Photosynthesis

Honestly, if someone hadn’t arranged a meeting at the Photosynthesis café, I would have never known it existed. I always associate this place as a store for photography, but upstairs on the second floor is a beautiful gallery cum café.

The space is open and bright. Plenty of room to sit without bumping into your neighbor.

The walls are adorn with amazing photographs. I am not sure if it is a rotating exhibit or permanent installation. I was really taken with the beautiful and inspiring nature scenes.

They also have a menu for food. You can order a sandwich or other light bites. Judging from what my friend ordered the portions seem healthy and by healthy I mean sizable. 

Photosynthesis
57 Vasil Levski Blvd./бул. “Васил Левски” 57
Hours: Mon. – Fri. 09:30-20:30, Sat. 10:00-20:30, Sun. 10:00-19:00 
Tel: 02/980 73 71; 0888 024 999 
E-mail: center@photosynthesis.bg, photo@photosynthesis.bg
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Elephant Bookstore II

The newest Elephant Bookstore is a proper shop located on Tzar Shishman Street. The first time I had the chance to peruse some of their books was when they opened a small book corner at the Теа House in the Factory (Чай в Фабриката) on Benkovski. Most of the second hand books are imported from the UK, but the selection was decent and if you couldn’t find what you were looking for in the shop, then you could check out their website, which delivers.

The walls are completely lined, almost to the ceiling with books.
Separated in the categories for easy browsing, you can find something for all reading preferences. I was interested in the gardening books, which were located under the cashier’s counter.

What differs from this location, besides the size is the awesome selection of unique toy and gift items. I was like a kid in a candy shop with the whimsical designs and vibrant colors. Antique toys and book marks, stationary etc…

The interior aisles were filled with these fun goodies.
One of my favorites was the funky floral garden tools, not practical for the scale which we are working but still pretty.

But by far the coolest was the seed sticks! I got a package of the herbs for the girls and I think we sprouted a parsley plant… We will see.

An extremely cool shop for only English language books and very fun knick knacks!

Tsar Shishman 31, 
1000 Sofia, Bulgaria 
Hours Mon – Sun: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm  
Phone 088 642 0954 

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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Multi-Kulti Kitchen: Peru

Last Sunday, Multi-Kulti Kitchen organized another wonderful event and this time we travelled on a culinary voyage to South America, without leaving Sofia. Chef Carlos Porten from Lomo shared with close to 50 guests the latin delights from his home country, which can be described as rustic, yet delicious.

The audio visual presentation included a fantastic film about the nations pride, which exists in the kitchen. The film Peru Sabe was the works of world renowned chef Ferran Adrià and Peru’s influential Chef Gastón Acurio. Lomo will be organizing a screening of the film at the bar soon, I will keep you updated!

We started with Papa a la Huancaína, a traditional salad of boiled potatoes with a sauce named after Huancayo region in the central Peruvian highlands. It was an interesting sauce, which reminded me bit of a Hollandaise.

The second course was a halibut Ceviche and you can find the recipe on Multi-Kulti’s website in English and Bulgarian. The fish was amazingly fresh. It was a spectacular dish and the giant corn kernels were something that I have not experience in Sofia before.
Our final course was just the icing on the cake, Bolitas with Chicharrons. The bolitas were fried balls filled with rice, beans and lentis. The Chicarron was a slowly braised pork that literally melted in your mouth. This was not a light course, but how could one resist!

A new edition to this event was a pop quiz about the Peruvian presentation, which I administered, although I had a bit of a fact checking issue. I thought Machu Picchu was the highest peak in Peru, while a group of Bulgarian-Peruvians pointed out my error that it is actually Huascarán, which turned out to be the tie-breaking question for a 50lv gift certificate to Lomo for the winning team.

The Multi-Kulti Kitchen events are fun and we love to give this pleasure to Sofia, but we are a true NGO with a mission and need help fundraising for our projects, such as the Multi-Kulti Map. Carlos is lucky to have integrated so successfully into his life in Bulgaria, but others, like the growing refugee population can’t say the same. Please visit our website and learn more about us and our work. All is appreciated.

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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

Wok to Walk

I have received numerous recommendations to check out Wok to Walk and I too was eager to find out more about an Amsterdam stir-fry noodle in Sofia, Bulgaria. The concept is as easy as 1, 2, 3…. You pick a type of noodle or rice, select some toss-ins, then a sauce.

The interior is asian-y orange and industrial, complete with some nice bamboo. While the design is nice, the lay out and traffic flow inside was not well thought out. At lunch time, there is a cluster of people trying to place and pick up their order. The flow is chaotic and not smooth. They have two woks going simultaneously and a third on standby. Each dish needs about 2 minutes to be prepared in the wok, so when it is busy it can be not quite so fast food.
You have a pretty decent selection of toss-ins…
A variety of sauces…
All wok-ed right in front of you!
I visited Wok to Walk on two occasions. The first time I ordered the peanut sauce “Bali”… it was not good. I love peanut sauce and consider myself a connoisseur, but it didn’t hit the spot. Listening to people rave, I assumed I made the wrong choice, so my next trip I selected “Beijing”, a typical brown oyster sauce and it was significantly better. I was really excited about how tasty it was and that fact that it is a franchise… it should be rather consistent. I will return soon, but when I don’t have my car because it is not convenient for finding nearby parking!

 8, Vitosha Blvd, 
1000 Sofia, Bulgaria 
Sunday to Thursday 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM 
Friday & Saturday 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM

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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