Whilst I have focused previously on Russia, I would like today to shine a spotlight on the marvellous country of The Ukraine.
We took the night train from Moscow to Kiev and thus saw little of the countryside but in our ‘first class’ train carriage had wonderful service from our conductor who gave us regular cups of tea from his steaming samovar.
Not so good was the awaking in the early hours of the morning on the train, from the Ukrainian border police who woke us up in order to stare at our faces and then declared at 3am we did not look like our passport photos...after several rather anxious minutes they finally agreed they were happy...
Note to self...must make sure I go to bed with full makeup when crossing a border...
And on to Kiev!
What a wonderful place to visit!
This bustling city at the heart of the country of The Ukraine made a marvellous stopover after visiting Russia.
Like Moscow, it was really easy to travel around the city using the metro-you just had to remember the long names of the places written in the Cyrillic alphabet of the stations to make sure you didn’t get lost...
I do remember my father telling me that when he visited Moscow in the 1970s that he had carefully written down the name of the metro station he had just exited only to find later after many futile attempts to find his way back to his hotel that he had copied down the Russian for ‘Exit’...
Kiev is a city like so many others we saw in Russia and the Ukraine, one of contrasts...
Outside would be your typical large rather unattractive urban sprawl but within the city were little gems...like this statue of a man proposing which is touched for good luck by many a couple!
In Kiev there are some fabulous museums and whilst there are two prices, one for locals and a higher one for foreigners, they are still very cheap to visit. I love exploring art museums and the quality of the art was spectacular. There were also different styles and scenes of Ukrainian life which I had never experienced before.
Kiev itself, is great to explore on foot and in the old part of the city, lots of places are situated close to each other. Many of the younger people of Kiev speak excellent English and were keen to help if you appeared lost!
On a more sombre note we also visited Babyn Yar, away from the main part of the city and scene of one of the most horrific episodes of history, where 34,000 people from the local Jewish community were rounded up in 48 hours, massacred and then buried in this ravine...the day we visited it was so very, very quiet...
The Ukraine was a wonderful place to visit, full of contrasts with glittering gold churches in the cities and beautiful countryside with equally stunning wooden churches.
The people we met were all very proud of their history and heritage and I so much enjoyed learning more about this particular part of the world.
To get more of a taste of these proud people please have a look at this little clip...
And now on to food! The rye bread we had was wonderful as were the various goulashes with fiery paprika and soups with delicious dumplings. But today I present...
Khachapuri -Georgian Cheese Pie
This is a tasty cheese pie that is very popular in Russia and the adjoining countries...
Although a traditional dish from Georgia, its fame has travelled across Russia and the former Soviet countries and has become a very popular ‘fast food’. I discovered it on the little stalls outside of the metro stations- either sold as slices from a large pie or as folded pastry in a small individual pie.
Tucking into the warm pastry and the oozing melting cheese was an absolute delight...
Each recipe is slightly different. The cheese mixture depends on the region but generally has a combination of salty and melting cheese i.e. feta and mozzarella or their equivalents.
I have added a taste of my own with a handful of finely chopped sage and chives.
Traditionally the pastry is made with yogurt however I have cheated and used ready made puff pastry.
1 roll of ready made puff pastry-320g
200 g feta
1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
1 handful of freshly chopped chives
1 handful of freshly chopped sage
A generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C
Roll out the sheet of puff pastry until it is twice as big again and nice and thin. Cut the pastry into two equal halves. Place one half on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
In a large bowl combine the mozzarella torn in to chunks with the feta in chunks and mix together with a beaten whole egg. Add a generous grinding of pepper, chopped sage and chives.
Place the mixture on one of the halves of pastry but keep the outer 1cm edge clear. Cover the mixture with the other half of the pastry and crimp the edge to seal in the mixture. Brush the top with the beaten yolk of the second egg.
Place the pie in to the hot oven and bake for 25/30 minute until the top is golden brown.
Serve warm from the oven.
And finally, one last look at Kiev from across the river Dnipro, with the golden turrets of the Caves Monastery together with the enormous 200 foot metal statue known as ‘Mother Russia’ or ‘She Who Must Be Obeyed’ and... rather irreverently by locals... as ‘Tin Tits’
Have a good evening everybody!