Albania Travel

What to eat in Albania : 10 things which will make you move there!

Dunno what you think about it but I’m a strong believer that getting to know the other culture strongly consists of gettin to know its cuisine. Eating together bonds people (or divides when there is only one piece of cheescake left and two volunteers to eat it) and breaks the ice. Through stomach to the heart? Precisely, the heart of the culture!

Albania is no different, to say the least. The truth is, cuisine in Albania is taken seriously! This is due to their culture, which obligates every person who receives guests to provide them everything they may possibly need. That’s what the law requires. Sounds like a big deal, right? And it is. The Code of Leke (the Kanun) for decades was the core of the society’s behaviour, creating the foundations for the political system and shaping albanian culture. One of the principles of the Code, the rule of besa, says that being someone’s guest means being given shelter, support and food.

Whether you want it or not, you gonna be taken care of :d

1.Gliko. A guest in the house, sugar in the cupboard?

You can definitely do that! The reception of the guest begins with giving him gliko. It’s served with a glass of water. Very likely, due to the fact that gliko is BEYOND sweet, to the point that I can’t imagine eating more than one piece! What’s more, a guest definitely abandons the thought of sweetening coffee or tea. But, what actually is this gliko thing?

Gliko served with water by the kindest Mrs Kaliope in Berat – she invited me to her garden and welcomed with gliko! I looove Albania!

It’s a kind of dessert made of … everything, from fruits to vegetables! They are first soaked in water with lemon, then boiled in water with sugar which creates syrup with fruit / vegetable and this is GLIKO! This is a very laborious process. The most exquisite, gliko arre, takes weeks to prepare, because the nut shell (arre – walnut) must soften properly. The most popular are orange and cherry gliko, but you can also find tomato and zucchini flavour, in a word? Everything can be gliko!

2.Byrek. Alternative currency of Albania.

It’s easier to get a byrek than to find out what time a bus leaves: d You can buy it anywhere! Coming from the airport, you can see stalls in the middle of nowhere selling byrek. This business is always thriving because there is always a time for such a snack. Necessary with dhalle, a dairy product similar to youghurt but much saltier! There are no half-measures here: you either love it or hate it :d Byrek itself, on the other hand, evokes general approval: filo pastry baked with cheese – quite salty, or meat, wild cabbage or, my favorite, spinach.

I’m pretty much sure it’s the worst photo I’ve ever published here but it truly has the spirit of real Albania :d Byrek at random gas station! I had it when I was going from the airport to Vlore, the bus driver stopped suddenly and the whole bus went for … a byrek together :d

It’s such an Albanian fast food with a ridiculous price, you can get it from 50 Lek, which is about 40/50 cents…

3.Pispili or perfection from … nothing!

My addiction! Feta cheese, spinach, leek combined with corn flour create something resembling bread. This extremely tasty combination is especially popular in small villages. It is a very cheap baking – the ingredients are really “nothing” but together…. Olaboga <3 Fortunately, you don’t have to bother to find them! Excellent pispili serves Furre Buke Aso.

Price / piece: 75lek

4.Qofte or when Sicily meets Albania

If you’ve ever tried Sicilian arancini – and here I’m telling you where to eat the best – then I think you’ll like qofte. Traditionally, they are made of meat, but I tried the eggplant version and it is just as great! They have the shape of oblong meatballs and a very delicate, juicy inside!

Outstanding qofte in Gjirokastra: Taverna KARDHASHI

5.Qifqi z salce kosi or cheese is the new black.

It goes with everything.

And with these baked rice balls for sure! This is a very simple dish, which consists of rice, pepper, herbs and an egg that combines the whole thing. It’s delicious! Served with salce kosi, i.e. cream cheese made in the style of tzatziki, it is poetry! It is perfect for the hot Albanian summer.

The best qifqi in Gjirokastra:

6.Grilled peppers stuffed with djathe or ricotta aka heaven on a plate

My next great love! And I see your surprised faces “What’s special about a grilled vegetable”. That’s the simplicity! A seemingly uncommon dish, but guaranteed to delight: the filling is usually either ricotta or djathe cheese, similar to feta, which is very popular in Albania. The whole poured with excellent olive oil produced in Albania is an absolute must to try.

7.Seafood is nowhere else so delicious, and so … cheap!

Oh yes, Albania is a paradise for seafood lovers! Excellent shrimps, octopus, fresh fish… Come to my favorite restaurant that specializes in seafood. psst! They also have great and cheap white wine, it’s perfect with shrimps!

Those shrimps… The best I’ve ever had! Make sure to go to VANI in Vlore, they specialize in seafood.

8.Moussaka: when it’s too expensive in Greece…

…. come to Albania!

Even thoug moussaka has Greek origins, it can be found on Albanian tables. It’s due to strong Greek, and actually also Italian, influence on Albanian culture. Sort of globalization I don’t mind at all. Moussaka is just perfect before siesta time – after eating it, food coma guaranteed :d Eggplant, minced meat and bechamel sauce, sprinkled with cheese – yes, it tastes as good as it sounds! The best moussaka in Vlore you can find here:

It’s, by the way, one of the best restaurants in the city serving traditional cuisine. Delicious homemade food, friendly staff, nice interior and they take cards, such combination rarely happens so don’t sleep on this one 😀

9.Village salad: where the word “light” doesn’t exist

Although the innocent-sounding name “village salad” may make you think about something on the lighter side, you cannot be more wrong :d Sure, it’s super healthy but the size of it isn’t light at all. You are given a huge portion of djathe cheese, tomato, cucumber and olives, and half a loaf of bread :d Told ya, they take hospitality seriously, you won’t leave hungry. Never.

I ate it quite often. It is delicious – prepared with fresh vegetables, served with homemade cheese and still warm bread. Its phenomenon is hidden in the fact that each of its ingredients has been either grown or prepared on a local farm.

10.Trilece, shendetlie, ashure… in Albania you have a separate stomach for desserts!

Oh, Albania knows how to desserts! You can get nystagmus from the number of options and believe me or not, almost every one is worth trying! But to make it easier for you to choose, I have described the best ones for you, crème de la creme of Albania!

  • Trilece: dessert of all desserts! A sponge cake soaked in three types of milk, puffy cake, moist inside at the same time. You have a feeling that you are eating a cloud that melts in your mouth… AN EXCELLENT TASTE EXPERIENCE. Freakin delicious one, you can find in Arjoli, the best place for hunting Albanian desserts! To find out what I mean by saying “cloud”, see the video at the end of this article. WARNING. Do NOT watch it hungry!
  • Ashure: no one asked for it but everyone needed! Imagine sweet pudding being a mixture of various types of grains, fresh and dried fruits and nuts. Basically, everything you have in the kitchen excpet for the sink :d But I loved it! Topped with cinammon was super refreshing and something unlike anything else. Just give it a go 🙂 Usually, it’s sold at bakeries, like Furre Buke Aso.
  • Shendetlie means bless you! Honey-flavoured cake full of nuts, which Albanians baked on the occasion of various holidays to bring “shendet” or health.
  • Sheqerpare are butter cookies soaked in sugar syrup with additions of nuts and lots of cinnamon. It’s like eating Christmas atmosphere!
  • Paçavure because Albania is all about byrek! But wait! Why byrek? The same dough that is used to make byrek, phyllo dough, is also used to prepare Paçavure. However, it’s used entirely differently: soaked in syrup, usually made from oranges. For several hours, gradually, a cake is beweted with syrop, to make sure it gets into every centimeter of phyllo dough. Sometimes you can see another version of it, called portokalopita – slightly modified but equally delicious (portokalle – orange).
  • Petulla because breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it must be nutritious. Petulla is light as a cloud yeast dough fried in oil, slightly reminiscent of donuts. But the Albanian one, if done right, is so fluffy that it’s full of air bubbles inside. They can be eaten both sweet and savory and the traditionally served Albanian petulla looks like this:
Petulla sometimes called kulac, served with butter, homemade jam, chocolate spread, eggs, cheese “djathe” and pancakes. I mean… Albanian take breakfest seriously : break for fest 😀

As I mentioned, it’s nutritious: d And believe me or not, I haven’t met the nation yet, and my friends come from all over the world, from Chile through France to Japan, which didn’t like petulla.

11.Raki a day keeps doctors away!

In Albania, it’s not a figure of speech. Truly and strongly it is widely believed that raki is a cure for the majority of ilnesses, including headache, broken arm or difficult divorce. You gonna be offered raki sooner than you say “hi, can I have…”. Be ready to see dignified old albanian gentlemens sitting in the early morning in the cafe, drinking coffee and raki. It is a thing. Personally, I hate it. It makes my throat burns like Stannis fleet in the Ghames of Thrones. However, I kinda agree that it might be perceived as some sort of medicine : certainly you don’t have a lot of problems after raki, simply, you don’t remember about them :d

12.Coffe ’cause you need two to tango!

Coffee and raki, raki and coffee. Sure, not everyone cultivates this custom, but it is definitely an important part of an Albanian’s day. Coffee is drunk slowly while chatting with friends and catching the ray of sun. Takeaway coffee is an invention of tourists who in their haste have lost an essential part of this ritual: enjoying drinking it! I leave you with the details of my favorite places in Vlora with excellent coffee and such views!

Which of Albanian flavours would you like to try? Or maybe, you’ve spotted your favourites? Let me know <3

If THIS VIEW is not convincing you…. Well. I don’t really think we have something to talk about :d I’m kidding of course, but I dare to say that you will not see anything better today! Trilece as its greatest!

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