Gastronomy of Macedonia
Macedonia’s favorable climate, predominantly pleasant Mediterranean influence coming along the river valleys featuring finest waters and fertile soil and plenty of sunshine /Ohrid has 2300 sunny hours per year/ provide fruitful harvests of juicy and delicious fruits and vegetables and wonderful traditional produces. The agricultural sector in Macedonia represents a significant area due to the fact that that it employs a relevant number of the population; it is identified as one of the strategic as well as highly potential sector. Wine is the second largest agricultural export from Macedonia after tobacco. In fact, few countries as small as Macedonia can offer such variety of products including everything from citrus fruits, grapes and hazelnuts to tobacco, rice and mountain teas. Harvesting and processing of wild eco products (forest fruits, mushrooms and medicinal herbs) is also developing in these areas. Macedonia is also rich in extraordinary quality of meat, producing beef, chicken, pork and lamb, and a whole range of game.
Macedonia is especially well known for its high quality and delicious cheeses: soft white cheese (sirenje), similar to Greek feta, yellow cheese (kashkaval), similar to Italian Locatello Romano and also its yoghurt and milk. Every Macedonian village offers unique and tasty local varieties of cheese.
Among the most popular vegetables in Macedonia is the red pepper, so every Macedonian garden grows red peppers. The unique and specific decorative sight of the red peppers hung out to dry on every veranda for use in winter cooking is found everywhere in Macedonia. In autumn in Macedonia peppers are picked, roasted, skinned, pulped and produces into the ayvar, popular Balkan appetizer and the best red pepper paste you can find. Macedonia is famous exporter of fresh and processed, pasteurized and pickled vegetables, packed in cans and glass jars, such are peppers, red peppers, ajvar, lutenica, cabbage leaves, apple peppers, roasted peppers, hot peppers, pfefferoni, beet root, green tomato, plum sweet preserve, cucumbers – gherkins, cauliflower, carrots, eggplant.
Gourmands claim that “gravče na tavče” can be compared with truffles, oysters and caviar, and that the quality of the Macedonian beans gives the “gravce na tavce” Macedonian traditional specialty the distinctive savor. Variety of delicious traditional specialties are offered for memorable food enjoyment in Macedonia : Turli tava, lutenica, Banitza-Spinach Pie, tarator, Ohrid and Pelister trout, stuffed peppers and moussaka…Likewise in the whole Balkans, here the skilled hands of Macedonians sincerely compete with their regional neighbors about whose sweets are the best quality – baklava and other authentic and usually homemade-style sweet products. Orchards and farms of Macedonia provide abundance of fresh fruits and exceptionally tasty vegetables all year round.
Viticulture in Macedonia is very rich and varied in potential for grape growing, since the country has a long and distinguished history of wine-making. Macedonian wines are among the best in the world, thanks to abundance of beneficial sun in Macedonia throughout the year. The story of the Macedonian wines is cordial, friendly and colorful, since grapes have been cultivated in the most fertile regions of Macedonia, bathed in the heat of the sun, in the flow of the Vardar River. Whole families, in several regions in Macedonia taken by the power of wine, for generations now, from father to son, have conveyed the story of the healing power of the God’s drink and continue the tradition of grapes cultivation. There are more than 80 wineries currently in Macedonia, out of which 25 are successful exporters of wine in the world market. The intense aromas, complex fullness and fantastic quality of the Macedonian wines come from the combined influence of the Mediterranean and continental climates, featuring warm summer days and cooler nights. Macedonia produces all sorts of wine – dry and sweet, still and sparkling, red, white and rose.
Today Macedonia has around 24,000 ha of vineyards that produce considerable quantities of highest quality grape. The two main varieties grown in Macedonia are Vranec (red) and Smederevka (white). Beside those two the most popular varieties include international ones like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir from the red and Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc from the white varieties. In addition there are number of other different varieties as Muscat Ottonel, Semillon, Rkaciteli, Grenache Blanc, and Kadarka, that are grown in Macedonia.
While you travel down the course of the Vardar River in Macedonia the grape fields follow you at you every step. There are grape fields and vineyards in the regions of Skopje, Veles, Gevgelija-Valandovo, Strumica, Ovcepolje, Kocani-Vinica, Ohrid, Prilep, Bitola /Pelagonija-Polosko region/, Prespa, Kicevo, Tetovo and Pcinja – Osogovo. The most recognizable and famous wine area in Macedonia is the Tikvesh region, and its center – Kavadarci and Negotino are the biggest producers of the heady liquid of fantastic wines. Tikvesh wines reflect over 120 years of a culture which celebrates the entire wine experience and is must !
OHRID CHOMLEK Recipe
Ingredients for 4 persons : 800 gr beef – boneless, 6 cloves of garlic, 800 gr onions, salt, peppercorn, 1 spoon of red paprika powder, 2 spoons of oil, 2 spoons of vinegar
Preparation of Macedonian /Ohrid/ chomlek : Cut met into larger pieces. Slice onions and chop garlic. If onions are small, use whole onions without slicing or slice them in quarters. Lay layers of meat in ceramic pot and cover them with layers of sliced onions and garlic until the top of the pot and all ingredients used. Add salt, red paprika powder, pepper, oil, vinegar and water to fill the top of the pot. Cook on medium heat until meat becomes tender and almost all water is dried. Serve Chomlek with warm homemade buns.
„SHEPHERD SARMA MEAL“ – Cabbage casserole :
Ingredients : 500 gr of cut pickled sauerkraut, 600 gr minced mixed veal and pork meat, 1 onion, 100 gr rice, 1 garlic, small spoon of salt, half of a small spoon of cracked black pepper, half of a small spoon of cooking dried vegetable spice, 1 kg of potato, 500 gr sour cream, 3 eggs
Preparation : cook potato in boiled water and mash it. Ad sour cream, salt and chopped garlic, 2 yolks and whisked egg whites. Fry chopped onion on little oil, add minced meat and continue frying for 10-15 minutes. Wash pickled cabbage – sauerkaut in water to avoid too sour taste it originally has. Boil race for some 10 minutes. Mash all – meat, rice, chopped onion, spice and stir all well. Cover the griddle pan with butter and put the layer of cut sauerkraut, and some 150 ml of water. Cover this layer with the mixture of meat and ride and eggs and make it even. Make the next layer of tomato above it and bake the dish for 45 minutes On the temperature of 175 C. Serve the baked Shepherd Sarma in the same dish in which it was cooked.