Eating the Republic of Georgia: Some of the Country’s Favorites

Veal stew.
Veal stew.

Georgia is a fantastic food destination, it’s full of fresh locally grown vegetables and the chefs don’t feel the need to use a heavy hand with sauces or dunk everything in frying oil. Here are some of the highlights of Georgian cuisine that we tasted during our journey and some of the things that are always set in front of diners during most meals.

A salad of tomatoes and cucumbers has never failed to appear at the table. Also, fresh baked bread, salty feta cheese, sort of flat french bread, and cheese pies, which are a layer of dough with melted cheese inside are mandatory, called a khapuri.

All of these plates are small, and there are many of them so the table is almost totally covered with dishes, it’s called mezze. Dessert almost always includes a fruit plate with apples, oranges and kiwis sliced and arranged to look pretty, with grapes piled in the middle.

Here are some of the additional dishes that we enjoyed on our trip, the fun part is that you know you’re getting the regulars but what comes in addition is the surprise.

Meat pie–a round thin crust with savory meat filling inside.  There is also the mushroom pie that is similar.

All types of mushrooms are beloved and cheap in Georgia.
All types of mushrooms are beloved and cheap in Georgia.

Warm Olives with crushed almonds.  Heating up olives makes them way, way better!

Sauteed Leeks topped with hard boiled eggs.  I love how many veggies they manage to bring to the table.

Grape Leaves stuffed with bulgar wheat topped with yogurt.

Pierogies, dumplings, with shaved onions filled with cottage cheese. I’m a sucker for anything that’s filled like a little pillow of goodness.

Chestnut soup with ginger and some nice hot spice.  This I am definitely going to make at home. Delicious!

Spicy Mashed pumpkin with Georgian peppers.  This was surprisingly good–pumpkin deserves our attention.

Fruit like apples, oranges, grapes and kiwis are a common dessert in Georgia
Fruit like apples, oranges, grapes and kiwis are a common dessert in Georgia

Roasted Beets with parsley. Another unheralded yet delicious veg.

Smoked eggplant, peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes. Smoked vegetables? Who knew?

Pork chunks cooked on a sword on the fireplace.  A little dry, but tasty anyway.

Polenta with Oyster Mushrooms.  Mushrooms of all types are very frequently served–just the simple braised ones are so good, I think they must be very cheap here because they bring bowl after bowl of them, many different varieties.

Veal stew with tomatoes, peppers, onions parsley and dill. Slow cooked so it’s very tender. This is a common entree.

Roast Chicken covered with tiny garlic flecks. So much garlic you can’t believe it would be good but it was. Sometimes the chicken was a bit tough. Actually usually it was, it might be because they are free range and we’re used to store bought birds.

Matsoni yogurt with cherry jam.  This tart yogurt was served as dessert to us in Ushkali, a very remote 12th century village that took hours and hours to get to but the toothless smile on the grandmother who made it made it taste even better.