There are supposedly places in New York where one can find Rakia, an amazing Bulgarian spirit that is similar to grappa (but much better!).
I have been hunting this stuff all over NY...unsuccessfully. A waitress at Mehanata, the only Bulgarian restaurant in NY, tipped me off to a Bulgarian deli in Queens called Black Sea Delicatessen (39-39 47th Avenue, "open seven days 8am-10pm" according to their card).
I called and confirmed that they have rakia and were open before trekking out there. The lady assured me that they are open until 10 and have 3 varieties, but when I arrived they were closed! (And I looked around for the Candid Camera truck and people laughing before giving in). Did this 3 or 4 times before giving up. Once, I was in the neighborhood for Romanian food and just dropped by but it was closed. When I called the next day, the lady told me that they are always open but that day they were closed.
I have tried contacting distributors in CA and producers in Bulgaria but have come up dry (literally!). Does anyone here have any other leads or interest in rakia? Thanks in advance.
PS. On one trip, however, the Romanian-Armenian deli next door informed me that Black Sea Delicatessen was out of business. Perhaps worried by my forlorn gaze, they notifed me that they had just pulled a wonderful, fresh banitza out of the oven. Def worth a return trip. And from this I have extracted the following moral : when chowhounding (or boozehounding), if you can't satisfy one urge, chances are some other delight is to be discovered nearby.