Travel and Food Do Mix

Did I mention Food?

While the French are right into nouvelle cuisine (in other words, not much for helluva lot) you can be certain that in an eastern European restaurant or cafe one meal and a side salad between two people is more than enough.

I really should have known after our Zagreb experience:

* Great Indian Restaurant – Light meals with rice and wine and beer. Result: Full as a goog for under $AU50

* Croatian Restaurant – Main meal and side dish with water. Result: Full as a goog for under $AU25.

We get into Sofia, Bulgaria and make our way to what appears to be a trendy restaurant and bar. Admittedly, we probably got the wrong meal, but two big plates of cold meat and salad and one bottle of wine (by appointment to the King of somewhere) later, we would have been knocked over by the price. That is, if we were able to get up after cleaning up the plates.

The price of less than $AU16 was a bargain even with the entertainment of the establishment’s owner trying to open the wine, then just about smashing it into the marble table as the cork suddenly decided to part ways with the bottle.

An elementary knowledge of physics would tell any casual observer that when that moment arrived, the corkscrew hand was going to go up and the bottle hand was going to go down. Seeing the bottle hand was near the top of the bottle, there was no way of cushioning the bottom of the bottle from the impact of the marble only 5 centimetres below. As in a train wreck, I knew of the result but was powerless to prevent it happening. They make bottles strong in Bulgaria, as the only breakage to be seen was the composure of the restauranteur. Fortunately, unlike Humpty Dumpty, he was able to put it all back together fairly quickly and we all pretended nothing happened. It had no noticeable effect on the wine which was quite good.

We decided that we would have a good lunch, so headed to the cafe that my wife, Brenda had spotted – mainly because of the cakes on show. It turned out to be an Italian establishment, and, as we later discovered, highly regarded. The only off putting element was the proliferation of what appeared to be mafiosi tucking into – you guessed it – large portions of Italian food. (as we walked around Sofia, we realised that just about all the men looked like gangsters!)

Brenda ordered a meal with a potato side dish, but I, wising up to the very large meals, skipped the side meal and went with the main course. Lucky that. After going through 350 grams of Pork Milanese (they mention the weight of all the foods on the menu – including the salads) in addition to what could be termed old style chips, I could not fit in another thing. Except, of course, the “small” serving of bread which I don’t know the weight of but guessed to be about half a kilo. It was beautiful bread, but I just could not finish the last two bits.

Was going to ask for a doggy bag, but thought it was a bit rich as the swanky place charged us about $AU30 -outrageous!

Now that we are on the train to our eagerly anticipated Turkey leg (no pun originally intended, but why not) of the tour, we have the luxury of a litre of bottled water, a weird looking block of chocolate, two tic tacs (1 orange and 1 mint) and a single piece of pizza the size of Lichtenstein. We are in for a $AU4 feast.