Culture and Gastronomy
As everywhere else in the world, gastronomy and table culture are very important in Georgian daily life. In this small country everyone, despite their taste, can find something interesting. Georgian cuisine offers us a wide variety of dishes based on meat and / or vegetables. The cuisine varies in different regions. Food culture and the ingredients used vary greatly depending on geography and socio-historical past. During this delicious adventure we will participate in culinary traditions and together with our hosts will prepare examples of traditional cuisine. We must not forget that wine is essential for Georgian gastronomy, so our table will always be accompanied by an alcoholic drink well matched with our meal. So, what do we expect from this trip? A bit of history and cultural visits and a lot of gastronomy.
Arrive in Tbilisi, meeting at the airport and transfer to the hotel.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 0,5h. Overnight in Tbilisi.
City tour of Tbilisi and museum of receipts
Discover the capital of Georgia – Tbilisi, explore its old district with paved streets and traditional houses with wooden balconies, at the bank of Mtkvari river. We visit the landmarks of the city: Metekhi church and its plateau which unfolds a superb view of the old city, Narikala Fortress - the ancient symbol of the city, the district of baths (Abanotubani) known for its Sulphur hot springs.
Visit the museum of Recipes to discover the history of Georgian gastronomy. In the evening, dinner in a typical Georgian restaurant accompanied with folk songs and national dances. Transfer: Private vehicle, around 2h. Walking hours: around 3h. Overnight in Tbilisi.
Wine region and cuisine of Upper Kakheti
Departure to the East part of Georgia, Kakheti region which is known for its 8000 years’ unbroken wine traditions and the abundance of historical monuments.
After arriving in Kakheti, we start our journey with Ikalto monastery and academy - educational center of the 12th century, where we can discover the ancient method of winemaking and conservation of it. Then we visit a typical ethnographic house with family wine cellar to get known more about making Georgian Qvevri wine, taste their family wine.
Our culinary journey continues to Alvani, the village where we discover local typical cuisine of mountain population of upper Kakheti. Here livestock is the leading occupation for living and people widely use dairy products for cuisine that are prepared in a very different way comparing to other regions. Based on these natural dairy products, today we prepare traditional bakery “Kotori” (typical cheese pie) and “Dambalkhacho” (cottage cheese with melted butter).
Our next destination is Alaverdi Cathedral (XI century). Then the road goes to Telavi - the administrative center of the region.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 3h, 140 km. Overnight in Telavi.
Typical cuisine traditions of the region
Apart from wine tradition, Kakheti region is also well known for its typical cuisine, a very typical Kakhetian bread called “Shoti”, traditional delicacy – Churchkhela and the culture of making barbeque (Mtsvadi).
Visit local family in Kvareli to bake traditional bread, make “Churchkhela” (preparing with juice of grapes before it starts fermentation, flour and walnut) and Georgian barbeque “Mtsvadi” (Seasonally, barbeque can be replaced by the dish widely known and especially loved by Georgians – “Chakapouli”: the mixture of meat (veal or lamb), a large quantity of herbs and green plum, cooked in a stove).
After lunch, which is quite loaded with calories, we go head to a small medieval village of Signaghi with its small cobbled streets and superb panorama over the valley of Alazani. Visit Bodbe Monastery.
Return back to Tbilisi.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 3h30, 210 km. Walking hours: around 1h. Overnight in Tbilisi.
Making Khinkali – pride of local cuisine
Departure for Mtskheta – an old capital of Iberia kingdom. Visit Jvari (Cross) monastery perched on a hill and overlooking the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers. Visit Svetitskhoveli Cathedral ("Life-giving column") dated back to the 11tcentury. Shopping of Georgian national handmade souvenirs. Possibility of buying national handcrafted souvenirs.
Road to the famous "Mythic Caucasus", cross the legendary Georgian Military Highway, one of the world’s most beautiful roads, through the valleys, ravines and finally over the 2300-meters Cross Pass. Arrive in Stepantsminda, Kazbegi.
In the evening we prepare special dish of the region – “Khinkali” (dumpling) in local family. Traditionally we cook Khinkali with meat (beef or lamb), but we have wide choice to prepare Khinkali with cheese or vegetables or mushroom. Here we also prepare “Pkhlovani” - Georgian typical pie of this region (with cheese and local lettuce).
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 3h, 160 km. Walking hours: around 1h. Overnight in Kazbegi.
Country of soups
Departure to the central part of Georgia - Kartli region. It is considered that the variety of soups (vegetables, meat or chicken) is dominated in the cuisine of the region.
Before embarking on a new culinary adventure, we visit an ancient rock-hewn town Uplistsikhe, carved into the rocks dates back to the 2nd century BC, overlooking the river Mtkvari.
Arrive in Gori which is a hometown of Joseph Stalin and we have the possibility to visit the complex which brings together the museum, his house and his armored car. Then we visit local house and prepare “Chikhirtma”, the soup of chicken - very popular in the country (seasonally, we can prepare cornelian cherry soup or wild sorrel soup). Obviously we will not fail to prepare “Khabizgina” - a kind of Khachapuri with the mixture of cheese and potato.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 4h, 215km. Walking hours: around 1h30. Overnight in Gori.
Departure to the “capital of culinary”
Our culinary discoveries are not likely to be over. We continue our journey to the second largest city of the country and the administrative center of Imereti region which is known for its rich and particularly delicious cuisine.
Arrive in Kutaisi to discover the soul of the city. Visit renovated Bagrati Cathedral - symbol of the city and Gelati monastery complex - recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
After cultural visits, it's time to try yourself in a preparation of local dishes. Visit local family to prepare different kind of typical starters called “Phkali” (vegetables and herbs with walnuts and spices) as well as “Mtchadi” (bread baked with corn flour) which perfectly accompanies Pkhali. We cannot miss a very delicious dish from our adventure – “chick with blackberry sauce”, traditional main dish of the region.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 2h30, 150km. Walking hours: around 1h. Overnight in Kutaisi.
Simplicity creates unforgettable flavors
Departure for Ambrolauri, Ratcha region via Nakerala Pass, on the way enjoy with the views over Tkbuli reservoir and Shaori Lake. Ratcha is the mountain region which is known for its specific semi-sweet wine “Kvanchkara” due to its terrain and the most famous home-made ham in the country. (Seasonally, here we have the chance to discover the methods of making home-made hum by locals).
Before discovering the gastronomical wonders of the region, it is absolutely necessary to visit the churches Barakoni (XVIII C) and Nikortsminda (X C) - the ornaments of the churches are as beautiful and mysterious as the flavor of the region’s cuisine. After sightseeing, visit local family to discover local cuisine: today we prepare “red beans with well-smoked ham in a clay pot”. Our second course is “Shkmeruli” - chicken with garlic and milk (the name of the dish is after the small village of the region) and “Lobiani” - a sort of Khachapuri but this time with beans content.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 2h, 75km. Overnight in Ambrolauri.
Spicy tastes in the land of spices
In the morning departure to Samegrelo region. Megrelian cuisine is particularly loved by Georgians. There is a great competition at a culinary level between the regions of Samegrelo and Imereti. Welcoming their guests is something of an art for every family in Samegrelo.
On the way we can visit Prometheus natural karst Cave in Tskaltubo.
Arrive in Zugdidi and visit local family, our local hosts help us to prepare our typical Megrelian dinner with: “Elarji” (a type of porridge made with corn flour) with very typical cheese called “Sulguni” which is a pride of the region’s cuisine; “Satsivi” – turkey or chicken cooked in walnut sauce flavored with spices. We also have the chance to understand the secret of the magic spice – “Adjika”.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 4h, 210km. Walking hours: around 2h. Overnight in Zugdidi.
Cuisine of high mountains
Before departure to the mountain and mystical region Svaneti, we can visit the Palace of Prince Dadiani in Zugdidi.
Then departure to Mestia - the administrative center of Svaneti region. Svaneti is one of significant areas of the myth of Argonauts, here used to get the gold with lamb leather. Situated on the southern slopes of the central Greater Caucasus, surrounded by 3,000–5,000 meter peaks.
Visit the Ethnographic Museum which has a very rich cultural collection of the region from the Stone Age to the present day, including medieval Orthodox art examples.
Then we meet the locals to prepare the typical dishes of the region: “Tashmijabi” (a kind of French “aligot”) whose particularity is the authenticity of its ingredients – potato grown in this region and cheese made from local natural milk. We also have the possibility to prepare “Chvishtari” – small pieces of special bread made with corn flour mixed with cheese. We complete our dinner with traditional Svanetian dish rich with flavors and full of calories – “pork with vegetables”.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 3h, 140km. Walking hours: around 1h. Overnight in Mestia.
Road to Upper Svaneti for new culinary discoveries
In the morning we take dirty road to Ushguli by 4x4 car, the highest village in Svaneti. Ushguli is located at the foot of one of the highest peaks in Caucasus - Shkhara Glacier (5068 m).
After a short walk in the village, it's time to prepare “Kubdari” - the culinary symbol of the region. Mostly locals make Kubdari with beef cut into small pieces and with specific spices of this region, but in this case we prepare it in an old traditional way – Kubdari with trout. Trout caught into the river with salt and a mixture of herbs, garlic and spices is fully wrapped in a sheet of leavened dough.
In the evening return back to Mestia.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 3h30, 95km. Walking hours: around 2h. Overnight in Mestia.
Cuisine with Black Sea fish
Continue our culinary expedition to Adjara region.
Departure to Batumi - the modern city at Black Sea coast. Visit fish market in Batumi. The market has its small restaurant whose staff cook for us seafood from Black Sea.
After culinary discoveries, visit Batumi botanical garden which is located on the hill and overlooks Black Sea coast. The garden is rich with very interesting species of flora; the garden opens up a beautiful view over the sea.
Evening city tour of Batumi, strolling its small streets and white buildings.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 5h30, 270km. Walking hours: around 2h. Overnight in Batumi.
The flavors of Adjara region
Take the road to Matchakhela Gorge located not far from Batumi, the serenity and the beauty of the wild nature of the gorge are absolutely fascinating.
The gastronomy of Adjara region is very authentic. Local products give all dishes wonderful taste and flavor, but the dishes are quite fatty, we should be careful not to get big amount of these foods even it is not easy at such a rich table.
The culinary part of the day includes: “Borano” - melted cheese in butter; “Sinori” - thin wheat bread called “Lavashi” cut into small pieces and put in a cottage cheese sauce with butter and garlic; “Malakhto” - green beans with walnuts and spices. And of course, “Ajarian Khachapuri” - the boat-shaped dough full with cheese and an egg yolk as a symbol of the sun - is a traditional dish dedicated to fisherman.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 1h30, 55km. Walking hours: around 2h. Overnight in Batumi.
Local tea and desserts
Departure to Guria region - a small region that was once a major supplier of tea to Soviet countries. Here we visit local family and their tea plantation for tea harvesting and taste it with local dessert. Here we prepare “Pelamushi” - grape juice boiled with corn flour, decorated with hazelnuts (Hazelnut is a very important agricultural crop of the region and therefore it is widely presented in the cuisine). Today we also prepare “Korkoti” - a ritual dessert with boiled grains of wheat, mixed with local honey, raisins and hazelnuts.
After a good portion of dessert, we continue our journey to the south part of the country – Samtskhe-Javakheti region. Stop in Borjomi - an administrative center of Samtskhe-Javakheti region. Borjomi is known for its natural mineral waters.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 5h, 270km. Walking hours: around 1h. Overnight in Borjomi.
Land of bread
Today is the last point of our culinary adventure in Samtskhe-Javakheti region. It is said that the region is a “land of bread” because historically this part was more concerned on the cultivation of bread and logically the pastry products are particularly interesting and different here.
Visit local family, the hostess shows us master class of preparation typical pastry “Kada” - whose dough is flaky, shaped like a small bag filled with a salty mixture of flour and butter, normally locals make these cookies in a large traditional oven. We prepare “Meskhuri Khachapuri” in the same oven with Kada, which is always in puff pastry and with local cheese. The peculiarity of the region’s cuisine is that mostly people use here the dry goose meat and snails. So this time, we prepare our well-known “Khinkali” with snails or goose meat.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 2h, 110km. Overnight in Vardzia.
Return to Tbilisi through the region of trout
In the morning we visit Vardzia - troglodyte site, located at the left bank of Mtkvari river. The monastery complex caved in a rock, is XII-XIII CC Georgian picturesque monument, high mountains and rock cliffs, special kind of architecture. We visit this site which still requires a good physical shape - the multi-storey caves are connected by narrow tunnels, carved into the rocks.
Before departure to Tbilisi, we can stop at a cafe located near Mtkvari river just below the Vardzia cave and taste freshly caught trout which is the specialty of this place.
Return back to Tbilisi via Paravani Lake and its beautiful surroundings.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 4h30, 230km. Walking hours: around 2h. Overnight in Tbilisi.