Arriving in Georgia, get ready for the fact that not only the brain is fed up with the beauty of nature, temples and faces, but also your taste buds are frantic with new sensations.
Therefore, in advance, clean the memory card in the camera, and your head and stomach will be reset and so.
Background against the backdrop of globalization
I remember that our business partner from Moscow, the sophisticated and sated gourmet Dima, having tried all these khinkali, barbecues and kebabs, got into a pizzeria by mistake (by the way, very decent) and was outraged to the extreme: “Why do you need pizza Shmizza and Peking ducks! With such a private kitchen is a crime! ”
My dear, expansive Dima is right about something, of course, but it depends on which side: it’s nice for Georgians to sometimes eat the lightest ravioli or gnocchi with pesto sauce, to approvely approve of the Italians, and then wrap them in “Shemoikheda, genatsvale!” ”(“ Look, dear! ”), Order a huge tray with three dozens of smoking khinkali with friends, sprinkle them abundantly with black pepper and start a fire in your mouth, immediately put it out with an icy beer and take away your soul in a detailed conversation about this and that.
This is where the whole salt is: not just eat tasty food, but sit together at the same table, share a meal, get another pleasant memory in the piggy bank and strengthen your spirit.
The poor artist Niko Pirosmani painted on the oilcloths that the duhanchuk owners ordered for him: the landscape, the feasting citizens and the feast. In his paintings on a modest wooden table — bread, wine, kebab, greens, cheese, chicken. This is the most authentic dinner for a company of an unassuming shirt-guy, a generous soul who can drink and sing anyone.
But do not overeat.
Well, the artist was poor, as were the customers and characters, but his paintings confirm the simple truth: food in a feast is important, but it is only a part of something bigger.
The arrogant Tbilisi with its eclectic architecture, ornate balconies over the Kur, colorful carpet and peaceful living together of almost all world religions are used to receive guests and know how to do it with dignity.
In the evening there is always where to go — and it is better to choose a new institution every evening, the kitchen is excellent everywhere, but in one place there are traditional songs and dances, in the other — “Latinos” and a girl soloist with the repertoire of Cesaria Évora, in the third — the violinist and the pianist play something White Guard, in the fourth — the bluesman cooing from Chicago.
The same Dima was absolutely right on his part, because he needed urgent treatment according to the classic Georgian recipe: in the morning go with friends to one of the countless khashnykh and order the healing strong broth in a clay pot. Nearby are two graceful sauceboats with milk and garlic gravy, a pair of crispy dizzy-smelling Tornis Puri (Georgian bread made from a clay oven) and a steaming carafe of iced chacha — a grape or honey.
And this magic potion brings a person’s disease to life in literally minutes: the look becomes clear, the head lightens, the soul otmyakat.
Fans of national cooking endlessly demand from me the canons of cooking khinkali, and I almost apologize, explaining that here, in Georgia, all normal people go to eat khinkali in special places — although at home they are also an exciting business.
Understand, I explain, this is not just food — this is in some way a cult — it’s not for nothing that the new hinkal pathos are called “The Khinkali House” or the “Khinkali World”.
Khinkali urban and Khevsurian, with herbs and spices, fast and fast, with mushrooms, cheese, tarragon or turkey! There, narrow specialists knead such a dough, which even when thinly rolled out, will not be unstuck and will not break, and the folds will be no less than nineteen! — molded so firmly that they will not disperse during cooking.
And the minced meat is chopped up, mixed and conjured up in such a tricky way that you can bite a frosted white side burning with heat — and then the broth is fragrant and invigorating, and by no means excessively greasy, and just right, the amount of minced meat and dough is balanced so precisely in order for one to be enough for another to the last crumb: the preponderance of one of the components violates the harmony of taste, and all the pleasure goes down the drain.
By the way, Tbilisi residents go to the ancient capital Mtskheta for real khinkali — it is here next to each other. After falling to spiritual sources — visits to the temples of Jvari and Svetitskhoveli, as well as the merging of the jets Aragva and Kura, sung by the great Russian poet — the gourmets go to numerous restaurants and taverns, in peace they eat up their ten pieces and finally abandon everything earthly.
And if you go there in a large company, do not forget about lobio in pots and a variety of pickles, led by jonjoli, poured with odorous Kakhetian butter.
But our Riga friends demanded endless barbecue. We, they said, do not know how to cook meat. With fish — full order, but with meat — trouble.
Well, we said, this is a fixable matter, and at first they led them to various Tbilisi establishments, and finally they were taken to one special place.
No, it would be more correct to: One Special Place.
This magical establishment is, as it should be, far, far away, far away, although the road without obstacles — perhaps the long Rikot tunnel must be passed, then the left side of the mountain road, buried in verdure, is not to be missed ! — Megrelian inn «Dzhargvali» — a small kingdom for travelers, gourmets.
A wooden picket fence encloses a spacious courtyard with wicker cottages, canals, bridges, a fragment of a personal mountain stream and a full-fledged natural economy.
Do not rush anywhere, there is a lot of space, nimble waiters rush back and forth, you don’t have time to wash your hands and refresh your face with ice water, as chicken chicken and fresh hot bread are brought to you — just baked in an earthen oven.
And this chicken can also be served with blackberry sauce — this blackberry was collected by itself in the autumn, cooked and rolled into jars, with nadugi, indispensable peasant salad of tomatoes and cucumbers — I recommend you with walnuts, this is a symphony of taste, and finally — a kebab on Ketsi, sprinkled with coarsely chopped onions: it is better to take both pork and veal, because it is absolutely impossible to choose which one is more fragrant and tastier.
And if you were lucky to get to “Jarg-vali” in the fall, then order a royal mushroom — “Niki” — also sizzling on ketsi in melted butter, no frills and spices, why this noble product has an extra touch — it sounds like a delicate golden chord in the middle of the calming rustling foliage and requires only a couple of sips of light white wine.
In the summer you have to go to the West, to Ajara, to the sea.
Get ready for humid air and exhausting heat.
Go to the sea to go on an empty stomach — well, a maximum of a cup of coffee on the embankment, and then, floating plenty, blown by the breeze smelling iodine, slowly and measuredly go to order Ajarian khachapuri: this is a seaside ritual, and you can’t break it.
I’ll tell you exactly where you need to go, so that they bring you a real ruddy boat full of melted cheese with butter and a bright orange yolk from under the village chicken — or you can eat with two.
Walk so walk! “Laguna” or “Golden Key” — in one khachapuri they do all the same size, but they invented before serving to remove the crumb from the sides and leave only the crusts, and in the other — the richest choice of sizes — small, medium, large, and in the end — “ Titanic, designed for the appetite of Gargantua.
And in the afternoon it would be nice to go to the waterfall — where the trout are bred.
Can you imagine what it is like to dive first with a sun-heated stone in an ice font, then sit in the shade of lush tropical greenery for unhurried conversation, watching the planed table board served with simple plates with armfuls of freshly green herbs, slices of bread and cups with tkemali, and Finally, try the freshest grilled fish on the coals, melting in your mouth?
Although it is more logical to go to the fish market and order a kilogram or two red mullet in the seaside town — the amount depends not only on your appetite and the number of eaters, but also on luck: the red mullet is snapped up instantly, so keep your ears up and do not yawn. Take it to the restaurant — it is near, at the market, without unnecessary words, it will be cleaned and instantly fired.
Although a little bling, but nowhere will be tastier, even in the most expensive pompous central institution. Not blessed with red mullet — mullet will be any number, and even several species.
If you still want chic and starch tablecloths, as well as salmon or flounder, for example, somehow cooked commercials, a restaurant on the waterfront is at your service.
On top of that, do not forget to order mussels — they were previously harvested by local boys, and now the case is put on a grand scale, mussels are bred as it should be, on farms, and in season you can enjoy some exotic “Marinella” in white wine.
And do not even think about leaving Batumi without trying the two local delights: ashma and baklava.
The thinnest folds of boiled dough interbedded with melted tender cheese, with crispy top crust and amber oil — this is apparent simplicity and elegance, but don’t try to write down the recipe and cook the acuma at home by yourself: there are too many pitfalls, and it’s better to ask for a skilled woman to watch the process.
And the baklava is made even more difficult, and I know the place where the real fairy of this thing Eteri lives. No, try baklava first.
This one, the color of honey, amber and melted gold, is airy, from forty layers, with crunchy walnuts and moderately sweet syrup, and drink coffee without sugar, while looking at the serene sea. Well, how?
Isn’t life beautiful?
If you can take a walk around the famous Botanical Gardens for all these entertainments, at least once bypass Primorsky Boulevard from beginning to end and climb the Gonio Fortress, the most ancient in Europe, consider that you have studied Ajaria far and wide.
And if you have no opportunity to leave for the limits of Tbilisi — what a misfortune, when in this generous city there are plenty of luxurious establishments for a person with inquiries and taste.
I will tell only two — there can be no punctures, these are strong professionals — the restaurant “Old House” and really complete luxury — the restaurant “Meydan”.
In the latter there is even a pheasant — there is no more expensive dish in Georgia (although it’s necessary to order five days), an inconceivable sophistication of a shish kebab of five types of meat plus a sturgeon plus!
And in the “Old House” there is a noble, restrained luxury: every little thing there delights.
Order anything from the above: everything will be the freshest, tastiest, aesthetically designed and elegantly presented.
If we aim to search all the secluded corners, then the majestic Svaneti remained uncovered, in which it is necessary to eat their matchless Qubdari (or they will kill them!) and not list at one time.
Truly delicious food that gives joy is not only first-class food and culinary art, it is no less a special aroma of air tickling the nostrils, filling the lungs and the soul adjacent to them, harmonious combination of colors, lines and texture. voices and mood of fellow soldiers, the sound of water, the crackle of the flame in the hearth.
All this is the Georgian epicureanism.
WHAT TO BRING
Spices, wine and churchkhela.
The famous Deserter (Deserter’s Bazaar) is temporarily under reconstruction — and after all there it was possible to turn around to the full width of your wallet! Until it is completed, go to the hypermarket «Goodwill» or «Populi» — here all our authentic trade is brought under the noble Europeanized standard.
Of course, it would be good to take another pair of suluguni heads.