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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.


An Evening Stroll Around Casa Loma

30 May

I am upset that I missed Doors Open Toronto which took place this last weekend.   I am making a resolution right now to mark my calendar for 2013 and explore as many historical buildings as I can.  Toronto has so many well-known landmarks that I always wanted to see…De La Salle College “Oaklands”, Osgood Hall, Upper Canada College, Campbell House and the Casa Loma Stables.  I have been Casa Loma before but I didn’t have a chance to tour the Stables across the street from the castle.

98 rooms, 30 bathrooms, 25 fireplaces, 3 bowling alleys, a 50-meter shooting gallery, a wine cellar (temperature-controlled) capable of holding 1,700 bottles, an 18-meter indoor swimming pool and an underground tunnel connecting Casa Loma to the stables.  The castle’s original ovens in the kitchen were so big that they could cook an entire ox.  That’s quite a family home!

The stalls in the Stables were made from the best quality mahogany and each horse’s name was written out in 18-karat gold letters.

Looks like the horses lived better than many Toronto residents at that time.

No expense was spared on creating and maintaining this residence but the family fortune didn’t last.  The owner died broken and penniless.  What a sad, sad story.

I wonder if there is an individual rich enough to buy this property now and restore it to its’ full glory.









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