Yordanovden in Bansko

Hehe, the headline is a bit misleading. St. Jordan’s day is a big thing in many places here – and for the last 8 years or so I have celebrated it in the village Dobarsko, usually carrying one of the two old church icons in the procession from the church to the artificial lake, where the priest would through a cross into the waters and young men would try to recover it.

This year, however, Father Nikola has not invited me as the guest of honour – and I was quite happy because it gave me a chance to rest. De facto, he did not invite me the last two years either because my role at the festival in Dobarsko is long commonly accepted. Time to make myself a bit rare for the people to appreciate my involvement again…

Last evening ended at the Irish Harp where my friend Crispin held a company party and had the decency to invite me to join them. Here he is with two of the boys working for him:

I should say that Crispin lives here since years but I only met him last summer. We have shared many a pleasant pint and evening on the main square and he has become quite dear to me. He is also the only English person that I have met in Bansko with a “proper” education and who speaks my beloved “Queen’s English” with all its nuances and rich vocabulary :) Sadly, when we are together we more and more resemble Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet Show (to the ladies, I guess)…Thank you, Crispin, for being my friend.

And I did have the “cheap” steak I was planning on yesterday. A British-cut rump-steak:

Perfectly rare! Normally rump steak is moderately tough but very tasty (American cut). A perfect rump-steak must include the “round-cover” for me, the rather thick fat lining on the outside. It gives the whole thing taste and keeps it from getting dry. If you use a dry piece like this it’s better when fried in butter than from the grill. Well, still a great piece of meat, considering we are in Bansko!

So, today no excursion to Dobarsko – only down to the market in the centre (where I now park in a private backyard not to have to pay the ridiculous parking fees in our new “blue zone” – I think I will have to write about that soon)).

I live with the seasons and cook and eat what nature provides us at any given point in time – and what I have preserved in autumn to have in winter when few things grow. But, obviously, there is no escape from modern times! What did I see on our Sunday market? Huge strawberries (about 1 ounce each) at 25 Leva per kg! Who would possibly buy this tasteless shit? Well, modern times.

So, as I said, I live with what nature gives us – and actively take advantage of promotional offers of Lidl and Penny :) At 8:15am I bought some rather nice freshly baked ciabatta at Lidl’s for my breakfast and as they have a promotion for freshly baked white bread at 39 stotinki (20 cents) I bought three breads. Not for eating, really. But for “raw material”. As everything in my modest kitchen is made from scratch, life is much easier if I have pre-prepared things in my storage-cellar. So, I cut one loaf into small pieces to be dried and then ground into “breadcrumbs”. One loaf I cut in thin slices to be used for Bavarian dumplings and one loaf I cut off the bread crust and cubed it for croutons (like tonight I will be cooking a leftover piece of pumpkin into a soup and croutons will be a perfect accompaniment).

Soon I have to think about something with walnuts as my massage lady continues to bring me bags of peeled walnuts from her garden – they have 5(!) walnut trees. Locally it is very popular to salt and roast the walnut pieces and have them as “meze” with pork cracklings, rakia and so on. I am just not used to this and do not have enough guests to get rid of the masses of walnuts this way. I keep telling my massage genius to spare me with her stuff – but (the story of my life) women don’t seem to take me serious :)

I also still have about 1 kg of raw chestnuts left over from my stuffed duck. Next week I may look for some victims and invite them to an evening with roasted chestnuts, prosciutto crudo, Italian or French hard cheese and red wine. Fortunately, I only buy best quality, that I check carefully, so my chestnuts don’t have any maggots inside (like 90% of the others on the market do) and I am not under time pressure to use them :)

Tomorrow I will be in Sofia on some errands and I am certainly not well prepared. When I come back in the evening I will realise what I missed to accomplish. In the future I need to make something like a task list with things to buy or accomplish when in Sofia. To be prepared! Something that does not come easy to a Banskalia like me, as we prefer to live the moment and deal with things as they come. “Ще се оправим” (we will manage) is our motto! Hehe!

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Have a good night…I had my pumpkin soup in the meantime, talked to my sister for hours, emptied a bottle of red and generally had a pleasant evening. See you soon…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bansko on a Saturday

For the last few days I have been planning not to cook tonight but to have some lovely Irish beef from Kildare at the Irish Harp pub – as long as it lasts.

Well, since I have spent my cash allowance yesterday at the Pirin Lodge charity event (organised by our valued friend Ian Holbrook) I won’t be able to afford the blue sirloin steak I was craving for but will have to settle for some roastbeef or something else less expensive. I will consult the executive chef at the Harp. I am sure he will create something rather tasty for me.

It’s always nice to have something to look forward to :)

Especially after a hard and stressful day like today, having to spend so much time in the morning in the kitchen to bake up some ciabatta, squeeze loads of oranges and whip up a classical French omelet to go with the smoked salmon, answering critical emails, checking if all traces of yesterdays party were removed, turning on the heating in some patrons’ apartment that were arriving later today, personally inspecting the water quality and efficiency of the blast nozzles in the whirlpool while waiting for my massage lady to arrive, then delivering myself up to 1-1/2 hours of her ripping my meat off my bones… with the help of the lemongrass massage oil I brought for myself from my last trip and the tropical jungle noises disc that I guard for such purposes…

Then striding back to my “loft” in my tent-sized Japanese gown (surely hand-made for Sumo-masters), with the looks and demeanor of Hercule Poirot on a mission, only to be greeted by a message from the reception that some Corsican nouveau-riche owner of apartment 24 wants me to look at some damage in his quarters! So, instead of slipping into my Cashmere home-outfit for relaxing I squeezed myself into the previously worn clothes and set off to inspect the apartment. Well, it turned out that he and his copains had made excessive use of the logs he had bought after he bought the apartment a year ago and heated the fireplace until the ceiling surrounding it came off. OK, I will email them an offer next week – as he, his girl and his friends are off to Hongkong and then Thailand tomorrow.

Returning to my apartment I decided to iron on of the 25 or so crumpled shirts in the shirt wardrobe to have something to make me sociable for my Irish Harp night and the beef.

That put me under pressure with the five o’clock tea. I managed, however, to make a pot of Ceylon “Black Bird” tea (fruity and with little acid) that goes well with a tiny shot of Havana Club Anejo Blanco with its fresh sugar cane aroma. I refrained from eating some of the Christmas biscuits or chocolates that I bought at “Lidl” in Razlog the other day at a 50% discount (Christmas being over) with the tea. They might have kept me from enjoying my beef tonight.

Incidentally, my friend Crispin, has his year-end/year-beginning company party at the Irish Harp tonight and last night he invited me to join the drinking. So, I have to stop now to organise transport there – as it might turn out to be a heavy night.

Which I basically cannot not afford as I am supposed to be in the village Dobarsko tomorrow morning to assist the priest in the celebration of St. Jordan’s day…but that’s another story…

Winter BBQ

Last night Ian, one of our Pirin Lodge owners, organised a “Winter BBQ” with proceeds going to Cedar Foundation and to Animal Rescue Sofia.

The funny part for “us” Eastern people was that the Western European people wanted to have the winter BBQ indoors :) Hehe. No problem.

There were about 25 people and seating was a bit improvised as we have no restaurant facilities at Pirin Lodge. It still turned out to be great fun and  everyone had a good time. Fund-raising was not as successful as I would have had expected but still! Some help for good causes! Thank you very much, Ian!

This morning most of Bansko is like an ice rink. It thawed yesterday but then towards the evening fierce, frosty winds set in and a lot of road surface is as smooth as a mirror and very slippery. Good that I won’t have to leave Pirin Lodge during the day.

Today I feel in better spirits, sitting on a plastic inflatable swimming ring not to put any pressure on my tailbone :) This way I even felt encouraged to have an extended breakfast with a classical French omelette, smoked salmon and ciabatta – and a litre of freshly squeezed orange juice.  Marvellous!

Later at 3pm I am going to have my weekly massage. And I decided to relax until then  instead of ironing the 20 or so shirts waiting in the wardrobe :) Later I may iron 2 or 3 of them to keep me going for the next few days…

See you guys :)

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year to all of you!

Seems like I am slightly late with my good wishes.  It just so happens.

Writing a blog when you travel and experience new things every day is different from writing about your daily life in your very own environment. As it is your daily life there are very few new and exciting things that you find interesting enough to communicate to other people. In addition , in Bansko I am busy these days with Pirin Lodge being full with guests.

Not much has been happening since my last entry. I decided to end the last year not with a fancy champagne-celebration and foie gras variations – but I cooked myself a modest chicken soup – that I turned into my own idea of “happy eating”.

This is what I call my “Golden Broth” – and it is my key to the gates of heaven. Whatever I build on this is bound to lift my body and my spirits to the seventh level of happiness – no drugs needed :)

And the New Year started the same modest way that the old one ended :) Perfect for me.

This is the New Year’s view from my place to “Todorka”, our skiing mountain. I could watch people with my binoculars – but for what ? :)

I decided 2013 to be an outstandingly good year. I like the 13 at the end. Having been born on a Friday the 13th, the serenity of this figure gives me confidence and hope. All I need to do at the moment is to overcome the constant pain around my tailbone, the rheumatism that was re-ignited by my giving up smoking as well as the arthrosis in my right shoulder (that did not give me any trouble during the last few years and also awakened again only with the absence of cigarettes) that floods my right arm with pain and keeps me from using my right hand properly…minor items. Once I have dealt with them I will be flying to new horizons…

Till then, take care my friends…