi, which is an ingredient that I have been searching for for quite some time.  The people at Cru were kind enough to tell me that dashi is available in Bulgaria, but they didn’t know the name of the shop or the exact location, so they told me it was on Iskar St. near Halite, which was vague, but I tucked it into my mental to find list.

Then at the French Cooking Demo, I met Yuko one of the Japanese ladies in Sofia.  I figured she would have heard of this place for sure, I was right.  She drew me a map indicating that the street was Ekzarh Youseff, near the place where people fill up bottles with mineral water and Costa Coffee, but she didn’t know the exact address or the name of the place, but a map is better than a general vicinity, so I was off.

It was tricky to find parking because of Halite and the fact that I was foggy on the cross street.  I began walking down Ekzarh Youseff, I managed to find both of my markers: the place where Sofians fill up bottles with mineral water and the Costa Coffee across the street, but I didn’t find anything on Ekzarh Youseff.  I decided to back track and ask people if they had heard of such a shop, but I got no information.  Dedicated as I was, I walked around the surrounding streets thinking I was reading the map wrong, when I came to the restaurant L’Etranger. I went in. My rational was this, maybe someone inside would have heard of this shop. Inside I found the IWC President Stephanie having lunch with a friends.  Her friend had heard of the place and told me to go back onto Ekzarh Youseff.  It was a very small shop that sold fish.

In the end, I managed to find this place.  I walked passed it at least 5 times. It took about an hour of pounding the pavement, but I succeeded.  The shop is really small, but I found some things on their shelves that I hadn’t been able to find before, palm sugar (for pad Thai), bonito flakes (for dashi) and tons of frozen fish.  The walls are adorned with diagrams about various fish species.  I will be returning to this shop soon as I now have new items I am searching for.

The shop doesn’t have a name, but there is an exterior sign that says “fish” in Bulgarian (Риба).  You can find the shop at 26 Ekzarh Youseff St. (Ул. “Екзарх Йосеф” № 26) Tel: (+359) 02 983 24 83. Good luck!
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The Hunt for Ingredients

When we first arrived in Bulgaria, our house wasn’t ready yet, so we lived in an apartment in Sofia, which is the capital for those of you who don’t know.


I had gotten my hands on a english language ex-pat guide to Sofia called the Sofia Insider’s Guide .  It was really useful because it listed all the grocery stores in Sofia and where to find stuff.  The problem was there was not one good grocery store.  Each had something good to offer, but to get all your shopping done, you needed to go to 3 – 5 different stores all in different parts of town.  For example; HIT in Mladost 4 (Младост 4) a really good produce section.  You can find shallots, different lettuces, avocado, ginger, star fruit, mango, passion fruit, etc…  Elemag in Lozentez (Лозенец) had Argentinean beef and cooking wines (Marsala, Madeira, Sherry) Picadilly had a variety of international ingredients, such as Mexican & Thai. 

Besides the driving there was another problem the price.  A bunch of old asparagus was close to $7.00 USD (10 BGN). Beef, well that was truly a bank breaker, when you could actually find it.  My grocery bills were astronomical especially compared to Bulgarian standards.

I try to go back to the States every 6 months and during my time home it is usually spent at the grocery store.  The things that I bring home in my luggage is astounding.  Here is a brief list:  Annie’s Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese, JIF Peanut Butter, Vanilla Extract, Hoisin Sauce, Organic Maple Syrup, Aunt Jemima’s Butter Lite Syrup, Molasses, Crystal Light Decaffeinated Ice Tea, Echinacea Immune Boosting Tea, Quaker Instant Oatmeal….

Besides the ease of shopping and finding ingredients for recipes, I missed TAKE OUT!!!  I loved having any food I desired delivered to me in under 30 minutes.  Wow!  With my husband and I both working while we lived in New York, dinner mostly consisted of something delivered.  Right before we left, we were addicted to Papa John’s Hawaiian BBQ Chicken pizza.  Now “Papa” can’t hold a candle to good NY pizza, but this specialty pie was heaven.

So, tonight I am going to attempt to make a Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Pizza.  I found an italian recipe for pizza dough.  I am a little “yeast-tarded”, but things seem to be going good so far.  The dough has doubled already.  Then I have the BBQ sauce, chicken, pineapple, onion and pancetta (there is no good bacon in Bulgaria or maybe I haven’t found it yet).  My standards are set high, I will report any success.

I have been back in the States four times since moving here and each time I miss the food less and less.  When I go home now, I end up going to a TGI Friday’s. AppleBee’s or Ruby Tuesday’s with my family.  I realize now that that stuff is crap, well, I do love the Jack Daniel’s Sauce at TGI Friday’s.  I am usually so busy visiting family and friends, I don’t have time to just roam around New York City eating at my old haunts! I will have to make a point to do that the next time I am back.

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