Ancient Georgia & Armenia
Eight Days - Seven Nights
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Hospitable Georgia with really boundless traditions
The beauty of Georgia impossible to put into words – it is only possible to sing of it !
Greatness of high mountains with ancient temples and a charm of valleys with green vineyards
In this country hospitality is on the first place, tables burst with abundance of nourishing dishes, and wine flows like water
The cuisine of Georgia is well-known for original contrasts sharp and spicy, juicy fragrant meat, numerous sauces and, of course, red wine
What can we taste : the most tasty mutton and vegetables dishes to the accompaniment of the spicy sauces which are generously sprinkled nuts
Drink fragrant khinkali broth, having grasped it by "tail", and then to send to a mouth a sack from dough with juicy meat stuffing
Enjoy rich taste of the real Georgian wines matured in huge ceramic Kvevri
And it is obligatory to try all types of khachapuri from different regions of Georgia
What can we see: to visit the ancient monasteries and temples which have settled down on slopes of mountains, to compare old and new Tbilisi. To participate in a traditional Georgian feast and to marvel expressivity of national dances.
There is a beautiful legend connected with the city's beginning. It runs that Vakhtang Gorgasali and his train hunted in dense woods. Suddenly they saw a pheasant. The tsar sent his falcon to catch it, but both birds disappeared. After a long quest the birds were found boiled in a hot spring gushing from under the ground. Dumbfounded Vakhtang ordered to build a city on this very site - on the right bank of the river Kura (Mtkvari).
However, some historians assert that before Gorgasali on the place of Tbilisi there stood a fortified city where the country's capital was transferred from ancient Mtskheta in the 4 th century. Whatever it was, in the Middle Ages Tbilisi (formerly Tiflis ) was well-known both in the east and in the west because Georgia became was the center of commerce standing on the crossroads leading to Arabian countries, to Russia , to Byzantium, and India .
Considered as the cult and sacred place for each Georgian. Nowhere in Georgia is there such a quantity of sacred and cult places as in Mtskheta. This is the reason why this ancient city is also named “the Second Jerusalem”. It is there that one of the greatest relics of the Christian world, the God's Tunic, is kept. It is there that streams of Christian pilgrims and tourists from all over the world flow to. The main attractions there are: one of the most ancient and esteemed temples – Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. Mtskheta is located at the confluence of the two mountain rivers, the Aragvi, and the Kura on the river terrace surrounded by majestic mountain tops. The city legend says that Mtskheta was founded during times immemorial by the legendary ruler Mtsekhotos, the son of the first king of Kartli, who named the city in his honor.
If you are come to Georgia feel the real magic of highlands face to face with nature, to walk on the edge of Christianity and paganism, and conquer narrow mountain trails over steep cliffs, then your way should lead straight to Tusheti.Tusheti authenticity, amazing nature, breathtaking views, unique architecture, specific traditions, and delicious local beer is why Tusheti should be on the visit list in Georgia. Just imagine, you can conquer Abano, the highest pass in the country (2950 m), to witness the whole complex of defense towers in the villages of Omalo and Dartlo at an altitude of over 2,000 meters above sea level, ride horses along the unbeaten paths, learn about ancient traditions of making local cheese and beer.
If you’re looking for a place that has beautiful mountains, lakes, waterfalls and wineries, gorgeous landscapes, cave monasteries and history on every corner, delicious food and locals who treat every guest as if he were an angel, look no further than Kakheti.
The eastern region of Kakheti (კახეთი) is Georgia’s premier wine-producing area. Almost everywhere you go, you’ll be invited to drink a glass of wine and it’s easy to find yourself wandering around in a semipermanent mellow haze. Kakheti is also rich in history: here you’ll find the incredible monastery complex of Davit Gareja, the picturesque hilltop town of Sighnaghi, and many beautiful churches, castles and mansions around the main town, Telavi.
The sunny and modern Batumi personifies all the charm of a southern city and a sea resort of the third millenium with high-class luxury hotels. It is located on the Black Sea coast and is exquisitely framed by exotic subtropical flora. Palm trees, cypresses, magnolias, oleanders, bamboo trees, laurels, lemon and orange trees, thuyas and box trees delight the eye everywhere. Batumi is located in a convenient natural Black Sea bay and is not only an important seaport for entire Georgia, but also a tourism capital of the country. The romantic picture of ships departure from the harbor is better seen from Batumi Quay
The balneological health resort Borjomi is situated in the south-east of Georgia in the Agura river gorge at the height of 800m above sea level. This is a picturesque place with large-leaved and coniferous forests surrounded with majestic the Caucasian mountains.The Borjomi mineral water became a famous brand, a visiting card of Georgia long ago. Its useful and healing properties affecting beneficially the digestive system, metabolism in the body and phylaxis were proved. Today Borjomi mineral water can be bought in shops of over 30 countries of the world.All the Borjomi hotels and sanatoriums offer medical services, clinic and diagnostic procedures, treatment with sulfur and mineral baths.
Khachapuri! When you hear this word, know that it means crispy thin bread filled with soft tender cheese, which stretches from your mouth as you take a bite
Khachapuri is traditional Georgian cheese bread that is prepared in all parts of Georgia; consequently, there are several variations of the dish.
Imeruli khachapuri from the western region of the country is the most widespread type found on Georgian dining tables
Achma – cheesy and crispy Khachapuri from western Georgia. Achma is a type of Khachapuri, Georgian cheese bread, from Adjara and Abkhazia, the western regions of Georgia. Achma is often compared to lasagna for its texture and appearance. This kind of Georgian cheese bread has both a crisp top crust and tender cheesy, buttery layers inside.
Khabizgina - Ossetian Khachapuri with Potato. Khabizgina is another type of traditional Georgian khachapuri. In the region of Ossetia, its main ingredient, along with cheese, is potato.
Megruli type of khachapuri from Georgia’s Samegrelo region is also known as double cheese khachapuri, since it has cheese inside as well as on the top. Here cheese plays the main role; you can either use Georgian Imeruli cheese or sulguni soft cheese, similar to mozzarella
Properly made mtsvadi is an extraordinary dish. Preparing it is an entire ritual. Mtsvadi made outdoors, on an open fire is very special and completely different from that made at home using a frying pan or an electric cooker. This is in Georgian genes. We’ve enjoyed it since ancient times and mtsvadi is subconsciously bound to our distant ancestors’ ritual of roasting meat over a fire after a hunt. By the way, it is known that Erekle ll, one of Georgia’s greatest kings, was especially fond of eating mtsvadi in the mountains.
Mtsvadi can be made with pork, mutton or veal. Beef should be used only if all other options are unavailable. Marinating the meat in pomegranate juice before roasting makes it especially tender, juicy and delicious.
Khinkali (Georgian: ხინკალი) is a very popular Georgian dumpling made of twisted knobs of dough, stuffed with meat and spices. It is considered to be one of the national dishes of Georgia.
Different regions of Georgia make khinkali with different fillings. The most popular filling is a pork/beef mix. In the mountains, khinkali is often made with a lamb filling. Fillings can also include Imeretian cheese mixed with cottage cheese; mushrooms; and mashed potato. City versions include kalakuri khinkali (with thinly chopped parsley) and khevsuruli khinkali (without parsley).
Chakapuli (Georgian: ჩაქაფული) is a popular Georgian stew made with lamb or beef, dry white wine, tarragon leaves, unripe (sour) green plums, green onions, green peppers, green coriander, garlic and salt. It is popular in the Spring when the plums are unripe.
Satsivi (Georgian: საცივი) is a thick paste/sauce made primarily from walnuts and served cold (‘Tsivi’ means ‘cold’ in Georgian). It is used in a variety of meat, fish and vegetable dishes.
Satsivi – one of the most famous Georgian recipes is a sauce for dipping bread or served with poultry. It is served cold. Today, we are making this earthy and pungent, creamy walnut sauce.
Elarji (Georgian: ელარჯი) is a popular dish from Samegrelo region, made from coarse cornmeal, cornflour and Sulguni cheese.
Chkmeruli (Georgian : ჩქმერული) is a traditional Georgian dish of chicken in garlic cream sauce.
Kupati (Georgian : კუპატი) is a type of Georgian sausage that is made from pork. It is popular in the Caucasus region.
Wine lovers have a lot to thank Georgia for
It is widely believed that this is where wine production first began, over 8000 years ago.
In fact, our word “wine” is derived from “gvino” – the Georgian word for wine.
Archaeological remains suggest that as early as 4000 BC grape juice was being placed in underground clay jars, or quevri (also known as kvevri), to ferment during the winter.
The vine is central to Georgian culture and tightly bound to their religious heritage.
It is common for families throughout Georgia to grow their own grapes and produce wine.
Feasting and hospitality are central pillars of Georgian culture, and traditional banquets are presided over by a toastmaster, or Tamada, who proposes numerous toasts throughout the meal, and ensures the wine flows liberally.
Georgia is a land famed for its natural bounty. These days there are over 500 species of grape in Georgia, a greater diversity than anywhere else in the world, with around 40 of these grape varieties being used in commercial wine production.
Conditions are well suited for viticulture: summers are rarely excessively hot, winters are mild and frost-free.
In addition, the mountains around the vineyards are full of natural springs, and rivers drain mineral-rich waters into the valleys.
All this means that Georgian wines have a reputation for being exceptionally pure.
Georgia’s wines fall into several zones: Kakheti and Kartli in the east, and Imereti, Samegrelo, Guria, Ajaria, and Abkhazia in the west.
By far the most important of these is Kakheti, which produces 70% of all Georgian wine.
Khvanchkara - a pearl of natural semisweet wines
Pride of the Georgian wine makers !
Winner at the international competitions and wine tasting, with the elegant dark and ruby color which is strongly developed by a bouquet and aroma, harmonious velvety taste with crimson tones.
Khvanchkara micro-zone is located on the southern slope of the Lechkhumi mountain range (right bank of the River Rioni gorge) in Racha region.
The vineyards are planted on the elevation of 450-750m above sea level.
The climate here is considerably humid with hot dry summers and moderately cold winters.
For making of naturally semi-sweet wines, the grapes are mostly harvested in late October.
«The Alazani valley» (white) – white semisweet wine. It is characterized by straw color, high-quality aroma, soft, fresh, harmonious taste.
«The Alazani valley» (red) – semi-sweet red wine with a pleasant fresh bouquet, velvety, harmonious taste.
The climate in Kakheti is moderate, similar in temperature and rainfall to southern France. However, Alazani Valley is slightly warmer than the rest of Kakheti, and so the grapes tend to get riper and more sweet. It is common to pair these wines with dessert or fruit and cheese courses.
Churchkhela (Georgian: ჩურჩხელა) is a traditional sausage-shaped candy made by repeatedly dipping a long string of nuts in tatara – a mixture of flour, sugar and Badagi (concentrated fresh grape juice).
Georgians usually make Churchkhela in the Autumn when grapes and nuts are harvested. Churchkhela can also be made with dried fruit (such as peach, apple or plum) and pumpkin seeds.
Pelamushi (Georgian: ფელამუში, თათარა) is a favorite Georgian dessert made mainly with pressed, condensed grape juice (badagi). Pelamushi can be made with flour or flour plus corn flour. In this recipe we use the classical method of making pelamushi with flour and badagi, which is suitable for making churchkhela.