In Ukraine like in Russia, drinking in the street is not automaticly associated with disorderly conduct, it's a tradition in a region which never had many pubs or bars and where the living standards made buying drinks in stands or in shops more affordable than going in a bar anyway. These pictures were shot a few minutes before a football match (soccer of course) where the Donetsk team Shakhtar was taking part (I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't catch who was the other team). Shakhtar means coal miner and that's why some supporters here wear a coal miner's hat. Don't play down the Donetsk team, there is a vibrant supporter life here and the city invested a lot in its Shakhtar brand, plus the spirits are particularly high with the opening of this new stadium in the perspective of the Euro 2012.
Beer was accessible right near the gate without restriction before this match, through several stands set up by the main Donetsk brewery Sarmat which makes a light beer that is a very honest drink. Groups of youths would grasp a half-liter glass and enjoy it before entering the stadium. Some guys seemed to have had more beer than necessary but everyone was cheerful and nothing bad happened. Take it as a proof that beer can flow at football events without necessarily provoking riots between supporters. In France I think that there are restrictions to the sale of alcoholic beverages near the stadiums and at times the bars in the vicinity of stadiums are even prohibited to sell alchohol before the match. It just translates into supporters bringing their own booze and even though they can't go through the gates with it, they'll probably drink more than if they had had to order the stuff at a counter.
The autumn is very mild in Donetsk and in the evening at dark you would see lots of small groups of young people sitting on benches in public parks or on Lenin square (Donetsk is a green city with many parks) drtinking beer, sometimes girls-only groups. A half-liter bottle of good Ukrainian beer costs 45 GRN (40 Euro cents) in a kiosk or in a shop and that's it.
Sarmat may look a very local brewery but it is already part of the world game, having been purchased by SAB Miller to the Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov a couple of years ago. Sarmat could thus invest in modernization (12 million UDS - completed in may 2009) and expand in Ukraine. The Donetsk brewery, which makes several other brands, has a capacity of 18 million decaliters/year. The new owners want to develop the segment of more expensive beers to stay afloat in these difficult economic times.
Statistics for 2008 tell of a beer consumption in Ukraine of 242 million decaliters, this is a very good market and foreign big players are positioning themselves while the country is still very cheap. Most of the beer drank in Ukraine comes from four breweries : Obolon, Sun Interbrew Ukraine, Baltic Beverages and Sarmat.
Another tradition in night trains in Ukraine is to change one's self before sleeping. The other people in the compartment leave for a few minutes with the door closed so that each person makes him/herself comfortable. The trains are not very fast and the railroad tracks aren't very regular, so it's a good thing to be laying down.
100 GRN make 8,33 Euro or 12,4 USD
Bodegas Borsao, Campo de Borja 2005 (Spain) 172 GRN. Innurrieta 2006 (white) 171,75 GRN. Altano 2005 Douro (red) 175,5 GRN. Naia 2006 (white - Spain), special choice of the sommelier (forgot to note the price...). Chateau Musar 1996 (red) Lebanon, 606 GRN. Philippe Pacalet Gevrey-Chambertin 2003, 580,93 GRN. Urban Uco 2002 (red), Argentina, 213 GRN. A Lisa 2005, (red) Patagonia, Argentina, 390,34 GRN. Santa Digna (red) Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (tagged as "new wine"), 103,20 GRN. Chateau La Grave, Fronsac 2004, 264 GRN, the 2003 being at 288 GRN. Chateau le Quyroux, 1ères Côtes de Blaye (red), quite a large choice of them, including Le Joyau du Chateau le Queyroux 2003 at 622,9 GRN. Chateau Le Puy 2002 (red) Bordeaux Côtes de Francs , 262,28. Coulée de Serrant 2004 (Savennières) 544 GRN. Domaine Breton, Perrières 2001, 388 GRN. Alsace Marcel Deiss, about 5 wines priced from 230 to 925 GRN.
The Lavinia wine shop doen't sell alas any wine from Georgia (Gruzia) or Ukraine. Georgia is the producing country with several very interesting wines, I've been said. We had dinner in a fish restaurant in Donetsk with several French expats, and one of them who has a certain wine culture and travels extensively through the region told me that he had several very correct wines served in restaurants in Georgia, but he said that you just don't find these wines in the shops in Georgia.
To reach Lavinia from the train station (an easy walk), take the large boulevard (Komintern street) in front of the station in direction of Kreschatik and turn right on the first major street, this is Zhylyanskaya street, it will be righthand in a steel and glass building.
Here is an extract of the French wines pages. After a few table wines (Chardonnay/Sauvignon or Syrah/Merlot) for example 53,86/63,43 GRN or 76,27/89,81 we find a selection of wines from the Loire, Burgundy and Bordeaux. oddly, the vintage year is sometimes missing. Albert Bichot Petit Chablis 168/207. Albert Bichot Chablis 192/238. Chateauneuf du Pape Chapoutier Bernand 439/542. Sancerre Alphonse Mellot Cuvée Edmond 585/723. Alphonse Mellot Sancerre la Mousière 292/361. Didier Dagueneau Fumé de Pouilly 2005 611/755. Chateau le Crock Cru Bourgeois 1996 370/457. Chateau le Crock Cru Bourgeois 2001 401/495. Albert bichot Puligny-Montrachet 532/657. Alsace Trimbach Riesling 2004 256/317. Alsace Zind-Humbrecht Riesling 2004 446/551. Alsace Frick Bihl 2005222/274. Alsace Deiss (no other info) 242/299. Chanson Chassagne Montrachet499/616. Chanson Rully 194/239. Chablis Grand Cru la Chablisienne Les Preuses 704/870.
There a good selection of Italian, Spanish and New World wines.
Seriously, the markets in Ukraine offer nice products (I liked what I saw in Donetsk), and I feel that many sellers do grow the vegetables and fruits that they sell. Plus you have many babuchkas (grandmas) selling things from their garden, and I'm pretty sure that's it's all organic. I bought them a bunch of dill (aneth in French, укроп - Ukrop in Russian). I love this grass and would eat it with everything. The Russians say Ukrop has plenty of medicine use, but I think it's just the perfect condiment for the Russian diet. I also bought dill seeds even though I have new ones every year from the initial batch that I bought in Russia.
Digressing on another topic : the mushrooms were scarce this autumn in France, and there are comparisons here with the harvest 2009 and its low volumes : I've been on the hunt for mushrooms in september when everybody I know in the Loire was saying it was useless there was nothing to pick. I did have a hard time, the drought was such in summer and late summer that there wasn't enough moist for mushrooms. But taking profit that everyone was giving up on mushrooms, I ended up finding a few of them [pics left and right - I just picked the boletus]. Makes me think to what the vignerons were saying this year, very low yields but perfect health of the grapes. In the woods, there were very little of these slugs who compete unfairly with us mushroom pickers. The ground was so dry that I guess they would have spent all their own moisture just by wanreding around...
If you visit the Donetsk market, there's a self-serve cafeteria on the first floor of the Dome-like building where you can have a three-dish lunch (including an excellent soup) for less than 1,5 Euro.