Go to Bulgaria before the secret’s out! I must thank a native Bulgarian, living in Brussels, for informing me that Bulgaria is inexpensive to travel, or more specifically, eat through. “Like, really cheap,” he said; and he was right. At any restaurant a great meal consisting of shopska salad, marinated meats, stuffed grape leaves, and Bulgarian cheeses didn't cost more than 20 leva or 13 dollars for two diners—including a nice carafe of Bulgarian red wine. Because of these relatively crazy prices it is possible to try all that Bulgaria has to offer. My Bulgarian friend insisted that covering the table with as many dishes as possible is good form in Bulgaria, and I learned to master it.
When I returned home I was on a mission to replicate a version of shopka salad: a simple mixture of freshly chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, sliced red onions, and shredded Bulgarian cheese, drizzled with olive oil and vinegar, and garnished with one black olive. The Bulgarian white cheese may be difficult to find, but you can substitute a mild feta.