Archive | July, 2014


31 Jul

Took me some time to get it together …
The city of Lviv is in the west of Ukraine and is fantastic.

The opera house is now surrounded by carousels and masses of people all out enjoying a great day.

There’s a bar in every corner. They all full. All the time.
















I found one quiet street in the center. There is a bar/cafe behind me but this street, Lesia Ukrainka, was quite serene in the twilight as compared to the bustle of the rest of the city center.


The Lviv chocolate factory that has a cornucopia of handmade chocolate treats. SONY DSC

Weekly Wine – Argento

30 Jul

SONY DSCArgento Pinot Grigio
13% ABV
$9.95 (LCBO)

Now here’s a good wine.
Here’s a wine that a discriminating wine buff can enjoy.
Make no mistake – this is not vin bon. This is very pedestrian wine.
Yet it wears its pedigree well. In fact it wears it very well.
It is unpretentious. It is refreshing. It has a nice kick. It goes down nicely – whether sipped or gulped. It does not have nasty after-tastes.
Most of the Pinot Grigio that I have consumed came from Italy. This Argentinian grape is very much the same. It is a go-to white wine grape. You can get it rather inexpensively or pay a hefty premium. Honestly, I have never tasted or experienced a difference.
As we are in the midst of summer this is a great wine for the outdoors. It needs to be chilled so it is better for the backyard/patio/balcony situation unless there is a nice ice filled cooler present.
There are many dodgy white wines out there that claim to be refreshing and pleasant. This one is all that. It is also very affordable.
Enjoy it.



Weekly Vinyl – All Star

25 Jul

All Star Festival
This is a strange album. It was released by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees.
There is an introduction written by Yul Brynner and a paragraph or two about every song.
However it is all in German and my German is limited to ordering beer in Munich, Frankfurt or Berlin. Bitte…
There are some great artists here: Louis Armstrong, Maurice Chevalier, Nat “King,” Cole, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald, Mahila Jackson, Nana Mouskouri, Patti Page, Edith Piaf, Luis Alberto, Anne Shelton and Caterina Valente.
Like all compilation albums there are hits and misses. I like Greensleeves but the version here makes me instinctively look for a remote to hit the ‘next’ button. Alas, vinyl records do not work that way. So I suffer for a few minutes. The same can be said for a few other songs here as well.
But there are a couple great gems here. It is worth a listen.



Weekly Wine – Emu

23 Jul

SONY DSCHardy’s Stamp Series Cabernet Merlot
13.5% ABV

I grimaced when I took the first sip of this wine.
Not because I took to big of a gulp.
Not because something hit me upside the head as I took the swig.
I grimaced because this wine shocked me.
It was not too good. Sour. Heavy on the sulphites.
It was not pleasant. And I loved the other wine in this series. I reviewed it this past February. It was, and most likely still is, a great wine. Here’s the review.
What happened?
Bizarre pairing of grapes? No. I’ve drank plenty of good Cabernet Merlots.
A bad year? Why would it be. The other wine was 2012. This is not an excuse.
Is this a bad batch? Perhaps.
I look at the back label more carefully to seek some answers. It states, “Contains: Milk, egg, fish.”
Huh? In wine?
OK. It is used as a clearing agent. But I have not seen this listed on any other wine.
Is the concentration here higher than in other wines?
This is perhaps the reason why this wine is so disappointing.
Perhaps so perhaps not…
Nice Emu. Not nice wine.





Interesting things on the Kyiv – Lviv road

18 Jul

Going from Kyiv to Lviv is always interesting.
You can see…
An ex-Soviet warplane decorated with the Ukrainian flag.

A very cool piece of sculpture and a Soviet era van.
Unfortunately the sculpture has been subject to some vandalism.

A horse and buggy on the highway.
What better way to go…

A police woman in red heels working a protest for something.
The protest blocked the highway so we drove through a field.

I love Ukraine.

Weekly Vinyl – Hendrix

18 Jul

Band of Gypsys
Jimi Hendrix
This is definitely a trip to hear. Jimi Hendrix live.
But this is not just a live compilation of his hits. This was a recording of more or less a one-off concert that Jimi did with different musicians than from the Jimi Hendrix experience.
It is more bluesy. More soulful. Less hooky and very much more original.
Hendrix’s guitar has always been at the forefront of his music and it really shines here. Since there is less structure to the songs, the guitar is freer – and it really comes across. He makes the guitar sing and snarl. Cry and cringe. Wail and wallop the listener across the ears.
There is subtlety in the music as well. It is not just straight ahead virtuoso thrashing. The music surges in waves making the listener wish they could have been at the Fillmore East in New York on New Years Eve 1969-70.
The recording exists and we are all the better for it.

Kiyv Blues (redux)

17 Jul

So the sun is shining and I’m feeling a bit better.
Took a walk around the ancient parts of Kyiv.
The only blue was the sky and St. Andrew’s church (above)
and the bell tower at the St. Sophia Cathedral. (below)
It was a great day – except for the news from the east.


17 Jul


I feel quite peaceful here. I know I am just south of Chornobil (Chernobyl), but there are good friends here and family. I’m feeling better. And what a gorgeous view.


Kyiv Blues

16 Jul

So here I am in Kyiv and am sick as a dog.
Somewhere along the way I happened to catch a major case on Tonsillitis.
Hooray for holidays…
After visiting a medical clinic to get the diagnosis and the necessary medicine we had a few hours to tour the Maidan – where Ukraine’s people fought and died for their liberty and freedom.
Some of the barricades are still up. The main street is still tent city. There are shrines for the martyrs throughout the area.
It is an eerie place. This is where people stood for months in freezing weather demanding their right to be heard and their right to be free. It is a very humbling place for those of us who take freedom for granted.
As I was not at all well we left the city centre to a small village north-west of Kyiv. The air is fresh and clean there. It’s but 90 kilometers south oh Chornobil.

Weekly Wine – Aveleda

16 Jul

SONY DSCQuinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde
$9.95 (LCBO)

(This somehow did not get posted when it was supposed to be posted. So I’m backdating it to when it was supposed to be posted.)

Vinho Verde is a light, somewhat fizzy, wine that should be drunk chilled on a hot summer day. And it works so well.
It is tart. Which is great because it refreshes without the sweetness that makes you want to drink more. There is an earthy background to this wine, similar to many Portuguese wines. In some it is a distraction but since this is a light white wine there is just a hint of it. It works very well in this instant.
It is low in alcohol – so it is a great summer drink. High alcohol can send you reeling in a hot summer sun. This wine works well balancing the thirst quenching properties, with the alcohol content and the quite interesting flavours now that they have truly enveloped me.
I didn’t have an overpowering sensation of sulphites but I checked the lable to see if they were present.
It said, “Contains sulphites and milk.”
How bizarre…