Sunday, December 2, 2012

Shalena Mama: The Rolling Stones Themed Restaurant

You have a free night in Kiev, you say?  No dinner plans, you say?  Would you be up for an unauthorized Rolling Stones themed restaurant?  How can anyone say no to that!  The restaurant is called Shalena Mama and offers a wide variety of dishes with the main focus being Asian food.    

And here was our menu.  It was clear that absolutely none of this was authorized by the band but as I doubt they or their representation make it to Kiev that often I can see how it has slipped through the cracks.

Each dish had a corresponding song title...unfortunately it didn't look there was too much original thought in assigning songs with dishes.  I would think "Sympathy For The Devil" might be a super spicy Asian dish but instead it's a shrimp soup.  Here are some song and dish combinations:

"Sympathy For The Devil"
A light spicy soup with shrimp, mushrooms, lemon, juice and Thai fresh herbs.

"Stupid Girl"
Thai noodle soup with soy bean sprouts your choice of chicken, veal, or shrimp.

"Ruby Tuesday"
Stir-fried selection of market vegetables with oyster sauce and rice.

"Tumbling Dice"
Sauteed chicken with cashew nuts, onions, and mushrooms in a light soy sauce and rice.

"Under My Thumb"
Cheese Fries

"Wild Horses"
Wok fried chicken, veal, or pork with white mushrooms in oyster sauce.

"Jumpin' Jack Flash"
Traditional Caesar salad with shrimp and our special salad sauce.

There were a ton of Rolling Stones paintings and prints around but the lighting was such that most of them turned out too dark. Here's a poster celebrating the Stones 1975 North and South American tours.

I ordered a chicken sandwich with coleslaw and what arrived was closer to a BLT with chicken substituted for the bacon.  It was still good though and the coleslaw was nice a creamy...just how I like it.

Laura went with chicken fried of her favorite dishes although I don't believe she has ever had it served with a fried egg on top in this style.  She reported that it was excellent.

Our friend Vanessa got a Thai dish...the name of it escapes me but it also received good marks.

I think I've ordered cheese fries once or twice in America but the mystery of what Ukrainian cheese fries...or the "Under My Thumb" as it was named in the menu...would be was too much to pass up.  Would it be traditional American french fries with cheese dipping sauce.  Would it be heavily salted baked potato wedges and some slices of cheese? But wouldn't you know it!  Cheese fries that were exactly what I expected.

And more ketchup than I could have dreamed would appear.

And when the bill came we got a little more Rolling Stone copyright infringement.

And outside we have the tongue logo in neon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chocolate and Cheese Pie

Behold the wonderfulness of Chocolate and Cheese Pie from the Lviv Chocolate Cafe in Kiev.  

Here you can see the sedimentary layers of chocolate and cheese that built up over millennia and the last layer of molten chocolate that cascaded over the side sometime in the last century..

I've found that Ukrainian restaurants [and most of Europe as well, I assume] take much more enjoyment and fun in providing the customer the bill.  You'll often get a stylized envelope or something more extravagant holding the bill at the end of the evening.  Without a doubt the best one of these we've seen so far was this treasure chest that was presented to us after or chocolate and cheese pie was eaten.

Inside, you've got your bill slip and you leave your hryvnia inside.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Deli

The amazing deli at Smack just down the street from us in Kharkiv.  

Bonus points if are from America and can identify any of these dishes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Feast For Latvian Independence Day

November 18th was Latvian Independence Day and so to celebrate we had made a Latvian feast the best way we could while being in Ukraine.  Laura speaks fluent Latvian and I asked her to marry me while we were in Riga so Latvian culture and tradition is a significant part of our life.

We begin with the"before" photo of ingredients to our feast, many of them courtesy of our friend Vanessa who brought them for us on a visit from Latvia recently.

The potatoes were fried with a Latvian spice called piedeva kartupelieum [potato spice in Latvian] made by a company called Santa Maria.  Each time Laura goes to Latvia a packet or two of these spices are in her bag headed back to America.  

These shashliks are from a local deli called Smack which is a great name for a store.  They come on-the-stick ready to go.

Balsams is a traditional spiced drink that clears up your sinuses nice and quick on a cold winter day.

We mixed a shot of it with blackcurrant juice which is pretty difficult to find in America but flows freely in Eastern Europe.

Lastly, as a side dish we had some cabbage with oil and vinegar called kaposti.

The finished product.


And for dessert some Latvian Laima chocolate...

As I've been trying to piece something together that resembles a proper American Thanksgiving dinner we've had difficulty finding a turkey.  We finally found this at the upscale shopping center [called Class appropriately, I guess] but when we spoke to butcher behind the counter they said they were out of turkeys.  So maybe this one was a plastic decoy...Ukraine can be a weird place sometimes.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cheese Cake and Death Threats

Looking back on our six days in Kiev, some of the best food highlights were this lemon cheese cake  at a restaurant in the Radisson hotel lobby.

A hotel restaurant you ask?  That's not typically our style I will admit.  We were there attending a Rotary International meeting which is part of Laura's fellowship.  It was the first meeting I've been too that was all in  English and there were members from Belgium, Sweden, and Germany.  And if you think that a night at a Rotary Club would be dull and a waste of an evening then you would have missed tales of assaults, embezzlement, and a threat by a Chechen to cut members "into little pieces."

Let me explain.

It turned out that the previous treasurer of the organization...a Canadian!  [they always are, aren't they!] had embezzled $50,000 dollars from the club and the group was in the process of trying to get it back.  They had been able to retrieve about $43,000 of it and some of the members went to the ex-treasurer's house the day before to see about getting the rest of it back.  There they were met with fists of fury and the treasure's Chechen friend who promised to cut them into little pieces.  The gentleman in the photo was punched in the face and had his jacket ripped but escaped to joke and tell the tale the next day.  Only in Ukraine!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Close, But Not Quite #2: Dunkin' Donuts

I've highlighted before the products in Ukraine that may look like famous products but have a little twist.  We've had Capri-Sun Capri-Sonne and today we have Coffee Donuts [seen in Kiev] which has a nearly identical logo as Dunkin' Donuts.  

While their donuts looked tempting, our hearts were attached to a little shop in the Kiev Metro called "світ донатс" which in Ukrainian is "World Donuts."

They have this wonderful class window showing you what is available.  I don't believe it is possible to walk past this window more than three times without turning around and buying something.

I normally wouldn't dedicate a post on Marvel With A Mango to some donuts but these were the first proper donuts we had seen since arriving.  Sure, they have pastries galore but it's just not quite the same and so we were happy to have this little piece of America.  Laura went with a white glazed donut with strawberry filling.

I went with a chocolate and peanut sprinkled one which I assumed would have custard inside...

...but it had a little surprise inside instead...liquid peanut butter...and let me remind you about my current feelings about peanut butter.  Score!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Best Pizza We've Found

This restaurant, Bellagio, is located up a block up from our house and we always pass it and experience its wonderful smells each time we pass by.  That plus a few word of mouth recommendations and we decided to give it a try.

We decided on a pizza called  "Four Seasons" with the pizza being divided in to four different types of toppings.

Our favorite was what we imagine was the "Summer" version with some great black olives as the main topping.

All the other "seasons" had types of meat but one thing we haven't come across yet is a piece of pepperoni.  The ham on the pizza looks to have been sliced right from a ham roast like you might have for an Easter dinner.

We ended up with more pizza than we could handle and so we got our first Ukrainian pizza box.  The bag says "Thank you!  Always Glad!"

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Halushky of Poltava

On Monday Laura and I took the train to Poltava so Laura could do some interviews for her research.  Between meetings we saw the sites which included a monument to a dish attributed to being created in Poltava called Halushky.  They are essentially meat filled dumplings with some sour cream on the side.

Here's the monument which is a popular spot to get your photo taken sitting in the spoon...too bad it was raining on Monday.

For lunch Laura ordered the halushky...

...while I had another type of dumpling dish called Varenyky which is filled with chicken.  Plus, don't forget the sour cream. Both dishes were excellent.

And when we hit one of the local gift shops I couldn't pass up a halushky magnet for $2.50.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Item We've Come To Crave Most

Eight weeks ago before I left America, I didn't eat too much peanut butter...I certainly wouldn't be able to exactly tell you the last time I ate it and I certainly never had a dream about peanut butter.  Flash forward nearly two months and the one item that Laura and I started craving was peanut butter.  Every grocery store we went too had none on the shelf, although we could find Nutella everywhere.  Finally we found a jar of "pate d'arachide" at a grocery store called Class.  It's certainly not Jiff, hell, it's not even generic brand but it will tide us over until Christmas.  One thing is certain though, a large jar of crunchy Jiff is making the return trip to Ukraine 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

As An American Abroad, This Post Was Inevitable

We've seen several different McDonald's while we've been here but we successfully avoided going to one for several weeks.  It just seemed silly to travel this far just to do something we can easily do in America.  But given enough time, I think each expat American eventually goes to McDonald's no matter how strong with convictions are.

Plus, it's fun to see the condescending smile the Ukrainian McDonald's employees get when they realize they've got a real live American ordering McDonald's in Ukraine in front of them.

I went with a Big Mac and fries.  The highlight of the meal through is the large soda [which I can't believe I forgot to take a photo of].  It's one of the few places that serves cold fountain drinks in sizes above a half liter.

Thank you globalization!  Looks, smells, and tastes just like home.

The fries were just as hot and fresh and you would expect.

Ketchup comes in their own individual packets and cost about 50 cents each.  

Laura likes getting the cheese sauce for her fries that I don't believe is available in the U.S.

Thus ends my contractually obligated expat McDonald's post.  Let me conclude with a reminder of Thomas Friedman's important international discovery: that no two countries that have McDonald's have ever gone to war with each other.   So really by eating lunch I was taking part in important Ukraine/U.S. relations.