Back in June, I had the good sense to visit the Sydney Good Food & Wine Show , where the event’s Cheese Alley beckoned my inner (and outer) cheese addict. What’s more, I had the good fortune to meet Elio Litti, a representative for the EU Dairy Daily, a three-year program that aims to promote Bulgarian – yes, Bulgarian – dairy products in both Australia and the United Arab Emirates. Now, the UAE, I could understand. One thinks of camels, not cows, deserts, not dauphinoise, in the land of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. But wanting to gain a foothold in Australia, which already boasts 6,700 dairy farmers and a thriving $13 million dairy industry? How were the EU Dairy Daily and the Bulgarian Association of Dairy Processors going to do that? I was keen to learn more.
And learn more I would. A couple of weeks after my fateful meeting with Elio, I received an invitation to be a delegate on the EU Dairy Daily’s next mission, to, you guessed it – Bulgaria! I would join two other Australian bloggers, an Aussie dietitian, and a handful of delegates from the UAE, among them a cheese importer (my new best friend?), an executive chef, and several businessmen.
For five days in September, I would come to learn a great deal about the Bulgarian dairy industry and its prides and joys, from white-brine cheese, to kashkaval, to its famous yoghurt. But so much more than that, I learned about the country’s interesting and challenging history, its people, the remarkable cities of Sofia and Plovdiv, the land’s beautiful countryside, and its food as a whole. In the coming weeks, follow me on my epic and tasty trip (nine airports in 12 days!) to Bulgaria. I also threw in a long weekend in Milan, Italy, for good measure (though not for my waistline!), where it was a continuing festival of food and friendship. I hope you’ll join me.