6 Tasty Cooking Classes in Melbourne

cooking classes melbourne - typical Australian food

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Looking for Cooking Classes in Melbourne? Want to learn more about what is Typical Australian Food? I’m sure any travelling foodie will love to get involved in a tasty cooking experience during their trip to Melbourne, so that’s why we’ve put together this handy list to help you find the tastiest cooking classes in Melbourne.

Australia is known for its multicultural history and Melbourne is certainly a melting pot for diversity when it comes to food. That’s why it’s a great idea to try out the numerous cooking classes in Melbourne to get a hands on experience cooking these dishes. Learn about local produce, today’s international influences, and discover Australia’s fascinating food heritage. 

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links which pay me a commission if you choose to purchase/book something. You do not pay extra using this link. Thank you for supporting this blog by purchasing through these links.

 

6 Tasty Cooking Classes in Melbourne – Make Typical Australian Food & More…

 

Enjoy a Modern Australian Cooking Class with a Professional Chef in Melbourne

cooking classes melbourne - typical Australian food

cooking classes Melbourne – typical Australian food

 

Get to have your own private cooking class in the Melbourne home of a professional chef. In this class, you will make 3 typical Australian food dishes like oysters or trout and top it all off with dessert and a glass of wine. 

This private half day class is a great way to learn about Australia’s food heritage, typical local ingredients and how to put them all together to make homemade typical Australian food.

Click Here for more information or to Check Prices & Availability 

 

Cook Contemporary Australian Cuisine From Native Produce in a Local Home

cooking classes melbourne - typical Australian food

cooking classes Melbourne – typical Australian food

 

Meet Ella your local host and instructor for your cooking class in Melbourne and visit her quaint art deco home in the heart of inner Melbourne. In this class, you will learn to make an appetizer like finger limes and lemon myrtle spice mix, a main dish – for example, peppered Kangaroo, and for dessert beach bananas and lamington. Truly typical Australian foods – yum!  

Also, learn about traditional Aboriginal herbs and spices that have been ethically sourced and locally grown in Aboriginal farms and their uses in cooking. 

Click Here for more information and to Check Prices & Availability 

 

Dumpling Making Party

Cooking Courses Melbourne

Cooking Courses Melbourne

 

Melbourne is known around the world for it’s Chinatown. Full of exceptional food and of course dumplings!

In this hands on class, you can learn how to make Asian style dumplings yourself and impress your friends at dinner parties and pot lucks! Learn the art of making the perfect dough for Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese dumplings and then filling them using a variety of meats and vegetables. 

This quick 2 hour cooking class in Melbourne will give you the knowledge you need to become a dumpling pro and at the end, you can all sit down with a glass of sparkling wine and eat them all! YUM!

Click Here for more information and to Check Prices & Availability 

 

Spice Factory 3-Hour Indian Cooking Class

Cooking Courses Melbourne

Cooking Courses Melbourne

 

Always wanted to learn the art of making an Indian Thali – but have no plans to visit India anytime soon? Why not take this unique cooking class in Melbourne and discover the secret to preparing the perfect home cooked thali. 

You’ll first watch a demonstration on how the meals are prepared and then it will be your turn to make up to 5 separate items that will make up the thali. During this class you’ll also discover the culinary heritage behind the Indian thali, and what makes every element of it so important to a balanced diet. 

You also get to take home the recipes so you can recreate all of the dishes when you return home.

Click Here for more information and to Check Prices & Availability

 

Private Market Tour and Australian Cooking Class with a Local Chef in her Home

 

cooking classes melbourne - typical Australian food

cooking classes Melbourne – typical Australian food

 

Meet your friendly host and local chef Tonya who has trained at international cooking schools like, Le Cordon Bleu and the Ritz Escoffier in Paris and La Varenne l’Ecole de Cuisine in Burgundy and get ready to learn about typical Australian food in this 6 hour cooking class in Melbourne.

During this day of foodie indulgence, you get to visit one of the biggest local markets close to Melbourne. Here with Tonya you will shop for local produce including fish, meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and all of the ingredients you will need for your private cooking class. 

The menu can vary depending on what is available at market but you can be sure to make 3 courses from scratch. Dishes could be anything from oysters and verjus jelly with eschallot dressing, to green peppercorn and chive jus, or slow roasted ocean trout with creamy, lemony mayonnaise. 

If you are Vegetarian, low-carb or gluten free options are certainly available. 

Click Here for more information and to Check Prices & Availability

 

Private Italian Cooking School at Pizzini Wines

(Driving distance to Melbourne)

Cooking class Melbourne - Italian cooking classes Melbourne

Cooking class Melbourne – Italian cooking classes Melbourne

 

If you are looking to escape the city for a day trip then this is a great option to get out, explore a local vineyard, and learn some Italian cooking skills as well.  

Located at the Pizzini Wines family estate you will experience true hospitality as the Pissini family teaches you how to make Italian style dishes. You’ll also get a tour of the winery and barrel room where you can taste Italian wine varieties including Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Canaiolo as they age in barrels. 

After the tour, it’s lunchtime where you get to eat your sensational Italian creations with a lovely glass of the family’s reserve range wine. 

Click Here for more information and to Check Prices and Availability. 

 

Looking for more foodie activities in and near Melbourne? Here’s a few great options:

 

 

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6 Best Rome Cooking Class / Pasta Making Class in Rome

Rome cooking class - cooking classes in rome italy

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Looking for the very best when it comes to booking a Rome Cooking Class? How about a Pasta making class in Rome? Then look no further as we have taken the hard work out for you in this handy little article to make sure you get well fed and have a fantastic Italian vacation.

Rome is ALL about the food and what better way to really learn about Italian cuisine than by taking a cooking class. But this is your trip of a lifetime right? You don’t want just any old cooking class, you’re after the BEST cooking classes in Rome! Something authentic, informative and above all else Tasty!

We hear you! That’s why we have put together the 6 Best Rome Cooking Classes for you to consider for your next vacation, we’ve also added in some fantastic Pasta Making Classes in Rome too as quite often this is a separate class to say pizza or gelato. 

6 Best Rome Cooking Class / Pasta Making Class in Rome

4-Hour Combo Pizza and Pasta Cooking Class

Rome cooking class – cooking classes in Rome Italy

 

Learn the art of making two of Italy’s finest dishes – pizza and pasta. In this 4 hour cooking class learn up to 10 different pasta shapes and also how to cook an authentic Neapolitan pizza. 

This class completely kid friendly as well so bring them along and all experience this tasty Rome cooking class together.

Click Here For More Information and to Check Prices and Availability 

 

Italian Food Half-Day Cooking Course in Rome

Rome cooking class - cooking classes in Rome Italy

Rome cooking class – cooking classes in Rome Italy

 

Learn the secrets of true Italian cooking with this half-day course. During this Rome cooking class, you’ll learn how to make 4 tasty Italian creations all expertly paired with Italian wine. With your International chef, you’ll learn how to pick the best seasonal ingredients and prepare a classic Italian meal. 

Click Here for more information and Check Price & Availability

 

Roman Pasta Class: Carbonara & More

Pasta Making Class Rome

Pasta Making Class Rome – Carbonara and more

 

Get a truly authentic Pasta Making Class experience by taking a cooking class with a local! Learn how to make 3 traditional Roman pastas in a private home right near the Colosseum. There’s no better way to learn how to cook real Italian pasta dishes than by taking a Pasta Making Class in someone’s home. 

Click Here for more Information and Check Prices & Availability 

 

Ice-Cream Making in Rome for Gelato Lovers

Gelato Making Class Rome

Gelato Making Class Rome

 

There is nothing quite like trying authentic gelato in Italy for the very first time….or second or third. Italian gelato is something special that you just can’t get anywhere else, we know people try to make gelato all over the world but nothing beats Italy – trust us!

In this Gelato Making Class Rome, you’ll discover the secrets to making the perfect gelato which includes learning how to make three different flavours, Produce your own gelato and get to taste other gelato flavours as well! A dessert lover dream! 

Click Here for more information and to Check Prices & Availability

 

The Home Pasta Factory: Fettuccine, Lasagne, Ravioli, Orecchiette, Gnocchi

Pasta Making Class Rome - best cooking classes in rome

Pasta Making Class Rome – best cooking classes in Rome

This Rome cooking class will teach you the right cooking techniques to make your own Italian homemade pasta. Impress your friends when you return from your Italian vacation with the ability to make pasta classics like fettuccine, ravioli, gnocchi, lasagna, cannelloni, and more all from scratch. 

At the end, everyone joins together to have a family meal accompanied with local Italian wine.

Click Here for more information and to Check Prices & Availability 

 

 

Pizza Making Class with Winery Tour and Wine Tasting in Rome’s Countryside

Rome cooking class - cooking classes in Rome Italy

Rome cooking class – cooking classes in Rome Italy

Last but certainly not least we wanted to add in a foodie experience that’s only 25 minutes away from Rome….not far at all! And it’s an experience any foodie is going to want to have on their trip to Italy. 

Head outside the hustle and bustle of Rome to Minardi Historic Farmhouse here you will get to see what life is like in the Italian countryside and also indulge in wine tasting and olive oil tasting before meeting their local Pizza Master who will teach you how to prepare traditional Roman pizza, including “Margherita” and “Capricciosa“ varieties. You might also learn a few of the secrets to preparing the perfect dough! 

Click Here for more information and to Check Prices & Availability 

>>>

So there you have it 6  amazing Rome cooking classes that will be the absolute highlight of your Italian vacation. If you are looking for restaurant or hotel recommendations in Rome we have those too! We also have some great posts about other areas of Italy that are sure to get you drooling. 

And Don’t Forget To Grab A Copy Of our Free Tourist Map Of Rome – 70+ Rome Tourist Attractions

We’ve put together a google map overlay with all our top picks of attractions, restaurants, foodie experiences, accommodation, transport locations and more! Save yourself a bunch of time by having our huge list of Rome highlights instantly at your fingertips. Get Our Rome Tourist Map NOW – Click Here.

  • Works on any device over 4G or wifi – follow the map as you travel
  • It’s FREE!
  • 70+ highlighted spots to visit
  • Super easy to use on google maps
  • Every Restaurant in the article – and more!

 

 

 

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Lisbon Food: What To Eat In Lisbon (35 Dishes)

Lisbon Cooking Class: Our Chef Helps One Of Our Fellow Guests

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Lisbon Food Experiences & What To Eat In Lisbon: For our foodies guide to Lisbon we search out typical Portuguese food both from the Lisbon restaurants where the locals eat and by checking out the Portuguese street food scene. We dig into the history and style of the cuisine with a guided Lisbon food tour as well as getting our hands messy taking a Lisbon cooking class.

As one of the most important maritime cities in world history, Lisbon has influenced and been influenced, by ingredients from all over the world, especially since the age of discovery in the 15th/16th century. Africa, India, The Americas and more. Find below a list of what to eat in Lisbon – more than 35 dishes to discover – as well as the stories behind the most typical Lisbon food.

Lisbon Food: A Historical Introduction

Portugal is a 35,000 square mile strip of land along the Atlantic Ocean. At the very end of southern continental Europe, bordered only by Spain and the Atlantic. With over 500 miles (800KM) of coastline, seafood takes an important place in typical Portuguese food culture.

But Portugal’s proximity to the ocean also played a part in their colonial past, as they both traded and conquered their way around the globe. The back and forth of ingredients from both east and west has shaped Portuguese cuisine. The Portuguese also left their culinary mark all over, from Brazil to Mozambique, Macau to Goa, and many more.

Portugal was once occupied by the Romans, who are attributed with introducing wheat, onions, garlic, olives, and grapes. Later, around 711 AD the Moors from North Africa invaded, bringing rice, figs, lemons, oranges, and almond trees.

Modern day Portugal found its roots in the north of the country where a Visigoth state eventually became called Portugal and slowly took back lands south towards the very south coast of the Peninsula, known as the Algarve coast today.

By the 15th century, the great Age of Discovery had begun. Before the Americas were discovered in 1492, Portuguese explorers had already claimed many Atlantic islands like Cape Verde, The Azores, Madeira and also taken lands south along the coast of Africa.

In the 15th century, Prince Henry the Navigator instructed Portuguese explorers to bring back any exotic fruits, nuts, and plants they found. New ingredients and the future spice trade would have a big effect on Portuguese cuisine.

As Portugal gained new lands, things like tomatoes and potatoes were brought back home. African coffee was sent to create massive plantations in Brazil. And vice versa, chilis from Brazil were brought to Portugal’s African colonies – and the little chilis are called “Piri Piri” in Portugal and used in many dishes. Also, spices like curry powder and cinnamon returned regularly from India.

The Lisbon area has been inhabited since Neanderthal times, with the first permanent settlements appearing around 2500 BC. Lisbon became the capital of Portugal in 1255 AD.

As a cosmopolitan capital, in Lisbon, you’ll find cuisine from all over Portugal, as well as plenty of international food, especially dishes from ex-Portuguese colonies, like Angola, Goa, Brazil and many more. And, more recently, immigrant cuisine from new arrivals on the culinary scene, like Nepal.

But, in this article, our focus is on traditional foods of Portugal that were either created in Lisbon or mainland Portugal and which are everyday favourites you can find all over Lisbon.

Before we get onto the list of what to eat in Lisbon, a couple of Lisbon food experiences that are ideal for visitors.

 

Lisbon Cooking Class

We love cooking classes. Learning about the food as you also learn hands-on how to make it, not only results in a delicious evening but also in getting the knowledge to take that little bit of flavour away and make it when you get back home. When it comes to what to eat in Lisbon, one of our top recommendations has to be the Portuguese food you learn to make yourself!

Lisbon Cooking Class: Our Chef Helps One Of Our Fellow Guests

We teamed up with Cookly who offer incredible cooking classes around the world including the one we did in Lisbon with Cooking Lisbon. We chose the gourmet cooking class to go a little beyond the standard class but there’s plenty to choose from.

Our expert chef shared some unexpected stories about Portuguese culinary culture. Like, the slang term for a spatula is the same as the name of the ex-dictator who was overthrown in 1974. Because he was very frugal and wouldn’t waste anything!

We also got some pro tips for cooking sea bass fillet perfectly (it was soooo tasty!). Plus some cool ideas that you might not find in restaurants, like making your own “Portuguese bacon bits”… Actually, they are churiço (chorizo), whizzed in a blender, then baked until crispy. Throw that on top of your creamy chicken fricassee for a salty-porky kick. How had we never thought of doing this!!!

Lisbon Cooking Class: Chicken Fricassee - Portuguese Style

Chicken Fricassee – Portuguese Style

Lisbon Cooking Class: Megsy get's stirring

Megsy get’s stirring

But, the biggest draw of the cooking class was definitely going hands-on in the cooking with the rest of the guests. It was a very interactive class, and our host was 100% on top of everything from start to finish. Keeping everyone happy. Keeping an eye that prep and cooking were being done just right and also that wine glasses were never empty. (very important!)

The highlight of the dishes we made (which do vary depending on the season and market that day) was the Pastéis de Tentúgal (pictured below). Crispy phyllo pastries from Tentúgal, in north-central Portugal. Sweet, eggy filled and oven crispy pastries. I had to eat quite a few, for quality control purposes. The technique for getting the filling just right involved mixing egg yolks with hot syrup. Something you could easily mess up and curdle. But our expert teacher helped us get them perfect.

Lisbon Cooking Class: Pastéis de Tentugal

Cooking Class Lisbon: Pastéis de Tentúgal

Check out the gourmet cooking class.

Or take a look at the other cooking classes & market tours available via Cookly

Book a cooking class in Portugal

Take A Lisbon Food Tour

Our preferred way to get rapidly orientated with a city and its food is to take a food tour with a local expert guide. To try as many things as possible in the shortest time, we took the “Lisbon’s Favourite Food Tour: The 10 Tastings” With Luciana @ WithLocals.

The tour company’s model is specifically to connect visitors with local guides for intimate small group or private tours where you can get personal attention from the guides. We ask a lot of questions, so smaller groups are ideal for us. You can even book the guide of your choice, rather than just the tour itself, so you can read their reviews and see who is the best fit for your style. Some are foodies, some are teachers, some are music lovers, and depending on the tour you want to take, With Locals will have the perfect guide to suit you and your travel tastes. 

Lisbon Food | Typical Portuguese Food: Bifana

Typical Portuguese Food: Bifana

On our tour date, we actually got a private tour – we have to admit we hadn’t actually paid attention to this part of the booking lol. It doesn’t bother us if we are with people or not but private tours are something this particular tour guarantees. Just your group and your guide ready to go out and eat what Lisbon has to offer! This was great for us as it meant we had a little bit of flexibility in the dishes we tried, based on the sorts of things we were most interested in.

As well as lots of food stops, we also got to see and learn a bit about the Barrio Alto & Chiado neighbourhoods, beginning with great views across Lisbon from Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. Starting from the top of the hill means the tour is all downhill from there – perfect for a rapidly filling belly.

View From Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara

We don’t want to give away all of the dishes and locations on the tour but you will absolutely get to try what I rate as the BEST pasteis de nata (Portuguese egg custard tarts) I’ve ever tasted. After spending 5 months in Portugal and doing a lot of testing, I was blown away by how good these were. Suffice to say, we went back again a few days after the tour.

Expect pork & bacalhau – two of Portugal’s favourite proteins. And don’t worry about leaving hungry – you’ll be stuffed by the end of this tour!

We took “Lisbon’s Favourite Food Tour: The 10 Tastings” With Luciana @ WithLocals

Our guide Luciana was bubbly, chatty and fun, keeping us actively engaged and making us feel very welcome.

Check out all the WithLocals Lisbon Food tours

Learn More about the “Lisbon’s Favourite Food Tour: The 10 Tastings

 

 

Our Lisbon Food Podcast – COMING LATE JUNE 2019

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THE BELOW CONTENT IS A COMPANION, NOT A TRANSCRIPT, FOR THE PODCAST

Foodies Guide Lisbon

What To Eat In Lisbon: Soups, Snacks & Starters

Lisbon food to get you started. From Portuguese street food to typical Portuguese food that you just have to try in Lisbon.

Portuguese street food: Bolinhos de Bacalhau / Pasteis de Bacalhau

What To Eat In Lisbon: Pasteis de Bacalhau

What To Eat In Lisbon: Pasteis de Bacalhau

A popular Portuguese street food. Bolinhos de Bacalhau also called pasteis de Bacalhau – little cod and potato fritters, a bit like croquettes. More on why salt cod (bacalhau) is so popular in Lisbon, in the mains section below.

Bacalhau com Grao

What To Eat In Lisbon: Bacalhau com Grao (Cod & Chickpea Salad)

What To Eat In Lisbon: Bacalhau com Grao (Cod & Chickpea Salad)

Cod & chickpeas salad. A simple, cold dish for the summer. A dish you’ll get an opportunity to try on the WithLocals 10 tasting Lisbon Food Tour

Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde (Kale, Potato & chouriço soup)

Caldo Verde (Kale, Potato & chouriço soup)

Most Lisbon restaurants offer a Sopa do Dia (soup of the day). When it’s available, be sure to try Caldo Verde, a warm green soup made with simple ingredients like potatoes, kale, olive oil and salt. It was voted one of Portugal’s 7 gastronomic wonders by locals in 2011.

Octopus Salad

Octopus is another part of the extensive seafood variety that you’ll find with typical Portuguese food.

Quejio (Cheese) – Specifically Queijo de Azeitão

Typical Portuguese Food: Quejio (Cheese)

Typical Portuguese Food: Quejio (Cheese)

Portugal is definitely a cheese nation. You’ll find many unique types of Queijo but one of the most important to try is Queijo de Azeitão.

This unpasteurised sheep cheese has been awarded a PDO protected origin status and is produced in the town of Azeitão about 40KM east of Lisbon.

This is a hard rind cheese, you don’t eat the rind and instead, slice off the top and then spoon out the thick, creamy insides – preferably with a glass of Portuguese red wine.

Interestingly, the Azeitao cheese is vegetarian friendly as they use a special local thistle flower, rather than animal rennet, to separate the milk. This also contributes a slight herbal flavour.

Portuguese Street Food: Tostas

Lisbon Food | Typical Portuguese Food: Tostas

Typical Portuguese Food: Tostas

The humble toastie is available at almost every kiosk, pasteleria (pastry/bakery shop) and cafe in Lisbon. Upgrade to rustic Portuguese bread, rather than regular sliced bread, for a more delicious experience. Ham and cheese, or just cheese. It’s all good.

Petiscos – It’s not tapas

(Anchovas) Pickled Anchovies. One of many Petiscos

Tapas is Spanish. The tapas tradition started as a small snack that was brought with a drink and was used to cover the drink to stop dust and insects getting in. The word tapas comes from the word tapar mean “to cover”. But petiscos, while slightly similar to tapas in their portion size, were designed to just be small portions of bigger dishes. A lot of the dishes on this guide could also be served as petiscos.

What To Eat In Lisbon: Mains & Seafood

Portugal is famed for its seafood but you’ll also find excellent pork. What Lisbon Food are the locals eating? Here are some of the top main courses.

Bifana, Prego, Leitão (Meat Sandwiches)

Lisbon Food: Bifana Grelhado (Grilled Pork Sandwich)

Lisbon Food: Bifana Grelhado (Grilled Pork Sandwich)

The mainland animal protein in Portugal is Pork. The climate and landscape lend itself better to rearing pork than to beef, though beef is also popular.

Bifana is a simple fast food favourite – A Portuguese pork sandwich. Its cousin Prego, is the beef equivalent, and they also have Leitão, a pulled pork sandwich. They’re great as a cheap lunch, or late night snack, you can often grab one for a couple of Euros at sandwich shops, ideal Portuguese street food. But you’ll also find them in many Lisbon restaurants where locals eat and more touristy places too.

Recipes and styles of bifana differ a little, but the general principle is that thinly cut pork steaks are simmered in a white wine stock with garlic & olive oil, normally paprika, bay leaf, vinegar and sometimes piri-piri. You’ll see them simmering in the windows of snack bars around Lisbon and beyond.
Normally the meat is pulled straight from the big bubbling pot of sauce and all those juices soak into the bread roll with a soft inside to capture every drop. Then a firm outside to stop the bread falling apart.

It’s a salty meat bomb waiting to explode in your mouth!

Sometimes a whole pork cutlet is used, rather than thin slices.

The bifana grelhada is a grilled pork sandwich, rather than stewed. Though the name may be used interchangeably, so if you can’t see the pork bubbling away, ask how the pork is cooked before ordering.

The Bifana is so popular that McDonald’s released a McBifana – we are certainly not recommending McDonald’s as your ideal Lisbon food culture experience, just saying they jumped on the Portuguese pork sandwich bandwagon for a reason… It’s that popular.

The essential final ingredient is some cheap squirty yellow mustard, like you’d have on a hotdog, and optionally, some piri piri sauce for a bit of kick.

It’s worth noting that bifana styles vary across the country. In Lisbon and the south, the meat is pulled from the sauce. In Porto and the north, you often get a lot more sauce served onto the sandwich, for extra juicy mess.

The Bifana was invented in Vendas Novas, a small town in the Alentejo region – just 30KM east of Lisbon. We didn’t make it there but apparently most of the old places selling Bifana claim to have invented it. No one really knows which one did.

To try tasty bifana in Lisbon, check out a Parreirinha do Chile – though you will find Bifana everywhere!

Bacalhau (Salt Cod)

Typical Portuguese Food: Bacalhau

Typical Portuguese Food: Bacalhau (Salt Cod)

Bacalhau is salted dried codfish. It’s a lot more than one dish. Locals claim it’s at least 365 dishes – one for each day of the year – which make use of Portugal’s most popular ingredient bacalhau. If you want fresh cod it is usually referred to as bacalhau fresco.

In reality, there may be way more than 365 cod dishes popular in Portugal, some say close to 1000, but we didn’t have time to find them all!

So let’s talk a little bit about why Cod, a type of fish that does not swim in the waters around Portugal at all, has become Portugal’s national dish.

In the 16th century, after the discovery of the Americas, Portuguese fishermen headed on long voyages in search of new fishing grounds. The first and most important region they exploited was off the coast of Newfoundland.

This was actually British territory, but as the Portuguese were allied with the British, they traded salt with the British – which was abundant in Portugal – in return for the right to fish in the region and for military protection.

With no refrigeration in those days, the only way to collect large amounts of fish and then transport it all the way back across the Atlantic was to preserve it by drying and salting. Certain types of fish lend themselves better to the salt preservation process than others – specifically fish where the flesh is less oily. This is why cod was the perfect fit for this.

The long shelf life and rich fishing ground led to bacalhau becoming a popular staple for both rich and poor in Portugal by the 18th century. It is a common part of dishes at Easter and Christmas and it’s possible that its connection to religious holidays, where land meat could not be eaten due to religious restrictions, also helped extend its presence in Portuguese cuisine.

Over time, political situations changed, as did refrigeration. Portuguese fishing in Newfoundland declined, much of the cod was being supplied to Portugal by British fleets instead and by the early 20th century, most cod was coming from waters around Iceland and Norway instead.

With meat and fresh fish being expensive at the time, poorer people relied on affordable salt cod. But importation raised the price. So after the Portuguese military dictatorship began in 1926, the government went on a mission to rebuild fishing fleets and increase production. They fixed cod prices and built a workforce, who suffered bad conditions in order to keep prices down.

The fishing process was a harsh form of labour. Individual fishermen would launch off the main ships and spend 8 or more hours collecting fish from a tiny boat before being collected and then beginning the work of processing the fish on board.

The death knell for this harsh industry was the fall of the dictatorship in 1974. Fishermen were freed from coerced labour, and supply returned to importation. Prices increased and every Cod had to go further on the table. Today, bacalhau is still massively popular and you can smell it as you walk into most supermarkets, stacked up in big piles.

So, if you are in Lisbon, how should you eat bacalhau?

Bacalhau a Bras

Lisbon Food: Bacalhau a Bras

Lisbon Food: Bacalhau a Bras

One of the most popular styles in Lisbon is Bacalhau a Bras – after rehydration, the cod is shredded and mixed with egg, finely chopped onion and crispy little fried matchstick potatoes, then baked and served with parsley and black olives. The name “a Bras” is said to refer to the name of the creator of the dish, which likely was first served in the Barrio Alto district of Lisbon, now a nightlife hub.

For a naughty treat, try Bacalhau com natas – Cod & fried potatoes baked in a cream sauce until golden.

Also, Bacalhau à Lagareiro, Cod baked confit style in olive oil with potatoes and onions.

Mentioned in the starters/snacks section above Bolinhos de BacalhauBacalhau com Grao. And, at least 360 other preparations of the bacalhau to discover!

Cozido

A stew considered by many as a Portugal national dish is “cozido à portuguesa”. A stew of vegetables with various kinds of meat. The most typical kind is pork, but a mix of meats can also be used including game like rabbit. Everything is thrown in one pot and boiled. The stock is served as a soup and then the meat and veg served on a plate separately. This is a popular dish from Portugal and Spain, so who invented it? We plan to look at that more in our what to Eat in Madrid Podcast – coming August 2019.

 

Sardinhas Assadas / Grelhado (Grilled/BBQ Sardines)

Lisbon Food: Sardinhas Assadas

Lisbon Food: Sardinhas Assadas

Sardines! They may not be fancy but they are certainly a big part of the Lisbon food scene. As Lisbon sits on a wide river estuary just 20KM from the Atlantic, sardines are a local catch. They’ve formed a part of the diet at least since the Moors ran the city from the early 8th century.

Though you’ll find them year round, the best time to enjoy them is during the biggest harvest of the year, in early June. The festival of st. Anthony, the patron saint of Lisbon, marks the beginning of the harvest. The busiest part of the sardine celebration is around June 13th, where you’ll find streetside grills barbecuing these tasty fishies. Other times of the year you may be getting sardines thawed from frozen, still great but not quite as perfect.

As well as grilled sardines, tinned sardines are super popular and you’ll even find restaurants devoted to “conservas” serving different specialist tinned foods along with garnishes and drinks.

Piri Piri Chicken

Piri Piri Chicken is Spatchcocked / butterflied whole chicken grilled over hot coals. The Piri Piri refers to the hot spice rub used to get the skin crispy and delicious. With its roots possibly coming from Portuguese colonies in Africa, we’ll be looking into the full story of Piri Piri chicken in another article. But if you are in Lisbon, search out this chicken that will put Nandos to shame.

Try at Frangasqueira Nacional

Chouriço (Portuguese Chorizo)

What To Eat In Lisbon: Chouriço (Portuguese Chorizo)

What To Eat In Lisbon: Chouriço (Portuguese Chorizo)

Portuguese Chouriço is quite different from dry cured Spanish Chorizo. The meat is softer. The tradition in Portugal is to take a whole Chouriço and bring it to the table on a ceramic dish and light flames underneath it to cook it and crisp up the skin. You’ll also find Chouriço used as an ingredient in many other dishes.

Polvo à lagareiro (Baked Octopus)

A whole octopus is first boiled, then roasted with lots of olive oil and garlic. Segments are served with boiled potatoes. It’s a classic you’ll find all over Portugal.

Choco Frito (Deep Fried Cuttlefish)

Typical Portuguese Food: Choco Frito (Cuttlefish)

Typical Portuguese Food: Choco Frito (Cuttlefish)

Cuttlefish is a big step above squid in my opinion. Softer flesh. And the Portuguese seem to get it just perfect every time. A fantastic version can be found at Taberna do Relojoeiro in Almada, south of the river. Reservations advised it’s a small place.

Moelas

Speaking of Taberna do Relojoeiro, they sometimes feature a homestyle Portuguese favourite: Moleas. Chicken gizzards. This may not sound appetizing but it’s a fantastic comfort food and if you didn’t know it was gizzards, you’d just yum it up. We actually didn’t know until we tasted it what it was as the waiter just recommended it and we went with it.

Arroz de Mariscos

A one pot rice and mixed seafood dish. Flavoured with white wine and garlic, and featuring a choice of shellfish and other seafood. The dish is believed to originate from the beach town of Vieira, 100km or so north of Lisbon, but is popular nationwide and is another of the 7 gastronomic wonders chosen by locals.

Feijoada (Pork & Beans Stew)

Typical Portuguese Food: Feijoada

Typical Portuguese Food: Feijoada

A rich and hearty beans stew containing various chunks of pork including Chouriço and blood sausage. A Portuguese dish which is also popular in Brazil.

Alheira Sausage de Mirandela

What To Eat In Lisbon: Alheira Sausage de Mirandela

What To Eat In Lisbon: Alheira Sausage de Mirandela

Another dish which is popular nationwide, this sausage comes from the far north of Portugal, from Mirandela and the surrounding area. It’s made from chicken and/or game meat mixed with bread and is typically served as a whole sausage, not as an ingredient in other dishes. It may be served with a fried egg and chips (fries).

Unlike Portugal’s typical pork sausages, the Alheira sausage was invented as a way for the Jewish population of the region to trick the Spanish Inquisition into thinking they had truly converted to Christianity. It was normal for Portuguese Catholic families to make all their pork sausages and hang them outside their homes to dry. So, Jewish households could avoid standing out by hanging their chicken sausages outside.

Lulas recheadas à lisbonense

Lisbon style stuffed squid. The squid is stuffed with sausages, garlic and onions and then baked.

Some other dishes to look out for:

Iscas com elas – Thin strips of calf’s liver sauteed in garlic and white wine. The dish was brought to Lisbon in the 19th century from Galicia in Spain.

Cataplana de mariscos – A popular seafood stew with rice which originates from the Algarve coast in the south.

Caldeirada – A slightly spiced seafood stew with piri-piri, black pepper, ginger and garlic.

Favas com Chouriço – A filling mix of fava beans cooked with Portuguese chouriço.

Torresmos – Crispy, fried pork fat. The Portuguese version of chicharron (Pork Scratchings/pork rinds).

Caracóis – Snails boiled with garlic and oregano.

Tripas – Traditional stew made with tripe, veg and white beans. The original dish likely dates back to the 14th century.

 

What To Eat In Lisbon: Desserts & Drinks

Finally, for our foodies guide Lisbon – Sweet treats and boozy beverages.

Pastéis de Nata

Lisbon Food: Pasteis de Nata (Egg Custard Tarts)

Lisbon Food: Pastéis de Nata (Egg Custard Tarts)

Egg custard tarts in crispy puff pastry. The Portuguese version of these was invented at a monastery in Belem, a suburb of Lisbon. They sold the recipe to a baker just over the street, and that original bakery now sells thousands of pastéis de nata every day – a Lisbon food icon. But, are they the best in Lisbon?

My top pick beats out the ones in Belem. Try out Mantegeria in Barrio Alto.

The fame of these little sweet treats has spread far and wide, but how did the original egg tart come to be? It’s a much more complicated story than the very brief version above. A full article and podcast on egg tarts is coming July 2019. 

Pao de Deus

What To Eat In Lisbon: Pao de Deus (Bread of God)

What To Eat In Lisbon: Pao de Deus (Bread of God)

A simple dessert/snack we fell in love with in Lisbon was Pao de Deus: The Bread Of God!

This is a brioche style bread roll with a thick, eggy, sweet coconut crust on top. It really is a bite of heaven, even for Megsy who is not a massive coconut fan.

Try Pão de Deus at A Padaria Portuguesa – a chain that you’ll find around Lisbon.

Ginjinha (Sour Cherry Liqueur)

Lisbon Drinks: Ginjinha

Lisbon Drinks: Ginjinha

Ginjinha is a liqueur made from Ginja (sour cherries) that originates from Lisbon.

The inventor of the Ginjinha was from Galicia, a region of Spain just North of Portugal. His name was Francisco Espinheira and he founded his little Ginjinha shop in 1840 and it’s still there! At least, it is the first dedicated shop known to sell the drink, it’s quite likely a similar drink has been made in Portugal since at least the 17th Century.

It’s easy to know you’re nearby A Ginjinha Espinheira as the stone tiles around the square next to this liquor shop start to get very sticky from all the little spillages of tasty liqueur.

Ginjinha is made by macerating sour cherries in brandy, the Portuguese name for these is ginja, which is where the name of the drink comes from. After maceration, the fruity brandy is then mixed with water, sugar and cinnamon. This produces a pleasing sweet and sour beverage to sip at.

You can have it served with or without a couple of whole cherries in the shot. I suggest getting them, they are booze saturated and give it more of a kick!

You can get your shot in a glass, or you can request an edible chocolate cup!

A Ginjinha Espinheira is not the only place in Lisbon to try this popular liqueur. You can even find it served by old ladies from their front room windows as you walk around the little neighbourhood of Alfama. Or you can buy a bottle in the supermarket.

Port Wine

Port wine is a sweet fortified wine (about 20% ABV) which hails from Porto but is available all over Portugal. If you won’t make it north, then try Port Wine in Lisbon.

Vinho Verde (Green Wine)

Vinho Verde translates as “green wine” but really means “young wine”. It refers to wines specifically made in and around the Minho province of North Portugal. The wine is not green, it can be red, white or rose. But these wines are drunk very young, bottled 3 to 6 months after harvest, and drunk soon after. Although this is not a Lisbon speciality, it is something you’ll find in wine shops and bars across the capital.

Beer

The most popular lager in Lisbon is Super Bock and Sagres. Sagres (my preference of the two) comes from the south and is a little maltier than Super Bock.

 

Accommodation in Lisbon:

Booking.com | Agoda | Hotels.com | Lastminute.comAirbnb (Get $25 Credit)

 

Book A Lisbon Tour:

 

 

 

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11 Best Cooking Classes In Italy

Cooking Classes In Italy, cooking schools in italy

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Wondering what are the best cooking classes in Italy? We have reached out to our favourite foodies who told us their all time favourite cooking school experiences in Italy. We cover quite a few of the most popular destinations in Italy so you can find the perfect cooking class experience in Italy to join no matter where you are on your tasty Italian vacation.

11 Best Cooking Classes In Italy, cooking schools in Italy

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links which pay me a commission if you choose to purchase something. You do not pay extra using this link. Thank you for supporting this blog by purchasing through these links.

 

11 Must Do Cooking Classes In Italy – Best Cooking Schools in Italy

 

Taormina Cooking Class, Sicily

Cooking Classes In Italy - Best Cooking Schools in Italy

Cooking Classes In Italy – Best Cooking Schools in Italy

 

One Italian cooking class to try is at the Red & White Hostaria in Taormina, Sicily. This Hostaria was originally a wine bar, then the owner, Gianluca, launched his now top-rated, organic restaurant in the heart of town. 

The restaurant offers small classes, which is perfect since the kitchen is small. 

Your day starts with a typical Sicilian breakfast (bought, not made) so you can chat with Gianluca a bit. Then you head off to the local market to choose the fresh ingredients. We returned with our eggplant, fish, tomatoes, spices, and some pasta flour for our creations. 

In the kitchen with head chef, Davide, we made typical Eggplant Parmigiana and Macaroni with an eggplant sugo as starter and ‘Primo.’ I learned how to wrap the Macaroni around a wire to make the shape, which isn’t easy, and then I cleaned and prepared the baked fish. Gianluca picks the fresh fish each day at the recommendation of the fishmonger. 

All these courses are paired with amazing, regional Sicilian wines. I think I sampled five of them! I arrived at 9:30a and left at 3p, completely stuffed and with a new personalized apron. Great experience and the staff were top-notch. If you’re looking for a traditional Sicilian cooking class, this is one to try. 

Maureen – LifeOnTheMediterranean.com

 

Florence Cooking Class – Tuscany

Cooking Classes In Italy, Florence Cooking Class, Cooking Classes in Tuscany

11 Best Cooking Classes In Italy, Florence Cooking Class, Cooking Classes in Tuscany

 

One of the best cooking classes I have taken during my trips was in Florence, run by Eating Europe. During the half a day experience I have learned so much about the Italian cuisine but also about the lifestyle of Florence. We have started the tour with a visit to the market, from where we bought fresh vegetables for our pasta dishes. Then, we explored some of the local bread, cheese, and meat shops, to have a taste of the most local products.

This cooking class in Florence was held at a food studio that had a professional kitchen, in a house located in a non-touristy area of the city. It was a full hand on class, where each of the participants got to cook all of the dishes. We started with learning how to make pasta: spaghetti and ravioli. The pasta rolling machine was a lot of fun! In total, we cooked 4 different dishes: tomato bruschetta, tagliatelle al pomodoro with “Mamma’s” secret sauce recipe, spinach, and ricotta ravioli and caramel chocolate panna cota. During a well-deserved break, we enjoyed a platter of local hams and salami, washed down with a glass of homemade prosecco.

Joanna – The World In My Pocket

 

Pisa Cooking Class – Tuscany

Cooking Classes In Italy, Pisa Cooking Class, Cooking Classes in Tuscany

Cooking Classes In Italy, Pisa Cooking Class, Cooking Classes in Tuscany

 

Pizza is the greatest gift Italy has given to the world. If you happen to travel through Italy, you should definitely use the chance to learn how real Italian pizza is made. The pizza making class by Massimo on ToursByLocals will teach you all about it. And it does so in an incredible atmosphere in the countryside near the beautiful Tuscan city of Pisa.

After pickup from your hotel in Pisa, you will start with the first step of the pizza making process: the dough. You will need just the right amount of flour, water, oil, salt and yeast – and plenty of time. Later, it is time to fire up the wood oven and get the pizza ready. Fresh tomato sauce, juicy mozzarella and tasty vegetables right from the farm. A real pizza will only take a few minutes in the oven before it is ready to be enjoyed. After feasting on your own creation, you will be brought back to your hotel in Pisa. An incredible experience.

Mike – 197 TravelStamps.com

Even more tasty options….. 

 

Florence Cooking Class – Tuscany

Cooking Classes In Italy, Florence Cooking Class

Cooking Classes In Italy, Florence Cooking Class

 

Florence Italy is one of my favorite cities. During my last visit, I took the Wanna Be Italiano Cooking Class with a Central Market Tour. During the market tour, we learned what to look for when picking fresh ingredients. Back in the classroom with our groceries, we prepared Bruschetta. I was amazed by what a difference rubbing a clove of garlic on toasted bread can make. We then made hand-rolled tagliatelle pasta and ravioli with ricotta cheese and parmesan from scratch. I could not believe how simple the process was, all it takes is a little flour and an egg!

Moving on we prepared a fresh cherry tomato sauce and a meat sauce using Chianti wine. We prepared tiramisu for dessert. This actually required a little bit of work, by work I mean whisking egg whites. The class was composed of couples, solos, and groups of friends. We drank wine, chatted, laughed and had an amazing meal together. I highly recommend this experience.

Sherianne – OutOfOffice.Blog

 

Rome Cooking Class, Lazio

Cooking Classes in Italy, Rome Cooking Class

Cooking Classes in Italy, Rome Cooking Class

 

If you’re looking for the best pasta in Rome, look no further than Ristomama’s pasta-making class—a multi-hour, hands-on class that covers handmade pasta and several preparations.

When two young, entrepreneurial Italian fellows decided to start a series of cooking classes, they turned to their own favorite cooks—their mothers—and recruited them to teach small group lessons on traditional Italian cuisine in their beautiful Italian homes.

The result is spectacular. Traditional meals from all over Italy. Fresh ingredients harvested from Rafaella’s rooftop garden. Hand-rolled pastas. Kitchens full of laughter. And a perfectly poised lunch at the end of it all.

Gigi – Viciousfoodie.com

 

 

Cooking Classes in Italy, Rome Cooking Class

11 Best Cooking Classes In Italy, Rome Cooking Class

 

I took a pasta making class in Rome with Walks of Italy and loved it. The class is held in a chic roof-top apartment minutes from Piazza Navona with a terrace directly below a gorgeous church dome. We were welcomed with a glass of wine and some antipasti as we got to know our classmates. The two hosts/ teachers were a charming Italian couple with flawless English.

Everything was set up for us at a long outdoor table.  Making the dough from scratch was surprisingly easy.  We used a chitarra (named after a guitar, because it has rows of tight strings that cut the pasta into thin strips) to make spaghetti and a drinking glass to cut ravioli. The sauces were cooked by a volunteer as the rest of us watched the demonstration. They were simple, with quality fresh ingredients, and delicious.

The night we took the class, a nasty storm blew in and drove us inside. A huge dining room provided an indoor alternative to the terrace, and we were barely aware of the last-minute switch. The evening finished with a delightful dinner party with more wine and the spaghetti and ravioli we had all cooked.

At the end of the evening, we got the recipes, which I have used to make fresh pasta at home since.

James – Travel Collecting

 

Forlimpopoli Cooking Class, Emilia Romagna 

Cooking Classes In Italy - Best Cooking Schools in Italy

Cooking Classes In Italy – Best Cooking Schools in Italy

 

Casa Artusi is a museum, library, and cooking school, named after the Italian gastronome, Pellegrino Artusi. Artusi is often credited as being the father of Italian food. He created the first national cookbook. Artusi wasn’t even a chef, or a cook, just a passionate foodie; before being one became a thing. During a Casa Artusi cooking class, just an hour east of Bologna, it’s possible to learn each of the famous Emilia Romagna pasta dishes.

Cooking classes at Casa Artusi are run by the Associazione delle Mariette. The association’s goal is to teach traditional forms of cooking Italian food. The Mariette are all volunteers who are dedicated to the goals of maintaining the traditions of Italian cooking. They teach how to roll the pasta as well as how to cut it or form it into small shapes, like tiny tortellini, or rolling it into garganelli.

One thing to note, the entire pasta-making course at Casa Artusi is in Italian. But that doesn’t seem to be a problem. Each Mariette will demonstrate the different pastas and help students along. They can arrange English-language classes for groups, on request. But, there is something just a little bit fun about taking a cooking class entirely in Italian.

Amber – Food & Drink Destinations

 

⇒ Looking for more to do in the Emilia Romagna Region? Check out our Day Trips From Bologna Post

 

Naples Cooking Class, Campania

naples italy cooking class, cooking classes in italy

Naples Italy cooking class, cooking classes in Italy

 

Napoli is the birthplace of pizza and the perfect destination to hone your pizza making skills. On a trip to find themust eat foods in Italy, learning to make pizza with Toffini Academy was an absolute highlight. We started by learning the history of pizza and then went onto make 3 different pizza dishes; pizza, pizza fritta and montanara. For those not familiar with the latter two (I wasn’t), they are both variations of pizza that are fried but using the same delicious ingredients. After learning to make each dish, we, of course, stopped to taste our creations. I would definitely recommend attending this class with an empty stomach, as there is plenty to eat throughout. The course is a great hands-on experience and the perfect way to immerse yourself in Neapolitan culture, and of course eat lots of delicious pizza!

Milan Cooking Class, Lombardy

Cooking Classes In Italy, Milan Cooking Class

Cooking Classes In Italy, Milan Cooking Class

 

While I was in Italy I was desperate to take a cooking class.  When I found Pietro’s pasta making cooking class in Milan on Airbnb Experiences it was the perfect chance to learn more about pasta with a local cook in his own home.  We would learn how to make (and eat!) our own homemade pasta as well as my favourite dessert – tiramisu.  Pietro was a fabulous host, friendly and fun, and his mum even came to help with the class which made it a lovely family affair. 

The food we made was incredible, ravioli with a leek and ricotta filling, and orecchiette with a simple tomato sauce.  And one of the best tiramisus I’ve ever tasted!  Pietro showed us every step in the pasta making process, from mixing the ingredients and kneading the dough, to making the orecchiette shapes with our bare hands, and rolling out the ravioli dough with his pasta maker.  I had no idea that making pasta was so simple, I can’t wait to try it again at home.  The best part was eating the ravioli, drizzled with melted butter and grated cheese, it was heavenly!  I loved this class and the food, and definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Milan.

Claire – This Travel Lover

 

San Gemini Cooking Class – Umbria

Cooking Classes In Italy, Umbria Cooking Class

Cooking Classes In Italy, Umbria Cooking Class

 

Each of Italy’s regions boast a distinctive and delicious cuisine – Umbria’s may be less well-known than some of the others, but it is well worth taking a class to explore its bold flavours while you are in the country. I took a cooking class with local chef and personality Loretta Autuori, who runs the cookery school Percosi con Gusto to delve a little deeper into Umbrian cuisine, and would highly recommend you do the same.

Umbrian cuisine is centred around local specialities such as cured sausages, truffles (the region is well-known for the quality and quantity of truffles it produces) and prosciutto. During the class, we learnt how to make gnocchi with truffles and a few antipasti to start the meal off. It was fabulous to see how such a simple dish could be elevated to absolute perfection by just paying attention to the small details.

Julianna –  The Discoveries Of

>>>

Tommo & Megsy’s Recommendation

With so many amazing cooking classes in Italy you might be wondering what we at Food Fun Travel think is the best cooking school in Italy…..

 

Bologna Cooking Class, Emilia Romagna

Le Sfogline Cooking Class 

Cooking Classes In Italy, cooking schools in italy

Cooking Classes In Italy, cooking schools in Italy

The sisters at Le Sfogline are well known in the region – famous even. They have been making hand made pasta for the locals for the past 20+ years and have also taught some celebrities how to do it as well. People like Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and more have stood in their quaint little pasta shop and learned the art of rolling pasta dough….and you can do it too!

Not only is Le Sfogline one of the best places to learn this craft, but the sisters are such incredible personalities you can’t help but have a fun time doing it too. 

They don’t accept reservations by email so you will need to call them to see if they have time to host a cooking class. But they both speak English so no need to worry there. 

Cooking Classes In Italy, cooking schools in Italy

Cooking Classes In Italy, cooking schools in Italy

These are just the tip of the iceberg for amazing cooking classes in Italy but it’s enough to get you started planning your next tasty adventure! 

Looking for more adventures during your trip to Italy? Here are a few great options: 

 

 



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History Of Feta Cheese (Greek) vs Bulgarian Cheese (Sirene)

History Of Feta Cheese (Greek) vs Bulgarian Cheese (Sirene)

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In This Article, A History Of Feta Cheese (Greek) vs Bulgarian Cheese (Sirene) and other white brined cheeses of the Balkans and Middle East.

Feta cheese is the most famous variety of white brined cheese in the world. However, very similar cheeses have been made around the Balkan region, eastern Mediterranean, middle east and beyond, probably since at least 8000 BC.

In this article & podcast episode we explore the history of white brined cheese as well as the controversial decision by the EU in 2002 that Feta cheese is a 100% Greek product and that the name “Feta” can only be used on the cheese if it is made in certain parts of Greece.

 

Podcast: History Of Feta Cheese (Greek) vs Bulgarian Cheese (Sirene)

Episode Release Date is 29th May 2019 – Coming Soon!

In this episode:

  • History of Greek Feta Cheese vs. Bulgarian Sirene Cheese vs Romanian Telmea and other white cheeses. Which was the original brined white cheese?
  • We discuss the ancient history of Feta style cheese from the balkan region.
  • Should the EU have made Feta cheese a Greek only designated origin product?
  • We explain the origin of the name “Feta”.
  • Plus, How Canada may have got it right when it comes to Feta cheese…

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The Below Is A Partial, Incomplete Transcript From The Full Podcast Episode

 

The Controversy – Introducing the topic

When we visited Bulgaria locals told us that Bulgarian Cheese (Sirene) was the best Feta cheese – that it was better in flavor and perhaps even that Bulgaria had been producing it for longer.

In popular culture, mainly as an easy way to communicate an idea, we’ve found the word feta used to describe brined white cheese, which is similar to Feta, in many countries. Romanian Feta – called Telmea. Bulgarian Feta – The Sirene cheese.

But, since EU regulations enacted a DOP/PDO status to protect Feta Cheese in 2002, only brined white cheese made to strict guidelines, and made in specific regions of Greece, is allowed to be called Feta Cheese.

WHAT IS FETA / SIRENE (Bulgarian Cheese)?

Feta

Most listeners will have tried feta already. its a brined curd white cheese made from sheep’s milk or from a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk. It is a crumbly aged cheese, normally at least 3 months aged, commonly produced in blocks, and has a slightly grainy texture with a salty hit.

The October 2002 European Union bill limits the term feta to mean a brined cheese mad only from sheep’s milk or a mix of sheep and goat’s milk, with a max 30% of goat’s milk. Feta must be made in certain regions of Greece, specifically: Peloponnese, Epirus, Thessaly, Central Greece, Macedonia, Thrace, plus the islands of Lesvos and Cephalonia.

The biodiversity of the land coupled with the special breeds of sheep and goats used for milk is what gives feta cheese a specific aroma and flavor. Which is one of many reasons we’ll discuss why The name feta has become a protected origin product.

It should be noted that, at time of recording, the USA has not accepted this protected status and feta cheese purchased in the USA may not have been produced in Greece. Though talks are underway on a massive trade deal between the EU and USA that would potentially change this.

Sirene (Bulgarian Cheese)

Bulgarian Cheese on The Shopska Salad

Bulgarian Cheese on The Shopska Salad

Sirene Bulgarian Cheese can be made from a combination of goat, cow and sheep milk. There is no regulation on which, or the proportions. It’s is a little softer and wetter than feta cheese, but still crumbly and has a fat content of around 44-48%. It has a grain texture and slightly lemony flavor. I find it just a little creamier than feta, normally.

Bulgarian cheese is used for so many culinary applications, from salads to baked goods (like the Banitsa pastry), also in dips or added to other dishes. It may also be served as a table cheese.

Other White Cheese

White Cheese In Montenegro

White Cheese In Montenegro

In Romania, the equivalent cheese is called “Telmea”

Each brined white cheese from the Balkans and middle east are distinctly different but are made in a very similar way. The proportion and type of milk, the breed of animal the milk comes from, as well as the climate affect the final product.

In Lebanon, as well as having imported Greek Feta cheese, they also have Bulghari – which is a separate product that mimics the free use of milk that Sirene does – mixing in cow’s milk as well. So it’s also important to remember that our narrow English culture view of cheese history is not the only way of looking at this. Other cultures are very aware of the difference between white cheeses across the region.

It’s fair to say these cheeses all taste different, though similar. It’s like comparing Grana Padano to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese – similar style, but different taste. I can say with certainty that the “Salad Cheese” we get at our current local supermarket in portugal is absolutely inferior to the certified Feta from the same store. Of course, differences can also be down to production style and quality, so our personal test is just that – not of any scientific rigour.

I have to say I loved almost all the good quality Bulgarian Sirene cheese. And Good feta is great too. It’s hard to say one is better than the other when it depends on individual batches and production.

History of Feta Cheese & White Cheese In General

Though food historians don’t know the exact origin of white cheese, it’s believed that cheese making existed since at least 8000 BC and could have started very close to original domestication of livestock – so possibly even as far back as 10,000 BC.

The oldest reference to White brined cheese is said to be from famous greek writer Homer’s Oddyssey, from 800BC. And I quote:

“We entered the cave, but he wasn’t there, only his plump sheep grazed in the meadow. The woven baskets were full of cheese, the folds were full of sheep and goats and all his pots, tubs and churns where he drew the milk, were full of whey. When half of the snow-white milk curdled he collected it, put it in the woven baskets, and kept the other half in a tub to drink,” Homer wrote.

Homer’s fiction suggests The Cyclops Polyphemus knew how to make Feta cheese – though it wasn’t called that at the time. The fictional description shows that Homer, and hence the people of Greece in general, were very familiar with the cheese making process and specifically white cheeses.

The ancient Greeks called the product which came from the coagulation of milk “τυρí,” (Tyri).

The name Feta translates as “slice” and began being used to describe the white cheese from the 17th century onwards, probably because of the way the cheese was sliced in barrels.

However, the word fetta – with two t’s – is the Italian word for slice, and etymologists confirm the word derives from the Italian and Latin before that, not from Greek.

The name Feta prevailed in the 19th century as the main term for the cheese in Greece.

Mass immigration from Greece in the 20th century to countries like Australia, USA, Canada and Germany helped spread Feta cheese and its production around the world and boosted its international profile.

At the same time, other cultures from around the region continued to make their own white cheese to their only local preferences, as they had done for thousands of years. Most have their own local names, but Feta became the generic term, especially in English, that was used to understand this general type of cheese as well as versions of it that were by the mid 20th century being made all over the world.

From Denmark, to the UK and USA, types of feta were being produced and marketed under that name. In Denmark specifically, their Feta was focused on Cows milk, quite different from the Sheep and goat milk feta of Greece.

In the 1990’s, Greece petitioned the EU to protect the origin of Feta by giving them a geographic designation and banning other cheesemakers from marketing under the name Feta. This bill was passed in 2002.

The History Of Feta Debate

So, the debate is, with so many white cheeses from the region and eventually worldwide, had Feta become a generic name by 2002? Or is it a Greek specific name that should be protected? Did they have a strong enough claim to justify this change – and is Feta really “Greek” when the origins of white brined cheese are so lost to history?

The first question to ask – If we are pinning the origin of the Cheese on greek mythology, rather than historic record, should we be also considering what was Greece in 800 BC when Homer’s book was written?

Looking at an historical map, you’ll find Greek settlements all the way up the Black sea coast through modern day Bulgaria and into Romania and beyond. It’s possible to consider this cheese was being made by locals in this region and the knowledge was passed on to Greek traders, prior to 800 BC.

Though given the belief in the food science history community that cheese was made since at least 8000 BC, that was long before there was any such country as Greece. It just so happens that Greece has existed in some sort of perpetuity of identity for longer than most of it’s neighbours. Giving it a longer historical claim than others simply for political identity, rather than any modern day geographical origin.

Something else to note, Cyclops Polyphemus from Homer’s story is said to have lived on the Island of Sicily – Yes, Sicily of Italian Mafia fame. In 800BC this was mainly a phoenician island, Greeks started to occupy it around 750BC. So a Greek presence may have been there in 800BC, but it wasn’t really a Greek island at the time. So the earliest reference to the cheese is not particularly anything to do with Greek culture, geographically.

If you turn up and find someone doing something, then claim it as your own, did you invent it? No. But the suggestion is that the Greek visitors to the Cyclops were well aware of cheese and cheese making when they arrived, hence why they could instantly recognise the process. The Greek sailors were completely familiar with cheese making. Even though it is also suggested elsewhere that the Cyclops had accidentally discovered the cheese making process.

So, none of this really settles a geographical origin, if anything it gives weight to the idea that this style of cheese is so pervasive in the region, perhaps even that a lone cyclops could discover it independently, that Greece’s claim on the name should not be geographical or a matter of ancient indeterminable history.

Secondly, It was also argued that the word Feta was Italian in origin. So, it could hardly be claimed that it was a Greek word and hence was a generic term. A bit of a flimsy argument in my opinion. As English is made up from many words that come from Latin, this line of argument leads us down a path that pretty much anything named in English using words derived from other languages, hundreds of years ago, would then have no right to be claimed as English.

Finally, the other most important consideration, in my opinion, is that of cultural identity and association.

Almost all Western European and international producers were using Greek iconography and colors to market their Feta cheese. Greek migration was also a major reason for the spread of Feta cheese to new world countries. Culturally, the use of the word Feta was tied to the use of Greece as it’s home. When it comes to other white cheeses like Bulgarian Sirene, the name is not even a fraction as successful.

Though some may use the phrase Bulgaria Feta for convenience, there is no specific cultural connection with the word Feta and with Bulgarian cheese. It’s been called sirene for a long time and Bulgarians, proud of their heritage, don’t seem to claim at all that it is anything but Sirene – only that it is better and perhaps been around longer in Bulgaria – though Bulgaria didn’t exist as a country until the 7th century AD, so it would have been non-Bulgarians living their who were making the cheese.

For the name, the biggest controversy was actually stirred up by western European companies, like Arla, A massive Danish Dairy corporation, who feared losing a lot of money if their Danish Feta lost the word feta from their marketing.

THE CONCLUSION

A war over marketing, origin and DOP status. The argument ended up being largely about commerce, rather than about heritage. Greece’s feta exports rose 85 percent between 2007 and 2014 – is this because consumers wanted the real thing? Or that consumers are just more aware of the product today? It’s great news for Greece either way.

Greece has the oldest written evidence of the knowledge of this cheese being made though it is widely agreed the exact origin of the cheese is lost to history long before any written record was made.

Greece also named and popularised Feta, to a point where culturally, even if the origin of the word is Italian, whenever we talk about Feta cheese, the association is first and foremost to Greece – to the point where even some locals in Bulgaria / Romania etc. Use terms like “Bulgarian Feta” to help identify their cheese to foreigners – even though they can’t print that on the label. In the United States, where name regulations do not apply, it’s often sold under the name “Bulgarian Feta.”

The job for Sirene cheese, may now be to create a name for themselves, as they have a fantastic product. Rather than leapfrogging off the success of Feta – easier said than done of course.

Although the word Feta cannot be used for non Greek cheese in the EU. Other countries did not fall under that jurisdiction. but In 2013, an agreement was reached with Canada in which feta made in Canada would be called “Feta style/type cheese” cheese, and would not depict on the label anything evoking Greece. I see this as a more sensible way of approaching the issue.

With some other protected products, like Balsamic Vinegar, the name can still be used for similar products, but to know it is of authentic origin from Emilia Romagna in Italy, it has the additional DOP or IGP on the label. The generic name lets the consumer instantly recognize the type of product by a familiar name, and the additional labelling terms inform if the product is a generic, or authentic product.

I think Canada has it right on this one. The name has become a useful generic term, just like “Cheddar cheese” and the historical origin is a little vague – more so than that of cheddar which we’ll do an episode on one day, but if you use images of Greece to promote a feta cheese made in the USA or Denmark, that seems misleading.

The cultural claim to Feta seems firmly Greek, but the word itself and the history of White Brined cheese make it harder to put all the eggs in Greece’s basket.



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A Guide to the Best Restaurants and Cafes in Canggu, Bali

A Guide to the Best Restaurants and Cafes in Canggu, Bali

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Canggu, once little more than a sleepy fishing village on the west coast of Bali, is now one of the island’s hippest and most up and coming neighbourhoods. As more and more people flock to the ‘Gu, an increasing amount of restaurants and cafes are opening up to cater to them. Whether you are looking for a healthy smoothie bowl, the perfect cup of coffee, or something a little more substantial, here’s my pick of the best places Canggu has to offer.

Moana Fish Eatery

This is a Polynesian inspired restaurant serving some of the best seafood in Bali – and if you have you spent any time here at all, you know that is a pretty tall order! If you fancy enjoying a poke bowl, fish taco or coconut king prawn curry in a popular cafe with a cozy atmosphere, then this is the place to come. There are a few veggies dishes on the menu, but really, this is one for the fish lovers out there.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/moana.fish.eatery/
Location: Pantai Batu Bolong Street No.28, Canggu, North Kuta, Badung
Regency, Bali 80361, Indonesia

La Baracca

An authentic taste of Italy right in the heart of Bali! La Baracca is famous for its traditional pizzas and delicious pasta dishes. The interior has a rustic feel to it and is not short on quirkiness, think graffitied concrete walls and chunky wooden tables, finished off with a colourful floral flourish.
La Baracca is situated a little way from the main strip, but, for a taste of the mediterranean, its well worth the effort to find it.

Website: http://www.labaraccabali.com/
Location: Jalan Tanah Barak No.51, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Canggu, Kuta Utara,
Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351, Indonesia

Betelnut

Betelnut has long been an established part of the Canggu cafe scene, and for good reason. The building is a wooden-framed, traditional Balinese structure with a view over bright green paddy fields. The food on offer here is mix up of traditional Indonesian and international fare and their hearty brekkie options are an ever popular choice for surfers on the way down to the beach. If you are after a quick stop, this is also a great place to come for a cup of Joe and a slice of cake.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/Betelnut-Cafe-289844997715255/
Location: Pantai Batu Bolong Street No.60, Canggu, North Kuta, Badung
Regency, Bali 80351, Indonesia

Warung Bu Mi

The perfect place to come for some traditional Balinese food, Warung Bu Mi is run by a local family and situated right in the heart of Canggu. The setting may be a little basic but the food is always fresh and is replenished throughout the day. Even better, it’s super cheap – you can pile your plate high with delicious local delicacies, corn fritters, red rice, tempe and plenty of spicy curries, wash it all down with a cold beer, and it will only set you back a few dollars.

Website: https://warungbumi.business.site/
Location: Pantai Batu Bolong Street No.52, Canggu, North Kuta, Badung
Regency, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Parachute

So named because the whole structure is dominated by a vintage cargo parachute that makes up most of the roof! This is one of Canggu’s newest hangouts and it’s fast becoming one of the most popular places to come for food or a few drinks. Sit inside in the bakery and enjoy a latte with a tasty piece of cake (the cream doughnuts with peanut sauce are always a good option) or head outside for a seat under the parachute and a great view of the paddy fields. This is a good place to come for breakfast lunch or dinner, the menu is mainly focused on healthy food but there is something there for everyone (including veggies).

The drinks menu is fantastic, with plenty of cocktails / mocktails, beers, juices and even a range of natural health drinks, which could prove useful for anyone nursing a hangover, or, trying to get over the dreaded Bali belly! On Saturday mornings, the venue plays host to a farmer’s market with plenty of
vendors, live music and games for children.

Website: https://www.parachutebali.com/
Location: Jl. Subak Sari 13 No.8-4, Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten
Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia

The Shady Shack

One of the best veggie cafes on in Bali (according to legend, the food is so delicious that it will teach even the most dedicated carnivore to see the error of their ways!), the Shady Shack is basically a giant beach hut rising up out of the jungle. inside, the decoration is funky and eclectic, but if you would rather spend your time enjoying the tropical sunshine, they also have an outdoor garden area The Shady Shack is known for its bowls, of both the smoothie and savoury varieties. You can’t go wrong with the ‘Nori Bowl’ – a tasty mixture of Japanese goodness. Oh, and for anyone desperately seeking some good GF / DF choices, the Shady Shack has you covered.

Website: https://the-shady-shack.business.site/
Location: Jl. Tanah Barak No.57, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali
80351, Indonesia

Nalu Bowls

Nalu Bowls was one of the first entrants in Bali’s smoothie bowl game and its still one of the best. If you have ever sat staring longingly at pictures of smoothie bowls so beautiful that they almost look like they should be in an art gallery, there is a good chance they were from Nalu Bowls. Fresh granola is baked on site everyday and served (in a hollowed out coconut) with a colourful array of locally sourced fruits. There are plenty of bowls to choose from, all named after various surfing hotspots from around the world. When in Bali though, why not go for the local option the ‘Uluwatu’: hot pink dragon fruit with strawberries, mango, coconut flakes & honey – the perfect way to start the day!

Website: https://www.nalubowls.com/
Location: Jl. Batu Mejan No.88, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Bandung, Bali 80316,
Indonesia

Cafe Organic: Garden Gangstas

This is another one for the veggies and vegans out there. There are a few Cafe Organics around Bali (the original is in Seminyak) but the Canggu branch is a great addition to the chain. Its colourful murals, distressed rattan furniture and relaxed atmosphere, make it a great place to kick back and chill for an hour or two. All of the food on the menu is organic and their focus on buying from local producers means you won’t find fresher anywhere in Bali. Food is served from breakfast through to dinner. The Apple Pie Oatmeal is not to be missed, the Mezze Platter is great way to share a healthy, but affordable, lunch with a friend, or, for the perfect insta-meal, go for the acai bowl. They also have a shop selling various goodies, such as bamboo straws, tote bags and cute brass cutlery sets shaped like palm trees.

Website: https://cafeorganicbali.com/
Location: Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong No. 58, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten
Badung, Bali 80351, Indonesia

 

 

With extensive experience in servicing Australian clients, Bali Villas know exactly what families are looking for in terms of location, style and pricing. Each of their family friendly villas situated on the beautiful island of Bali have been hand-picked by their ‘family expert’ – someone with children who knows exactly what families are looking for.

 

Contact Bali Villas for a short consultation, and they will be able to find you the perfect villa. Bali Villas aim to take the stress out of planning your holiday, so you can concentrate on creating lasting memories with your family.



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21 Unmissable Dishes + Victoria House Belize Reviews

Rice & Beans With Chicken Stew

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What is Belize food? It’s not exactly famous around the world. So what should you eat when you visit San Pedro Belize?

From a calorific breakfast food you are going to love to fresh lobster & boozy cake. Below are our 21 Top Picks of the best Belize food to eat and drink in San Pedro!

Updated April 2019

What to expect from Belize Food in San Pedro Belize?

San Pedro has become incredibly international. Unlike rural areas of Belize where you may end up mostly on a bean, rice and stew diet, San Pedro offers up many world class dining option.

In this article, we’ll focus on a mix of the most traditional Belizean dishes as well as the way Belize has shaped some other cuisine’s and made them their own.

A quick summary of Belizean Cuisine

Belizean cuisine is a mixture of many influences. Primarily Mayan, Mexican and Afro-Caribbean. But also English & Spanish.

Expect to find tacos next to curries and stews on a typical menu.

Belize is the only country in Latin America whose first language is English. And some remnants of English food culture still exist in Belizean cuisines – such as meat pies and Worcester sauce.

San Pedro Belize Seafood

As we are talking about what to eat in San Pedro in this article, being surrounded by both a lagoon on one side and a rich coral reef on the other side, expect restaurants in San Pedro to feature a lot of fresh seafood.

From tropical fish to giant shrimp and Lobster (seasonal). Seafood is present on almost every menu.

Belize National Dish: Rice & Beans

Rice & Beans With Chicken Stew

Rice & Beans is not originally from Belize but has become their national dish and is a must eat for any foodie visitor.

Originally a Creole dish but today it’s a staple food of Belizean cuisine and something that will be served with most meals.

In Belize and many other countries there is a big difference between Rice and Beans and Beans and Rice…

At a minimum, the dish of rice and beans in Belize always includes white long-grained rice and red kidney beans, with coconut milk, sage and other spices, ideally it’s a somewhat dry mixture where the individual grains of rice and beans are not stuck together. The beans are cooked separately until soft, and then the rice is added, along with the coconut milk to absorb the bean juice as it cooks.

Belizeans expect that rice and beans will come with three other elements: (1) some kind of stewed meat, (2) a scoop of potato salad, and (3) one or more strips of fried ripe plantain. Often you;ll find that the stewed meat stewed meat is chicken. And it’s good to note that If the host or server doesn’t mention what the meat will be, assume you’re getting chicken. But they do also serve rice and beans with pork, beef or seafood stews.

With Beans and Rice the beans are slowly stewed with onions, garlic, and a touch of recado and coconut oil, until they create a saucy consistency. The rice is cooked separately and the beans are ladled on top or served to the side. Essentially, Rice and Beans is a lot of rice with some beans mixed in. Whereas Beans and Rice is a bean stew served with plain rice.

* DISCLOSURE: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. They generate commissions for us if you make a purchase after clicking – the final price you pay is not increased due to this, some of our links even offer discounts. This helps fund our blog and allows us the time and freedom to create guides like this one to give you a better vacation. Please support us by using our links. 

Belize Food Podcast

In This Episode:

  • We discuss the most important cultural dishes in Belize.
  • We ask “Beans And Rice” or “Rice And Beans”?
  • Rock Lobster!
  • We discover the unhealthiest, yet tastiest breakfast food in the world.
  • Plus, The Royal Rat. Is Belize’s famous rodent fit for a queen?

Listen to previous episodes using the links below:
 

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Support: Become a Patron | Tweet: @foodfuntravel | Email: [email protected]

THE BELOW ARTICLE IS A DETAILED COMPANION, NOT A TRANSCRIPT TO THIS PODCAST

Belize Food: 21 Unmissable Dishes To Try In San Pedro Belize Restaurants

NOTE: This is a list of unmissable foods that are popular (and delicious!) in San Pedro Belize. Things you should eat when you visit.

Although many of these dishes are traditional or have traditional elements, this is not solely a list of “mama’s cooking”. Some of these dishes are more international but make use of the local ingredients and cooking styles.

Are they all strictly speaking “Belize food”? No, some have a tenuous connection, but all are must-trys for any trip to San Pedro.

Belize Food: Dinner

Conch Fritters – Palmilla Restaurant (@ Victoria House Belize)

Belize Food: Conch Fritters - Palmilla Restaurant @ Victoria House belize reviews

Belize Food: Conch Fritters – Palmilla Restaurant @ Victoria House Belize

Conch is a marine mollusk. They are all over the ocean floor of the shallow waters surrounding San Pedro Belize. They are larger than you may expect – so discard any images of eating little escargot.

When served fresh, as is easy to achieve when the beach is just meters away, they have a semi-firm texture with a slight chewiness and should not taste “fishy” at all. Somewhat like calamari, but they really have a flavor and texture all their own.

Pictured above – Conch is diced and turned into fritters. The light but acidic pineapple salsa and fruity ginger dipping sauce compliment the salty conch.

 

Tequila Flamed Shrimp Stack – Palmilla Restaurant (@ Victoria House Belize)

My favorite appetizer from our trip. This shrimp stack was made from layers of red masa cake (made with corn flour) with layers of succulent giant shrimp in-between with mashed avocado and a black bean and pineapple relish.

Belize Food: Tequila Shrimp Stack - Palmilla Restaurant @ Victoria House belize reviews

Belize Food: Tequila Flamed Shrimp Stack – Palmilla Restaurant @ Victoria House Belize

What made this dish really stand out, other than the fantastic combination of shrimp and the relish, was the masa cake. The photo might make these look dense. But actually, they were light and crispy but soft on the inside.

What could have been a dense and stodgy affair was instead extremely well executed. I want these again!

Shrimp Coconut Curry – El Fogon’s

Belize Food: Shrimp Curry @ El Fogons San Pedro Belize

Belize Food: Shrimp Curry @ El Fogons

We tried a few curries while in San Pedro Belize. El Fogon’s Shrimp Coconut Curry came out at number one for a very good reason. Most curries seemed to arrive in two variants – a white sauce, clearly heavy on the coconut and with little other spice. Or a yellow sauce, heavy on the turmeric and more Afro-Caribbean spices, and low on the coconut.

El Fogon provided something outstanding. A dark curry filled with spices and moderate heat, but with a strong undertone of coconut. It was the best of both worlds, a perfect fusion.

 

Cashew Crusted Grouper – Palmilla Restaurant (@ Victoria House Belize)

The abundant fishing around San Pedro gives this international dish an opportunity to shine. This happened to be one of my favorite dishes from our entire trip.

Belize Food: Cashew Crusted Grouper - Palmilla Restaurant @ Victoria House Belize

Belize Food: Cashew Crusted Grouper – Palmilla Restaurant @ Victoria House Belize

The crispy cashew crust was perfectly seasoned and seared. Combined with citrus the balance of sweetness and texture from the cashews, along with the sourness and salt took the tender white fish within to a whole another level.

Perfectly cooked and perfectly fresh grouper filet was the star hidden beneath the moor-ish crust.

Papusas – Waruguma

Belize Food: Cheese Papusas @ Waraguma’s

Originally from El Salvador. Papusas are a thick and dense flat bread made from corn flour. They are stuffed with a number of different things. We opted for having them stuffed with cheese! But meat, beans, vegetables or a mix, are also common.

Waraguma in San Pedro Belize is the late evening spot for this post bar snack (which turns into a full meal pretty quickly if you order a few!)

 

Octopus Tostada – Palmilla Restaurant (@ Victoria House Belize)

Belize Food: Octopus Tostada - Palmilla Restaurant @ Victoria House Belize

Belize Food: Octopus Tostada – Palmilla Restaurant @ Victoria House Belize

Mexican Cuisine is a major influence within Belize food options. A crispy corn tortilla is the base of every tostada dish in this region. This octopus tostada combines the soft and delicate octopus with a Veracruzano sauce made with tomatoes and capers.

Gibnut (Seasonal)

Gibnut is a nocturnal rodent that lives in forested areas of Belize. It’s known as the Royal rat since Queen Elizabeth II of England was served one during her 1985 visit to Belize.

It’s a gamey meat that is said to have some similarity to rabbit. During our visit, we were told it was not in season. Visit from December 1st to May 1st for a better chance of trying this unusual food!

 

Belize Food: Lunch

Lunch seems to be the best time to find the more traditional Belize Food options.

Belizean Ceviche

Ceviche is raw seafood cooked without heat using fresh lime juice. Ceviche is incredibly popular throughout Latin America. Each region seems to have its own twist. You can find ceviche for both lunch & dinner in many San Pedro restaurants.

Belize Food: Belizean Ceviche @ Red Ginger San Pedro Belize restaurants ambergris caye

Belizean Ceviche @ Red Ginger (restaurants Ambergris Caye)

In San Pedro, the main difference seems to be that they add carrot to the ceviche mix. In neighboring parts of Mexico, like Merida & The Yucatan you mainly find tomato and onion to be mixed in.

The carrot adds a sweetness to the dish. I personally find this inhibiting to the overall flavor profile. But doubtless, Belizean ceviche is an important specialty you should try for yourself.

Stew With Rice & Beans And Fried Plantains

Rice & beans, and fried plantains (large bananas). That’s the staple budget meal throughout most of central America.

Belize Food: Chicken Stew @ Elvi's Kitchen San Pedro Belize restaurants ambergris caye

Belize Food: Chicken Stew With Rice & Beans @ Elvi’s Kitchen (restaurants Ambergris Caye)

The rice in Belize is typically cooked with coconut milk which gives it a rich flavor you can’t stop eating.

In San Pedro Belize, it’s normal to have a meat stew with your rice and beans. Chicken, pork or beef are most common. Stews are simple, and everyone has their own recipe. But the primary ingredient of most is “achiote”, a paste made from red recado chilies.

Stew done right will have that umami character, a real sense of comfort food. Normally the dish is not too spicy.

Salbutes

Salbutes are a traditional Mayan food. Mayan cuisine plays a strong part in Belizean cuisine because Belize is traditionally a Mayan land.

Belize Food: Mayan Salbutes @ Red Ginger San Pedro Belize restaurants ambergris caye

Belize Food: Mayan Salbutes @ Red Ginger (restaurants in Ambergris Caye)

Salbutes are a deep fried corn tortilla. A multitude of possible toppings are available. The most common are shredded chicken or turkey (though turkey is more likely in the Yucatan than in San Pedro). Cochinita Pibil (slow cooked pulled pork seasoned with achiote) is also a favorite topping.

Looking for more popular Yucatecan food? Discover more tasty dishes in our Ultimate Merida & Yucatan Guide

Escabeche

Belize Food: Escabeche - San Pedro Belize restaurants ambergris caye

Belize Food: Escabeche

Escabeche is a stew or soup made with vinegar as the primary ingredient. The vinegar is typically very strong and overpowering in the dish, so it is a bit of an acquired taste.

Chicken (or other meat) and onions are often the only solids in the dish.

Tacos & Burritos

Belize Food: Breakfast Burrito (Available at Lunch Too) @ Neri's Tacos, San Pedro Belize restaurants ambergris caye

Belize Food: Breakfast Burrito (Available at Lunch Too) @ Neri’s Tacos (San Pedro Belize restaurants)

These universally popular Mexican options are also widely available. The difference is the flavor of the fillings. Ground beef or chicken is most common, with the chicken filling often resembling a version of the chicken stew. We had this breakfast burrito with egg, ham, and cheese.

Lobster (& San Pedro Lobster Festivals)

Lobster season runs from June 15th to Feb 14th each year. It’s impossible to eat lobster legally outside of this season. So, if you are a lobster fanatic, you’ll want to organize your trip to coincide with the season.

At the start of the season, locals and visitors take the opportunity to celebrate freedom from lobster abstinence by holding a number of lobster festivals.

The main one in San Pedro is the aptly named San Pedro Lobster Festival. It runs for about 10 days in June just after the season starts.

Touted as being a little less touristy, the Caye Caulker Lobster Fest runs after the San Pedro Lobster Fest has ended. Around Late June, early July. You can take a quick ferry from San Pedro to Caye Caulker.

Belize Food: Breakfast

Breakfast in Belize starts around 5am – apparently because that’s when the fisherman need to eat before they go out to collect the day’s catch. Fortunately, you can still grab a bite much later on.

Be ready for some calorific breakfast delights…

Belizean Meat Pies

If you like pastry, and why wouldn’t you, then you are going to love these little bites of buttery happiness. And, that said, expect them to be mostly pie and very little meat. The meat filling seems to be mainly to offer some moisture to offset the pastry, and just a little flavor to dance on the taste buds.

Belize Food: Meat Pies @ Boogie's Belly (San Pedro Belize restaurants ambergris caye)

Belize Food: Meat Pies @ Boogie’s Belly (San Pedro Belize Restaurants)

Essentially, the local stew will be re-purposed, this time inside a pie. I’m not complaining! It’s worth ignoring your gluten intolerance to try these.

Availability is sporadic. One Deli we went to (Celi’s) has people waiting for the pies to be finished, and can then be sold out within 30 minutes on busy days. Sometime between 7am and 9am is a good bet. Otherwise, you have to go on a pie crawl around town until you find somewhere with some left.

Fry Jacks

Your life may never be the same again… And your waistline certainly won’t be.

Belize Food: Fry Jacks With Ground Beef @ Neri's Tacos (San Pedro Belize restaurants ambergris caye

Belize Food: Fry Jacks With Ground Beef @ Neri’s Tacos (San Pedro Belize restaurants)

Fry jacks are a fluffy deep fried bread that acts to wrap a variety of fillings. Once again, things like chicken from the stew, ground beef, or a breakfast favorite, scrambled egg with cheese and ham, will all find a place within this calorie laden wake-up food.

After sampling many of these, my favorite was the ground beef option at Neri’s tacos. I’m totally addicted to these.

For a lighter option (breakfast only), Palmilla Restaurant (@ Victoria House Belize) do a healthier version which doesn’t feel like you are eating grease at all – I don’t know how they did it!

Johnny Cakes

A Native American food that is very popular in Belize. The “cakes” are grilled or fried cornmeal flatbreads. Put two together and put ham and cheese in-between and you’ve got yourself a little Johnny cake sandwich.

The name Johnny cake is believed to be derived from a possible original name “Shwanee” after the Native American tribe. When you listen to the local Caribbean sounding accent in San Pedro, you can easily hear the similarity in name, but this is just a theory.

Belize Food: Desserts

Give me some sugar!

Belizean Coconut Pie

Who invented the coconut pie? Many might lay claim to it, but the exact origin seems disputed. Belizean coconut pie differs from other recipes as it’s all about the pie filling, not about the oodles of cream other coconut pies appear to feature.

Belize Food: Coconut Pie @ Elvi's Kitchen (San Pedro Belize restaurants ambergris caye

Belize Food: Coconut Pie @ Elvi’s Kitchen (Restaurants San Pedro Belize)

I’m not dissing cream! I would never dare! But, for the best coconut pie I have ever tasted, Belizean or otherwise, Elvi’s kitchen, a San Pedro institution, is delivering the goods! This dish is popular, and only available from the afternoon until stocks run out. We got a fresh slice just as it became available around 3.30pm. Time varies – welcome to Belizean time!

Belizean Chocolate

Belize Food: chocolate tour San Pedro Belize

Grinding the Cacao @ Belize Chocolate Company

Belize produces the high-quality cacao, used to produce the finest chocolate. The cacao comes from the inland jungles. In San Pedro Belize we got the opportunity to see the product being made by hand, and you can taste that locally made chocolate too.

Visit Belize Chocolate Company.

Belizean Rum Cake

As you’ll find out below, Belize has an abundance of rum. So, why not bake some in a cake?

We didn’t get to try any during our trip, but look out for this traditional boozy cake when you head to San Pedro.

San Pedro Belize Drinks

What will help quench your thirst in the tropical heat? Rum, of course!

Rum Punch with Belizean Rum

As a sugar producing country, the default spirit is, of course, rum. And lots of it. It’s the primary drink and it’s on every menu.

Catamaran Tour snorkel trip San pedro Belize Ho Chan Reeef

Drinking Rum Punch On Our Catamaran Tour With Tuff E Nuff Tours

And as with any tropical country, tropical fruits are just falling off the trees year round. So rum punch is the logical conclusion from these environmental factors.

The recipe is simple. Mix up whatever leftover fruit and juice you have into a big old liquid. Add copious amounts of rum. Optionally, add a little grenadine and a slice of lime if you want to be fancy.

It’s even more fancy when drunk on a Catamaran trip (pictured).

There are multiple rums, but the two main ones you’ll see everywhere are:

  • Caribbean Rum – Light golden brown liquid, with a picture of a bird on the front.
  • One Barrel – Darker. Picture of a barrel on the front.

According to one expert bartender, locals love the Caribbean Rum, tourists seem to prefer the One Barrel. We managed to confirm that stereotype. The one barrel is richer and fortifies your fruit juice with the taste of spiced sugar. The Caribbean rum is thinner in flavor and more “alcoholy”, it get’s lost in the juice so you can pretend you are not drinking rum at all. Why would you do that?

Belikin (Belize Beer)

Belikin is one of the only beer brands available in Belize, and of the limited alternatives, it’s probably the best beer too. It seems like a smart move to monopolize so that only poor quality beer is able to compete with your brand on a national scale.

Belizean Cuisine - Belikin Beer San Pedro Belize

Belikin Regular

Belizean Cuisine - Belikin Beer San Pedro Belize

Chocolate Stout & Belikin Premium

So, the good news is, that Belikin regular is a refreshing and slightly malty lager. It does the job! They also make a stout, and some other less available versions like a Chocolate Stout and Verano (summer) beer.

I’d put the chocolate stout at number one, but it’s a little heavy in the hot climate and rare to find. A longer list of beers is available here.

Best Hotels San Pedro Belize – Victoria House Belize Reviews

During our trip to San Pedro we were lucky enough to be staying at The Victoria House Resort & Spa Belize. Lucky because this place exemplifies the very meaning of Caribbean luxury boutique resort.

Victoria House Belize Reviews - San Pedro Resorts

Pristine Beach Frontage @ Victoria House Belize Reviews (San Pedro Resorts)

Pure white sand. Manicured and thick dark green grass, with palm trees perfectly spaced throughout the grounds. White walled buildings with azure colored tin roofs – and sun lounger cushions to match.

Victoria House San Pedro oozes tropical class. You could see yourself sharing a martini with James Bond in his smart-casual linens.

Victoria House Belize Reviews - San Pedro Resorts - Tower Suite

Our Room In The Tower Suite @ Victoria House Belize Reviews (San Pedro Resorts)

Even though our room was perfect wood chic, and sitting at the pool overlooking the beach is every bit as good as you could imagine… The number one reason for our existence is to eat, and the Victoria House Palmilla Restaurant really excelled beyond expectation.

We’ve mentioned a number of the options above which lie closer to traditional Belize Food. But the international selection will also impress.

Victoria House Belize Reviews - San Pedro Resorts - Palmilla Restaurant

International Cuisine @ Palmilla Restaurant, Victoria House Belize Reviews (San Pedro Resorts)

Currently, we are awarding the homemade jalapeño poppers as the best poppers we have ever popped, anywhere! The secret? The cream cheese is mixed with shredded chicken. Aside from adding texture, this also holds the inside mixture together – no drippy cream cheese. Just a perfectly warm and gooey interior. Yum!

Victoria House Belize Reviews - San Pedro Resorts

Around the Resort @ Victoria House Belize Reviews (San Pedro Resorts)

For beach luxury, impeccable service and a chef that will always leave you wanting more…

For prices and availability Call Toll Free: 1-800-247-5159

Or Check out independent Victoria House Belize reviews plus the latest availability & pricings:

Expedia | Booking.com | Agoda

* DISCLOSURE: Our stay & food at Victoria House Belize was provided complimentary. But our opinions are our own, which are that the food and accommodation were awesome! Our blog policy is that any business we feature has attained at least a 4 out of 5 personal, objective rating from us. If not, we decline to promote them.

 

Food Tours In San Pedro Belize

Looking for a guided foodie trip around the town of San Pedro? At the time of writing the only option is Belize Food Tours.

Transfers to San Pedro

San Pedro is an offshore peninsula, only accessible by ferry or air transfer.

Blue Hole Belize tours - Ambergris Caye excursions

Megsy With The Pilot: Tropic Air – Blue Hole Belize tours + domestic & international transfers to San Pedro Belize

Tropic Air runs direct flights from Cancun (CUN), Belize City (BZE), Guatemala City (GUA), Roatan (RTB) to San Pedro Airport (SPR). Other domestic and international routes are also available

Search Expedia For The Above Routes For Latest Prices & Availability

Tropic Air also offers scenic flights of Belize’s famous Blue Hole – Read more in our full article on fun things to do in San Pedro.

Ferry Transfer

The cheaper, slower and less scenic option is the ferry transfer. Ideal for budget travelers. Regular ferries depart from Belize City to San Pedro. There is also an international connection to Chetumal Mexico running once every second day.

See schedules & pricing on Belize Water Taxi Website.

—-

Looking for alternative accommodation? Search for more options in San Pedro Belize now:

Expedia | Booking.com | Agoda | Hotels.com

Or, Get $25 off your first stay with AirBnB using our link.

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50+ Typical Bulgarian Dishes & Drinks

Bulgarian Spices: Sharena Sol

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Traditional Bulgarian Food: Want to know what to eat in Bulgaria? Or what are the best Bulgarian dishes? This article takes a comprehensive look at typical Bulgarian cuisine, from famous Bulgarian salad (like Shopska Salad) to the Bulgarian national dish, Bulgarian breakfast, Bulgarian cheese and even some of the best Bulgarian alcohol to try.

We’ve visited Bulgaria multiple times in search of Bulgarian traditional food – photographing it, chatting with locals and learning all about the history of the cuisine. Why does Bulgarian Food have such a unique taste? Find out below.

Brief History & Introduction To Traditional Bulgarian Food

Food is always tied directly to history. The city of Plovdiv is not only Bulgaria’s oldest continuously inhabited city, but currently is considered Europe’s oldest city, having been lived in for over 6,000 years. So Bulgaria has seen a lot of human history!

Bulgarian Food is a mix of what grows well locally, especially dairy products and certain herbs and spices we’ll discuss below. Also, dishes influenced by Turkey, as Bulgaria was occupied by the Ottoman empire for some 500 years. You’ll even find elements in Bulgarian food culture going back to 1,500BC when parts of modern day Bulgaria were ruled by the Thracians, a society well known for making wine.

In the 20th century, Bulgaria was enveloped by communism, behind the Iron Curtain. Though industrialization damaged rural tradition, Bulgarian Food continues to hold onto its past into the 21st century, celebrating their delicious culinary history.

Some Essential Ingredients That Make Things Taste “Bulgarian”

The flavor profile of Bulgarian cuisine is produced by frequent use of some very specific local produce.

Common Spices

Bulgarian Spices: Sharena Sol

The unique spice blends of a country often form the basis of many dishes, representing the country as a whole. Some important spices and blends that characterize Bulgarian cuisine include:

Chubritsa (Summer Savoury) – Probably the most defining herb of Bulgaria, simply because it is rarely used in other countries. Chubritsa’s unique herbal character blends well with meats and other dishes.

Sharena Sol – Translates as “colorful salt”. The blend mixes chubritsa, paprika and salt as it’s key ingredients. Some recipes include fenugreek and/or cumin. Sharena salt brightens up meat dishes and more but it’s so good just mixed with a little olive oil and used as a dip for warm bread – a perfect Bulgarian snack.

Dzhodzhen (Spearmint) – Used in stews and soups which contain beans or lentils, also popular to accompany lamb and rice dishes.

Samardala (Bulgarian honey garlic) – A local garlic variety which is dried and salted before being crushed into a powder.

Devesil (Lovage) – A herb that makes fish and soups instantly taste Bulgarian. The flavor sits somewhere between celery and parsley.

Also essential in the Bulgarian spice cabinet are Cumin, Paprika and Fenugreek.

Kiselo Mlyako (Bulgarian Yoghurt)

The history of Yogurt deserves its own article (Which we’ll be releasing later in 2019). In brief, although the exact origin of yogurt is contested, Bulgaria and Turkey (specifically, the nomadic Turkic tribes from central Asia who preceded Turkey) both have strong claims to consider.

But it was a Bulgarian scientist, in 1905, that first identified the essential lactose eating bacteria (L. Bulgaricus) that leads milk to become yogurt.

Kiselo mlyako means “sour milk”. The thick and slightly sour Bulgarian yogurt is used in much traditional Bulgarian food and brings a unique flavor to Bulgarian cuisine.

Sirene – Bulgarian Cheese (Salty White Cheese)

Another essential dairy product is Sirene. This Bulgarian cheese is similar to Greek feta cheese, in that it is a salty white brined cheese. However, some Bulgarians contend that sirene is the original, or at least better version, of Greek feta cheese.. This is another topic that needs a longer investigation – coming soon.

Suffice to say, sirene brings a salty yet creamy taste to so much Traditional Bulgarian Food. It’s used in many of their most famous dishes. It’s almost more like a condiment or seasoning as it is used to pervasively throughout the cuisine. 

 

Bulgarian Traditional Food: Top 5 Must Eats

If you are on a short trip and only have time to briefly enjoy the food highlights of Bulgarian food, this top 5 features some of the most popular iconic dishes as well as my personal favorites.

Bulgarian National Dish 1: Shopska Salad

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Shopska Salad

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Shopska Salad (A Bulgarian National Dish)

Shopska salad makes use of the salad combo seen in so many salads in Europe and the Middle East: Tomato, cucumber, bell peppers, and onions. It focuses on the use of local ingredients that grow in Bulgaria. But what makes it uniquely Bulgarian is the addition of Sirene cheese. As Bulgaria is not a big olive oil producer, sunflower oil is more typical. Also in the dressing, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. A simple and refreshing summer classic.

You’d think a salad this simple had been around for hundreds of years… You’d be very wrong. Even though salad is plentiful and popular in Bulgarian cuisine today, historians believe that it was barely eaten at all until the 20th century. Furthermore, the Shopska salad appears to have been invented or adopted in the 1950s and ’60s by chefs at “BalkanTourist”, the state run tourism agency at the time, as a way to promote tourism to Bulgaria.

Apparently, other national salads were also created, each named after a region of Bulgaria, but Shopska salad (named after the Shopluk region) eventually won out over the years as the most popular Bulgarian salad. Today you’ll find Shopska on almost every restaurant menu.

The colors of the salad are said to represent the colors of the Bulgarian flag – Red, white and green. Giving it an even more nationalistic tone.

Bulgarian National Dish 2: Banitsa

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Banitsa

Bulgarian Traditional Food: Banitsa (cheese stuffed pastry – a Bulgarian National Dish)

In its most traditional form, Banitsa is a phyllo dough pastry filled with layers of egg and sirene cheese mixed together. But banitsa is made with many different fillings, including typical savory fillings like spinach or cabbage and at Christmas, pumpkin. It can also be made sweetened.

It’s most popular as a Bulgarian breakfast food, served with a glass of ayran (salty yogurt drink) but is also eaten as a snack or for some special holidays. Banitsa’s prolific existence within Bulgarian food culture may be one reason it is also a Bulgarian national dish. Similar layered phyllo dough dishes exist all around the Balkan region.

It’s said that in times gone by, mothers would choose a wife for their sons based on the woman’s banitsa making skills. Today, you don’t have to get married to enjoy some Banitsa – you’ll find it in bakeries, restaurants and bus station kiosks country-wide!

Bulgarian Cuisine: Gyuveche

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Gyuveche (Thracian Style)

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Gyuveche (Thracian Style)

Gyuveche is one of the most popular Bulgarian dishes but also one with the most variety. Recipes vary wildly and, in home kitchens, the dish is quite often prepared with whatever the cook has left that day. It’s normally prepared in a small pot (of the same name) as individual servings.

The base ingredient should be eggs whisked with sirene cheese – though I’ve actually seen recipes that don’t even have this. The cheesy mix may go on top, or be mixed with, various veg and meat – depending on who’s making it and the region you are in. Then it is topped with some additional ingredients of choice.

My favorite was at Restaurant Old Plovdiv where it includes lukanka (a cured Bulgarian sausage) and chili. This was described as “Thracian style”, referring to the region, though its best to ask your server exactly what ingredients you are going to get to avoid disappointment.

Elena Fillet

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Elena Filet

Bulgarian traditional food: Elena Fillet

Elena Fillet is cured/dried pork loin coated in pepper and the very Bulgarian chubritsa herb. While cured pork may be on the menu in countries all over the world, it’s the herb coating that makes this a unique Bulgarian food to try. We were told by a tour guide that Elena Fillet is a DOP (Origin protected) product of Bulgaria – though I have not been able to confirm this.

Bulgarian Traditional Food: Katak

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Katak

Bulgarian Cuisine: Katak

Katak dip is fermented katak curd (though Bulgarian yoghurt often substitutes) that is mixed with sirene cheese, roasted peppers and garlic to make a king of Bulgarian snacks.

Bulgaria has so many dips to choose from. We’ll go into more of them in the Bulgarian Salad section below. Katak was our top pick.

We saw katak on many Bulgarian menus but the version at Pavaj in Plovdiv was killer. Reservations essential.

 

Bulgarian Food Podcasts – Coming Mid 2019

Listen to episodes that are already released using the links below

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RSS: https://thedish.podbean.com/feed.xml

Support: Become a Patron | Tweet: @foodfuntravel | Email: [email protected]

 

Cold Starters: Dips & Bulgarian Salad

Already mentioned in our Top 5 above:

  • Shopska Salad
  • Elena Filet
  • Katak

Popular Bulgarian Salad Dips

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Dips: Lyutenitsa, Kiopoulu, Snezhanka, Katak

Some Bulgarian Dips

There are lots of great dips to choose from. Sometimes both the salads and the dips are called salads on the menu.

Lyutenitsa: Sort of like a relish made with grilled tomatoes, garlic, and peppers. Other ingredients may include carrots, eggplant, onions.

Kiopoulu: An eggplant puree with tomatoes and garlic

Snezhanka (Snow-white): A yoghurt based dip with cucumbers, walnuts, garlic, and dill, sometimes decorated with black olives.

Katak: Yogurt & sirene cheese mixed with roasted peppers.

Typical Bulgarian Sausage & Cold Cuts

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cold Cuts: Lukanka, kashkaval, elena filet

Bulgarian Sausage / Cold Cuts: Lukanka, kashkaval, elena filet

Bulgarians have a lot of sausages, and a few other cold cuts too. Here are some of the most popular. 

Lukanka: A semi-dry Bulgarian salami from pork, veal, and spices with a distinguishable flattened shape.

Kashkaval: A yellow mild cheese, popular all over the Balkans. Similar to mild cheddar cheese.

Pastirma: An air-dried, cured beef with some similarity to Italian bresaola. More popular in Turkey and Armenia.

Sudzhuk: Dry and spicy flat pork & beef sausage. Spiced with cumin, sumac, garlic, salt, and red pepper.

Nadenitsa: A dry-cured beef & pork sausage.

Banski Starets Sausage: Dry-cured pork sausage flavored with cumin, paprika, black pepper, and other spices. From the Bansko region in the Rila Mountains.

Fillet Elena & Bulgarian white sirene cheese (mentioned earlier) are also popular cold cuts.

Bulgur Wheat & Tomato Salad

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Bulgar Salad

Bulgarian Salad: Bulgur Salad

This salad is like Bulgarian Tabbouleh mixed with sirene cheese. Don’t be confused by the name, bulgur wheat originates from the middle east, not from Bulgaria, but this spin on tabbouleh really impressed us (tried at Pod Lipite, Sofia).

More Bulgarian Salad Options

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Salad: Ovcharska salata (Shepherd's salad)

Bulgarian Salad: Ovcharska salata (Shepherd’s salad)

Bulgaria is one of the few countries in the world we get truly excited to visit because of salad. So many to choose from. It’s like we can eat out every day without overeating – though overeating still happens quite a lot anyway…  We already mentioned the Shopska salad and Bulgarian tabbouleh. Here are some other salads to look out for:

Ovcharska salata – Shepherd’s salad (Pictured): tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onion, mushrooms, ham, boiled egg, and white cheese. Second to the Shopska salad on most menus.

Kalugerska salata: boiled haricot beans, gherkin, onion, chutney from roasted red pepper and tomatoes, olives

Starosofiska salata: roasted marinated red pepper, white cheese, walnuts, olive oil, garlic, and dill

Turshiya – Pickled Salad: Pickled vegetables, such as celery, beets, cauliflower, and cabbage, popular in winter. Variations are selska turshiya (country pickle) and tsarska turshiya (king’s pickles).

Tarator

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Tarator

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Tarator (cold cucumber yogurt soup)

A cold soup made with watered down Bulgarian yoghurt as the base. Flavored with cucumbers, walnuts, garlic, dill, salt, pepper, vinegar, and oil. It’s everywhere in the summer, harder to find the rest of the year. Locals go crazy for this Bulgarian traditional food.

 

Bulgarian Traditional Food: Hot Starters, Soups & Snacks

Already mentioned in Top 5 above:

Supa Topcheta (balls soup)

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Supa Topcheta (balls soup)

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Supa Topcheta (balls soup)

A buttery wonderland of a soup containing small pork meatballs and some vegetables. Definitely our top pick for Bulgarian soups. This version tried at Dayana-3 in Plovdiv. Most bad reviews on TripAdvisor were for the service, which I admit was hit and miss. Food was all good.

Shkembe (Tripe Soup) & Other Soups

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Shkembe (Tripe Soup)

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Shkembe (Tripe Soup)

Shkembe (Tripe Soup) is popular throughout the Balkans and is considered to be a hangover cure. It’s tripe cooked in milk and beef stock and normally involves a lot of butter, which could be doing more for the hangover than the tripe… Vinegar balances out the fat and salt. Another element for the hangover cure is you are supposed to pair it with rakia (Bulgarian alcohol – brandy)

Bob chorba (Beans Soup) – Bulgaria has plenty of beans to choose from and they actually make quite a few different beans soups. The most popular is bob chobra, which has beans in a tomato based broth, normally flavored with spearmint. Other varieties may be boiled with a ham hock or other meat and veg.

Chicken Soup Or Beef Soup – Bulgarian Style rich meat soups.

Teleshko vareno (veal soup) – Chunky pieces of potato, carrot, and onions boiled with veal.

Pacha (sour lamb’s-trotter soup) – Lamb’s trotters are boiled with pickles or vinegar or both.

Zelenchukova supa – A vegetable soup with lots of herbs like parsley, celery leaves, Chubritsa etc.

Gubena supa – A forest mushroom/boletus soup

Ribena chorba – fish soup made with thyme & fresh lovage

Kashkaval Pane

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Kashkaval Pane

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Kashkaval Pane (Deep fried, breaded kashkaval)

Yellow kashkaval cheese is breaded and deep fried. This may be served just as is – because what else do you need with deep fried cheese? A slightly less Bulgarian version that we enjoyed was at Hadji Nikoli in Veliko Tarnovo – which came with cranberry compote and orange pieces.

Chushki Burek (Чушки Бурек)

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Chushki Burek (Peppers stuffed with white cheese)

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Chushki Burek (Peppers stuffed with white cheese)

Not to be confused with Bourek (A Balkan pastry similar to Banitsa). Chushki Burek is bell pepper stuffed with sirene cheese and deep fried with an egg coating.

Zelevi Sarmi & Lozovi Sarmi

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Sarmi (Cabbage Rolls)

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Sarmi (Cabbage Rolls)

Zelevi Sarmi are cabbage rolls – filled with minced pork and rice. They are popular all over the Balkans. They are considered a national dish in Romanian Cuisine, where they are called sarmale. The Lozovi Sarmi are the same concept but rolled in a vine leaf, not cabbage.

Grilled Kashkaval Cheese With Honey & Walnuts

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Grilled Kashkaval Cheese With Honey & Walnuts

Bulgarian Cuisine: Grilled Kashkaval Cheese With Honey & Walnuts

Take kashkaval cheese, grill it on the hot plate, smother it in honey and ground walnuts. Enough said.

 

Bulgarian Food: Meats, Fish & Baked/Grilled/Stewed Mains

Already mentioned in Top 5 Above:

Sach

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Sach

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Sach

The word “sach” refers to the clay dish the food is served on. The food is cooked on the dish and it comes out searingly hot and keeps the food warm for ages. The ingredients thrown on the sach can really include anything! Pictured, a sach with potatoes, Bulgarian sausage, chicken and plenty of melty cheese.

Bulgarian Moussaka

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Moussaka

Bulgarian Moussaka

Who invented the Moussaka? Turkey, Bulgaria, and Greece all claim to have invented the dish. We intend to do some full research into this complicated origin story in the future. For now, what you need to know is, eat it! Bulgarian moussaka, unlike Greek, is focused on the potato and meat and typically does not include a layer of eggplant.

Kyufte – Bulgarian Meatballs

Kyufte - Bulgarian Meatballs

Kyufte – Bulgarian Meatballs

Kyufte is another dish that is contested to be of Turkish origin (kofte). It’s juicy Bulgarian meatballs.

Kyufte Stuffed With Cheese

Kyufte Stuffed With Cheese (Bulgarian Food)

Kyufte Stuffed With Cheese

The only way to make kyufte better… stuff it with oozy yellow cheese. I don’t know how they make them so juicy.

Tongue In Butter

Beef Tongue Fried In Butter (Bulgarian Food)

Beef Tongue Fried In Butter

Simple but perfect. There’s nothing like frying something in butter to make it better. Even better when the tongue goes just a little crispy on the outside, without drying out on the inside.

Duck Hearts

Grilled Duck Hearts (Plovdiv Bulgaria)

Grilled Duck Hearts

A big old plate of duck hearts. This seems to be a favourite meaty course in Plovdiv. Great with a glass of red Bulgarian wine.

Karnache

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Karnache

Bulgarian Food: Karnache

Karnache is a spiral sausage normally made from fresh pork, sometimes lamb, in a sheep casing.

Kebapche

Bulgarian Kebapche: Skinless Kebab Sausages

Bulgarian Kebapche: Skinless Kebab Sausages

Kebapche is the caseless minced meat kebab of the Balkans. It’s actually the national dish of Bosnia Herzegovina, where each kebab is small. In Bosnia, it is made from beef, but in Bulgaria expect a long kebab of pork or a pork/beef mix.

Stuffed Peppers / пълнени чушки (pŭlneni chushki)

pŭlneni chushki - Peppers stuffed with rice

pŭlneni chushki – Peppers stuffed with rice

Peppers stuffed with meat and rice – similar to Turkish dolma. Once peppers arrived in Europe from the Americas, it was only a matter of time before someone in the Balkans stuffed rice and meat in them.

Keremida

Keremida - Chicken cooked in a roofing tile (Plovdiv Bulgaria)

Keremida – Chicken cooked in a roofing tile

Bulgarians love naming dishes after the thing they are cooked in. The word “Keremida” refers to a roofing tile. Similar to sach (above) meat/veg/cheese is cooked in the tile. This is certainly not the most common dish. We tracked it down at Anita restaurant, spa & guest house in a small village south of Plovdiv.

Grilled Trout

Grilled Trout - Bulgarian Food

Grilled Trout

Aside from on the Black Sea coast, the most common fish on the menu in Bulgaria is Trout. Grilling with lovage as the herb seasoning is the classic way.

Potatnik / Patatnik

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Potatnik - baked mashed potato pie

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Potatnik – baked mashed potato pie

Patatnik is a potato pie cooked in the Sach or sometimes another clay dish, in an oven or heated from below. Get ready for buttery indulgence. This baked mash is laced with bubbling fat and mixed with onions and Bulgarian spearmint. The dish originates from the Rhodope Mountains, south of Plovdiv on the way to the Greek border. The original dish, in it’s simplest form, doesn’t have egg or cheese mixed into the mash but that seems to have become a popular choice in restaurants – which is no surprise because it’s awesome.

This regional dish was until recently only available in the mountains but is now being seen on some restaurant menus in Plovdiv and elsewhere. Eaten at Rahat Tepe, Plovdiv.

Katino Meze

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Katino Meze

Bulgarian Cuisine: Katino Meze

Katino Meze is a meat in gravy dish, normally with chopped pork and onions – traditionally served in a copper pan, though the version we got in Sofia was an obviously lazy presentation – just using the Sach. Sometimes it’s spiced up with hot pepper. Without cheese is more traditional but what can I say, we like cheese…

Shishche / Shashlik

Shishche / Shashlik - Bulgarian Skewered Meats

Shishche / Shashlik – Bulgarian Skewered Meats

Marinated meat, grilled on a skewer.

Kavarma / Kapama

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Kavarma

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Kavarma – Stew in a clay pot

Kavarma is a slow cooked stew with a choice of meat, onions, and spices – normally with chubritsa too. It’s supposed to be baked in the traditional gyuvech clay pot but some restaurants speed things up by pan cooking it and just serving it in the pot – or just on a plate.

Fancy versions may feature multiple types of meat (pork, chicken, lamb, rabbit, veal, and sausage), and have other ingredients added like sauerkraut, dried plums and spices, and red or white wine. Some say this version is called kapama rather than kavarma but we were unable to track down kapama.

Zelen Fasul – Green Beans Stew

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Zelen Fasul - Green Beans Stew

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Zelen Fasul – Green Beans Stew

A traditional Bulgarian Food that is typically Bulgarianized with all the essential herbs: spearmint, chubritsa. 

 


 

Sides, Breads & Other Traditional Bulgarian Food

Some additions to accompany your mains…

Bulgarian Breads: Pita & Palenka

Bulgarian Pita Bread

Bulgarian Pita Filled with Egg and Cheese

Bulgarian pita bread is sometimes called Greek bread on menus, it’s one of the few dishes Bulgaria freely attributes to Greece, it seems. However, they sometimes choose to take pita to the next level by filling it with a cheesey-egg mix (pictured).

Palenka is also called Arabic Bread on some menus and is a thin flatbread.

Kachamak (Polenta With Cheese, Sometimes Bacon)

Kachamak (Polenta With Cheese, Sometimes Bacon)

Kachamak (Polenta With Cheese, Sometimes Bacon)

Polenta mixed with white cheese and butter is a favorite through Bulgaria and Romania / Moldova – where it is called Mamaliga. We discussed it in our Romania food podcast and we believe it came to Bulgaria from Romania, not the other way around. That said, the Bulgarian version with sirene cheese is always a winner too. 

Drob sarma

A rice dish which is typically mixed with chopped offal and Bulgarian spice, sometimes with mushrooms. Good as a side but sometimes served as a main.

 

Bulgarian Breakfast

Already Mentioned in Top 5 above:

  • Banitsa – Bulgaria’s national cheese pastry. A perfect Bulgarian breakfast as well as an anytime snack!

Other Bulgarian Breakfast Choices:

Popara – A cheeky little Bulgarian breakfast that resembles a quick bread pudding. Chopped bread, milk, butter, sugar (optional) and the most important ingredient, Sirene (white cheese).

Princesses – A variety of things on toast, though the most common with this name features ground meat mixed with some herbs/spices and spread on toast then grilled. Add a slice of kashkaval yellow cheese too if you like. You might also find egg whisked with white cheese as a topping.

Mekitsas – Deep fried dough pieces made from flour, baking powder, eggs, yogurt, water, oil, and salt.

Boza – A popular Bulgarian breakfast drink. Boza is a malt drink made from millet flour. Boza is mildly alcoholic (1%) and has a thick consistency, with a slightly sweet and sour flavor.

 

Bulgarian Desserts

Bulgarian Desserts: Baklava

Bulgarian Baklava

Bulgarian Desserts To Try:

Baklava – This famous phyllo pastry dessert is found all over the Balkan region and beyond. Everyone does it just a little different. The Bulgarian dessert version uses walnuts, layered with phyllo and soaked in sugar syrup, with cinnamon.

Tikvenik – A sweet variation of the Bulgarian national dish, Banitsa, stuffed with walnuts and pumpkin.

Orehovki – A Bulgarian cookie made with ground walnuts, egg whites, and sugar.

Tulumba – Fried choux pastry, sort of resembling short pieces of churros, coated in a thick sugar syrup.

Palachinki – Bulgarian crepes.

Garash cake – A popular layered chocolate cake invented in the late 19th century.

 

Bulgarian Drinks & Bulgarian Alcohol

Menta

Bulgarian Drink / Bulgarian Alcohol: Menta

Bulgarian Alcohol: Menta (Mixed with sprite)

Menta is a mint spirit with about 25% alcohol. We fell in love with this during our most recent visit to Bulgaria. It’s the quintessential Bulgarian summer drink, normally mixed with sprite, or sometimes milk. Super refreshing on a hot day.

Rakia

Bulgarian Drink / Bulgarian Alcohol: Rakia

Bulgarian Alcohol: Rakia (Fruit Brandy)

Rakia is a fruit brandy. It’s a popular spirit around the whole Balkan region. In Bulgaria grape rakia is the most popular, though plum, apricot, peach, apple, cherry, and quince are also available. It’s about 40% alcohol normally. Order a shot of rakia with a Shopska salad to begin any meal like a local.

Bulgarian Wine

Bulgarian Alcohol: Wine

Bulgarian Wines From the Thracian Valley Region

Did you know that Bulgarian Wine has some unique varietals? Almost the whole country produces wine and you’ll find a big selection while there which is hard to find internationally. Here are some to look out for:

  • Mavrud: An indigenous red grape, with a profile somewhere between CabSav and Shiraz. You can get bold, tannic, spicy wine
  • Rubin: A hybrid red grape created in the 1940s as a combination of Shiraz and Nebbiolo. Rubin produces dry, semi-dry and sweet wines with pungent red berry flavors.
  • Gamza: Used to produce both dry and sweet red wines with deep aroma and color.
  • Pamid: One of the oldest winemaking grapes in Bulgaria – used back in Thracian times. Pamid is low acidity, ideal for making young wines with some similarity to Beaujolais.
  • Shiroka Melniska: A red grape from the south of Bulgaria, near the Greek border. Produces tobacco notes, ages very well in oak and has similar characteristics to Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
  • Rkatsiteli – Bulgaria’s most popular white grape – but it actually originates in Georgia, the birth country of wine.
  • Dimiat: An indigenous Bulgarian grape and second most popular white grape after Rkatsiteli. Normally light bodied and highly aromatic.

Bulgarian Beers & Craft Beers

Bulgarian Beers (Megsy enjoying a brew in Veliko Tarnovo)

Bulgarian Beers (Megsy enjoying a Shumensko brew in Veliko Tarnovo)

Bulgaria was historically a wine & Rakia drinking country until the 19th century. Now beer is everywhere with Bulgaria ranking 15th in the beer drinking per capita chart! There is even a fledgling craft beer scene kicking out some domestic brews.

Some of the mass produced beers you’ll find around:

  • Shumensko (Our Top Pick) – A malty easy drinking lager.
  • Astika – A blond pilsner from South Bulgaria, definitely worth a chug.
  • Zagorka – A Czech style lager
  • Kamenitza (Not A Fan) – The most pervasive lager in Bulgaria, brewed in Plovdiv. Simply a boring, average beer in my opinion.

Non-Alcoholic Bulgarian Drinks

Ayran – A salty thin yogurt drink also popular in Turkey and around the region.

Boza – Discussed in Bulgarian Breakfast section above.

—-

That’s it for our Bulgarian Food & Bulgarian Drink guide!

 

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Mongolian Food (What to Eat

mongolian food: Buuz - Mongolian Dumplings

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It’s quite common knowledge that Mongolian food culture is not winning any culinary awards on the world stage, in fact we personally like to refer to it as the cafeteria cuisine of the world! Heading into Mongolia we had no idea what food to expect, in fact a Mongolian friend of ours simply stated “have low expectations then you won’t be disappointed”!

This article is aimed at giving those planning on visiting Mongolia a bit of an insight on what food is really available. P.S. it’s a lot of mutton or mystery meat (camel / yak etc.).

Conditions on the vast, cold Mongolian steppe has always made food a necessity, rather than an art. Nomads make do with what they can and this means a lot of meat and dairy, supplemented with flour based doughs and occasionally rice.

In the major settlements, like Ulaanbaatar, you can find a big selection of international food (we, even had pizza!). But, on the steppe, expect only the most basic food. In our 30 day trip, pretty much the only vegetables we had were gherkins (pickles), and one stop at a Turkish restaurant in Olgi – where we got potatoes and carrots.

So, this guide reflects the real Mongolian food – what nomads on the steppe eat on a regular basis.

In case you were opening this article expecting to hear about Mongolian Beef – think again! Aside from the fact that Mongolian food rarely includes beef (regular cattle wouldn’t survive the Mongolian winter), Mongolian beef as a dish was invented in China or Taiwan and became an international restaurant standard even though it has no connection to the country of Mongolia at all.

UPDATED APRIL 2019

Restaurant / Roadhouse Mongolian Food On The Steppe

Buuz – Mongolian Dumplings

Buuz – Mongolian Dumplings

Probably our favourite Mongolian food. Buuz is the traditional Mongolian dumpling. Expect them to be filled with ground meat, just meat. They are dense, larger than the dumplings you might expect to see on a dim sum menu, and the meat inside could be pretty much anything depending on what the roadhouse has at the time. Mutton is typical but also expect goat, yak or even camel meat. Quite often they are made to order, by hand, so you may wait 30 minutes or more after ordering to get your steaming hot buuz.

This dish is found throughout Mongolia often in Roadhouses. We found many regular restaurants don’t even offer this dish though. It is normally considered the national dish of Mongolia.

Khuushuur (Pronounced Horeshure) – Deep fried mutton parcels

mongolian food - Khuushuur (Pronounced Horeshure)

Khuushuur (Pronounced Horeshure) – Deep fried mutton parcels 

Probably the most popular staple in roadstops for quick food, meat (normally mutton, of course) is ground and fried inside a dough shell. Oily and filling, perfect to abolish hunger on a long trip across the steppe. It’s also the main food available at Naadam festivals. You will see people devour these by the bag load!

Tsuivan – Fried noodle with mutton

Mongolian Food: Tsuivan - Fried noodle with mutton

Mongolian Food: Tsuivan – Fried noodle with mutton

Essentially it’s a home made noodle pan fried with meat and a tiny amount of vegetables. Found all over especially in rest stops this dish can vary in taste wildly depending on who made it. Some is good and some is very, very bad!

Many locals smother it in ketchup to add “flavour”.

Mutton Soup

mongolian food: Mutton Soup

Mutton Soup

Nothing but mutton, fat and broth, sometimes (if you are lucky!) served with a steamed bun.

Mutton Kebabs (Mongolian BBQ)

mongolian food: Mutton Kebabs 

Mutton Kebabs: Mongolian Fast Food

Specially served up during the Naadam festival as fast food. Harder to find in restaurants. Yes, the white pieces are not mushrooms, they are pure fat! This is the closest thing we found to “Mongolian BBQ” in Mongolia – if you are having mongolian bbq in your home country, it hasn’t got much to do with real Mongolian Food Culture, other than yes, they do BBQ meat some of the time.

 


Don’t Rough It… Take A Fully Guided Tour Across Mongolia

Check Out The Best Tours From Our Favourite Small Group, Adventure Tour Company, Intrepid.


Home Treats: Food often served inside Gers

The Ger is the traditional Mongolian dwelling (similar to a yurt). As soon as you leave Ulaanbaatar or any other major town, you’ll see them dotted around the countryside. For most tourists, visiting or staying in a Ger is an essential part of any trip.

Dried Cheese Biscuit (“Qurut” or “Aaruul”)

Dried Cheese Buscuit

This is a favourite of all Mongolians! Made of drained, sour milk that has been left outside to dry and then served as a kind of dessert or snack.

It’s sour and salty and it’s one of those foods you have to have grown up eating to truly enjoy. But it keeps really well, and in the harsh reality of living on the Mongolian steppe, this Mongolian food is essential to survival. Try it for yourself but its probably going on our list of ‘Foods to Never Eat Again’

Mongolian Cream – öröm

mongolia food16

For those of you that have tried clotted cream (A famous product from south-west England) you will find the flavour very similar, for those of you that haven’t its naughty, fatty, awesome cream! Unlike England where it’s eaten on scones, here you’ll likely have it with homemade bread.

This was one of Tommo’s favourites in Mongolia.

Yaks Butter

Mongolian Food Yaks butter

This is a very salty, strong flavoured butter made from yaks milk. Just as a heads up the families do tend to make this in large batches in order to save for the winter months, however due to the lack of refrigeration in gers the butter is kept inside sheep stomach to preserve it. That’s right! They pack it into a sheep stomach, sew it up and leave it in a cool place! You can almost taste the stomach acid! If this makes you squeamish it may be best to avoid.

Boortsog

Boortsog – Mongolian Cookies (Image By Vidor)

Considered a Mongolian dessert, Boortsog is deep fried dough. That’s it. When fresh it’s semi hard, but by the time it’s fully cold and served up a day or two old, which is what we commonly got, it goes a little tough, which is why they also seem to be known as Mongolian Cookies. Good for dunking in milk tea to soften it up, or with some of that Mongolian cream.

Typical Mongolian Breakfast

Typical Mongolian Breakfast Spread

Typical Mongolian Breakfast Spread

We were surprised with staying in / visiting many gers (traditional tent homes) that the main imported products they seem to have were sweets from China and that they were a breakfast food. Other than that, the typical Mongolian food served for breakfast would include homemade bread, Yaks butter and thick cream (mentioned above) and some biscuits and tea.

Mares Milk – “Airag”

Mares Milk - "Airag"

Mares Milk – “Airag”

Another national favourite. Mares Milk is fermented (so yes, its alcoholic, but only about 2% ABV). It’s salty and sour and tastes like a pungent, slightly gone off milk – because that’s pretty much what it is. It should be noted that it is seen to be very rude to not try mares milk if offered to you, you have three options at this point:

  1. Drink Up
  2. Place the bowl to your lips and pretend to drink
  3. Place your middle finger lightly in the milk and then flick three times once to you left, once to your right and then upwards as an offering to the spirits.

Mutton and Noodle Soup – Guriltai Shol

noodle

Mutton and Noodle Soup – Guriltai Shol

The name speaks for itself, this dish is usually quite tasty as the noodles are normally fresh and handmade.

Traditional Mongolian Food: The Five Fingers Feast

Mongolian Food: The Five Fingers Feast

Mongolian Food: The Five Fingers Feast

A family meal like no other. All the parts of a sheep or goat are boiled together in a large pot: this includes meat, stomach, fat and of course the head, which is expertly carved up by the oldest male of the Ger. If you’re lucky you might get offered an eyeball!

Traditionally, different organs are supposed to be eaten by different members of the family. If that tradition is being observed you may end up with no choice about eating some very strange offal! Either way, once the meat is on the plate, in a dark ger, every mouthful is a gamble!

Strange as this very traditional Mongolian Food may seem to tourists, it is actually one of the more special meals. We only got to experience it once when we stayed overnight in a Ger in the far north west of Mongolia near the Altay mountains. 

And now for something a even More Daring……

Marmot

marmot

Marmot – A Mongolian Game Food

Often found on the Western side of Mongolia, this furry creature is still known to carry the bubonic plague!

We didn’t eat Marmot while in Mongolia but one driver did offer to catch and kill one for us to have for dinner…..we politely declined!

 

 


Don’t Rough It… Take A Fully Guided Tour Across Mongolia

Check Out The Best Tours From Our Favourite Small Group, Adventure Tour Company, Intrepid.


 

Mongolian Food Podcast (Coming Soon)

Our episode on Mongolian food and our experience traveling off-grid in Mongolia, staying in local Gers and more, is coming in late 2019. Watch this space!

Listen to other episodes of our Food-Travel podcast now:

Listen & Subscribe: iTunes | Spotify | Podbean | Google Play | Stitcher

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Support: Become a Patron | Tweet: @foodfuntravel | Email: [email protected]

Mongolian Food Menu (Russian To English)

Don’t expect every restaurant to have an English menu – some may have no menu at all! As dishes in Mongolia do not vary greatly from town to town, we found the below English / Mongolian (Russian) menu really helpful. Often we would show it to a waitress and she would point to what dishes they had available at that restaurant.

mongolia food10 mongolia food09 mongolia food08 mongolia food07

While in Mongolia there is no escaping the food… you have to eat sometime right? We found that while not bursting with flavour, much of it was quite edible and even sometimes tasty! You never know, if you don’t try new things how will you ever discover new foodie favourites…

You just really need to like Goat & Mutton!



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17 Best Restaurants In Tbilisi inc. Cafes in Tbilisi & Best Khinkali in Tbilisi

17 Best Restaurants In Tbilisi inc. Cafes in Tbilisi & Best Khinkali in Tbilisi

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What are the best restaurants in Tbilisi? Good question!

If you are a foodie like us (and I assume that’s why you are here on our foodie website) You’ll be wondering how you’re going to find the best food to eat while in Tbilisi Georgia. The good news is, I have rarely had a bad meal in Tbilisi. The bad news is that prices in the old town are quite inflated and you really need to venture out a bit to find some of the real best restaurants in Tbilisi (in our opinion)

In this article, we asked some of our favourite travelling foodies what places they think are the best restaurants in Tbilisi – so you don’t just have to take our word for it! These guys have come up with so many super tasty options that you are going to have purchase a bunch of stretchy pants in anticipation of how much food you’re going to consume – trust me! 

 

Visiting Georgia? Get Our Food Fun Travel Tbilisi Map – Free:

As well as top attractions and other points of interest, the map includes every restaurant listed in this Best Restaurants In Tbilisi article – plus many more. Make it easy to find the best of Tbilisi all on one easy to use google map overlay. Works on any device. Get The Map.


 

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi

Thanks to guest contributors for their suggestions.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine (inc. Tsiskvili)

Pasanauri – Bilyana, Owl Over The World 

One of the first Georgian foods that I tried and fell in love with was khinkali. Khinkali is the Georgian version of dumplings. You can find them pretty much in every restaurant in Georgia and they are being offered with varieties of fillings – cheese, potatoes, cheese & potatoes, meat, mushrooms, spices, etc. My favorites are with meat and with cheese.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - For Georgian Cuisine

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine

For the best khinkali in Tbilisi, you need to go to Pasanauri restaurant. The restaurant is located in the center of the city, on an intersection of Rustaveli Avenu, 5 minutes walk from Rustaveli metro station.

The first time when I visited this restaurant, I was taken there by a local friend who loves the place and their khinkali. The interior of the restaurant is pretty nice, too.

Visit Pasanauri with friends and make the famous Georgian competition of who will eat the most khinkali (trust me, it’s a thing in Georgia).

 

Bina N37 – Margherita,  The Crowded Planet

Any person who’s been to Georgia will tell you how amazing Georgian food is, and I totally agree! On top of that, Tbilisi is full of quirky and unusual restaurants where you can experience the delights of this incredible cuisine – just like Bina N37, my favourite restaurant in town. Bina N37 means ‘apartment n.37’ because the restaurant is located in an eighth-floor apartment, in the Vedzisi neighbourhood of Tbilisi.

It’s actually the spin-off of another unusual and typically-Georgian business – a rooftop winery! It was opened by a doctor who started making wine in terracotta urns buried on his balcony, into what used to be his son’s swimming pool.

The wine business was successful and he started preparing simple dishes for guests who came to taste wine – and then cooking became more and more elaborate, and Bina N37 became a full restaurant. It’s a great place to visit not just because of the quirky vibe, but also because Georgian favourites like khinkali and vegetables stuffed with walnut paste are truly on point!

 

Old Vake – Sean & Jen, Venturists

Old Vake is this small, family-run restaurant outside the center of Tbilisi. The service is attentive, with the waiters more than willing to make recommendations or describe their specialties. And because of its location, you’ll usually just find Tbilisi locals at this lively place, but intrepid tourists can find it easily enough.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - For Georgian Cuisine

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine

Old Vake has all the standard Georgian cuisine, and they’re all fantastic. But it’s the shkermuli that stands out, and had us coming back again and again. The crispy roasted chicken is moist and tender, with a rich sauce made from milk and lots of garlic. Rich, creamy, luxurious, and a million other taste bud tantalizing adjectives can’t do this dish justice. Make sure to order some Georgian bread to sop up the delicious sauce.

You can find it at 32 Paliashvili Street in Tbilisi

 

Samikitno – Sarah,  A Social Nomad

There are 2 branches of this popular chain to be found in downtown Tbilisi. The first is in Meidani Square and it’s usually pretty busy. For a quieter time head to the Freedom Square location. Both serve the same menu and if you’re looking to knock off a few items on your Georgian Food bucket list then this is the place to come to.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - For Georgian Cuisine (inc. Tsiskvili)

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine (inc. Tsiskvili)

You’ll be able to try all your Georgian food favorites – although we recommend going as a group and ordering family style to be able to try absolutely everything, alternatively, go for a cold or hot tasting menu where you’ll get a small amount of a huge variety of dishes including chicken with garlic sauce, veal stew, gomi, steamed beef with walnuts and sulguni cheese (there’s a lot on the menu, these are just examples!)

The restaurants are well priced and provide menus in English, Georgian and Russian – and there are also photos so it’s easy to see what you’re going to get too!

 

Check out Our full and extensive article on What to Eat in Georgia + 2 part Podcast: HERE

 

Culinarium Khasheria – Nadine,  Le Long Weekend

Cosy, yet contemporary, Culinarium Khasheria is the perfect pit stop when touring Tbilisi’s old town. Located in the bath district, its inviting exterior is sure to pull your attention, as it did mine! Inside, the social theme continues with large tables to share a meal, and homely touches in the décor. Named after a traditional dish known to be a hangover cure, you’d do well to stop in here after a night on the town.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - For Georgian Cuisine (inc. Tsiskvili)

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine

The food is famously good, and that makes this a popular spot for the locals to indulge in their favourite traditional dishes, with a modern twist. It was hard to decide what to order from the veggie-friendly menu, so we got a bunch of dishes to share. I found the flavours incredible – fresh, vibrant and so varied. Do yourself a favour and order a large jar of Ajika to accompany your meal too – they make the best in town!

 
Ethno Tsiskvili – Megan MeganStarr.com

There is something about food in the Caucasus – whether it is eating by the Caspian Sea in Baku or sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Yerevan. And then there is Tbilisi- a city that is anything but void of delicious food. My favorite restaurant in Tbilisi is Ethno Tsiskvili, a very local restaurant located a bit outside of the touristy Old Town. I was first taken there after making dinner plans with a friend who is from Tbilisi. When I told her to come to my area close to the Old Town, she instructed me that she would not eat food anywhere in that vicinity. She then gathered a group and took me to Ethno Tsiskvili via a taxi.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - For Georgian Cuisine (inc. Tsiskvili)

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine (inc. Tsiskvili)

We arrived there and the restaurant had no other languages aside from Georgian on it. There were locals having parties and copious amounts of wine all while eating delicious Georgian food. We ordered a plate of khinkali, several bottles of wine, and some khachapuri and had an incredible night. The food stood head and shoulders above anything I had eaten in Tbilisi’s city center. If you have time, definitely take a taxi to Ethno Tsiskvili and enjoy a genuinely local dinner experience.

 

Racha – Kamila, Kami And The Rest Of The World

One of the places you can’t miss when you travel to Tbilisi is Racha. Located only a few steps away from Liberty Square, at the corner of Lermontov and Dadiani streets, it’s easy to miss the place. The random door you most likely wouldn’t notice lead you to the underground restaurant where the time has stopped.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - For Georgian Cuisine

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine

The site has improved a lot over the years (I’ve been a frequent visitor since 2011), there is now the menu in other languages than just Georgian (English and Russian) and proper chairs to sit on (before there were only stools), but Racha didn’t lose its charm. The lady behind the counter doesn’t use the proper cash register but the old school abacus. You can see how the food is prepared in the open kitchen in the next room.

Racha serves all the classic Georgian dishes as well as the local home-made wine or chacha, and everything is delicious here. Prices are very affordable, among the cheapest ones in Tbilisi. The place might not look very fancy, but it is part of the Tbilisi experience.

 

Ezo – Rohan, Travels of a Bookpacker 

One of the best things to do in Tbilisi is eat! There is a huge range of local restaurants selling everything from tourist versions on mass to homecooked meals by someone’s grandmother. Ezo (means ‘yard’ in Georgian) is the perfect mix of atmosphere, fresh ingredients and local cuisine. Set in a gorgeous hidden courtyard you won’t stumble upon this place walking through the main tourist streets. Popular with visitors and locals alike this place always has a lively atmosphere and, in the summer, the outdoor area is filled with candle-lit seating and a small bar.

The food is nothing short of brilliant, offering seasonal and staple dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. Everything comes in decent portions and is, in true Georgian style, flavoursome and hearty. The waiters speak excellent English and are happy to explain the items on the menu or you can simply take a lucky dip and see what you end up with!

 

Barbarestan – Gigi, Vicousfoodie.com

At Barbarestan, Tbilisi’s fanciest fine dining restaurant, the cookbook is the star of the show. Why? Because this isn’t any old cookbook. It’s a book authored by a 19th century Duchess who also happens to be Georgia’s first feminist.

Inside, you’ll find hundreds of recipes that take Georgian cuisine and merge it with specialties and techniques from around the world. Every two years, Barbarestan hires on a new chef to interpret those recipes with their own twist.

Cafes in Tbilisi - Barbarestan

Cafes in Tbilisi – Barbarestan

If you go, expect romantic low lighting, excellent wines. Try the Winiveria or ask the waiters for pairing recommendations, and a menu that changes with the seasons. Order the cheese plate if you see it on the menu and don’t skip the spicy, crisp walnut bread served up shaped like pizza slices.

 

Keto and Kote – Emily, Wander-Lush

Perched high above Tbilisi inside a beautifully restored home, Keto and Kote (ქეთო და კოტე) is one of Tbilisi’s finest Georgian restaurants.

The menu at Keto and Kote is typical Georgian with a modern European twist. The Megrelian-born chef specialises in western Georgian dishes, such as Gebjalia and Elarji. Every time I eat there, I can’t go past the classic Georgian salad. Keto and Kote’s rendition of the deceptively-simple-yet-utterly-addictive tomato and cucumber salad is the freshest and tastiest I’ve eaten anywhere in Georgia. Make sure you request a side of walnut paste, a slice of sulguni cheese and a piece of house-baked bread to go with it.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - For Georgian Cuisine

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine

A big part of Keto and Kote’s charm is its ‘hidden location’. To get there, you need to walk through a specific archway off Merab Kostava Street, down an alley behind Rustaveli Metro Station, and finally up a steep flight of stone stairs. Outdoor terrace seating and a balcony both command beautiful views of Vera, while inside, the interior is old-world Tbilisi chic at its finest.

 

⇒ Looking for somewhere to sleep off your food coma? Discover the best areas in Tbilisi to stay & best hotels in Tbilisi

 

Cafes in Tbilisi

Cafe Littera – Kiara, Gallop Around The Globe

 
One of my favourite restaurants in Tbilisi was Cafe Littera – as much for the setting as the food itself (although, admittedly, the food was delicious).

Cafe Littera is hidden away the lovely leafy walled garden of the 120-year-old Georgian Writers’ Union Building. Although the entrance is a little tricky to find (yup, this is not a restaurant you’re just going to ‘stumble upon’), when you do so you’ll feel as though you’ve discovered one of Tbilisi’s best kept secrets.

Chef Tekuna Gachechiladze ran her own cooking school in Tbilisi before opening Literra in 2015. She serves traditional Georgian food with a modern twist, taking influences from the latest tastes and trends.

Cafes in Tbilisi

Cafes in Tbilisi

As you’ve probably gathered, this isn’t a budget eatery in the city, but it’s totally worth blowing the budget for one night to eat here.

I can personally recommend trying a selection of local dips as a starter. We ordered smoked eggplant pkhali with pomegranate, pumpkin pkhali with walnuts and red adjuka, and homemade nadugi with red adjuka and mint, all served with lavash – the local flatbread. And then, if you’re a fish lover, the seared scallops on Sheela-pilaf with Georgian truffle sauce were amazing!

 

Cafe Linville – Lauda, Adventures With Luda

 
Cafe Linville may be hard to find (look for the metal door and go upstairs) but once you do, you’re rewarded with one of the kitschiest and best-decorated cafes in all of Tbilisi!

The place has a very unique style that looks like something out of your great-grandmother’s house (if she lived in Georgia) combined with little surprises like an aquarium made out of an old television; antique chairs that look like they came straight out of Versailles; and charming decor.

Cafes in Tbilisi - Cafe Linville

Cafes in Tbilisi – Cafe Linville

Like any good restaurant in Georgia, Linville has a wonderful selection of wines, along with classic dishes like meats, pizza, sandwiches, and desserts. If the weather is nice, you can sit on the balcony and enjoy watching people go by — especially since Linville is conveniently located in the old town.

If you have an hour or so, I definitely recommend taking a break and hanging out at Cafe Linville – you might even see the weekly tango class dancing in the main hall!

 

Café Leila – Annie Symonds, Londoner In Sydney 

Café Leila is one of Tbilisi’s brilliant little gems, located around the corner from the very touristy Leaning Clock Tower. You probably wouldn’t even notice this unassuming restaurant if you walked past it but what awaits you inside is an absolute delight. Café Leila is completely decked out in the most beautiful Persian theme you’ve ever witnessed. The ceiling is completely covered, as well as the walls and furniture is what can only be described as an Instagrammers dream.

With Georgian cuisine being a tad heavy on the bread and pastry side, Café Leila brings a welcomed break from the excess carbs and offers up a healthy food that’s locally grown, and non-processed. Expect a mainly vegan and vegetarian menu with a few fish options that will have you wanting to go back for more.

 

Best Khinkali In Tbilisi – Our Top 3 Picks

 

Golden Mug 

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - Best Khinkali in Tbilisi

Image By Golden Mug – Best Khinkali in Tbilisi

This restaurant in Tbilisi is a bit out of town so can often be undiscovered by tourists who tend to stay closer to the old

town of Tbilisi, but, for the cost of a very affordable uber ride you are sure to find out that this restaurant is a gem and a must visit during your stay in Tbilisi.

We have been there a few times before because of their live music and tasty beer but it wasn’t until our most recent visit when we ran into the owner of Baia’s Winery who told us that Golden Mug was her favourite place for Khinkali and that we should absolutely try the spicy meat khinkali. We didn’t need to be told twice! And she was right, the spicy meat khinkali is very possibly our pick for The Best Khinkali in Tbilisi! You have to go and try it for yourself…trust us! 

 

Zakhar Zakharich

 

 This little restaurant is for us the best restaurant in Tbilisi for hand made khinkali. You may not know this but today they often have a special device that helps restaurants make loads of khinkali without them having to all be made individually by hand. You can often tell the difference between ‘machine’ made and ‘hand’ made through the thickness of the dough. The dough is often fatter and not as smooth with hand made khinkali and you can feel like you’re eating more dough than filling. That said Zakhar Zakharich is doing a GREAT job at making hand made khinkali. Their khinkali are just flavour central, and a must try for sure! 

Situated right by the Dry Bridge Market, this is a great little traditional and very local place to get some delicious authentic Georgian food.  

 

Samikitno / Machakhela Restaurants 

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - Best Khinkali in Tbilisi

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – Best Khinkali in Tbilisi

While this may be a chain restaurant that you can find in quite a few locations around the city – they still offer super tasty khinkali and more options of fillings than most other restaurants. If you are looking for more than just a meat or cheese filling you can try their mushroom, red beans, or potato and cheese khinkali (a great option for vegetarians). They also have a creamy spinach khinkali which is one of the best khinkali in Tbilisi in our books! (They are listed sometimes as Samikitno and sometimes as Machakhela – or both!)

 

Best Khachapuri In Tbilisi – There is really only one…

Retro

Best Khachapuri In Tbilisi - Best Restaurants in Tbilisi

Best Khachapuri In Tbilisi – Best Restaurants in Tbilisi

Yes, of course, you can find khachapuri all over Tbilisi. Yes, it is pretty much amazing wherever you have it… Because it’s bready, cheesy, heaven on earth. But if you are seeking the Best Khachapuri in Tbilisi there is only one place that holds the crown – Retro.

In our opinion, its the best because the dough is less eggy/cakey and more bready. Also, ask any local about Retro and they will ALL know it – their khachapuri is legendary in Tbilisi. Come here to indulge in a single serving or take on the Titanic challenge (we couldn’t even finish it it’s that big). 

Best Khachapuri In Tbilisi - Best Restaurants in Tbilisi

Best Khachapuri In Tbilisi – The Titanic

 

There is an abundance of authentic Georgian food to find and try in Tbilisi and this Tbilisi food guide will help you to find the best Tbilisi Restaurants from the get go, to make sure you always get a tasty meal! From the best khinkali in Tbilisi to the best khachapuri in Tbilisi and all the other incredible foods in between we know that you will fall in love with Georgian cuisine just like everyone in this post did. Us especially! 

 

Visiting Georgia? Get Our Food Fun Travel Tbilisi Map – Free:

As well as top attractions and other points of interest, the map includes every restaurant listed in this Best Restaurants In Tbilisi article – plus many more. Make it easy to find the best of Tbilisi all on one easy to use google map overlay. Works on any device. Get The Map.

 

 

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