Ukrainian hospitality at its best

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BY NARMIN RZAYEVA

AZERI OBSERVER STAFF WRITER

On November 28th, the warmest and friendliest cooking master-class was hosted by Mrs. Liudmyla Hrebenichenko, the spouse of Ukrainian Ambassador in Azerbaijan. Ukrainian hospitality, ethnic ambience, savory odors, delicious cuisine and pleasant company was enjoyed by all who attended. The event was held in Soloha Restaurant – an intimate eatery in Baku, where the sheer delights of Ukrainian cuisine can be tasted.

‘Vareniki’ – the famous Ukrainian dumpling, became the creation of which all visitors of the event became masters in, presented by Lydia Shestak-Aliyeva who is the owner of Soloha, an Azerbaijani businesswoman with Ukrainian roots. The guests of the workshop (among which were the spouses of heads of foreign diplomatic missions in Azerbaijan, representatives of the Foreign Ministry and citizens of Ukraine, who live in Baku) learned the fine art of preparing the special dough (both classical and exotically green-colored healthy spinach version – yum!), and fillings for vareniki.

Interesting fact about these extraordinarily delicious Slavic dumplings: one could eat them for breakfast – sweet and sour cherry vareniki would do just fine with sweet tea straight from the samovar; for lunch – the aforementioned green vareniki with Georgian salty cheese and spinach, are just as nourishing as their more carbohydrate-heavy peers, with mash potato and fried onions; and even for dessert – add sweet vareniki with apple and cinnamon on your gourmet bucket-list immediately!

The culinary lessons were accompanied by native Ukrainian songs, warm laughter, friendly conversations and feijoa ‘nalivka’ – sweet fruit liquor.  After mastering the basics of Ukrainian cuisine, the guests were invited to a buffet. Everyone was thrilled to finally taste the vareniki we all enjoyed cooking; famous ‘salo’ – salted pork fat and beef liver under the pretentious name ‘paschtet.’ Azerbaijani wines ‘Marandi’, created by a selection of local authentic grapes, were the perfect addition to a delightful day, while small and heartfelt gifts after dinner – sweet paschtet, hot mustard and Ukrainian spice ‘hren’ – ended the eventful evening!

Photos by Aleksey Kuchmenko