Please Note: I contacted the guest outside of Airbnb and paid a cheaper rate for this experience. However, I still paid for this experience. This will not influence my rating. Now, I had an idea to create a video, which I contacted the host for. However, after arrival at the host’s home, it quickly became apparent that creation of a YouTube video would not be possible. Close quarters and not wanting to infringe on the privacy of the other 4 guests, I decided to post a blog post instead. (It is delayed a bit, and for that I apologize.)
In Lviv, Ukraine, the city is filled with numerous themed restaurants.
However, deciding to take a cooking class is a great way to get to know a culture on a more intimate level. (And it’s something I plan on doing from here on out.)
So, when I was in Ukraine, I decided to take my first cooking class.
Now, as a single-male in his early 20s, cooking classes are not necessarily my forte. However, I greatly enjoyed my experience.
How did the event start
I was picked up by Andy, the host’s husband at an agreed-upon point. (Although, hotel pick-up can be arranged.)
He proceed throughout town and picked up two more guests, and took us to their home.
In total, the party count was five. This created an intimate experience which I enjoyed. However, it was held in their home in their kitchen. With any more people, the space would’ve begun to feel a little small.
We were welcomed with appetizers (see below) and offered (cherry?) liquor.
From there, we began the process of cooking the borscht and varenyky.
What is Borscht?
A yummy (seriously, I love this stuff) sour soup. Borscht is a Ukrainian soup made with beetroots, vegetables, and sometimes meat. It can be served warm or cold. And it is sometimes better the day after you cook it than the day you cook it. If you ever move to Ukraine, expect borscht around Christmas time and funerals.
I didn’t know this before this class, but it is also served with sour cream on top.
What is Varenyky?
Varenyky are dumplings. (See the header photo for reference.) They can be stuffed with a variety of toppings. However, I recommend cottage cheese or potatoes. These do not re-heat as well as the borscht.
Recommendation: During summer, fill the varenyky with fresh blueberries. You can pick them up from any babushka selling fruit on the street corner. They are often even cheaper than someplace like Silpo. (A Ukrainian Supermarket)
The Cooking Process
I never felt any pressure to help cook, and the host was more than willing to take over the responsibilities of cooking.
However, where’s the fun in that! It’s a cooking class after all!
The cooking portion of the class took about two hours, mainly due to the soup taking some time to boil and simmer. More than anything, this time was mainly used to get to know other guests around the table.
The Eating Process
If it isn’t obvious from the photo below, I really enjoyed the soup. We learned about the history of the soup, and its role in holidays and in other Slavic countries.
From there, we began to devour the varenyky. My favorite, the cottage cheese, retained moisture quite a bit better than the potato. (And any leftovers were actually sent home with me. 😉 )
In total, the entire process from pick-up to drop-off took about 4.5 hours. This is an extremely long-time, but I could not be more satisfied. It was a great way to learn about Ukrainian culture and eat some delicious food.
(Fun story: While I was there, I met someone from nearby where I went to college in the USA. Small world!)
After we finished, we were served desert and then driven back to our respective hotels.
Would I recommend this class?
I highly recommend this experience for anyone visiting the city of Lviv, Ukraine. And I would say it is in the top 5 things to do in Lviv, Ukraine if given the opportunity!
In total, it was a 10/10 experience!