Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

Last Saturday, on my weekend out of Sofia, I bought lots of homemade jam in Koprivshtitsa.

Why? Well, I don’t have the time, the energy or the interest necessary to make my own jam.  I am much happier buying it from little old women who’ve set-up a cardboard tables of jam.

Homemade Jam

Because what’s better than homemade jam?

I got home four jars–two jars of strawberry, one blueberry and a jar of pumpkin and walnut. The strawberry and blueberry are pretty standard issue. Tiny berries, hand picked, beautiful color.

But the pumpkin and walnut jam, that’s another story. (more…)


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Figs have started appearing in the local markets across Sofia. I don’t know much about the fruit. It’s just not a fruit that I grew up eating. I don’t think that they like the growing season in Washington State.

In the States, I’ve seen figs and eaten them dried, reduced in sauces or turned into jam but generally they are too expensive to buy fresh carefully packed four to a plastic container. But in Bulgaria, it’s like they grow on trees! I know, right!?

Fresh Fig!

The best thing? Fresh figs are so delicious.

I love them. Just washed. Or sliced open and dripped with honey. Or with yogurt. Wowsa figs are delightful. (more…)

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Snapshot of The Mall

The minute I step foot in a mall, I feel small and disoriented. I think it’s a combination of the florescent lighting, the slightly different music in each store, the meandering streams of people, the deliberate maze like nature of malls and shops within them and overly intense air conditioning. It’s no different in Bulgaria.

Over the last six months or so, Sofia has experienced a boom in malls. We’ve had two new malls open–neither very far from each other. There’s something kind of silly feeling about that. How many malls does a city like Sofia need? Clearly the malls were planned before the economy crashed and we sunk into a recession but this doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact on Bulgarians or the mall culture on a whole.

I can tell you this because I spent a chuck of Sunday afternoon at The Mall. Yes. One of the two new malls in Sofia has been named simply: The Mall. I can’t really decide if this is an awesome name or a totally ridiculous name.  It’s a deceptively simple name and yet when you think about it also wholly egotistical.  The thing that I struggle with this what kind of emphasis do you have to put on “The Mall” to make it clear where you’re going when you utter this simple sentence: I am going to The Mall rather than the more general sentence: hey, do you want to go to the mall? (more…)

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It’s pretty impossible to be a foreigner in Bulgaria and not notice the huge number of Bulgarian Rose products from rose oil to lotion, soap, bubble bath and even rose rakiya. These are it seems a staple of tourist shops. Heck, I too have brought back rose perfume in little carved wooden containers.  Kitch but still pretty great.

So today, a quick short article in the NYT Style section caught my eye.  It’s on cooking with rose water.  The article is apparently part of an ongoing discussion of power ingredients for cooking.

The headline grabbed me because of the rose water but the writing was pretty good so I kept reading.  Then I poured over the four tasty sounding recipes especially the Grilled Rose Water Pound Cake. Holy smokes.

Rose water sounds amazing. Check out these great ides:

You can also just start freelancing. Taking a cue from 18th-century bakers, substitute rose water for the vanilla in cupcakes, puddings or scones. Or (a personal favorite) add a teaspoon or so to your next batch of French toast batter. Put a drop or two in a glass of lemonade for a remarkably refreshing summer drink — or make a rose martini in the same manner.

Rose water matches uncannily well with many fruits, drawing out their shy aromas. Try adding a bit to a bowl of strawberries, or sprinkling sliced melon, plums or peaches with rose water mixed with a bit of riesling.

And if you make a salad of bitter greens dressed with a vinaigrette that has been barely touched with rose water, you’ll quickly change your mind about the versatility of this ingredient.

Sure, I already know that I like it. Enter rose lakum (Bulgarian Turkish delight–can I even say that? Well I just did). But I’d never considered all of the other dishes and drinks that I could spice up with some rose water. (more…)

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Great news! I am going to be in the Bulgarian magazine Rouge in September. So keep your eyes peeled for it–well those of you living in Bulgaria.

I had a really great interview with one of the editors at the magazine, Z. She asked a number of standard expat kind of questions from why Bulgaria? to what were my first impressions of the country? But she also asked some unexpected questions which were a lot of fun to answer.

Me giving the interview--on the floor

The odd thing is that I get nervous before these interviews. Yep, I am human. I get nervous. Butterflies in the stomach nervous.  Okay, this is my second magazine interview so it’s not like I do it all the time but it’s not like I won’t know the answer. (more…)

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Hey, here’s proof of my new glasses. I got two pairs. I am not really sure which ones I like better. I think it just depends on my mood.

The first pair–the pair in brown–the youngish sales woman told me were for old people. I smiled and then bought them anyway. As if old people should have a corner on the cool glasses!! Take that old people. I am wearing your glasses.

My New glasses in Brown

Don’t worry, you also get to see the second pair. The only real difference is the glasses. Same pose, same couch, same well everything. (more…)

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This week, I’ve been working on getting new glasses and contacts.  I’ve been rolling with the same prescription for the last two and a half years and two things things happened. First I didn’t think that I was seeing as well as I used to and second, I am desperate for new contacts for this summer as I am currently wearing my last pair.

So I lined up a friend to come along with me to pick out new frames. Then another friend tagged along as well. All things considered, the whole process was pretty easy for the three of us.  We tried on lots of different frames and giggled, we picked out lens type based on the price and the country they are made in and I had an eye exam.  Pretty standard.

The eye exam was probably the funniest part for me.  You should know that even in the Sates I usually get nervous that something will happen during my eye exam and I wont get the right prescription. It’s usually about the time that I am being asked “is this better?” switch “or is this better?” Um, I am not sure. So I make them switch back to the first one and this process continues for the remainder of the exam. And I begin to worry, what if I make a bad choice? What if I end up with a bad prescription? (more…)

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