We got the chance to taste Role Po Belenski (roll of pork neck) when Holly and Deyan arrived home from their adventures in Norway and Bulgaria with a Trapezitsa. Named after the hills in Veliko Tarnovo (the old capitol of Bulgaria), Trapezitsa is a roll of meat made of pressed pork neck and cured with salt, red and white pepper and garlic. A taste of Trapezitsa is like a cross between cured sausage and bacon: savory, salty, and pork-like with a healthy dose of garlic … pretty delicious for a sausage lover.
Rod’s in love. They know him well. Food gifts are his favorite.
We drove to Los Angeles International Airport Sunday to pick up Holly and Deyan from their travels. It was good to see them (it had been three weeks!) and we excitedly waited in the International Arrivals gate for them to debark.
With so many stories to share, Holly and I quickly began talking about 1. What TV shows are on (the new Fall Season began while they were gone) and 2. What new foods can we make (yes, she speaks my language).
She brought with her two traditional Bulgarian pastry dish ideas she tried, loved and wants us to test. The first is Banitsa which is a pastry filled with egg and cheese and the second is a Tikvenik which is a sweet pastry filled with pumpkin. Can’t wait for this Bulgarian pastry cooking to begin.
They arrived in Oslo, Norway three weeks ago and traveled to Bergen where they spent time with family. It has been two years since they were married and this was the first time Holly would meet Deyan’s family, including his mom. I’m sure they were excited to see them come … they hadn’t seen Deyan in about that long, too.
From Bergen they traveled Ruse (Pyce in Cyrillic) and Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria to visit more of Deyan’s family, including his dad and grandparents. I know they were relieved about the cost of living change from Norway to Bulgaria … in one facebook post from Holly she noted,
Six pack of beer in Norway: $30, in US: $7, in Bulgaria: $1.70.
Obicham Bulgaria 🙂
A culinary highlight of their trip happened in a Mexaha, a Bulgarian old-style tavern, named Mehana Chiflika. Here they dined in a village house setting while listening to folk music and eating traditional Bulgarian dishes. Holly is known for taking photos of her food (must get that from me!) so she shared what they had to eat.
- In the top photo is a Shepherd’s Salad, made with bell pepper, tomatoes, cucumbers, white and yellow cheeses, mushrooms and eggs and topped with either olive oil, vinegar or a mixture of both. Deyan uses just olive oil because, as he explains, it blends with the cheeses to bring out the flavor.
- The middle photo is of Sirene Po Shopski or Cheese Baked in a Pot. I can’t even imagine how delicious that must have been!
- The final photo shows Chicken Kavarma, which is like a traditional Bulgarian chicken and vegetable stew.
Deyan had a birthday while they were gone, so we celebrated when they came home with a 7-Layer Bean Dip ‘cake’ … his favorite dish! Just to be clear … it was a 7-Layer Bean Dip ~ not a real cake. But, we put a candle in it and he was happy.
Deyan wasn’t the only one to receive gifts. They arrived with super cool souvenirs for us. They brought me a new oven mitt from Norway … decorated in a Christmas pattern. Yes, LOVE it!
And they brought Rod this Trapezitsa, or as Holly calls it … pterodactyl meat. I’m impressed they traveled 5,394 miles (8,664 kilometers) with this big piece of meat! I know Rod is thankful.
I would like to travel to Norway and Bulgaria someday. I would love to visit the fjords, see Viking ships and dance in a Bulgarian Mexaha while eating traditional dishes from these places. I am happy Holly and Deyan were able to go and visit his family. Maybe someday Rod and I will get to go, too. Traveling is fun, it’s enlightening and it’s a culinary adventure for the tastebuds.