The Spirit of Burgas Beach Festival

burgas-logoIt’s less than one week until the second Spirit of Burgas and festival organisers are gearing up to welcome thousands of party people for sun, sea, music and lots of fun!  With Bulgaria being named as the cheapest place for an overseas holiday in the annual survey published by the Post Office, you don’t have to worry about the cost of things when you get there.

Taking place between the 14th and 16th of August and located on the picture-perfect white sands of the city’s central beach, Spirit of Burgas was named one of the Top 20 European Music Festivals for 2009 in The Times and was previously nominated Best European Festival at the Virtual Festival Awards. Acts confirmed so far include: Faith No More, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Crystal Method, Dreadzone, Clawfinger, Gravity Co, LTJ Bukem feat. MC Conrad, Sub Focus, Speedy J, Alexander Kowalski, and nights from many respected labels and promoters including HMSU, Metropolis, Renesanz, Remote Area, Rush Hour, and Welcome To The Future plus some other very special guests to be announced soon.
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Launched in 2008, Spirit of Burgas is set to be even bigger and better than ever, with over 100 acts across seven stages, showcasing a diverse range of artists and performances across all genres of music. What better location to experience it than Burgas city beach, with stunning views of the Black Sea coastline, stretching over 20km.  It’s no wonder that MTV chose to film at the festival last year, making a special program featuring live performances and exclusive behind the scenes coverage which was broadcast across the MTV European Network in 16 countries.

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Wizz Air Launches New Routes

Wizz Air

wizz-logoCentral and Eastern Europe’s largest low cost airline Wizz Air, who first started operating from Liverpool in late 2004, have commenced their latest route from Liverpool John Lennon Airport (JLA) with three flights each week to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.  Flights operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, departing at 12:50pm, giving travellers to Prague convenient times and days of the week for short breaks or business trips.

The Capital of the Czech Republic, Prague is one of the most popular city break destinations in Europe with something on offer for everyone. The beautifully preserved historic city has stunning architecture and many famous sights such as Wenceslas Square, Prague Castle and Charles Bridge.  Czech hospitality is legendary, and visitors are guaranteed a warm welcome to the trendy bars or cosy traditional restaurants.  Prague is also famed for its Christmas markets which are among the best in the World and now for the first time passengers are able to travel direct from Liverpool to experience them.

Prague Castle
Prague Castle

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Bulgaria Travel Channel Launches This July

The Bulgarian launch marks the channel’s 18th language version, and the third new language launched so far this year by Travel Channel International, Europe’s leading travel broadcaster.

Travel Channel will be part of Bulgaria’s leading cable operator Eurocom Cable Management’s new basic digital documentary package, and available across the country from 1st July.

“The deal consolidates our commitment to providing a localised service in Bulgaria” said Travel Channel’s Director of Affiliate Sales and Marketing, Grazyna Gray.

The localisation will begin with prime-time programming and increase to encompass the full programme library.

“Travel Channel’s unique content will give our clients a new perspective on the places and life around the globe. We are very pleased to have this outstanding channel in our documentary package” said Petyo Staikov, Chairman of the board of directors of Eurocom Cable Management Bulgaria.

Travel Channel has its own in-house production team ensuring programmes are new and exclusive. All programmes produced by Travel Channel productions are filmed in HD.

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Bulgarian Potted Chicken

This recipe is a traditional Bulgarian casserole, cooked on top of the stove in a flameproof pot.  The chicken is cooked very slowly on a low heat until it is tender and just before it is falling off the bone.  Despite the fact the sauce only uses a small amount of stock and tomatoes, I ended up with rather a lot of sauce.  I would recommend serving with bread for the sauce or alternatively, rice.

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

8 chicken portions on the bone, I prefer thighs but drumsticks would also be suitable

6-8 firm, ripe tomatoes chopped

2 garlic cloves

3 white onions

250ml chicken stock

2 bay leaves

2 tsp paprika

10 white peppercorns slight crushed/bruised

(It can be difficult to track down white peppercorns, even Waitrose did not stock them! However, it was worth the extra effort.

I do not own a pestle and mortar as my kitchen is so small, so I put them on a freezer bag and bruised using a bottle)

Handful of parsley finely chopped

Instructions

Chop the tomatoes and crush the garlic, then place both in flameproof dish

Place chicken on top of tomatoes

chicken-1

Cover and cook on a gentle heat for 15 minutes

Add the diced onion, bay leaves, paprika, peppercorns and stock

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Cover tightly and cook on  very low heat, stirring occasionally so nothing sticks or burns, for 2 hours or until the chicken is tender

chicken-3

Depending on how fatty the chicken is, the fat on the top may need to be skimmed

Five minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the finely chopped parsley

Bulgarian Potted Chicken

Serve!

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Angus Bell’s Batting on the Bosphorus

batting-on-the-bosphorus

Angus Bell is a Scot, who while living in Canada, stumbled upon a medium who told him his Great Uncle Ivor (who had died as a child) was inspiring his ideas, that he would travel and write about it.  While working in a methadone clinic Bell planned a cricket tour around Eastern Europe.  Starting in the Baltics with playing cricket on ice and encountering a streaker, Bell picks up many a hitchhiker along the way  and makes his way through the Balkans, Bulgaria, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic and finally finishes his tour in Poland where his final match is cancelled.

My sister lent me this book and instructed me that despite my general dislike of travel writing and my limited knowledge of cricket, it would indulge my love of Eastern Europe.  However, whether you are a lover of travel writing, cricket, Eastern Europe, or would like to find out about an interesting, albeit odd, adventure.

While Bell’s knowledge of East European history is not always necessarily spot on (though I do understand it is difficult to convey complicated historical concepts, thoughts, ideas and facts in a limited number of words) I did find his investigation of academics’ work amusing simply because there were many thesis written in utter jest.  I had never before come across academic work written as a hoax and I do wonder where academics get the time considering supposedly how hard they work and how much research they do! (Note, I realise many historians actually do work incredibly hard!)  What I found most intriguing was the brief mention of Lapta, a Russian game which began in the medieval period and is a Russian game similar to cricket.

To find out more about Angus Bell and his adventures go to: www.angusjjbell.com

Batting on the Bosphorus written by Angus Bell is available on Amazon priced at just £5.99.  To purchase your copy go to www.amazon.co.uk.

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Oscars of the Wine World

Last week the International version of the Oscars for wine took place.  The 26th International Wine Challenge 2009 saw entries from a record 41 countries, with 304 Gold medals awarded, up 13% on last year.  Retaining the top gold medal nation status was France with 49 medals, closely followed by Australia and the Portugal.  English wine obtained a record 24 medals.  However, there were also good prizes for some of the more renowned wine-producing countries in Eastern Europe.   Here are the top of the favourites from Eastern Europe:

Chardonnay Sauvignon Private Reserve 2005

chardonnay-sauvignon-private-reserve

From: Cahul, Moldova

Grape/Made with: Chardonnay

The judges said: Soft, buttery baked fruits with herbaceous notes; rounded and creamy.

Available at: Acorex Wine Holding Sa | WineSearcher.com

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Glamour heads to Bulgaria

Carol Cornuau, Vice President of Condé Nast New Markets, has announced the launch of Glamour magazine in Bulgaria with the June issue. The title, published in a licensing partnership with Liberis Media Group Bulgaria, is the first Condé Nast title to be published in Bulgaria and is the 16th edition of the magazine to be launched worldwide.

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Bulgarian Fried Peppers With Cheese

This is not a quick fix dish, it is a bit of a dinner party piece.  I would suggest making extra so you can pick the ones which look best as it is quite difficult to re-create their structural stability after the skin has been removed.  It’s a great starter though, very tasty, mainly because the creaminess of the feta really complements the warmth of the chili while the parsley refreshes your palette for the next mouthful.

Ingredients (serves 2 -4)

4 peppers (can be red, green or yellow but personally, I think red taste best)

50g plain flour

1 egg, beaten

olive oil for shallow frying

For the filling:

1 egg, beaten

90g feta cheese finely crumbled

2 tbsp fresh parsley

1 small red chili, seeded and chopped

Instructions:

Slit open peppers

Scoop out seeds and core but leave peppers in one piece

Peppers pre-grilling

Carefully open out peppers and place under hot grill (skin side up!)

Peppers under grill

Cook until the skin is charred and blackened

Peppers charred

Place the peppers in a bowl of cold water to prevent them from over-cooking

Leave peppers until cooled and peel off skin

Mix feta, egg, parsley, chili together in a bowl

Feta, egg, parsley, chili

Fill each pepper with mix

Fill peppers

Secure peppers if necessary with wooden cocktail sticks

Dip peppers in seasoned plain flour, then egg, then flour again

Fry the peppers in olive oil for 6-8 minutes, turning once, until golden brown and filling set

Peppers in pan

Drain peppers on kitchen paper before serving

Peppers done! Serve!

Peppers done! Serve!

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Bulgarian Chicken with Beans Casserole

This dish is the ultimate in one-pot cooking.  All the ingredients literally go in one pot which is put in the oven and after just 1 1/2 hours is cooked to absolute perfection.  This recipe serves 4 very hungry people!

Ingredients:

250g tin of kidney beans

8 chicken thighs and drumsticks

12 streaky bacon rashers

1 large white onion

250ml dry white wine

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp rosemary

pinch of nutmeg

150ml sour cream

1 tbsp paprika

lemon wedges, rosemary sprigs for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven at 180ºC

Arrange bacon around sides and base of ovenproof dish.

Sprinkle over onion.

Bacon & Onion

Sprinkle over kidney beans.

Bacon, onion, kidney beans

Trim chicken pieces.

Combine wine, oregano, rosemary and nutmeg.

Pour wine mix over the bacon, onion and beans.

Mix together sour cream and paprika in a bowl or plastic bag.

Sour cream & paprika

Toss the chicken in the sour cream.

Chicken in sour cream

Place coated chicken on top of onion and beans.

Ready for the oven!

Cover with foil or lid.

Place casserole dish in oven for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

For the last 15 minutes of cooking, remove the foil or lid.

Serve garnished with rosemary and a wedge of lemon.

Ready to serve!
Ready to serve!

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