You might have wondered why my last entry was written using a tablet. Reason was that I was in Borovets, Bulgaria on a week’s holiday, celebrating my Hubby’s 40th Birthday.
The big day isn’t until March, but we wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss the snow since we were mainly going for the snowboarding. Ha! They’d had the worst snow in years so only the red runs were open. Fine for him but terrifying for a novice like me! Still, I managed to survive with only a bruised bottom and a bit on a bruise on my arm…
I was worried about what the food was going to be like, especially since we were going half board at the hotel we were staying at. I had visions of it not even being veggie friendly, let alone vegan friendly. Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised. First off however, I will describe the food I had on the plane.
For our Honeymoon back in May last year we flew with Thompson and since it was a special occasion, we upgraded to Premier Class. At the time I was only veggie but since I was offered the option of a vegan meal, I took it out of curiosity. At the time I was SO glad that I was “only” veggie because basically flying both inward and outbound I got a vegan hot dish, and everything else was the same as everyone else’s meal: 2 x cheeses; pack of cheese crackers; 2 x dairy pudding pots; and a bread roll with dairy butter…! And since the flight was around nine hours we got a snack later on. I got handed an egg butty heading out and a cheese and tomato hot roll coming home! Needless to say I complained on my customer service form, not that I ever heard back.
Anyhow, we flew with Thomas Cook this time and I have to say that I was rather impressed. I got the same meal both inward and outbound but it was tasty so I didn’t mind. I was given a vegetable tagine consisting of some sort of squash, red kidney beans, tomatoes and mushrooms, along with a side of vegetable couscous. I also got two wholemeal rolls, a pack of vegan friendly marg, an apple, a little pack of Sun-maid raisins, a pack of water crackers and a mini pack of Marmite. Lovely! (Well, apart from the Marmite, bleurgh!)
Back to the hotel, we stayed at the Festa Winter Palace. I can’t be bothered writing a big review on the accommodation but it was nice, spacious and for the price we would recommend it to someone with the right budget. I can however be bothered to review the food in detail:
Breakfast was a bit of a chore as the choices were the same every day. Mostly there was bacon, frankfurters, scrambled egg, boiled egg, cereals with cow’s milk and also French toast…but luckily there was also normal toast, jam and beans. To be truthful, seven days of beans on toast or jam on toast was a bit of a tedious challenge. There was also fresh fruit so I enjoyed a juicy orange for the first two days, but then they started to add bananas to the fruit bowl. Anyone who knows me will know that I’m a bit banana-phobic, so I was unable to touch any of the fruit after witnessing this horrific scene!
Lunchtimes weren’t included in our package so most days I took a vegan bar up to the slopes whilst the Hubby took a chocolate bar. One day we had chips at one of the slope side restaurants. Another day I was desperate for a change so I gambled and ordered a “vegetarian burger”. The gamble didn’t pay off as the burger came and was basically a mass of feta cheese moulded into a patty and topped with a cheese slice in a bun with some salad. The waitress didn’t speak very good English (and who can blame her) and I hatehatehate to see food go to waste – so I ate it. Luckily I have only been eating a completely 100% vegan diet for just over a month now (been totally vegan at home for months now, but have previously struggled at business lunches and people’s houses) so I saw no ill effects. BUT I did feel pretty guilty. I also have to admit that I caved and had a couple of hot chocolates because I was cold and at the time felt that I needed a hot drink. I had already learned the hard way that the black coffee was pretty gross, however once I realised that they served hot wine, I stuck to that in the hope that it wasn’t made with any gross fining agents. Although I feel bad for slipping up, it has made me more determined to do a better job of being vegan from now on – I don’t want to be a “transitioning vegan” forever! I do think though that I need to persevere with black coffee until I develop a taste for it, it would prevent a lot of trouble during refreshment breaks.
Teatime was the easiest meal to get through; in fact I did pretty well. The Hubby was sick of the sight of tough pork and chewy chicken by the end of the holiday, whereas I was quite enjoying my evening meals. There was always at least plain pasta or a vegetable rice on the buffet and every night they served a versatile sauce made of pureed aubergine, tomatoes, sweet potato and peppers. There was also plenty of salad: green peppers; black olives; beefy tomatoes; sweetcorn; red onion; jalapeños; and white beans. They also served something called “Royal Salad” consisting of raw carrot, cauliflower and white cabbage in a tangy vinaigrette which was surprisingly flavoursome. I had no problem combining ingredients to create nice vegan friendly meals. The only downside was that most of the food was served lukewarm. I’m not sure I would make a very good raw vegan as I was really beginning to crave a plateful of hot steamy food.
My cravings were however fulfilled on the last day of our holiday. We booked a trip sightseeing round the Bulgarian Capital, Sofia. I had researched a vegan friendly bar and restaurant on www.happycow.net , so when the group moved on to visit a shopping centre we slipped away for a spot of lunch. My dish sounds really boring – basmati rice with onions, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, cashews, ginger and avocado – but it was piping hot and fantastically balanced. The Hubby bless him has been going around telling people that the best meal he has all week was at a vegan restaurant, so I had to remind him that a) it was a normal restaurant that happened to also cater for vegans and b) that his dish had bacon and cheese in it!!! Still, I really appreciated him missing out on a shopping trip to go somewhere I wanted visit.
If anyone is likely to visit Sofia, the restaurant was called “Cabra Natural Foods and Bar”. The food was fabulous and super cheap, and the girl who served us was warm, friendly, efficient and spoke good English. Also the local beer was lovely, even though I’m not a lager person.
They are on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cabra-Natural-Foods-Bar/164478763618155) but since most of the posts are in Bulgarian, I have to admit that I haven’t bothered to like the page…
So there we have it, my vegan triumphs and failures whilst visiting Bulgaria! I’m off to Germany, France and Hungary soon so I’ll have to swot up on my Vegan survival tactics – any advice would be greatly received!