A while ago I had a short trip to Macedonia with work. Not the ancient Macedonia in Greece, but the neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Not a place I ever expected or indeed desired to visit, but it was a very enjoyable trip and I learned a little about Macedonian cuisine from our lovely hosts Viktor and Ana. We were in the capital, Skopje for just two full days and in that time, I was inspired by the beautiful salty white cheeses, the really simple but fresh and tasty salads, spicy pepper relishes called Ayvar and the buffet style approach to eating, with small plates of many different foods, all of which tantalised the tastebuds.
When I got back, I used the inspiration to create a feast for my reading group friends. I’d brought home two jars of Ayvar – one red and one green – so can’t claim any credit for making that, but I did make a delicious rustic hummus, a tabbouleh with pomegranate, apricot and pistachio, grilled halloumi, a Shopska salad and served them up with cold meats and flatbreads. There was so much to eat in this starter course that few of us were able for the main dish of Moussaka. I’d taken that one from Rick Stein’s Venice to Istanbul book and will definitely post it on here at a later date as it was the nicest and richest moussaka I’ve ever tasted.
Afterwards, we tucked in to Halva (another thing I brought back with me) with a spiced chocolate sauce and the delicious tiramisu ice-cream from Lidl’s premium range. Finally, we finished things off with really simple and tasty date, cardamom and tahini truffles.