Cover Story
Experience Bulgaria
Yeoh Guan Jin | 12 Jan 2018 00:30
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia - photo credit Creative Commons

The Izbata Tavern is a small and unassuming eatery located on Slavyanska 18 in the centre of Sofia, the Bulgarian capital and largest city. Like many small businesses in the city, it is a short flight of stairs down from the street level. This is where you get what the Bulgarians serve at home every day – the authentic local cuisine.

“We eat these dishes in the winter,” says waitress Nevena Tevena as she presents the menu. “There is a different menu for summer.”

Tevena says that her first name translates into “marigold”, and it is a popular name for girls in Bulgaria. She takes a while to warm up to strange foreign men who ask too many questions. Nonetheless, she eventually becomes very helpful with information about the items on the menu.

We settle for the kavarma, a stew of pork, onion, mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes spiked with red wine and baked with eggs and hot pepper in an earthenware dish, and the kapama, also a stew but of pickled cabbage or sauerkraut with rice, sausage, chicken, pork and veal baked with fragrant spices in earthenware. The pork can be substituted with chicken or beef.