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Sofia: discovering typical Bulgarian food in an inn that seemed very old

We had arranged to meet Kristian K., one of our clients in Bulgaria, there. The second of the gluten-free restaurants in Sofia I would try is called Pod Lipite (which means “Under the Linden tree”) at number 1 Elin Pelin Street in Sofia. It is a typical Bulgarian restaurant that – as I understood after listening to Trifon and Kristian’s explanations – controls the whole process from the field to the table.

The building reminded me of the Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, the oldest inn in England, built in 189 in Nottingham. I felt a bit like Rob J. Cole, the main character in “The Physician”, going to eat at the inns of that time.

Again, when the waiter came I showed him the gluten-free travel card in Bulgarian. Kristian was a bit surprised, since he didn’t know that I have celiac disease. After I explained my whole picture of allergies and intolerances, Kristian no longer knew what we were going to eat. He let Trifon talk to the waiter and he gave us some recommendations so that I could eat without any problems.

I did the best when you don’t understand what they’re saying! I got carried away and my Bulgarian colleagues ordered all the food: they decided to start with an “Easter Salad”. The salad had lettuce, cucumber, boiled egg, radish and green onion – it was very good! It was a very refreshing dish to start dinner.

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Then they brought some lamb chops that were delicious. I loved being in that restaurant with such a traditional, old-fashioned decor. While we were talking, we were enjoying other dishes that my colleagues had chosen: they brought some pate-like creams, made with vegetables and spices. I didn’t try these because I had nothing to spread on them. Then they brought some sautéed mushrooms with tomato and lemon and, to finish, a dish with different meats, more vegetables and baked potatoes. There was chicken, pork and beef with pieces of zucchini, green pepper and onion as big or bigger than the meat.

We enjoyed the meal very much, accompanying it with a Bulgarian wine. It was a magnificent dinner! We finished the dinner with the next steps of the project clear – the offer was accepted and now it was time to talk about the contract! We would do it in the next online meetings from Spain.

When we finished, we went back to the hotel to rest. The next day, we were going back to Plovdiv to visit more clients.

The gluten-free breakfast was good, although not as good as the previous day’s meals. When we booked the hotel, Trifon had made sure that they would have a gluten-free breakfast ready for me. And they did, they brought me some gluten-free chocolate muffins and a gluten-free seed bread. Then I went to the buffet and, after examining all the options, I saw that I could only eat the fried eggs, as the bacon had bread underneath…

I cut a few slices of bread and put three fried eggs on top. For dessert, I ate the gluten-free chocolate muffin that I had been brought in and was ready to face another day of gluten-free travel in Bulgaria.

We had two visits that morning. We went to see Kristian and his team in their offices in Sofia and then visited another smaller but equally important client. When we left this last meeting, it was already lunchtime.

Considering the difficulties we had had in finding a gluten-free restaurant in Sofia the day before, we decided to return to the Soul Kitchen. This was also a seemingly safe option.

This second time we sat inside, in a room with small tables, huge chairs and high ceilings. The house was quite old and very well decorated. We were served by a different waitress than the day before, so I repeated the usual ritual. I showed the coeliac card in Bulgarian and asked if they had any gluten-free pasta left. She said yes. Then I asked if they cooked the pasta separately to avoid cross contamination. The girl didn’t understand me and after trying to explain it to her a couple of times in English, Trifon gave me a hand explaining it to her in Bulgarian.

I don’t know if she really understood what we were asking her, but the gluten-free macaroni with natural tomato, black olives and basil were delicious.

You can see the pictures of the trip here.

BY CLICKING ON THE MAP OF GLUTEN FREE RESTAURANTS YOU FILL SEE ALL RESTAURANTS WE DESCRIBED IN THIS POST LOCATED IN THE MAP OF GLUTEN-FREE PLACES:

AND HERE WE LEAVE THE CELIAC TRAVEL CARD IN BULGARIAN:

P.S.: Please keep in mind that in this blog I share my trips, anecdotes and experiences about gluten free travel around the world. It is possible that, in any of my trips, I go to some restaurant not trained by the associations where the risk of being contaminated with gluten exists. I kindly ask you to also take into account that the list of references can change. Please, always double check before eating in the restaurants we recommend. Thank you very much!

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