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Festival of the Organic and Local Dishes from the Eastern Rhodopes

The Cooking Days with organic and local products from the Eastern Rhodopes, organized by the Bulgarian-Dutch project  New Thracian Gold (NTG) with the support and participation of the Netherlands Embassy in Bulgaria and “Soul Kitchen” restaurant - Sofia on 7, 8 and 9 June 2012, became a festival of the healthy lifestyle and delicious food. 

On June 7, the Dutch chef Eric van Veluwen and his colleagues in “Soul Kitchen” ‘competed’ by preparing together mostly vegetarian dishes – spaghetti from zucchini, lentils balls, colorful salad and many others. The happy smiles of the cooks in the end showed that the competition in the kitchen has created a friendly relationship and produced new recipes. The wine from organic grapes of Yonko Todorov from Stambolovo was an excellent addition to the organic dishes. Presentations about healthy food and about the project New Thracian Gold were organized. The event offered a perfect opportunity to organic food producers, fans of the organic and healthy food, representatives of NGO's for sustainable farming and media to get introduced to the NTG project, the Eastern Rhodopean cuisine and the options more dishes to be prepared with organic products.

The second Cooking day was opened by the Ambassador of the Netherlands Karel van Kesteren at an official ceremony in the Dutch Embassy. Diplomats, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, journalists from culinary media, owners of restaurants that offer organic dishes, promoters of green and healthy lifestyle, dietitians were among the guests. Eric van Veluwen and ‘Soul Kitchen’ team made demonstrations of cooking with organic products.

The culmination of the Culinary event was the third cooking day, organised on the Wild Farm guest-house in the village of Gorno Pole, Madzharovo Municipality. The hostess Betty demonstrated to Eric how to make the Rhodopean specialty maslenitsa and he taught he how prepare Dutch bitterballen. B&B owners from the region watched with interests the culinary demonstrations of Erik and Betty and tasted the delicious dishes - pie with cheese, pastry with minced meat, Stephanie roll, baklava... Petko Angelov from the village of Rabovo brought freshly made spelt bread and presented Vegan Fiesta salad served by his wife Stefka in their guest house Tepavitsata in Rabovo. The guests tasted the wines of Yonko Tododrov and Georgi Shishkov and the home made spelt-beer of Petko Angelov.

A Culinary guidebook to the Eastern Rhodopes was presented for a first time during the Cooking Days with organic and local products from the region. The book contains typical recipes from the region and information where the organic food products can be bought.

With their beautiful nature the Eastern Rhodopes will attract more and more tourists and if this could be connected with offering delicious local specialties and organic food, the synergy can lead to the sustainable development of the region, said Martien Lankester, the director of Avalon, one of the two Dutch foundations actively working in the NTG project.

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