What I ate in Bulgaria, Greece and Italy

Attempting to start this ‘documenting my life’ thing again after having had NO MOTIVATION WHATSOEVER for the last one and a half months. A lot of it has got to do with the aforementioned shitstorm, which I don’t even want to think about, let alone discuss in any form. And what better way to forget reality than to recall all the food I ate in Europe, amirite?

Off we go!

1. Frankfurt Airport

1.2

After a 12-hour flight that was even more gruelling than usual no thanks to my smelly, obese, loud snorer of a seatmate, I was counting on this pretzel to cheer me up. And it did not disappoint. I don’t know what kind of cheese that was but it was so salty and crazy delicious and I was very, very happy.

P.S. I have it on good authority that the other pretzel I was eyeing, the chive butter ones, were amazing too. Maybe have both if you ever go? I know I would. In fact, I might deliberately have a stopover at Frankfurt Airport on my next Euro trip, just for these pretzels. They’re that good.

2. Velingrad, Bulgaria

2.1

My first meal in Bulgaria – roasted tomatoes with potatoes and bell peppers. I know it doesn’t look like much, but it really hit the spot. And bonus points for not having to spend a cent or an ounce of energy on it (my friend ER’s mum made us dinner). Oh, by the way, that slab of butter? I don’t know why, because it was not grass-fed or anything fancy, but it was soooooooooo good. I destroyed that slab of butter for reals, cutting off thick slices of it for my bread like it was cheese. No regrets.

3.3

Dessert was a traditional Bulgarian sweet bread especially made during Easter, called kozunak. I’ll be honest – I didn’t particularly care for it. It’s too dense and too sweet for my liking. But you can’t say no to a sweet 80-something lady (ER’s granny). So I ended up eating loads of it. Hmph.

4.3

Watching ER’s mum and granny bake more kozunak the next morning was fun though.

5.3

Bulgarian banitsa breakfast. Alliteration, yo! Banitsa is filo pastry with feta cheese stuffed in it. What could go wrong? Nothing! Yum!

6.2

Scrambled egg with roasted bell peppers and feta cheese. Why do roasted bell peppers taste so good?!

The wine-less glass was mine, natch. ER’s dad, when I told him I don’t drink, looked at me quizzically. “If you don’t drink, how do you propose a toast?” Umm. We…don’t? Haha.

7.1

Pretty, but a pain in the arse to make. And my egg white tasted funny with all the colouring up in it too. Not a fan.

8

Mushroom risotto with the Bulgarian version of Greek salad in the background. We had it at every meal and I was getting quite tired of it at this point.

3. Sofia, Bulgaria

9.2

ER took me to a hippie vegetarian restaurant where I ordered a salad with goat cheese. The goat cheese was scrumptious. I was sad when I finished it.

10.1

Was already carrying a food baby but there’s always space for dessert! No-bake oat-y/carrot-y/coconutty cake.

4. Athens, Greece

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First meal in Greece, as cooked by my host…and it was Italian. Figures, huh? It was my first time eating this type of long tubular pasta. No matter how much I cut it to make it more manageable, it kept jumping all over the place and on to my jeans. I was pissed.

Also, Greek salad. Real Greek salad. I barely touched it. I couldn’t stomach any more of it.

Not pictured: Non-alcoholic beer. My host knew I don’t drink but wanted me to try something beer-y anyhow. My God, it was awful. I had maybe two sips before I confessed to him that I found it utterly revolting. He said that’s what real beer tastes like. If that’s what real beer tastes like, then I don’t understand the world’s fascination with it.

5. Santorini, Greece

Fira

11

After one night in Athens I flew out to Santorini, where I was promptly greeted by this gorgeous baby. Calamari stuffed with rice with I-don’t-know-what sauce. The original sauce contained white wine; I managed to convince the server to tell the kitchen to omit it. It. Was. Mindblowing.

12

My lunch companions ate swordfish and chicken. I don’t like swordfish but it looked damn good. Oh, and the story of how I met these two people (actually I met one first and then was intro-ed to the other) is nothing short of mental. I’m really proud of that story.

17.2

Iced coffee, wholemeal wrap with bell peppers and mushrooms and the best sliced roasted potatoes ever. And in that little bowl was chilli sauce. CHILLI SAUCE! I had been without chilli for one week at this stage and left not a lick of it.

Oia

13

Iced coffee and mille feuille with the famous sight. The joy I felt was the kind I only get through travel.

6. Athens, Greece

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Salad with grilled halloumi cheese. It was my first time eating halloumi cheese. As per usu, I was sad when I finished it. Halloumi cheese is so yummy! Oh, and you can’t see but the Acropolis was to my right. Eating while looking at awesome stuff is awesome.

15

With memories of the fabulous calamari from Santorini fresh on my mind, when I saw calamari on the menu of this taverna in Athens, I just had to order it. The ends of the tentacles were slightly charred but the rest of it was grilled to absolute perfection. The sauce consisted solely of olive oil and lemon juice.

16

Greek dinner, tapas style, with a random French guy I adopted / who adopted me at the Acropolis, and his friend and her boyfriend. Trust me to always end up having meals with strangers!

18

I couldn’t stop thinking about the dang calamari so I went for it again the next day, this time with spaghetti. Heh. When I showed up, the owner/head chef, who is the grandmother of the waiter who took my order, asked him something, to which he answered, “Calamari.” Presumably it was, “What did she have yesterday?” Haha.

19.2

Last breakfast in Greece – toasted feta-tomato sandwich and yoghurt (Greek, of course) with honey and walnuts. Yeah, I was famished. I’ve since made the yoghurt-honey-nuts combo for breakfast at home so many times. Genius.

7. Milan, Italy

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When in Italy, eat all the pizza. These were both mine. Hehe. And I always had a “take it or leave it” attitude towards eggplant, right. But that pizza totally brought eggplant up a few notches for me. Grilled eggplant. Seriously. I’ll take it and I’ll take it all! And “melanzane” was one of the first few Italian vegetable names I memorised too and I really like the word for some reason.

21.2

PO my Milan host and I sauntered into Parco Sempione to find a place to sit and chat…only to find – much to PO’s delight – a Swiss food festival going on. PO lived in Switzerland for a few years and had developed a fondness for raclette, a melted cheese dish. Thus he wasted no time in queuing up for some and was even faster at shoving it into his mouth. A man after my own heart.

22.2

5pm is aperitivo time! We both went for a second helping (like I said, PO is a man after my own heart), and when we got back to our table, our half-drunk drinks were gone! The waiter thought we had left. Nuh-uh! He was highly apologetic and gave us another drink for free. SCORE!

8. Bergamo, Italy

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MM was being annoying and urged me to “forget religion” and order some meat. Prosciutto, even. I damn near clocked him with my phone. Eventually we reached consensus with the omelette thing, the yellow strip-y thing was some sort of veg, I forget what. But there was goat cheese in it, mm-mmm. And polenta with anchovy, which was out of this world. Seriously, how can something so simple taste so good?

24.2

I told him to take a photo of just the food; he included me as well. More polenta with mozzarella and goat cheese, which burned our mouths right till the last bite. Man, did that thing retain heat! And orecchiette with zucchini.

25

And to conclude this epic gastronomic journey – ghiaccioli. Mine was arancia; his was raspberry. I’m not usually a fan of orange-flavoured stuff, but for some reason I kept craving for orange stuff on this trip! I bought Fanta Orange whenever I could and when choosing flavours of our popsicles, the minute I saw they had orange I stopped looking. Haha.

By the way, I didn’t have any gelato on this trip. Can you believe it? Before I left I thought I would eat one every day I was there. But when I got there and was faced with an array of choices every corner I turned…I didn’t want any! Go figure!

Now, to dream about all this food…

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13 thoughts on “What I ate in Bulgaria, Greece and Italy

  1. A melted cheese dish? SIGN ME UP! I need to see if I can find Halloumi cheese anywhere. I’d probably eat more salad if it were topped with grilled cheese.

    Was that thick pasta Bucatini? I used that pasta once and it was such a pain to boil. It wasn’t worth the novelty.

    All of that looks amazing! I’m also curious about how you guys got the eggs so vibrantly colored! That’s what I want my Easter eggs to look like every years and they always end up pastel and slightly disappointing.

    I feel it is my duty to inform you that non-alcoholic beer does NOT taste like regular beer, but beer is also something you generally have to acquire a taste for… much like coffee. (I love that quote about the wine, “If you don’t drink, how do you propose a toast?” Hah! The answer, though, is sparkling apple cider!)

    1. Ohhhhh! Do try to find halloumi cheese. It is yum and its chewiness makes salad-eating much more appealing. A good alternative would be paneer, a type of Indian cheese with a texture that is 99% close to halloumi cheese. If you’ve never had paneer before and don’t want to commit to a whole frozen pack of it, the next time you go for Indian, order something with paneer and see if you like it. (I recommend palak paneer – paneer in pureed spinach curry.) It is bland on its own but like tofu, it absorbs flavours well.

      Yes, it was bucatini. My host had a few kinds of pasta and asked me to choose which one I wanted. I had never had bucatini before so I chose it. Probably what I hated more than its flying tendencies was that whenever I slurped in order to get at the sauce, I would inhale air through the tubes at the same time. And very quickly I was invariably inhaling more air than sauce. Yeah, I was quite miserable eating that thing.

      So get this. My friend’s dad owns an entire factory that makes Easter eggs and Easter-related stuff and because I was there at Easter time, I was able to see him at work. I don’t know the ratio, but I know he used dye + water + some sort of acid. And he would soak an egg in the dye like three separate times for 10 minutes each time. Try it next time!

      Thanks for telling me that. Lol. Yes, I’ve heard that beer is an acquired taste. And yes, I suppose I could toast with sparkling cider. Hehe. Although in my culture the concept of proposing a toast doesn’t exist at all!

      P.S. I love receiving long comments!

  2. Oh my goodness. All this food looks amazing! The food from Italy (of course) and the calamari you had in Greece is making me drool right now.

  3. This is great, I really enjoyed following your food journey!
    Although..
    YOU DIDN’T HAVE ANY GELATO?? Get yo’ ass back to Milan this instant!! Honestly. 🙂 xxx

    1. I KNOOOOW! I really, really wanted to want gelato! I just…didn’t. 😦 I’m going back to Milan regardless. It is a great city and I miss it a lot more than any other Italian city I’ve been to. You’re so lucky to be living there!

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