Edible souvenirs from Georgia and more – in my kitchen
A quick peek in my kitchen as I staggered back from Georgia with a bulging suitcase so lots of new things to share with you this month.
The first place I wanted to visit when I got to Tbilisi was the market – and I wasn’t disappointed. Strolling through a labyrinthine arrangement of food stalls piled high with fresh vegetables, pickles, spices, sauces, meat, bread butted up against collections of ironmongery, car parts and an eclectic mix of other random items, I was in foodie heaven. Most stalls were outside under flimsy covers but we entered one dimly lit hall which had piles of cheese on one side and tables of offal on the other. But enough …. a market post to follow soon.
The way this honey thickly trickled into the jar, ladled from the churn, makes me confident that it is raw honey direct from the hives (transported in a pickle jar).
Not salami or candles. These churchkhela (pronounced church-ah-la) are strings of nuts dipped in reduced grape must. A great way to preserve and reduce waste at the same time. The different colours are due to different grape varieties used. Slices were served for breakfast and sometimes at the end of meals when were in Georgia. It’s not too sweet, just fruity – I love how the stallholder seems to have used some Maths homework sheets to wrap them up.
A feature of Georgian cuisine is the fruit and nuts used copiously. Plum sauce is used as a condiment and to cook meat in. Some stalls used old Pepsi bottles for their sauce but I like this one. Not sure why I brought home miniatures of Georgian brandy – but I visited the place where it is made and got carried away.
Not quite in my kitchen (the worst place to store wine) but the Georgian wines I brought home had to be included. Several are qvevri wines – made in large clay pots buried underground and left in prolonged contact with the grape skins, seeds and stalks. The ManDili wine is the first from two female Georgian winemakers – I met the delightful Tea Melanashvili, one half of the duo. Other natural winemakers producing small quantities of lovingly made qvevri wines are Ramaz Nikoladze (his wine is second from the left) and twins Gia and Gela Gamtkisulashvilis of Twins Wine Cellar – we drank wine straight from a newly opened qvevri there. Sadly the five bottle import limit into Dubai meant I had to leave a lot behind (including wine bottles with my name on and the rather lethal ‘chacha’, a kind of grappa); OK so I forgot how to count when packing. Much more about this experience…soon…
The tiny purple flowers on this
thyme summer savoury bought at the Farmers’ Market decorate my kitchen and will scent a roast chicken….
The newly opened Fortnum and Mason next to Dubai Mall with a fabulous view of the Dubai fountains is top of my list of places to visit next for afternoon tea. The goodie bags ran out at the media launch so I nearly fell off my chair when they gave me a hamper. Yes I know how lucky I am.
Another feature of Dubai (expat) life is that people move a lot and when clearing out their cupboards often think “Sally’s into food she’d like the contents of our pantry”! This enormous tin of Halal confit duck came to me that way; thinking of cassoulet even though the temperatures have soared here, you can’t beat a bit of bean-laden, sausagey comfort food (very un-Halal).
Elder teen asked me to make a jar of lemon curd for her friend’s birthday present (he loves it) before I left. Luckily the recipe makes two jars (and I kept the one in the pretty Pelagonia jar).
Something awful happened before I left for Georgia – I’m not ready, and may never be, to share it in this space – but I did some comfort shopping and with me it’s always in the cook book section of Kinokuniya. Diana Henry’s latest is about lighter, healthier foods and after feasting in Georgia it’ll be used A LOT.
This pot of red wine vinegar is a permanent fixture in my kitchen. It contains a “Mother” and I feed it with any left over red wine so that none goes to waste. For those who comprehend the concept of left over wine, more details about how to make your own here…
That’s all for now. Pop over to see what’s in Celia’s kitchen (at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial) as well as links to a whole host of other kitchens.
What’s in your kitchen this April?