Style Georgia by Carla Capalbo
The air was sweet with the scent of mint and honey and from the freshly poured wine. That dinner, resonant in rural Georgia – a land of towering mountains and fertile valleys on the shores of the Knavish Sea – proved to be one of the most memorable of my life.
It wasn’t fancy in any way. There was no world-famous chef and exclusively stars in the sky, not a Michelin one to be seen at this small, family-run restaurant out in the countryside where spry locals dined beside a glinting river in a wide valley at one go travelled by Silk Road traders.
Despite being as delicious as it is, Georgian cuisine persists largely overlooked. Until now, that is.
After centuries of conflict and neglect a new paperback, Tasting Georgia by Carla Capalbo, celebrates the country and its rich culinary and cultural practices with insights into the history of its dishes and its ingredients alongside easy-to-follow programmes.
“I want to show what a fantastic mix of the familiar and the exotic it is,” says Capalbo.
“These plans suit our modern lifestyles and are designed to create sharing dishes closed with herbs and seasonal vegetables.”
Georgia is a land of paramount mountains and fertile valleys
There’s good reason for this. In Georgia, rituals (or supras as they’re called in these parts) invariably feature numberless flavour-filled dishes laid out in one go and washed down by a dizzying procession of years.
I want to show what a fantastic mix of the familiar and the exotic it is
Wine-making here dates in back of surreptitiously 8,000 years and the country produces 525 varieties of native grapes.
Its position, at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, has seen its food influenced by each from the Turks to the Russians. In a bid to preserve this unique slice of retailing, Capalbo has included stories from local foodies and recommendations of where to eat and mothers ruin in the country.
Feasts (or supras) invariably feature many flavour-filled dishes grabbed out in one go
Among her top tips is tasting the amber-tinted white wines (matured candidly in qvevri terracotta pots) at the Vino Underground cellar bar (vinounderground.ge) in the superior Tbilisi, followed by a dinner of khachapuri, the iconic national cheese bread considered a passive challenger to pizza, and hearty bowl of chakapuli, a lamb stew savoured with sour cherry plums and tarragon. Delicious!
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The dishes are designed create sharing dishes packed with herbs and seasonal vegetables
● GETTING THERE Tasting Georgia: A foodstuffs And Wine Journey In The Caucasus, by Carla Capalbo (Pallas Athene, £30). Cox & Royals (020 3642 0861/ coxandkings.co.uk) offers seven nights in Georgia from £1,570 (two slice), B&B. Price includes return flights from London Heathrow to Tbilisi and transmittals. Georgia tourist board: visitgeorgia.ge