Tag Archives: gratitude

Happy Holidays!

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Eat, dance and fold some khinkali!

Starring: Christmas tree in the front of the Parliament, decorations on Rustaveli avenue, chechelaki (Georgian traditional tree), Sukhishvili ballet dancers, and khinkali.

Cafe Littera by Chef Tekuna Gachechiladze

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Café Littera introduces itself as “Exquisite European cuisine with a touch of Modern Georgian dishes.” Nested in the idyllic inner court of the Writers House in Sololaki district of Tbilisi, it welcomes guests for lunch and dinner. Reservations are highly recommended, as the dozen or so of tables are in high demand.

The Chef Tekuna Gacheladze is known in Georgia and beyond. I felt that her travels abroad inspired her to bring a lightness to the Georgian cuisine otherwise widely known for its generosity in taste and quantities.

We were warmly greeted and seated at our table in a matter of minutes. The tables are reasonably far from each other, current rules obliging. This gave us a sense of an almost private dinner.

The English menu is sufficiently clear, though if this is your first experience with this cuisine, the waiter will kindly explain what is a dolma or Pkhali. For entrée, the menu is generous with 6-7 dishes of dips, appetizers and salads. We went for a smoked eggplant Pkhali with pomegranate and Lavash, spinach dip, dolma with wild greens and yogurt foam and a strawberry and guda cheese salad. The portions are of reasonable size to our taste. I enjoyed the way flavours surprised me in the strawberry and guda salad with a splash of a lightly acid dressing on the roquettes it comes with.

From the main dishes, we tried the mixed mushrooms with artichokes and baked Seabass with lemon Safran sauce on wild greens. The mushrooms gave us a sense of travelling back to our grandmother’s kitchen and filled us with the warmth of a dish made with love. The seabass was good, though less exciting to our taste, perhaps because of the slight bitterness of the wild greens it comes with. We paired the food with a bottle of Tvishi Marani, upon the waiter’s recommendation, which proved a great choice for our mood that evening. We left the otherwise very appealing desserts for next time.

I warmly recommend the place for a moment of indulgence with your loved ones.

This is my first restaurant review based exclusively on our experience and perceptions.

You can see more pictures on Cafe Littera instagram account – these two will give you a flavour of the atmosphere:

“A traveller at the Gates of Wisdom” by John Boyne

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Some human stories on this planet are universal. Father – son relationships, revenge, unfulfilled potential, unhappy marriages, rich and poor. Same goes for human emotions of fear, faith, greed, contentment, courage, love and hate. What is curious is how Boyne constructed the plot or rather the succession of plots to tell us this universal story. He takes the reader on a journey in time and a globetrotting of some sorts spread over a thousand years of struggle to reach peace.

The main character (Boyne himself, I think) meets known and unknown characters and lives through historic events as he attempts to give sense to his own life. A rather futuristic last chapter of life on an orbit was rather unexpected to me, yet, I gather, it is meant to give the reader an optimistic and hopeful ribbon to hold on to perhaps.

“The Beekeeper of Aleppo” by Christy Lefteri

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The Beekeeper of Aleppo is about profound loss, but it is also about love and finding light”, Lefteri tells us. This is what she witnessed on the camps in Athens during her time as a volunteer. This is a work of fiction, yet its story line is as real as the lives of millions of refugees of war and famine.

Lefteri’s writing is marvelous, marked by poignant honesty and the lightness of early mornings. I held my breath, I shed tears and I smiled as Lefteri took me on Nuri and Afra’s journey from war-torn Aleppo to England, from the loss of their only son to a reconnection, from murder to overcoming an animal desire to kill, from the loss of a business to a newly found passion for training others to succeed, from blindness to vision, from bottomless sadness to relived giggles of companionship. Books like this are a great reminder not to judge anyone – you never know what the person has been through. We are all migrants on Earth, in a sense or another.

“Ten Things About Writing” by Joanne Harris

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Joanne Harris knows a thing or two about writing, as a world renown author and the Chair of the Society of Authors. I was delighted to discover her book about writing. I love it when people are generous in sharing their knowledge.

The book will take you into the insights of the writing process from start to the publication and beyond. It will unveil the secrets of what makes a story, characterisation and detailing. And it is all written with honesty and no-non-sense. Joanne is incredibly encouraging towards aspiring writers: “Remember, … , that just writing is an act of bravery. You have the courage to do what it takes to give your voice the chance to be heard. Don’t do it because you want to be the next J.K. Rowling, or Maya Angelou, or Margaret Atwood. Those are already taken. Do it because your voice is unique. Only you can take this chance. No one else will ever be you, or tell your story the way you can”.

After this book, I also realized that I am more demanding as a reader. Joanne is right. If after 10 pages I am not fully absorbed by the story or if the author states the obvious (“the rain is wet” ), I will close the book and look for something else to read.