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Cooking in Tbilisi, Georgia

Join us on our very first GWS cooking class with the lovely Irina in Tbilisi to make Adjaruli Khachapuri and Khinkali.

It was a sunny but blustery day in Tbilisi as we explored the city. We had already hiked up to see Mama Georgia twice by accident and found ourselves in the Botanical Garden, killing some time before our cooking class. The anticipation for Georgian food led to some waterfall photography antics, a travel-sickness inducing bridge experience and some deep conversations. In trying to play it cool before we headed to our cooking class, we underestimated our map-reading abilities, even though one of us is literally a certified cartographer, and ended up getting to the location just on time.

But there was a problem, how did we get inside?! To ease our malaise we admired the very chonky boy laying outside and tried to figure out the solution without any phone connection because nonono we will not pay for internet, we refuse and will only play "Hand or Purse" for entertainment.

Luckily, a kind Georgian person let us in and we snuck cautiously in to the building, where we were rescued from our timid wandering by the lovely Irina.

But not just by Irina, even better we were greeted by Irina and her dog - the excellently named "Barry White". Irina welcomed us into her home, and we got straight down to cooking. Or should I say we got straight down to drinking, as she produced a large bottle of orange Georgian wine which went down a treat.

We started off our Georgian cooking adventure with khinkali , the dumpling of Georgia. We had already stopped off at khinkali house on our first day, which in itself is a location worth experiencing with large booths, an assortment of karaoke performers, huge aquariums of fish and of course the namesake - khinkali. But having the homemade variety was a whole other ball game as we were about to find out. Irina helped us to make the dough and the filling, being very patient with all of our questions and showing us how to form the dough around the meat correctly. Some of us were better at this than others, with mine (Kate's) being nicknamed the Titanic because it was so large (see photo underneath bottom right)

We then cooked our khinkali in a swirling vortex of boiling water to ensure they didn't stick together and did a little drinking, dinking and sinking Georgian style while Irina very patiently answered our plethora of questions about Georgia, ranging from views on Russia to Eurovision. Sadly, the titanic didn't make it intact from the cooking process, in an event which reflected history a little too closely.

After a quick khinkali pick me up (and sober up) it was on to the next cook, Khachapuri. Pre GWS, we had tried to make these ourselves, but now it was time for the real deal and boy oh boy were we excited.

Irina told us all about the specific Georgian cheese which is used to make adjarian khachapuri, a mixture of imeratian and sulguni cheeses. We also got to try some to see how they tasted in isolation. By this point (and by this point I mean 3 in the afternoon) the wine was really kicking in which meant that some cheesy bread was just what the doctor ordered.

Irina had pre-prepared the dough for this one as it needed to rest a little, but we still got to shape the dough and fill the crust with cheese (!!). We popped it into the oven to bake and continued with some more wine and conversation.

Given that this is already one of the most decadent things to eat, it can't help to top it off a little more, and in this khachapuri type you do that after a little baking with an egg yolk. Once it is fully cooked this is ramped up again with a knob of butter. Delicious! Once it had been baked, we used our cheese-stuffed crust to stir the cheese and egg together and scoop it up, enjoying with a glass of orange wine. Before we knew it we'd reached the Georgian state of"Shemomechama" when you feel full but keep on eating!

After eating our food and enjoying Irina and Barry's company it was sadly time to go, we bid our newly adopted Georgian Bebia adieu and wandered out into the Tbilisi early evening to explore the city in all it's glory, ready for the following adventures that Georgia would bring us the next week (or maybe we just went and crashed in our hotel room given the early drinking, I guess you'll never know.... )


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