Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
We find ourselves in the Balkans this week. Bulgaria, to be exact. I was excited because Eastern Europe usually means two of my favourite things: pastry and cheese. Bulgaria has some spectacular architecture, a great pub scene, and unexpected ancient ruins throughout modern cities. And the rural areas look as charming as Sofia does vibrant and bustling. Check out this blog post about why Bulgaria would make a great travel destination post-Covid:
We decided to make two Bulgarian classics: Banitsa (I was right about the pastry and cheese) and Shopska Salata. Both of these dishes are considered national representations of traditional Bulgarian cuisine, but I believe Shopska Salata is the official national dish as it comprises the colours of the Bulgarian flag. These dishes are highlighted by VisitMyBulgaria.com, TasteAtlas, Kashkaval Tourist, and 196Flavors.
We decided to pull our recipes from 196Flavors as well since they usually come through for us.
These were both fairly straightforward recipes, particularly the salad, which only involved chopping veggies and adding them to a salad bowl. The Banitsa, however, was labour intensive and fairly time-consuming. I had to make note that this was my first time working with Phyllo Pastry– it wasn’t too difficult but I didn’t expect it to be so thin and easy to tear! I suppose I’d consider using this ingredient again in the future.
Both dishes were very visually appealing when I was finished. I nailed the snail-like spiral on the Banitsa fairly well and the colours of the Bulgarian flag were vibrant in my Shopska Salata. We couldn’t wait to dig in. The butteriness of the Banitsa was so rich and dreamy while the fresh ingredients in the salad lightened things up.
Overall, we really enjoyed this meal. I would absolutely make the salad again– it was simple, had great flavours and ingredients, and tastes amazing leftover. The Bantisa was lovely and also great leftover and heated up in the microwave, but not so delicious and remarkable that I’d go through all the work again. I’d rather enjoy a Banitsa from a street vendor in Sofia, please!
While we ate, we daydreamed about travel and watched these vlogs:
See you next week across the ocean!