CUISINES OF RACHA AND IMERETI

CUISINES OF RACHA AND IMERETI

Information

Duraition: 5 Nights / 6 Days
Price: 0 USD / per person

You will travel through the two most beautiful regions of Georgia, neighbours Imereti
and Racha. Much as they resemble each other in natural conditions, their character and
way of life are distinct. Most of Imereti is lowland except for the norhth where it borders
on mountainous Racha. The two regions have overlapping culinary repertoire (corn
based dishes and sauces with nuts) as well as fare typical of each.

Places to visit
Gelati* Of the three churches in the Gelati monastery complex the Church of the Virgin
is the most ancient, dating to 1106 and the reign of King David, known as ‘the Builder’.
Gelati monastery and its academy were the cultural and intellectual center of medieval
Georgia, staffed with local and foreign scientists, theologians and philosophers. It was
sometimes referred to by contemporaries as the new Hellas or the second Athos. An
embossed iron gate made in 495 AD is kept here. It was brought back from the Ganja
fortress (Azerbaijan) in 1139 by the army of Demetrius 1 of Georgia.
Bagrati cathedral* Constructed in the early 11th century (the floor was laid in 1003)
during the reign of Bagrat III, the cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The cupola
and ceiling were destroyed by Ottoman troops in 1692. Conservation and restoration
have been ongoing since 1952. The Gelati monastery complex of which it is a part, was
built between the 12th and 17th centuries and is well-preserved.
The Sataplia nature reserve’s major attractions are a system of Karst caves and the
footprints of herbivorous and predatory dinosaurs in the limestone rock. It is a unique
complex of geological, paleontological, speleological and botanical interest, established
in 1935.
Nikortsminda The Nikortsminda church was built in the early 11th century during the
reign of Bagrat III. It is distinguished by its elegance and a wealth of decorations and
frescoes. Rich stone relief ornaments on the outside and multiple-figured story-telling
reliefs and wall paintings inside constitute a true treasure house of art. Nikortsminda is
a candidate for the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Barakoni The Barakoni church of the Mother of God is an 18th-century church built in
the early medieval cross-dome pattern and whose architect is immortalized in an
inscription on the eastern façade. Similarly to Svetitskhoveli, it is situated an the
confluence of two rivers, and is the focal point of the village of Tsesi (Racha). It was
restored after the desecration of the Soviet regime and again after an earthquake in
1991.
Minda fortress A poignant reminder of the power of medieval Racha, the ruins of the
fortress of the Kakhaberidze lords seem to grow out of the rock in the mountains near
Ambrolauri.
Oni A settlement existed here in the bronze age, as part of the Colchian culture. In the
Middle Ages it thrived as a commercial centre and was fought over by Rachian and
Imeretian princes. Oni has a synagogue which serves a community--much diminished
since the demise of the Soviet Union--of once powerful Jewish families.
Utsera and Shovi These are the two largest Racha resort towns, famous for their
beneficial mineral waters. People come here to find relief from a variety of discomforts
and sickness. The resorts were favourites of Stalin’s.
* UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site

Dishes to savour
Imeretian khachapuri What distinguishes Imeretian khachapuri from other Georgian
cheese breads is a soft and salty cheese, know as chqinti.
pkhali This vegetable pâté is very popular in Imereti and is made with all manner of
vegetables mixed with a paste of vinegar and nuts. Spinach, leeks, beet leaves or beet
root all have a place in pkhali. Roasted eggplant with nut paste is very rich and
delicious.
bazhe This is the Imeretian variation on satsivi, i.e. made with chicken rather than
turkey.
Meat dishes are the particular tradition of Imereti, especially fowl, either boiled or fried,
and served with walnut and garlic sauce.
kuchmashi Imeretian kuchmashi--a delicious stew of organ meats with spices,
walnuts and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds--differs from the Megrelian version in
that it uses chicken organs rather than pork or beef.
Be sure to try some of Imereti’s many delectable mushroom dishes.
gozinaki A sweet confection of honey and toasted walnuts, usually made around
Christmas.
If you ask a Georgian about Rachian cuisine, the first dish they will mention is lobiani
with ham, so let us start there.
lobiani moist bread stuffed with beans and chopped ham. The great taste and texture
of Rachian lobiani baked this way is impossible to forget.
Rachian ham Salted pig slaughtered in winter is alternately smoked by day and
cooled at night. Oftentimes the meat is hung above a bakery oven in order to absorb
the aromas of freshly baked bread and lobiani.
shkmeruli pan-fried chicken served with a milk and garlic dressing
Rachuli khachapuri typically a khachapuri of layered dough, locally known as
bachulebi.
Pot of beans with ham For this dish to be done right, the pot with beans and sliced
ham needs to hang over the bread oven in the bakery so that the aromas are absorbed
and mixed in. The dish is served with corn bread (mchadi), Rachian salty cheese and
pickled jonjoli.
Imereti too serves fine mushroom dishes, with niqvi (Caesar’s mushrooms) being
especially popular. The rivers and mountain streams yield different kinds of fish among
which mountain trout is the all-time favourite.

Wine
Racha and Imereti are well known for their variety of wines both red and white. Several
dozen grape varieties are grown in Racha, such as Aleksandreuli which is the main
ingredient in the world famous semi-sweet Khvanchkara. Exceptional for its bouquet is
the semi-sweet white rachuli tetri. The wines here, as elsewhere in Georgia, are aged
in clay vessels set in the ground.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Kutaisi, accomodation, city tour (Sataplia, Bagrati Cathedral), overnight
in Kutaisi

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

Day 3: Departure to Racha, accomodation in Ambrolauri, on the way short excursion
(Nikortsminda church, Shaori Lake, Barakoni church), free time, overnight in Ambrolauri

Day 4: Departure to village Khvanchkara, master class in Rachian cuisine and
sampling, wine degustation, overnight in Ambrolauri

Day 5: Visit Oni and Utsera resort, tasting mineral waters, overnight in Ambrolauri

Day 6: Departure to Kutaisi, end of tour

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

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