Jack and I felt completely at home in Kiev, our Eastern Slavic heritage helping us to blend in nicely. Though the Ukrainian language uses a Cyrillic alphabet, I impressed Jack (and myself!) with how quickly I could translate a fair number of Cyrillic words, my only formal training being a year of Russian in university three decades ago. That, combined with having grown up in a Polish-speaking household and now navigating the menus and stores of my Slavic neighbors, meant that not everything was an indecipherable blur during our holiday. This was a useful skill set to discover in a city where pretty much the only English was on the Metro signs.
A flower and folk festival was underway at the park near Perchersk Lavra. Who can resist Ukrainian Djadjas enjoying their day out?
The tickets to enter the festival were but 25Hryvnia each (€1), but leave the alcohol, weed, weapons, and grenades at home.
More national costumes on display.
Embroidered works and pottery could be had for very few Hryvnias. Our dining table is a bit cheerier now with a woven cloth in reds and blues.
Honey stands numbered in the dozens at the festival, with visitors swarming (pun intended) to sample and purchase. We later learned that Ukraine produces the greatest amount of honey per capita in the world!
Babushkas are everywhere, naturally, and their presence commanded considerable respect from young and old alike. That was nice to see.
Honor Bars for Beer. This could work in Austria, and not just for the convenience to the morning commuter of grabbing a Radler (or two) before catching the U-Bahn.
Burgers are the new Schnitzel across Central Europe. Vienna alone has had at least a half-dozen burger joints pop up since we arrived. Looks like Ukraine has jumped on the bandwagon as well.
Yes, that is the restaurant you think it is. Must be for the ex-pats.
This is Besarabsky Market, the grande dame of farmer’s markets in Kiev once upon a time. We dropped by in the afternoon, after some of the vendors had gone home, though our experience was still rather old world. In the months after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, vendors were provided Geiger counters in order that customers be able to check the radiation levels of incoming produce. Imagine.
Will it be roast pork for dinner?
Bones for soup stock, perhaps?
How about braised rabbit?
Or, maybe just chicken?
Kiosks throughout the city are beautiful, whether the offer is a gourmet hot dog or a smoke.
“Puzata Hata,” Ukraine’s version of McDonald’s, sort of. One passes through a cafeteria line offering all the Ukrainian comfort foods that can be imagined, served by smiling staff. We dropped in, and for just €10 in total we lunched on a stack of potato pancakes, a plate of varencyky, a bowl of pickles, sausages, and two beverages. Epicurean satisfaction for hours.
We sat for one formal meal, I feeling brave enough to navigate the menu.
Varencyky and Pivo to start. Soft, billowy dumplings filled with minced meat and topped with fried bacon crumbles. That’s all there is to write.
Sausage and horseradish up next. The mild sausage and the tongue-eviscerating heat of the horseradish made me want to order two more plates.
Smoked salmon with mushrooms and tomatoes in cream sauce for me; braised rabbit stew for Jack. We were pleased with our translations.
We walked past this street one day, and just as I remarked to Jack that it reminded me of Montmartre in Paris, we spied the Tres Francais Cafe. Ha! We made dinner reservations and returned later that evening.
The small cheese plate to start.
Canard Confit with stewed fruits and sour cherry sauce for me; an Alsatian pork chop (that seemed larger than his head!) for Jack. Kiev does French bistro food extremely well.
Okay, maybe its origins are Russian, maybe French, maybe even Ukrainian, but we couldn’t resist trying Kotleta po-Kyivsky. Whatever the origins, our Chicken Kiev was darned good.
Finally, it goes without saying that we loved Kiev for a number of reasons. Ice cubes and civilized store hours are just two of them.