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Navigating the Divinely-Inspired Georgian Supra

You won't be long in the Caucasian nation of Georgia before you hear some version of the following legend:

When God was assigning peoples to countries, he mistakenly forgot to give the Georgian people a land of their own.  Realizing his error, he went to apologize to the Georgians.  God found the Georgians at a "Supra" or feast with a groaning table and plenty of wine, and God was not allowed to make his apology before joining them in a hearty meal and several jugs of robust Georgian wine.  When God explained the reason for his visit, the Georgians merely shrugged their shoulders and urged him to take more wine and food.  God, the Georgians tell you, was so impressed with their hospitality, wine, and geniality, that he gifted them the land he’d reserved for his exclusive use.

It was thus that the hospitable gourmands of Georgia came to inhabit the bountiful mountainous land that straddles Asia and Europe, but is neither: a land of rolling vineyards and verdant sheep pastures.  The mild climate and warm sun produce the pungent flavors of the Caucuses: grapes, plums, tomatoes, pomegranates, eggplant, walnut, and the piquant herbs that make their way onto every groaning Georgian “Supra.” 

A Georgian Supra is a marathon, not a sprint, and one needs to bring to it a hearty appetite and a clear head.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that the groaning table that greets you is the extent of the feast!  This is just the beginning - so sample sparingly of the Lobio (beans in tangy sauce) Badrijani Nigvzit (stuffed eggplant rolls with walnuts and pomegranates), tangy salty sheep cheese served with platters of juicy Caucasian tomatoes, crisp cucumbers and crunchy peppers, accompanied by whole bunches of tarragon, mint, and dill, and the pungent Satsivi (chicken in walnut sauce).  These are merely to whet your appetite.

Khatchapuri may well appear next.  Often mistakenly called “Georgian Pizza,” these oval-shaped chewy pastries are filled with tart, salty, brined Sulguni cheese that melts into a delectable, runny consistency.  Some khachapuri are prepared with a fried egg at the center, while others are formed into a circle and topped with more pastry.

Up next might be one of Georgia’s traditional hearty soups: tangy and spicy Kharcho, a lamb soup with rice, plums, and tomatoes or Chikmyrta, a lamb-based version of Greek egg and lemon soup, spiked with vinegar, lemon, and tarragon.  No sooner are you finished with this then the table is cleared for a groaning platter of Khinkali, oversized lamb and pork-stuffed dumplings swimming in a tart vinegar broth.  True Georgians grasp these by their stem and suck the redolent broth out the bottom. 

Next up is some form of mixed-grill, typically Shashlik or cubes of meat on sharp metal shish-kabob skewers, or Chicken Tabaka, a spatchcocked chicken spiked with garlic, tarragon, and butter grilled under a brick.  The meat is served with more fresh vegetables and Georgia’s signature condiments: sour plum Tkemali sauce and spicy red pepper Adjika.  Wash everything down with Georgia’s fabulous wine and soak up the juices and remaining sauce with Lavash or Puri, the region’s breads.

When the feast is over, if you have a tiny corner left, don’t refuse a small glass of Cha-cha, Georgia’s version of grappa.  Known as a powerful aid to digestion, a little goes a very long way, but it tastes much better than Alka-Seltzer!

Alexander + Roberts’s venerable history began with trips to the Former Soviet Union more than 70 years ago.  We are delighted to be reintroducing Georgia to American travelers today; an emerging destination that has something for everyone, especially foodies.  Join us on our new itinerary Georgia + the Caucasus where we join a local family for a congenial meal in their mountain village.

Posted: 11/27/2017 11:38:30 AM by Alexander + Roberts