Western Ukraine: Nice People and Good Food

Our family trip to Ukraine in 2011 was very special, because this time my husbands’s brother Len and his wife Bev were traveling with Ron and me. Both of them, Len and Bev are of Ukrainian background, like Ron and me, but they have never been to Ukraine before. It was for the first time to them, to visit places where their ancestors came from. Now my husband’s brother and his wife are back to Canada after our trip with whole bunch of impressions which are impossible to highlight in one post – need to write a book, I guess :) Bev and Len also took plenty of pictures and movies. I already started to post here, on Travel West Ukraine, some stories about our trip, and much more to come.
So, when I asked Bev and Len after our travel, “What do you like the best about West Ukraine?” their answer was,“Nice people and good food.”
Yes, we really met lots of nice and hospitable people in Western Ukraine. And we had lots of good food. As Bev and Len said, “We don’t remember a single day from our trip, when we had a bad food. Food was just great, no matter where: at restaurants or at our friends and family places.”
Here just few pictures from where we were and what we ate in Ukraine. As you can see from the photos, we were served not only traditional Ukrainian pyrogy (other names are perogies, varenyky), borshch (beet soup) and holubtsi (cabbage rolls), but lots of other deliciousness which are very typical for Ukrainian cooking nowadays.
Please take a look at first picture below, what a lunch my good friends were served for us, when we just arrived. Yes, a  lunch!
Ukrainian lunch for guests
Seeing this table, my husband’s brother and his wife were smiling and asking, “What is it, a wedding?” - “No, it is only lunch!” we have answered to them, “This is Ukrainian hospitality for you. Get use to it!”
So, for this “welcome to Ukraine” lunch, except traditional borshch and pyrogy with plenty of sour crème, we had chicken schnitzels, potatoes and beef stew, pickled wild mushrooms with onion, pickled cucumbers, fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, sausage and cheese platter (which is traditional appetizer for guests in Ukraine) and some complicated salad, I completely forgot what was in it, but it was the hell tasty!
Next feast was at Olya’s place. Olya is a best friend of mine, she is Ukrainian as I am, and she lives in USA now, because she is married to a nice American guy (here is a story), but that summer, in 2011, Olya happened to be in Ukraine the same time we were, so, we came for dinner to her place. All of this goodness that you can see at Olya’s table (on the picture below), was cooked by her daughter Ira. Ira is a great cook. So, we had kanapky (West Ukrainian name for open sandviches – along with meat platter, kanapky are typical party food in Ukraine), roasted chicken thighs, roasted potatoes (Ira’s personal recipe!), stuffed bell peppers, fresh cucumbers and tomatoes and smoked fish:
Dinner for friends, Western Ukraine
On the picture below is a dinner table at my cousin’s place – he and his big family lives in countryside. They have a huge garden and they raise chicken and rabbits and sometimes pigs – everything for family needs, so they are self sufficient. Actually, I would say, 70 percents of food at their table is homegrown. Here is the table:
Family Dinner, Western Ukraine
As you can see, again, they served us open sandwiches (kanapky), and again, some complicated salad (oh, Ukrainian women like to create new salads recipes!), which was amazingly delicious (and recipe of which I keep forgetting to ask my cousin’s wife), boiled young potatoes (homegrown, of course) with butter and sour crème, meat platter, pork cutlets, carrot in Korean style (spicy one), homegrown fresh bell peppers and cucumbers, and - here I have a close-up - three kinds of homegrown tomatoes
Homegrown tomatoes from West Ukrainian Household
and here is another close-up – crepes stuffed with wild mushrooms and baked in a oven with tomato sauce and cheese on a top:
Crepes Stuffed with Wild Mushrooms, West Ukraine
Next picture is from our dinner at Old Mill restaurant-museum inTernopil - green borshch (sorrel soup) is served in a rye bread “bowl” and fresh cabbage salad in a cute wooden bowl:
Green Borshch Served in Bread Bowl and Fresh Cabbage Salas in Old Mill Restaurant, Ternopil, Ukraine
Old Mill is just awesome: all the food we had over there was delicious, and we also had live music concert, and we were singing Ukrainian songs with musicians, oh my! It was one of the best parties in our whole trip!
Another beautiful place to eat in Ternopil is a Retro Café, located at the Theatre Square, across the Taras Shevchenko monument. Food was really good, I would say, simply-deliciousness – it looked like nothing complicated, but felt like… how it's called… oh, a REAL food. We took few shots just of simple stuff we had over there, like a fresh cucumbers arrangement:
Homegrown cucumbers, Retro Cafe, Ternopil, Ukraine
an elegant butter presentation for our breakfast:
Butter presenting, Retro Cafe, Ternopil, Ukraine
Speaking about butter. In Ukrainian cafes and restaurants they usually not serve butter for breakfast (neither for lunch or supper), so if you would like your bread with butter, just ask about butter, they will be happy to bring it for you additionally.
A coffee and a rye bread – another shot from our breakfast in the Retro cafe:
Breakfast in Retro Cafe, Ternopil, Ukraine
That’s what I miss, living in Canada– a good slice of Ukrainian rye bread. I tried different rye ones over here, but no one can compete with Ukrainian rye bread – at least, for my taste.
Next two pictures are from a gorgeous place in Lviv, called Bianco Rosso Pasteria. Here is my Italian salad from this pasteria (arugula, cherry tomatoes, purple mint, pine nuts and a Parmesan)
Italian Salad at Bianco Rosso Pasteria, Lviv, Western Ukraine
and my tiramisu cake.
Tiramisu at Bianco Rosso Pasteria, Lviv, West Ukraine
Bianco Rosso Pasteria is really the place to eat in Lviv. Everything we liked over there:  food, great selection of wine to match your dinner, red and white interior, excellent staff (English speaking, which is very rare in West Ukrainian eatery places), and they even accept credit cards, which is a sign of high class restaurant or café in Ukraine.
I also want to say, that Italian cuisine is a huge hit in Ukraine now: more and more pizza and pasta places keep opening every year. I remember, for example, in the city of Ternopil in 1986 was only pizzeria (a first one!) for the whole 240 000 people city. Now is about 10 or so pizzerias over there.
And… I couldn’t resist posting this pic: Kyiv cake that my husband bought me for my birthday – yes, we were celebrating my birthday in Ukraine. The cake was so good – to die for!
Kyiv Cake, Ukraine
This bread, on a picture below, Bev got from her Ukrainian family – they baked bread especially for her visit. It is a common tradition in Ukraine to greet very dear guests with a loaf of home baked bread.
Home baked bread, Western Ukraine
Bev, Len, Ron and I also took many pictures of Ukrainian whole food. I mean, homegrown food and the one that you normally “go shopping” for to the bush – I mean, wild mushrooms, berries etc.
So, this basket of young potatoes is from the Bev’s Ukrainian family garden:
Young Potatoes, Ternopil oblast, West Ukraine
Green bell peppers are from my cousin’s garden:
Homegrown Bell Pepper, Western Ukraine
White zucchini is from the Paliychuks’ B&B garden:
Homegrown White Zucchini, Western Ukraine
Paliychuks’ B&B is located in Verkhiy Yaseniv, Verkhovyna district, Ivano-Frankivsk oblast (Carpathian Mountains) and run by Mykola Paliychuk and his wife Bohdana. They are so young - not in their 30th yet- and so nice people! We had a wonderful time staying at one of their guest houses, going to the mountains, eating their homemade food and, of course, taking photos of their garden and household.
Speaking about white zucchini, I miss it here, in Canada. I prefer white zucchini over green and yellow and I cannot find seeds of white zucchini for my Canadian garden – at least nothing in local stores, so I have to look for it online, I think.
Another shot from Ukrainian Carpathians is freshly picked wild porcini mushrooms:
Porcini Mushrooms from Ukrainian Carpathians
Porcini is called “a king of mushrooms” in Ukraine, because of its amazing taste and texture. A sauce of fresh porcini is... oh, so delicious! Ukrainians preserve porcini mushrooms in two ways: marinating and drying. Here is a picture of sliced porcini, drying out on a sun:
Porcini Mushrooms Sliced to be Dried, Carpathian Mountains, Ukraine
I almost finished writing about our Ukrainian food adventures and I accidentally found a nice travel story about Ukraine by Kristina Skorbach from TheEpochTimes. Kristina is Canadian of Ukrainian background and she happened to be in Western Ukraine in2011, too! Here are her impressions about Ukrainian food: “My brother and I visited relatives and friends in villages across Western Ukraine and enjoyed real – and I mean real – food. Everything from meat, potatoes,bread, cheese, cabbage rolls, beetroot, and horseradish sauce was home-made. This is the food that I grew up on and the rich tastes without preservatives or additives brought back pleasant childhood memories.”
Highlights are mine. Good to know that someone else feels the same way about Ukrainian food as we do.