Just over an hour’s drive from Wild Thyme is the archaeological site of Madara. It is the unique carving of the horse and rider that has earned world heritage status for this site, but there are many other archaeological treasures here.
The Madara horseman is a stone carving high up on the cliff face and is surrounded by Greek inscriptions commemorating the victories of three Bulgarian Tsars from the 8th and 9th centuries AD. The ruins of their capitals at Pliska and Veliki Preslav are just down the road but here at Madara was their cult centre.
There are temples and other ritual sites which date from the old Bulgarian period just before the conversion to Christianity. It was already a special place before this time and the eerie rock face and caves were used by the Thracians for temples. The museum exhibits some of the Thracian finds which includes a marble slab carved with the signs of the zodiac.
Later on, the cliff face was peppered with caves used by Christian hermits and the plateau above the cliff was the site of a medieval fortress. Occupied over so many centuries, it is easy to see why Madara has earned the title ‘the Bulgarian Troy’.
You can drive yourself to the site or join a Wild Thyme guided archaeological tour.
We’re making our first attempt at curing hams. There are 3 stages to the process. The first stage to submerge the whole of the back leg in brine for a week to 10 days. The brine is a sweet one which includes salt, sugar and saltpeter. The room should be about 8 degrees centigrade.
After the 10 days, we washed the hams thoroughly to get rid of all the salt and hung them up to dry. It is very important that they are totally dry. The saltpeter has been absorbed by the meat and now they are now in a fridge to ‘equlaise’. This means that in the next 12 days the saltpeter will continue to cure the meat.
Watch this space for stage 3….
Scotch eggs are not found in Balkan cuisine but our friends Toi from Spain and Borislav from Bulgaria were intrigued when they saw them on our blog last year. So they had a go at making their own versions of Scotch eggs and sent us some photos:
‘Here there are the pictures of Scotch eggs. There were delicious although it was not that easy. We wanted the eggs not to be hard, but medium or soft inside, so that when you cut it all the yolk spread over the meat.
After several tries we got it but it was very difficult to wrap it with the meat because it was very
‘The small egg is a quail egg with a piece of my home made focaccia. The quail egg was very difficult to peel so that
we decided it was not worthy to make it with such a small egg.
These 6 Scotch eggs took us more than 2 hours but we enjoyed it very much.’