Apr 7

IV Oriental Cup of Ukraine – Donetsk – Day II – Ethno-Party - Part II

Sorry for the delay folks! Between the vacation in Thailand and the new group in Tel Aviv I got a bunch of posts accumulated. First thing first – continuing my Oriental Cup of Ukraine 2012 experiences.

The dinner was followed by performances of some of the festival’s participants. Amira studio from Chernovtsi went on first. They have started their performance with a traditional greeting – the bread and salt ceremony. Bread and salt is a traditional Slavic welcome ceremony, usually done in full national costume. The guests are greeted with a huge loaf of bread with salt mounted on top of it. The bread is presented on top of rushnik - a beautiful embroidered towel. The loaf of bread, the sausages and the traditional pertsivka ( chilli pepper spirit similar to vodka) were all home-made and we got a taste of them later on!
Bread and Salt Ceremony
Traditional Ukrainian women costumes consist of several pieces. A white blouse tucked in a black or navy skirt that has a light (usually white) petticoat underneath. All the garments are heavily embroidered by hand! The costumes that Irina and her girls were wearing were of amazing craftsmanship, as they were embroidered with beads. Some of the items, like Irina’s petticoat were even hand-woven! It’s not possible to buy this kind of costumes; they are usually made in the villages and passed to young girls on the day of their marriage.

Chernovtsi girls setting us on fire!

The performance was a dynamic medley of several Ukrainian dances. I’m posting the video of the same performance that opened the gala concert. Personally I enjoyed the club version more because of the direct connection the girls had with us. They literally lit the whole restaurant on fire!
Watch the complete Amira studio performance ( starting at:1:10 ) here.

Followed by Amira studio was Elena Veretennikova’s flamboyant version of a traditional Russian dance. Elena Veretennikova is the head of Eishta studio from Perm, Russia, and she is known for very dynamic, innovative group choreos. It was hard to hold our laughs throughout Eishta’s performance. From the oversized kokoshnik (traditional Russian head piece) to Eishta’s humoristic attitude and the general pizzazz! This ensemble certainly knows how to give a show!

Perm's Eishta Rule!

The party went on with everyone on the dance floor dancing their hearts out! I came back to my apartment completely enthralled by the performances and the good vibes!

Aleksei's RA studio having fun!

Happy among friends!
Stay tuned for posts about competition and the gala concert!

Feb 21

IV Oriental Cup of Ukraine – Donetsk – Day II – Party - Part I

The party was held at a restaurant with traditional Ukrainian food and décor styled after a Ukrainian khutor (farmstead). As I entered through the massive doors I was greeted by our host Solokha. Solokha is a very colorful and slightly naughty character from one of the most famous stories of Nikolai Gogol “Christmas Eve”, a witty witch, in a “bint el balad” kind of way LOL Solokha offered me a Brüderschaft shot of vodka and only then let me through. Throughout the evening she entertained us with her jokes and hilarious games with the audience. She also turned out to be an amazing saxophone player, playing among other songs 7:40 and Hava Nagila!
Partying with Solokha and her magic saxophone!

After Solokha’s welcome Aleksei showed me to our table with an astounding amount of scrumptious appetizers. I am omitting the pictures of the table only because you will find enough food imagery through this post. Trust me, there were many kinds of salo there, delicate seledka (herring), all sorts of pickles ( yummy pickled tomatoes, that always make me wonder why they are common only in East Europe and didn’t break into Western cuisines???), kholodets (jelled meat, mmmm) and much more!

ETA: Hell no, I decided to go for a tease and show you the appetizers.
Yummy appetizers!

Of course I made sure to taste from every dish, but then I was also careful not to get too full since I ordered something very special! One of my favorite foods of all times: borsch!!!

Allow me to present you with the borsch guide graciously shot by Zhanna Denisova! Thank you Zhanna, for following my whims!
So first you order borsch of course. Then you spot a tiny plate with cute little bombs on it. These darlings are called tovkach, they are basically another kind of salo LOL, lard mixed with tons of garlic, fresh herbs and salt. You put one into your mouth and savor the explosion of flavors! Then you grab a piece of rye bread and spread tovkach over it. Not thinly please! You are in Ukraine, treat yourself the same way you’d treat your guests! You take a bite and at the same time spoon the borsch… Ahhhhhhh… You are in heaven now! Your taste buds thank you and you thank Aleksei for making this dream come true. Lastly, don’t forget to check out other people’s plates and plan in advance your next gastronomical conquest!

And now I’m ready! Or at least I thought I was ready for anything, but, boy, was I wrong!

To be continued…