Charshiya Balkan Marketplace

Virtual Charshiya Marketplace past vendors are still online

In former Ottoman towns in the Balkans and Mediterranean, the Charshiya, the market district, was where artisans and merchants made and sold their wares. It was the social, creative and commercial hub of the community.

At Golden Fest, our Charshiya gathers artisans, cooks and merchants whose work is inspired by Balkan, Mediterranean and East European craft and culinary heritage. We aim to present a mix of old-time artisanship, contemporary design and tasty treats, reflecting heritage, innovation and evolving traditions.

Click on the photo links on the list below to reach each artist’s “storefront”. We hope you will enjoy exhibitors’ stories and videos, to learn about their work and its context. Links in each storefront take you to the exhibitors’ web shops, and to videos for virtual studio tours, workshops or kitchen visits.

Who’s cooking at Golden Fest this year?
This year, it’s you….so we’re sharing our recipes to recreate at home.   NJAM, NJAM!
Check out Dan Hirschi’s food blog reinterpreting some of our Golden Fest Kitchen favorites (rescaled for a family of 4, not 4,000, and using ingredients available in your neighborhood).    Ghigandhes plaki (baked beans), Podvarak (sour cabbage casserole) and Panzarosalata (beet/feta salad), and a few innovations such as Boza Palascinta/Palačinke (dessert crêpes).   He’s also posted a map with resources for specialty ingredients and prepared specialties in the NY metro area.


Click image belowfor details on the vendor
Afi Collect (wedding fashion + accessories)
Anwar El Medina (jewelry, rugs + caftans)
Athena Mediterranean Cuisine (meze, meals, olives)
Avlea Folk Embroidery (kits and supplies)
Balkan Bites (burek pastries)
Balkan Bred (accessories + Ts)
Balkan Savories (chubritsa herbal seasoning)
BHcrafts (knitwear)
Burlap & Barrel (spices)
DaireSounds (frame drums)
Falcon Feather (jewelry)
HaHalvah (halva sweets)
HATIRA Industries (oya scarves, towels, skincare, CDs)
Michal Golan (jewelry, amulets + ceramics)
MovMeri Art (scarves + paintings)
The Tribal Knot (kilim rugs)
Ylvia Asal (oya lace)
Young Bulgarian Voices New York (martenitsa-making workshop for all ages)

@aficollect (Brooklyn) was founded by Aferdita Kodra, born in Gjakovë, Kosova. For centuries a center of fine craftmanship, this town’s artisans were celebrated for fine tailoring and soutache (braid embroidery). A legacy of Ottoman times, soutache embellished elegant urban dress and ceremonial garments to the present day. Afi inherited these skills, and an eye for design, from her mother, who created wedding ensembles for over 40 years.

Realizing the difficulty of obtaining such apparel in the Albanian, Turkish, Bosnian and Macedonian diaspora communities, Afi and her mother began creating ensembles for friends. This grew into a business and a passion; each outfit is made to order, and to her client’s personality, style and regional heritage.

The richly ornamented jilek vest is embellished with Ottoman-style soutache (filigree-like coils of metallic braid) and egg-shaped ornamental buttons covered in metallic thread. Or, appliques of crystal and beadwork give a modern flavor. This is worn over a silk blouse and dimije (loose pantaloon-skirt). Accessories include a matching cap or tiara, belt, sometimes leggings and embellished shoes.

No festive ensemble is complete without a mindil. This round or square handkerchief, edged with beads, crystals or fringe, accentuates the graceful gestures of Albanian dance; the bridal mindil is the most elaborate and becomes a treasured heirloom.

Shop here:

You will be directed to this vendor’s store. Transactions, communications and shipping arrangement are the sole responsibility of the vendor and buyer.

Anwar El Medina (Tunis, Tunisia) is located in Tunis’ historic Souk El-Trouk. Owner Amine Ben Ghorbal comes from a family of fine silversmiths who specialize in the engraved silver work known as nemli.

The art of nemli dates from the early 20th c., when Jewish smiths from Libya, including the master Moushe Nemni, introduced a new style of engraving to the island of Djerba. Applying Italian and Ottoman techniques, they reinterpreted the ancient Jewish, Amazigh, Arabic, and Carthaginian motifs of Tunisian silverwork. Fish, doves, khomsa hands, lilies, celestial bodies, and Islamic geometry now interlaced in harmonious compositions, completely covering the surfaces of wedding jewelry and ceremonial objects. This distinctly Tunisian artform expresses the country’s multicultural roots and syncretic symbolism.

The Ben Ghorbal family learned this art from the older smiths, preserving it by adapting it to modern jewelry forms. They also incorporate other Tunisian hand-fabrication methods: pierced-and-sawn technique (ajourée), engraving, filigree, and the hammered-link chains known as rihana.

Amine’s mission is to support Tunisian artisans and promote their work around the world. His shop also includes caftans with Ottoman-style embroidery embellishment (for which Souk El-Trouk was named), and hand-woven rugs.

Shop here:

You will be directed to this vendor’s store. Transactions, communications and shipping arrangement are the sole responsibility of the vendor and buyer.

Learn More:  Enjoy these short video clips showing the precision engraved and pierced work by the Ben Ghorbal family silversmiths.

Ben Ghorbal Studio

Ben Ghorbal Collection

Ben Ghorbal Engraving

Avlea Folk Embroidery (Oregon) brings ancient beauty to the modern world by reviving needlework patterns of the Mediterranean, Balkans, and Eastern Europe. On a trip to Greece to purchase ecclesiastical fabrics, Krista West (who also crafts Eastern Orthodox church vestments) became enchanted by Hellenic embroidery, and the way it continues as an essential part of everyday life in many communities. This meditative artform serves both as personal expression and as connection to heritage.

Counted directly from prika (wedding chest) heirlooms, or reinterpreted from old pattern books, Krista makes embroidery an accessible artform, offering easily-read charts, hard-to-locate materials, and affordable kits combining both. The patterns note the origin of the designs to honor their original makers and to record them for the future.

Please join Krista at our Virtual Sedenka Gathering if you need a needlework project of your own — she has designed a special “BitKit” for Golden Fest 2021, which you can order in advance from her website – or any other pattern or kit to your liking.

Shop Here:

You will be directed to this vendor’s store. Transactions, communications and shipping arrangement are the sole responsibility of the vendor and buyer.

Learn More from these videos:

Balkan Folk Embroidery Studio Tour

Embroidery Patterns and Cross Stitching

Why Embroidery?” Video

Virtual Sedenka Gathering

Balkan Bites (New York) is a woman-owned business specializing in burek. Sweet and savory filled pastries, made of layers of thin dough, are a shared tradition of the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean by way of the Ottoman Empire.

Ariana Malushi and her Aunt Alida began cooking together on Sundays to revive the Kosovan Albanian recipes of Ariana’s grandmother Magbule. Their puffy, chewy pies are still crafted the old way — hand-stretched dough generously stuffed, hand-coiled and baked. (See the video showing how it’s done!)

On a mission to share Magbule’s heritage, they began freezing and shipping hand-sized bureks nationwide. Order some in advance of the festival, and warm your home with the fragrance of a Balkan kitchen for Golden Fest!

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You will be directed to this vendor’s store. Transactions, communications and shipping arrangement are the sole responsibility of the vendor and buyer.

Learn More: Burek Making Video

Balkan Bred (Atlanta) – Stories and connections matter to Emina Pelja. She originally created her contemporary graphic clothing-and-accessories line as a reminder of home and heritage for herself and friends, emigrés from the former Yugoslavia. However, her designs are appropriate for anyone with connections to the Balkans and its towns — quietly, elegantly and inclusively.

In the process of launching her brand, Emina also generated a network of like-minded individuals with roots throughout the Balkans. Her dream is to continue expanding and connecting this multi-national community – and her product line – across borders, by including more place names and more elements of shared language, experience and humor.

Her website includes links to a blog and podcasts featuring other young creatives from the Balkan diaspora – stories of survival, tenacity, business, travel, and self-care during times of change.

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You will be directed to this vendor’s store. Transactions, communications and shipping arrangement are the sole responsibility of the vendor and buyer.

Balkan Savories (Oakland, CA) — Chubritsa, a.k.a. Sharena Sol (“multicolored salt”), is a spice blend that is found on every table in Bulgaria.   Based on dried summer savory (Satureja hortensis) and salt, it includes other herbs and spices according to region and family tradition.  

As a welcoming gesture, guests and family are offered warm bread to dip in chubritsa, but it’s also a great cooking seasoning.   Complex and earthy, herbal-salty, it’s excellent on eggs, in beans and red meat dishes.    We sprinkle it on our Golden Fest cheese platters, but it’s also amazing on popcorn or whatever you are snacking on during the Festival at home.    

This mix is prepared by Golden Fest Kitchen’s own Rachel MacFarlane (whom you might also know as a singer and tenor horn player, as well as General Manager of East European Folklife Center).

Her chubritsa is a delicately balanced, authentic recipe using freshly ground dried herbs, spices, and seeds: summer savory, sweet paprika, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, spearmint, leaf fenugreek, roasted pumpkin seeds.

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You will be directed to this vendor’s store.   Transactions, communications and shipping arrangement are the sole responsibility of the vendor and buyer.

BHCrafts (Tuzla and Sarajevo) was founded in 1995 by Lejla Radonicić as a response to humanitarian crises caused by war, in order to help women to regain hope and economic livelihoods. Twenty-five years later, BHcrafts continues to support the families and heritage of Bosnia and Hercegovina by tapping into traditional fiber arts know-how, folk patterns and modern design.

Made from locally-sourced wool and other fibers, their products range from traditional ćurapi — pattern-knit socks, used as house slippers or worn with opanci (Balkan moccasins) – to warm winter wear, to sandals and soft toys.

BHcrafts is proud to be a member of the World Fair Trade Organization, and each item is signed by its maker. They also participate in youth projects to enhance interculturalism in the Balkans within the framework of social entrepreneurship.

BHcrafts exhibited at our first Golden Fest Charshiya in 2011 and we are thrilled to have them back virtually this year.

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You will be directed to this vendor’s store. Transactions, communications and shipping arrangement are the sole responsibility of the vendor and buyer.

Burlap & Barrel (Queens, NY, with partners around the world) sources unique, beautiful spices for home cooks and professional chefs, working directly with growers on four continents. These include many ingredients integral to Balkan, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and East European cuisine.

As “official spice purveyor” to the Golden Fest Kitchen for the last three years, we’re addicted to their Black Urfa and Silk Chilis, Cured Sumac, Cinnamons, and those powerful little Mountain Cumin seeds! Burlap & Barrel’s co-founder, Ethan Frisch, has added imagination and culinary savoir-faire to our Festival meze for years.

A Public Benefit Corporation, Burlap & Barrel partners directly with smallholder farmers, to import spices never before available in the US, while improving the livelihoods of these partners. 

Though Golden Fest’s kitchen is on hiatus for 2021, you can order these spices to enliven your own cuisine!

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You will be directed to this vendor’s store. Transactions, communications and shipping arrangement are the sole responsibility of the vendor and buyer.

DaireSounds (Brooklyn)– Indira Skoric has been a presence in the NYC Balkan scene since immigrating in 1994, as activist and community organizer.   With roots in Ulcinj, Podgorica and Sarajevo, she grew up with musical training encouraged by her mother, a former tamburitza player.   At her Aunt Dzemala’s side, Indira learned traditional song and drumming as a healing art.

Among Indira’s accomplishments are co-founding RACCOON (Reconciliation and Culture Cooperative Network) in the 1990s. The network served immigrants displaced by wars in the former Yugoslavia with programs for healing, self-reliance and dialogue for a decade. She currently works as an educator and fundraiser, and nourishes young mothers and the elderly with comforting food, music and good spirit.   At the beginning of the pandemic, she founded the “Boza Chorus” – a Zoom gathering of singers to exchange Balkan songs and maintain social connections.

When her favorite daire (frame drum) from Kosovo broke, Indira sought to create her own, consulting with teachers, Polly Tapia Ferber and Seido Salifoski. Indira continues to build daires, collaborating with her son Tin, and is offering several for sale during the festival.   These, she advises, are not “performance” drums – they are for healing yourself and others, and for personal enjoyment. Proceeds will support the elders of her community for whom she plays and sings. 

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You will be directed to this vendor’s store. Transactions, communications and shipping arrangement are the sole responsibility of the vendor and buyer.

Sample Sounds: Coming Soon

Falcon Feather Jewelry (Brooklyn)– Like Freya’s mythical falcon feather cloak, the right piece of jewelry can lift the spirits, transport you to places of your imagination, and transform you into a deity, a trickster or a temptress.

Brooklyn-based Bilyana Tosic-Petino’s contemporary sculptural jewelry displays organic forms and brushed and hammered textures, in silver and brass. Earthy surfaces contrast with bright gilding and polished stones.

We also see echoes of Balkan history in her signature “Dandelion” collection: golden discs, reminiscent of dukat coins worn on chains as tokens of love and luck — and in her line of pearl drop earrings recalling those of ancient Mediterranean and Byzantine beauties.

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You will be directed to this vendor’s store. Transactions, communications and shipping arrangement are the sole responsibility of the vendor and buyer.

HaHalvah (San Francisco) – Halvah/halwa/helva, meaning “sweetmeat”, is a confection of cooked ground seeds or grain, sugar, and embellishments such as nuts and spices. Once considered a humble sweet for the poor or for fasting seasons, the sesame tahini-based version was a convenient and portable source of protein, healthy oils and carbs – in effect, the protein bar of the ancient world.

After imperial recognition by Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th c., sesame helva became a celebrated treat for all strata of society throughout the Ottoman Empire and western Asia. From there, it may have reached the Russian Empire through the Balkans, or via Central Asia. In Bulgaria and into Eastern Europe, more readily-available sunflower seeds often replaced sesame. In the early 20th c., Jewish immigrant candy-makers re-created the sesame tahini version for the US market.

Mark Pressler brings baking and confectionary skills to his own recipe. Through proper syrup temperature, and careful stirring, he creates a smooth halva, with enough crumble to first highlight the sesame and then gradually release the flavors of nuts, spice, or rosewater, and a tiny ping of salt at the end.

Mark’s HaHalvah recipe is simple and vegan (no emulsifiers or egg binder), made to order, and precut into serving-sized morsels. Coming soon: HaHalvah will offer Halvah-laced Baklava, Tea Cakes and Chocolate Cookies.

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HATIRA Industries (NYC) – Musician, educator, and flea market devotee Eva Salina has long been attracted to objects with history and a sense of place.

Eva’s shop, HATIRA (“memory” in Turkish) includes vintage textiles and jewels with mysterious pasts. She also crafts nourishing skin-care products from botanicals from around the world, including Bulgarian rose oil and frankincense.

Vintage Turkish yazma scarves represent the intersection of three arts – dyeing, wood block printing and oya lacemaking. Antique scarves show subtle color and irregularities inherent to the hand stamping process; the fine needle-lace edgings, added by women, are both decorative and symbolic. More recent vintage scarves are screen-printed, reinterpreting older stamped patterns; their best oya makers innovate crochet edgings, or revive old needle-lace motifs, in perfect harmony (or surprising contrast) with these floral prints.

Peştemals, hand-woven hamam bath towels, are made by an artisan family Eva met in Turkey. Quick-drying and softening with each wash, they take up little space and serve a multitude of purposes.

Eva Salina’s CDs, reinterpreting classic Romani repertoire, are also available.

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You will be directed to this vendor’s store. Transactions, communications and shipping arrangement are the sole responsibility of the vendor and buyer.

Michal Golan Jewelry (Manhattan) – Michal designs and produces jewelry, amulets, and ceremonial art, with a team of artisans in her West Side studio. Cast in brass, these are richly embellished with gold, silver, enamel, semi-precious gems and crystal — one stone at a time.

Michal’s hometown, Haifa — with its diverse spiritual traditions, its overlay of ancient civilizations, and the sparkle of the Mediterranean — finds its way into her work.

The eye and hand, in particular, speak to her at this moment. These traditional symbols of protection, also call us to bear witness to injustice, and find strength and moral direction to repair the world.

Michal also creates one-of-a-kind ceramic vessels and mosaics inspired by Middle Eastern and Latin American folk art and archaeology; brilliantly colored, these express themes of protection, womanhood, and the cycle of life.

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MovMeri Art (NYC) Working the ancient Silk Road between the Far East and Europe, Armenian traders specialized in commerce and weaving of fine textiles. They were noted also for carmine, the prized red pigment derived from cochineal, and brought the art of silk cultivation and weaving from China to Western Asia.

Batik, the art of dyeing using wax resist to separate or overlay colors, had ancient roots in East Asia and Pharaonic Egypt. The technique may have crossed from west to east, or the reverse way. Revived as a popular art in the 20th century in Yerevan, Armenia, silk painting and batik are taught as fine arts technique, and serve as inspiration for production textile design.

Meri Movsisyan brought these skills from Armenia to Brooklyn, where she produces colorful batik silk scarves and paintings on canvas. Her work ranges from figurative to abstract, inspired by nature and early 20th c. European painting.

Tradition also informs Meri’s work — carpet motifs, illuminated manuscripts, and the ancient Armenian alphabet. The pomegranate appears as well – symbolizing life and abundance in Armenia, as well as throughout Central Asia, the Middle East and Mediterranean lands.

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The Tribal Knot (Brooklyn) – The ancient Illyrian tribes, who inhabited present-day Albania, Montenegro and Croatia, produced high quality wool from mountain-pastured flocks. Archeological evidence shows they wove textiles, of finely carded yarn, on frame looms as early as 400 BCE. Subsequent technological developments, and migrations of peoples through the region, added to the repertoire of techniques, patterns and colors over the centuries.

Flat-woven rugs, kilims, served not only as floor coverings, but as covers for divans, beds and cushions. Women’s dress in many Balkan regions included woolen aprons which were in effect, miniature carpets, displaying their wearer’s skill and artistry.

The present-day peoples of these lands continue to weave. The Tribal Knot obtains rugs from artisans in Albania using old-style looms, in a tapestry technique practiced for thousands of years. One full-sized rug takes about two months to complete, and is handmade from locally-sourced wool in vibrant colors.

Matt Olsen’s mission is to bring authentic, high quality rugs, produced and obtained in Albania through sustainable and fair-trade practices, to people around the world.

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Ylvia Asal (Anatolia Art + Craft Studio, Haddonfield, NJ) – A native of Black Sea region in eastern Anatolia, Ylvia trained in fine and applied arts in Turkey, coming to Philadelphia to study accounting.  Ylvia works in contemporary media – from photography to site-specific art interventions.    However, her first love is oya lacemaking, learned at gatherings at her grandmother’s home.       

More than just embellishment, oya was a women’s language that extended from Anatolia across many cultures from the Black Sea to the Balkans.  Applying varied techniques (needle-lace, crochet, tatting, and hairpin lace), and symbols (floral and abstract motifs) – women expressed their feelings, intentions, and status in life.  Oya edged scarves, handkerchiefs, table linens, and garments.  The finest included 3-dimensional silk thread flowers, stiffened with sugar or starch.   Flat edgings included beads and metal sequins.  

A younger generation now reinterprets oya in bolder versions, as modern accessories, embellished with stones and crystals.  Ylvia’s work incorporates old and new styles, also adding beads and found objects. These reflect her Anatolian heritage as well as her NJ hometown, Haddonfield, and its vintage aesthetic.      Ylvia’s other passion is community engagement, and in 2018 she established Anatolia Art + Craft Studio, a space to gather and encourage the work of local creators.  She hopes soon to resume small-group workshops in oya, embroidery, and ebru (Sufi tradition of paper-marbling).  Recognized by Rutgers University, and by the NJ State Council on the Arts as a tradition-bearer, she has been awarded residencies, and works with young apprentices and elders.  Ylvia also participates in festivals and public art projects regionally and internationally.  

Shop Here: ; visit studio by appointment: 35 Kings Hwy E Stu #100, Haddonfield, NJ 08033

Learn More:

Young Bulgarian Voices New York (NYC) – This year, Bulgarian school and culture organization “Young Bulgarian Voices New York” presents their annual Martenitsa Make-along Workshop by video, so you can attend anytime during the festival. All ages welcome!

Martenitsi bracelets and amulets, made of red and white yarn, are braided and worn throughout the month of March to ensure luck and health. Fun variants include tassels, pompoms, and tassel dolls (named “Pizho and Penda”).

This tradition exists not only in Bulgaria, but throughout the Balkans and Eastern Europe, where the month of March is imagined as a cantankerous grandma (Baba Marta) who must be honored in order to bring spring.

Other names for these friendship bracelets include mărţişor (Romania and Moldova), martis (Greece), martinka (Macedonia), martenica (Serbia), and verore (Albania and Kosova).

In order for the magic to work, however, you must make your martenitsi for others, and give them away on March 1, Baba Marta’s Day. Start braiding now! We can all use a boost of good health, luck and optimism!

Supplies needed:

1 skein red yarn
1 skein white yarn
Crewel (yarn) needle
Beads with large holes (optional)
Safety pin
Cardboard (9”x 9” square)

Martenitsa Workshop information will be posted here during the festival.

Learn More:

Watch Video Here

Founded in 2004, Young Bulgarian Voices New York’s Bulgarian School and Cultural Organization provides classes in music, language, singing, folk dance and culture for all ages and backgrounds. YBVNY also sponsors NY’s only Bulgarian bagpipe-and-drum ensemble “101 Kaba Gaidi i Tupani NY”, and a youth chorus. Committed to community and their students’ progress, their programs continue online this year. of people around the wo