When I am in Sofia, Robert Djerassi, the JDC representative in Bulgaria, takes me to a small hut-like restaurant, the Kontesa, practically on the grounds of the Ronald S. Lauder School (in the Sveti Nikola Park). Everything they make here is terrific, and I watched them prepare shopska (sheep’s cheese) salads.
- 4 green peppers
- 4 tomatoes
- 2 long green chilies
- 2 cucumbers
- 2 onions
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- Fresh Sheep’s cheese (feta): either Greek or Bulgarian, preferably one that’s not too salty (but don’t, for heaven’s sake, buy a low fat feta)
- Fresh olives to taste (optional)
In America, we have almost forgotten what a magnificent summer tomato tastes like. All through the year we can buy gorgeous, plump beefsteak tomatoes that look absolutely perfect and taste like sponges. Do please look for the real thing in the summer months, and in winter, cherry tomatoes make at least a stab of reminding you of what real tomatoes taste like. And keep your tomatoes out of the refrigerator, for heaven’s sake.
For a good shopska salad, combine the above ingredients together. Spoon out small mountains onto individual plates. Now grate your sheep’s cheese, like freshly fallen snow, onto each. Lots of it. Serve a crusty baguette and a glass of very cold white wine with this, and you’re home.