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Mamushka Cooking Tour with Olia Hercules - food writer, chef, stylist, an author of award-winning co

Traditional Borshch

Hello and welcome! Olia Hercules here, come and join me on an amazing trip to Western Ukraine, where we will basically have a fun holiday together, cook and eat loads of delicious food and learn a bunch of foodie things. My slightly mad descriptions of what we will be doing are below….enjoy and join us!

Day 1 - Thursday

We scoop you up at the train station in Kiev. We will take an old and soothingly rattling overnight train to Mukachevo. We will eat the traditional train journey packed lunch (yes, there is such a thing) - boiled eggs, crusty bread, salt and some mind-blowing pink tomatoes and prickly cucumbers, maybe a shot of vodka. All with the clickety-clack of a Soviet-era train, a feisty conductor and possibly some singing.

Day 2 - Friday

We will smash some quick breakfast in Mukachevo and set off to our family-run guest house in Nyzhnie Selyshche village. You will then chill out and I will show you how to make Ukrainian and Tartar dumplings. Ukrainian varenyky will be filled with home-made salted curd cheese and the Tartar manty will feature hand-chopped pork belly, brown butter and crispy shallots. You can help and learn, or you can watch. Whatever happens - you will then devour the dumplings and have a fun, relaxing evening. It’s an order.

Day 3 - Saturday

Cheese day! Local organic cheese farm in Nyzhnie Selyshche is ace. They will show us how it’s made and we can get some cheese and stuff our faces. We will then lunch in a community centre in Nyzhnie Selishche. Instagram will never have looked so good. At least not until we jump on the horse and cart and drive through the village. Bring an accordion if you have one. We will then see Lyuba, an incredible herbalist, that makes herbal tea blends, all hand-picked from wild flower meadows of Transcarpathia. Knackered but inspired and happy, we will enjoy a traditional Ukrainian village dinner at the guest house and hang out.

Day 4 - Sunday

We shall walk! Up the hills, but with a purpose. A cheese purpose again. Shepherds will show us how they make traditional salty sheep’s cheese. And then the exciting open fire dinner near the Volcanic lake by the village of Lypovets. We will learn how to make smoky rich broths, including the super meaty bograch. If you are vegetarian, we will make a veggie broth too (with sorrel and eggs!). Bon fire smoke, dusk, bird song, food and loads of laughs. What can be better?

Day 5 - Monday

Time to check out the beautiful produce with a visit to a local market, we decide what we cook for our last night on the spot. It will be seasonal, tasty and creative. We will then walk in the largest ancient beech forest in Europe under UNESCO protection in Mala Uholka. And we shall forage, oh yes! Lunch will happen by the old water mill. Then we can sit down somewhere idyllic and I can talk to you about the world of food (about writing, photography, publishing, styling…all the tips and experiences). You can tune in, or you can have a nap. We shall then visit the renowned gorgeous wooden churches of Transcarpathia. We will be proper tired, so another village dinner for us and sleep time.

Day 6 - Tuesday

This is the last day in our cosy guest house. I will of course tell you all I know about fermentation and we can have a little go at it too. We will then have lunch and you can go on a little walk, snapping photos of Ukrainian village life if you wish. But don’t take too long, as it’s our last meal together and we will all cook it. Inspired by Transcarpathia and its ingredients, each one of us will come up with a dish and we will cook up a feast. If you are not a strong cook, I will teach you things. What’s a last night without a party? Not possible, hence we will dance around like mad people listening to live music by Hudaki Village Band. Hooooopppppaaaaa.

Day 7 - Wednesday

We will have a little cry and depart for the enchanting city of Lviv. On the way, we will swing by the Mukachevo castle. It is very pretty. By the time we get to Lviv, we’ll be starving. So it’s dinner time and a stroll through gorgeous, golden Lviv.

Day 8 - Thursday

If you want, you can join a local guide who will show you around the city, or just walk off, and get a little bit lost in the most romantic sense. This is the way I love to explore. Then there will be lunch…and this is it. So much fun, and hopefully intensely inspiring. This is how I see it. Come with.

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