I made my way to Kyiv from London on a very long-awaited trip to Ukraine. The local economy stinks, and frankly anything I can do to help — in return for filling my stomach — I’m happy to contribute! 21 years after I took Ukrainian language in college, I step foot in Kyiv.
My Ukrainian was beyond rusty, but at least I can read it. Most people were speaking surzhyk (a pigeon hybrid vernacular) anyway, so that was confusing enough. I had my first meal after a stroll around the hilly town, stopping in the middle of the small Shevchenko Park at the restaurant O’Panas.
The meal wasn’t bad considering it was a little of a tourist trap — though lacking in tourists. They made a garlic salo spread with some dark bread, which was a good start.
The beef tongue (I love tongue) was not bad, the beet-infused horseradish made it more interesting.
And finally, the veal cheeks were pretty good, using a sweet-ish sauce. The puree was a little of an unnecessary sideshow.
Not a bad first meal, a good fuelling for me wandering the town in the evening. It is very hilly, and you need all this energy. The evening I walked around the Maidan area and just looked at it with my heart skipping beats. It was just a year ago that Russian-paid snipers shot innocent people all over the square, and at the points where their lives were taken were spotlights shone into the sky. It’s emotional to say the least.
I needed to remove myself from this. This was as mentally damaging to me as the Hiroshima visit, partly because how close I was/am/will be to the Ukrainian freedom movement. So I dropped into the nearby brew-pub Slavutych Shato and enjoyed a few hearty brews. I also enjoyed 2 large plates of smoked pigs ears, one of my favourite beer snacks. Mmm…
Then some nice local sprats…
And with several half litres of good beer it didn’t even cost me close to 10 dollars…
I wandered back to my hotel and had a nitecap before turning in for the next day, which would prove to be very busy. And food-less, as events overtook most of the day; for dinner I had my one tasting menu in town, which I will chronicle in the next review.
My last full day in Kyiv also had me skip food again, as I was too busy — this time doing touristy things. I had wandered down near the Dnipro, the river that bisects the city, and hiked up to the Holodomor Monument. Frankly, when you visit a monument that commemorates all the millions of lives lost in the Soviet-created famine, you lose your appetite… I hiked further to the historic Pechersk Lavra monastery complex for a long exploration of the buildings and areas, as well as into the amazing caves.
I was running low on daylight and had to make my way to Baykove Cemetery, so I skipped lunch and hiked across town. With the weather warming so much the cemetery was a muddy mess, and it was a challenge to hike around the hilly but muddy environment. Throw in a dinner-time meeting and I was running on empty basically, except for some nice fried small fish at a really nice Czech pub.
So I got back to my hotel, 11 Mirrors, and during my nitecap they admitted (the hotel bar) that they had salo — the ultimate Ukrainian treat.
I had the plate with quite some vodka, and actually asked for another…
I heard the kitchen ask with some incredulity when I ordered it… Oh, this was fantastic. Just melt-in-your-mouth goodness. I can eat this all night but I’d be dead by morning. Mmm…
Before I had to head to the airport to bid my farewell to this struggling but fair town I went for a last meal at Kozatska Hramota, another bit of a tourist-trappy place (but no tourists). I had a pretty interesting lunch, starting with the студенець (studenets) — or jellied meats.
Not bad, a combination of pork and chicken. I enjoy jellied meat, but this was a little too large. Still, not bad. Main course was baked pepper pork.
Now Ukraine knows its pork and this was very tasty. Grilled nicely, with good cuts of meat. I probably should have gotten some veg on the side, but too late now.
I left Kyiv with a heavy heart, fearing for its future. So many people once again talk about leaving, and they’ll take the heart of this country with them when they emigrate. The economy sucks, what little I did was less than a drop in the bucket for what they need. They need not just major amount of tourism — which they can easily support — but just wholesale restructuring of their economic framework. Then maybe this city will have a chance and shine as much as some of the domes on the city’s many churches.
Слава Україні! Героям слава!
10 Терещенківська [Tereshchenkivska]
Slavutych Shato [Славутич Шато]
24 Хрещатик [Khreshchatyk]
34a Богдана Хмельницького [Bohdan Khmelnytskoho]
Kozatska Hramota [Козацька грамота]
19a Пушкінська [Pushkinska]
Kyiv [Київ], Ukraine [Україна]