Offered in our shop (in ‘Beautiful Downtown Bajram Curri’) Daily from 12:00 noon until 3:00 pm. (You know, ish-ish.)
Basically, we love to cook, we’re Tropojan – so genetically predisposed to FEED people, we work with the most amazing fresh ingredients in the shop AND (what the heck) we made a dining room. So you’re welcome to join us!
As with everything we do, it isn’t really anything that fits a normal definition. It certainly ISN’T a restaurant. Think of it as dropping by to visit your dear friends (who you haven’t actually met yet) who happen to be top-class chefs (well, that’s what people say) and who incidentally really want to feed you!
What you get: Everything we make uses fresh local ingredients. The butter is homemade. The milk is straight from the cow (via a saucepan, to boil it, I mean). If we use lemon juice, we squeeze the lemons. The closest we get to white bread is a rosemary potato bread, otherwise it’s all brown and made using locally milled flour. The herbs are picked fresh in the morning or – in a pinch – used dry from what we sell in the shop (which means it was picked somewhere in the mountains by some cute little old people who we insist on paying double what they ask because what they ask is silly).
Menus are planned around what’s in season, what we have, and what we therefore have to use. If you ask for tea, you get a BUNCH of choices, and if you let us chose, we bring you 3 kinds (all growing locally). The eggs are fresh from our own chickens (who, by the way we never eat. It would be rude to eat your family! Instead, we spend a RIDICULOUS amount of time nursing them through various bizarre ailments which sometimes make me think they’re having us on. Like when half of them started limping only on their right legs. WTF? – I spent hours on New Year’s Day rubbing cream into their feet). Basically, NOTHING comes out of a jar, tin or package. Even the jams we serve (on top of cake!) are not only made by us, but picked, pitted and . . . ooh. YOU might think it’s just a little bit of cake, but it represents hours of delicious work, and we can’t eat it all, so you’d better come have some.
Or, cook your own lunch! If you have a couple of hours to kill, we’re happy (for a mild consideration) to show you how to make Byrek, or (our version of) Ajvar (seriously yummy, but you have to love garlic), or cheese, or whatever! In any case, just call Gerta (she’s super organized) : +355 (0)68 36 05 795.
I wonder how much trouble we’d get into if we tried to bring a cow to the shop . . . . Really fresh milk!
Capacity: We can comfortably seat 20 people (at 5 individual tables), 24 if we add an extra table, and DID just manage to feed 30, but it got a bit squashy. We’d REALLY love to feed just 2 or 3 or 4, cause then we have time to make REALLY nice things. (I mean, we made really nice things for the 30, but it was pretty stressful. Done more with steely determination, than sheer effortless joy, if you know what I mean).
Cost: Not being a restaurant, and mostly dealing with groups (so far!), generally: You tell us what you want to spend, and then we go bonkers and make a lot of food. Most agencies go for 10€ per person, but we can do less (or more!) Bear in mind (as with ‘organic’ everywhere) what we make is a bit more expensive than usual – but hey, if a person wanted to eat margarine, factory milk, and powdered potatoes . . . there are nice pica places I could recommend! (Seriously! Our dear friend just took one over, so – you know – for fast food it’s sweet. Plus, he’d probably deliver to you anywhere near Bajram Curri which a car can get close to – like by the side of the river, if you’ve been swimming . . . . just call Liridon! +355 (0)69 46 24 502 – he speaks English!)
“Ala Carte”: Here’s a new idea! If you’re an agency, but want to spend less, we could assemble a fixed price plate for you (instead of having big bowls of stuff on the tables and people help themselves – like a ‘proper’ lunch party – but that’s always harder to control and you have to make extra).
Here are some things that could go on a plate, which we made recently, with their cost for one ration:
- Byrek (using locally milled flour, etc): 3€
- Ajvar (a rich spread, mainly – but not solely – comprised of roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, olive oil & GARLIC): 2€
- Ngjyem (thick yoghurt sauce with peppers): 1€
- Sheep Cheese (made by shepherds from happy sheep): 1.50€
- Fresh Tomatoes with Red Onion Vinaigrette (simple but DELICIOUS) (Well, the vinaigrette isn’t that simple): 1€
- Buke Nori (soda bread – but rich!) and Fresh Butter: 1€
- Soup (of the Evening? – sorry, can’t resist). Seriously, whatever’s fresh and good: 2.50€
- Butter cake with homemade fruit preserves: 3€
And of course we sling other bits-and-bobs on the table, olives, flower petals . . . I dunno. (I mean, the olives are in dishes, petals not). I’m sure I’ll add more to this list, but that’s it for today!
Notice: Ideally, reserve your place, menu (and price) the afternoon before, but at the very least (especially if there are lots of you) early on the morning, for the best possible lunch. We have to hit the market, go pick things, make broth . . . . and btw, fresh stuff only arrives at 11am at the market, so ‘impromptu’ isn’t our greatest strength.
No Notice: Theoretically, individual travellers are welcome to just turn up and join us for potluck. If our cupboard is bare, we’ll send you to the BEST local restaurant (that no one knows about! tee hee!).
Last winter (remembering when ‘certain members of our team were the cook at a certain well-known Valbona hotel’ AND liking the ethos of the shop) some agencies (well, one really) started to ask us to make lunch for them (’cause they know us), and of course we were happy to oblige, but it was a bit weird having people standing around the shop, eating . . .
So WE MOVED IT UPSTAIRS! And started to make a little dining room.
On Sunday, 11 June, it looked like this:
Basically, we took down the horrible disco lights and put up these nice pseudo-traditional candelabra sort of jobbies, put down a hand made carpet and . . . .
The next DAY we had this! (Turns out, if you build it, they really DO come!)
Menu (on that occasion, and with 3 hours notice, AND – I’m just mentioning – as it happens, NO WATER. The city turned it off that day.):
- Pea and Mint Soup (mint picked fresh in the morning, homemade stock)
- Red cabbage salad (with a peanut sauce – not traditional but tasty!)
- Buke Nori (sort of traditional soda bread, made with whole wheat flour ground here, orange juice and 2 spoons of Cherry jam – you don’t taste the juice and jam, but makes it extra dense and rich)
- Homemade butter
- Local Honey (thyme)
- Sheep cheese (from the shepherds)
- Ngjyem (thickened yogurt sauce with peppers)
Plus, to finish:
- 3 kinds of tea: Wild Rosehips, Red Linden & Wild Oregano
- Butter cake with homemade cherry preserves
Two days later the 30 came (when it got squashy) and we realized we’d better break up the tables. (Sadly, only after they’d eaten cheek-by-jowl.)
We continue decorating every day, to make the room look as traditional and inviting as possible. Gerta just found this traditional “bride’s chest”:
So basically, if you’re reading this after, say, the 4th week of June 2023, it will have continued to evolve and may well have gone way out of control by then. Anyhow, just call Gerta. Always the best idea.