Archives for posts with tag: pizza

 Inspired by my friend Chloe’s monthly food favorites, I’m going to start profiling my favorite new things in Georgia each season. See my post of fall favorites here. I’ll try to focus on things, people, places, and organizations that are brand new, but it’s possible that I’ll be late to the party on something, or there’s something that’s just new-to-me and so amazing that I’ll still choose to include it. 

Winter was off to a terrible start, but things have been less terrible in some dimensions lately. Nonetheless, I had some good discoveries.

Clockwise from top left: ქართული წინდა, Ambrosiano, Chikori chocolate-covered dried apricots, Big Smoke BBQ

Ambrosiano: I wasn’t expecting much from a pizza place outside the fancy neighborhoods (I was mostly hoping the tomato sauce wouldn’t be ketchup), and I was blown away by how good the pizza was here. Real gooey melty mozzarella, authentic Italian charcuterie, and delicious truffle sauce all atop a serviceable crust. And the staff were really nice! This tiny place near the hospitals is a real gem.

Big Smoke BBQ: There are lots of nice restaurants on Beliashvili Street, but one of those things is not like the others. Amidst all the Georgian party restaurants is an American BBQ joint. Everything was good, but the pulled pork sandwich, mozzarella sticks, and berry lemonade were big hits. I’ll be back for them soon!

Chikori Chocolate-covered dried apricots This company has narrowly missed the favorites list a few times in the past–their prunes are the best I’ve ever tasted, and the dried watermelon is fascinating; good in a very odd way. The chocolate-covered apricots, though, are out of this world! Dried apricots are my favorite ჩირი (chiri=dried fruit) to start with (well, it’s a toss-up with dried persimmons), so adding some chocolate to them was bound to be a win. Add some cute packaging and a local company working to improve food safety and employ women in the regions, and I’m sold! Chikori products are available in most grocery stores, but not all of them carry the chocolate-covered apricots specifically. In my experience, the “2 Nabiji” chain most reliably stocks them.

ქართული წინდა (qartuli tsinda–Georgian socks): thought they’re not as cute as AlterSocks (a summer favorite) they come in a wider range of sizes, and are lovely and soft. They also have a line that is infused with silver and claim that it will cure what ails you (it should keep the smells down, at least). Widely available at pharmacies and supermarkets.

my oven: Though my move was in fall, I’ve only recently been getting back into using the oven again. Cookies (of course!), muffins, roasted veggies and baked potatoes are all back in the rotation!

finding people from home: in the past month, I’ve met two people from my area–one a fellow alumna of my (small town) high school, and JenniGoesGlobal, from a neighboring town. The world is small!

Dishonorable mention(s): too many to mention; it was a long winter

If you have any suggestions for something new and great in Georgia, let me know–I’ll try to check it out, and perhaps it will make a future favorites list.

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Last week I had a day off, so I took the opportunity to go up to Telavi.  For me, it was the perfect place to go for a day trip: it’s one of my favorite places to visit in Georgia (the view of the Caucasus is incredible); it’s relatively close to Tbilisi; I know the way well (when I lived in Kakheti my supervisor was based in Telavi), so I didn’t have to do much work to prepare for a trip; one of my best friends lives there; and they’ve finally finished the construction downtown!

The Caucasus Mountains from Telavi (from March 2012)

The Caucasus Mountains from Telavi (March 2012)

I took a marshrutka from Ortachala station for two reasons. 1) It’s in a neighborhood I know well and 2) sometimes those marshrutkas go through the Gombori pass (as S and I discovered back when we were new to the marshrutka thing), and I hadn’t been through the pass yet and wanted to see it.  Unfortunately, I wound up on a long-haul marshrutka, but  I was in no hurry and appreciated the opportunity to see what my old stomping grounds look like in fall.

When I arrived in Telavi, I met up with my friend and her friend, and we went to lunch.  The food scene in Telavi has exploded since last time I was there.  The cafe where we ate, Blitz, is apparently the place to be.  They always serve shwarma and pizza, and often have daily specials–I’ve heard tales of lasagna and curry.  I ordered the best pizza I’ve had in Georgia–it bore no resemblance whatsoever to khachapuri, had an excellent thin crust, and was even dusted with Italian herbs–highly recommended.  My old supervisor was there eating lunch, too.  After lunch we went for a stroll down the newly renovated main street.  I thought it was nice, but my friends who live in Telavi weren’t impressed–they say it looked fine before, and looks fake now.  I’d only ever seen it covered in scaffolding, so my frame of reference is quite different from theirs.  We wandered to a lovely new park that is sadly already falling apart–this project was certainly “completed” in a rush.  The view, however, was unaffected by the sloppy construction work, and it was incredible.  Sadly none of us had a camera to capture the mountains that day–it was a somewhat gray day, but though the Alazani Valley was filled with mist, and the Caucasus themselves were clear.  It looked like something out of a fantasy novel.  Then we paid a visit to the Giant Plane Tree.  I wasn’t expecting anything special, but that tree really is giant! It’s not a  place to spend a long time, but it’s certainly worth taking a gander.

I returned home via shared taxi, a first-time experience for me.  My friend thinks they’re more comfortable and less hassle than marshrutkas, but I don’t know if I agree.  The catch for me, though, was that the shared taxis almost always take the Gombori Pass and the ride is much shorter (it also costs 3 GEL more).  I finally made it through the Gombori Pass as the sun was setting, and it is a beautiful part of Georgia!

Mexican-inspired pizza made on top of lobiani.

When I’m responsible for my own meals in Georgia, this is one of my go-to quick dinners.  Everything is easily available in Georgia, it’s inexpensive, and it’s a change of pace from typical Georgian food.  I’ve posted (over and over again) about my love of lobiani, Georgian bean bread.  This dish takes lobiani to a new level, using it as the base for a Mexican-inspired dish.  Lobiani is a bit thick to substitute for a tortilla, but it makes a great pizza “crust”.  Start by purchasing a piece of round, Imeruli-style lobiani at a local khachapuri stand.  (You can of course also make your own lobiani, but that would not qualify as a quick dinner).  Put some plain tomato sauce or salsa on it (you can get the ingredients for a basic fresh salsa in Georgia, no problem–tomatoes, chiles, garlic, onion, and cilantro are all very common).  Then add some cheese (Georgian-style cheese even works for this).  Add whatever veggies or other toppings you have available.  I usually add tomatoes and onions because they’re almost always around.  Peppers would be a great addition, and as you see in this picture I added some spiced ground meat.  Heat it up a bit so the flavors meld and the cheese gets a bit gooey (Georgian cheese usually doesn’t melt, per se)  One “personal pan” loburrito pizza lasts me for two meals.  ოლე!

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