If the world is saved by all of us finally coming to our senses and eating vegan (and raw) foods, it will be charming young ladies like the two who run Rawlly in Sofia, Bulgaria who lead the way. I regrettably did not discover their names, but they are absolutely the sweetest, and the one on the right spoke very good English and was able to guide me through their selection of raw desserts and translate some labels on products on their shelves.
Before traveling to Bulgaria, I had done some research and found a selection of dairy free and vegan stores and restaurants in Sofia. I ultimately selected Rawlly due to timing and location. We were only in Sofia for a couple of days, and it just worked out that on our travel day to Veliko Turnovo, our friend and guide’s hometown, I could squeeze in a trip to Rawlly.
That day started with a trip to Boyana Church, followed by our friend dropping us off at the National History Museum. At that point we could’ve taken a taxi straight back to the Sofia Hilton, where we were staying (and where we would meet our friend to head out of town). But I thought, why not be a little more adventurous? So we walked from the museum to a nearby Turkish restaurant, Turquoise, for lunch. Then from there, we took a taxi to Rawlly.
When I entered Rawlly, my first impression was similar to what I have felt in many raw vegan cafes – for example, Soya Cafe in Krakow, Poland. It’s a small place, a bit off the beaten path, and when Therese and I entered, we were the only customers in the store. I wish that it were right on a main street, like Vitosha Boulevard, where it would have a better chance of getting lots of customers who just happened to be walking by. Instead, where it is right now, unless you were looking for it, you would never find it.
Luckily, I was looking for Rawlly, and as I said, I picked it partly for its location. While it is on a side street, it is very close to the Sofia Hilton. Namely, just a block west of the store is Bulevard Cherni Vrah, one of the highways surrounding the hotel. And there is a walkway that passes underneath the highway, so it is easy to get to the hotel.
While Rawlly is small, it is well-stocked, and we came away with a large bag full of goodies. I selected a raw chocolate pie so that I would have something for dessert (or maybe part of a breakfast), and it was rich and delicious.
Then I got some dairy free staples for the next few days – vegan margarine, almond-coconut milk, a loaf of multi-grain bread (which they threw in for free because it was yesterday’s bread) and a bottle of sunflower oil. What turned out to be my best purchase was the vegan cheese from Violife that I included in my purchase.
There were a couple of days when I ate chunks of that with bread and fruit for my breakfast, and it had a nice creamy consistency and mild tangy flavor. I held onto it, and when we got to Rouen later in our trip, I grated it and used it in an omelet and also made a savory tart with it, and it melted very nicely. When I finished it, I wished that I had bought more than one package!
I hope these two young enterprising ladies can keep their shop going in its quiet location – or better yet, hopefully they have a chance to move it somewhere where it will get more foot traffic. Either way, it is great to see businesses like theirs popping up in unlikely spots like Sofia, and I hope there will be more and more demand for their products.