Archive | September, 2012

2012 Toronto Ukrainian Festival

27 Sep

Вітаємо / Welcome!

For the last three years my daughter and I make a point of attending Toronto Ukrainian Festival held in September on Bloor West, between Runnymede and Jane.  We always look forward to sampling traditional food, listening to live bands and people-watching.

Roasted whole pig.  We are pork eaters!

I love food and am open-minded while trying different foods however when it comes to traditional Ukrainian fare – varenyky, kapusta, borsch (by the way, it’s not “borscht”, there is no “t” in the “borsch”!), holybtsi, I become super-critical.    Let’s start with varenyky, a.k.a. perogi.  Canadians and some Ukrainian Canadians love the potato-cheddar cheese variety.  This variety is unheard of in Ukraine!  It has to be some crazy North American invention as cheddar cheese was not available  in Ukraine.  I lived there until 1993 and can assure you that nobody made those.

We like to visit different vendors and marvel at their displays.

Rushnyky (towels)

These are the traditional Ukrainian embroidered rushnyky (towels).  They are used to decorate religious icons, during wedding ceremonies or just to decorate a Ukrainian home.  They are also used as table runners, panels to make pillows or any other place that needs a little embroidery.

My family is from Bukovyna, a region in the Western Ukraine. This is a partial shot of the hand embroidered Bukovynian blouse.  We believe that this kind of embroidery is protecting against the bad spirits.  The blouse is heavy, up to 20lbs because of all the tiny beads that are sewn on it.  It’s not cheap, $600 CDN and I couldn’t it get it cheaper even in Ukraine.  My aunt make these blouses and they go for $500 US.

Keptar, a fur-trimmed Bukovynian vest

Me in my embroidered blouse, trying on a Bukovynian headpiece 🙂

Another traditional costume from a different region in Ukraine

My boyfriend joined me on Saturday and got to sample some Ukrainian beer:Brewed since 1715!

I don’t think he liked it too much so Lvivske Pyvo didn’t get his stamp of approval 🙂

My daughter and I participated in the vodka tasting.  We had to compare “Slava” to “Stolichnaya” and Zirkova” to “Absolut”.

Well, Ukrainian vodka won, hands down.  Absolut is too harsh and Stoli has this “chemical” aftertaste.   Zirkova has a clean, crisp taste and Slava trickles smoothly down the throat.

Interesting piece of trivia:

Canada has the world’s third-largest Ukrainian population outside of Ukraine.  Ukrainian Canadians represent the ninth largest ethnic group in the country.


All Roads Lead To Rome

4 Sep

Area Sacra Di Largo Argentina, the very place where Caesar was murdered.

It doesn’t take much to get captivated by Rome. It has everything: history, art, good food, climate… so much to see!

These are some of the random and interesting facts we learned on this trip:

Pantheon, “Temple Of The Gods”

This huge dome is made of concrete with no steel reinforcing and it was built almost 2,000 years ago. The Oculus projects a beam of light on the walls and allows rain to collect in the center of the floor to cool the building through the summer.   Some researchers suggest that magnificent Pantheon was a used as a giant sundial.

Colosseum At Night

This striking amphitheater got it’s name from the Colossus of Nero statue that was close by.  The building comes alive at night, lit up by bright lights.  We witnessed a golden glow that night (instead of a white glow) – somewhere in the world the death penalty has been eradicated.

The Gallery of Maps

The world-famous Vatican museums extend over 14 kilometers. It is believed that it would take 4 years to complete the entire museums route if a person spend simply 1 minute marveling at each painting!

Stray cats form colonies in the ancient ruins of Rome. The cats living in the Colosseum, the Forum and Torre Argentina are part of the city “bio-heritage” and are protected by law.  In ancient times, cats were highly valued for defending people against rodent-borne diseases (i.e, the plague).  Rome’s cats are fed, receive medical attention and are spayed or neutered.

The fountain outside of our building on Via Nicolo V.

When in Rome, do as Romans do 🙂 We saved some euros by refilling our water bottles at Rome’s drinking water fountains, called “nasone” (big nose).  Some of them date back to ancient times!  Rome’s water supply comes from the underground springs and it’s icy-cold, fresh and free!

Trevi Fountain At Night

The original tale says that if you throw a coin into the Trevi – with your back to the fountain, throwing the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder – that will guarantee a come back to Rome.  Hope it true and there will be many happy returns!

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