Cuisines of Kakheti and Tusheti

Cuisines of Kakheti and Tusheti

Information

Duraition: 4 Nights / 5 Days
Price: 350 USD / per person

KAKHETI AND TUSHETI CULINARY TOUR

 

This trip will take you to the cradle of wine production--Kakheti--where you will see the centuries-old, traditional way of making wine in vessels buried in the ground, and taste the product of some of Georgia’s more than 500 grape varieties.   Sample shoti fresh out of the round stone oven or sweets as they are being made.  In mountainous Tusheti--to some the most beautiful part of Georgia--you can taste the famous guda, a sheep’s milk cheese historically aged in sheepskin.   In both Kakheti and Tusheti you may learn, hands on, to make local dishes.

 

 

 

Places to visit

 

Sighnaghi is situated on a hill overlooking the 25-km-wide valley of the Alazani river, with the Greater Caucasus range in the background. The town’s architecture is a unique mixture of Georgian and Italian Renaissance-era buildings.  Sighnaghi has the distinction of being one of two cities in the world where marriage licenses are issued 24 hours a day. Hence its nickname of ‘love city’.

 

The Sighnaghi defensive wall that encircles the old centre of town dates from the early 18th century.  From the 28 observation towers set into the walls, guards could see every part of the countryside around, from the Alazani valley to the western outposts. Each of the more than 20 gates has the name of the village whose inhabitants would rush in for protection during times of danger.

 

Bodbe is a beloved destination for many Georgians because the remains of St Nino, who brought Christianity to Georgia, are buried here. A beautiful garden surrounds the small church and monastery-turned-convent. A narrow path winds through the grounds and ends at a popular healing spring.

 

Nekresi monastery complex   A town existed at this location in the second century BC. The monastery dates back to the 4th century AD.  It sits on a hill that affords a sweeping view of the Alazani Valley. Abibos, one of the Assyrian Fathers, settled in Nekresi in the

6th century and established it as a centre of learning. Among the handful of churches of different antiquity is a 4th century church, among the oldest  in Georgia.  Of later date are an episcopal palace, a four-storey tower and a marani (wine cellar).

 

Gremi   In the 16th and 17th centuries Gremi was the capital of the kingdom of Kakheti and thrived as a commercial centre on the ancient silk route. The town was razed by a Persian invasion in 1615 but the church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel with original frescoes, the royal tower and the marani (wine cellar) survive to this day.

 

 

 

Dishes to savour

 

Kakhetian mtsvadi    Barbecued meat on a stick but with this difference that the stick is from a grapevine and gives a distinctive flavour.

Khashlama  boiled meat with greens, spices and local vegetables, topped with fresh herbs. In Kakheti this would be made with veal, in Tusheti with lamb.

 

Chakapuli  beef or lamb stewed in white wine, with sour plums, tarragon, leaf coriander and spices.

 

Chikhirtma  a broth that is a favourite family meal (or hangover cure) made from chicken. Eggs are skillfully incorporated into the broth and fresh leaf coriander added as a finish.

 

Ghandzili  at the right time of year, Alpine leek can be found.  It is eaten boiled or pickled.

 

Kakhetian tolma  ground meat wrapped in grape leaves

 

Kakhetian shoti a long, tapered bread baked in a toné (a round stone oven whose walls serve as baking surface).

 

churchkhela  looks like a dipped candle but has nuts in the centre, dipped in thickened grape juice. Ages ago, when men would cover long distances on horseback, their wives would pack churchkhela as nutritious snacks for them.

 

tatara (known as pelamushi in other parts of the country) is grape juice thickened with flour.

 

The three basic ingredients of Tushetian cuisine come from local agriculture and the natural environment: mutton or beef, dairy from sheep or cows, and cereals.

 

guda   sheep’s milk cheese whose quality is determined by where the ewes were pastured. Historically guda is aged in sheepskin which keeps the cheese at the ideal temperature and degree of moisture. Nowadays, unless the cheese is made for home consumption, it is aged in plastic.

 

choban qaurma (shepherd-style meat) Traditionally, whatever tools a resourceful shepherd had at hand would serve for cooking his meal.  Meat was wrapped in a sac and set in a shallow pit. A fire was made over it and when the meat was ready, mountain herbs, salt and garlic would be the final complement.

 

kalti  a dumpling stuffed with dried cottage cheese

 

khavitsi a high-calorie mountain-cheese fondue, most often eaten with spinach

 

gordila  a dumpling that is especially popular among shepherds, because it is easy to prepare and very filling. The recommended drink to go with this dish is a good fruity vodka.

 

qva  are small spheres of toasted, cracked barley and wheat made into a dough with butter, flour and cheese.  Because it is full of vitamins it is thought to be especially good for children.

 

kotori  khachapuri made with specially prepared cottage cheese

 

qaghi   unsalted, dried lamb is accompanied with beer or boiled in beer, in which case it is eaten as a soup.

 

khinkali a dumpling twisted into a pursed shape and stuffed with meat

 

kvliavi  caraway seeds are used to add a unique flavour to many dishes.

 

 

 

 

Beverages to savour

 

The art of making wine is thousands of years old in Kakheti. The many unique varieties of grape grown here yield wines to suit every palate: dry, semi-dry, sweet and red, white or amber coloured. The traditional method of storing wine in kvevri--large clay vessels sunk in the ground where the temperature and moisture remain constant--is still used.

 

aludi is the mountain village’s ritual drink.  It is made from barley malt and hops.

 

 

 

Itinerary

 

Day 1: Arrival in Sighnaghi, transfer to hotel, excursion to Bodbe, free time, overnight in

Sighnaghi

 

Day 2: Master class in Kakhetian cuisine and sampling, wine degustation, overnight in

Sighnaghi

 

Day 3: Departure to Omalo, visit Kvareli, Gremi, Nekresi along the way, free time, overnight in Omalo

 

Day 4: Master class in Tushetian cuisine and sampling, degustation of beer and chipitauri, overnight in Omalo

 

Day 5: Departure from Omalo

 

Note: Price depends on type of accommodation and number of persons.

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