Once a karavanserai, the place of trade and crafts, the building of the Tbilisi Museum kept the inner court design and the adjacent spaces in an organic way. You feel as you walk into the tinsmiths and silversmiths workshops, potteries and seamstresses atelier, enamelers, carpets weaving, ceramicists and other workshops of the many heritage crafts on this land.
The high glass ceiling lets the light get in. A luxury probably unknown to the visitors of the karavanserai centuries ago. Tables covered with traditional tablecloths welcome visitors to try some of the local delicacies.
I could not but notice a traditional (for those times) Kurdish female costume next to a traditional Jewish women outfit. Quite telling.
I was a bit jelous of women back in the days when their cloths were delightfully embroidered. M Dior would have also appreciated it, I think.
Also, I discovered that in 1930 Tbilisi had an electric tram. Makes me wonder about our definition of progress…
Do visit the Museum, a few steps away from the historic centre of Tbilisi and let the staff show you around – you will enjoy it.
I read the book in one go. The novel is a take on the airplane hijack happening in 1983 in soviet Georgia. I was in kindergarden at that time in Soviet Moldova and obviously knew nothing about such brave people and most tragic events happening across the Black Sea. You had to be brave to undertake a plane hijack in USSR at that time. The group of young persons who undertook it in November 1983 had different personal and political motivations to embark on it. The loss of lives which it brought is telling of the methods the authorities used at those times. The storming by spetznaz of a plane where there were already wounded passengers, crew members and highjackers was part of “most humane justice system”. Same goes for a forced abortion of a young women arrested as a member of the group of dreamers who moved into action.
If you are looking for a recount of events, you might want to read the declassified files of KGB and other documents. This is a work of fiction inspired by events and the characters and their courage are romanticised. The stance of their parents, renown inteligentsia of Georgia, is depicted with a dignity that resonated with my parenting approaches.
To me the central character is the monk – Father Tevdore. He was condemned and executed for a crime he has not comitted, for actions he was not part of. It was very handy for the authorities to put the blame for such an anti-soviet act on a person of Christian belief. Father Tevdore – only 33 years old – took the blame in the hope that authorities will spare the younger people. He believed in humanity till the end and his last gesture of love was to arrange within the walls of the merciless prison for a last meeting between the newly weds of the group Tina and Gega right before the day of Gega’s execution.
I felt sad after having finished reading the book. Yet, these stories must be told and read, for this is how we stand a chance of remembering what matters most.
OtsY was on my list of “to be discovered” in Tbilisi. What better occasion than Tbilisoba to do it!
I sat on the terrace and enjoyed the views to the oldest still-standing church in Tbilisi – Anchiskhati Basilica – to my right, and to Gabriadze marionette theatre to my left. Soft music in the background just enough to let you immerse in a calm atmosphere.
I let the choice of wine in the knowledge of locals. It enchanted. Vazisubani Estate collection Kisi white dry wine was a perfect choice for my choice of meal thanks to its aromas of peaches and quince. For a starter, I ordered the Georgian salad. It surprised my taste buds with freshness of herbs, balance of flavours and generosity of proportions. The heirloom pink tomato, cucumbers, red onion paired divinely with a sublime coriander sauce.
For the main course I went with an Eggplant achma. Those familiar with the Georgian cuisine know achma – the generous cheese buttery pie. The eggplant version will satisfied the buds of any seasoned vegetarian. Layered roasted eggplant, tomato jam and Sulguni cheese, topped up by finely minced herbs of the season.
For dessert I went for a ristretto and Chocolate Crémeux with Poached Cherries & Almond “Gozinaki” – perfect balance of textures and bitter-sweet flavours to finish my meal with a memorable delicate after taste. Compliments to the chef and the kitchen!
The service is impeccable: quiet, smiling, warm, no rush- no hustle, always in control, and spreading gratitude and generosity. I warmly recommend it and wish every success to the team of OtsY!
I’ve been to gastronomic festivals in couple of countries. You usually get a programme, with a starting time, and with precise times to know when and where which chef will be cooking. @Tbilisigastroweek lured us with interesting announcements and we chose to go on 1 October, because of the promise of a seeing chefs cook and tasting meals from different countries, which set it apart from my previous “chefs of the country where the festival is” kind of thing.
So, when due to traffic we arrived 20 minutes into the event, people were gathering slowly in Ciskari by the Turtle Lake. Good, Georgians do not keep it according to schedule, I thought. We had no programme, and no one around seemed to have one. There was wine and cheese and churchkhela to welcome guests. Two hours or so into the event, some images appeared on the big screen and a chef took his place behind the table. Thanks, they obliged with an English power point and I could understand who that was. My initial bother about what seemed like a delay to me and unforeseeable sequence of the workshops retreated under the influence of a glass of Georgian wine and the majestic calm of walnut trees under which the tables were set. And I got to enjoy this “no rush no hustle “ type of organisation, because there was clearly an organisation to it. The scenery of the nearby Turtle Lake added to the rhythm of going with the flow.
I will not go into all presentations and demonstrations. Those curious can see it all on Tbilisigastroweek social media. The workshops started with Chef @Tekunia who introduced the Georgian chef Guram @Chvenirestaurant.
Chef Guram and his team made for us Street food Pork and red beans stew/ pickled Staphylea with homemade mayonnaise/Georgian “nadughi” mint cream cheese topping.
Chef @Maksutaskar from Turkey @Neolokal restaurant in Istanbul gave a lecture about Anatolian cuisine and the things we share. Very valuable in a world of division. I loved the concept he introduced – “Mothers’ nation “- a concept of transmission between mothers and daughters (and sons), beyond borders and nations. The image of him and his mother was heart-warming. He also shared another type of maps – a culinary map, to look differently perhaps at the world we see. He advocated for cooking as a tribute to tradition mindful of adding sustainability to it.
Congratulations to the team of @Tbilisigastroweek for their first such event. Keep organising them, in your own unique style. We will gladly oblige.
Whenever I was in Tbilisi before, I had an urge to push doors open. «There must be magic to discover behind its enchanting doors », my inner nudge was saying. And so it is. .
The magic of stained glass by Italian masters, on doors crafted by Georgian carpenters, framed by unique patterns of metal shaped in laces by Armenian blacksmiths, leading to halls adorned by Renaissance or Moorish style paintings on walls and ceilings … all this beauty as a celebration of our diversity giving birth to something amazing.
There are so many wonderful buildings in Sololaki through which German, Italian, Georgian, Armenian and Russian architects expressed their love for the beauty of this city.
One of the local legends say that the house was built by the oil magnate Kalantarov as a pledge of love to an Opera signer, who agreed to nothing more than a dwelling as splendid as the Opera House in Tbilisi. The young architect Sargsyan seemed to like all things Moorish in architecture and design. The love birds soon moved in and lived there happily until 1921. It then became home to many families placed here by virtue of soviet expropriation. It was slowly losing its magic, until it was refurbished by the Academy of Arts in 2014.
When we got in, Alla Borisovna – one of the house residents – was standing in the inner hall and was immediately attracted by the art book my guide was holding. From a page to another we got into stories around the house, its inhabitants’ habits and the love she and my guide – Elene – shared about Tbilisi’s architecture and the men and women who left us so many architectural jewels to admire today.
Once upon a time here lived queen Darejan, a mother of 23 girls and boys. Her king built a palace for her on the incline to Sachino. She was also a builder and she furthered it to its glory of the XVIII century.
She fought for whom she loved. She lived the best she could in those troublesome times, and saw her end on Earth in exile on foreign cold land.
Today we can take the same walking paths she took thanks to the reconstruction funded by tax payers of Georgia. And we can admire the city from the beautiful blue framed balcony, perhaps from the exact same spot the queen used to.
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:
the usual barbariski candies. Getting one became a sort of reward from dear Gia. I was almost preoccupied that i would not get one this time.
an in-depth discussion with his simple and uncorrupted mind, which adds even more to the understanding that people come from Earth and politicians come from another vereeeeeery distant planet. Regardless of the country, by me.
for challenging my confirmation biases on projects, reforms, stakeholders management and related. I now know even more that i know nothing. I think i might need a pair of alter socks 🙂 i know now where i can get them.
for newly acquired partners and a replanted desire for a mutually beneficial collaboration to last with them and dear long standing partners.
yet another first – my first toast at a Georgian dinner. I was assured i did not break any customs. It must have been the gorgeous wine and food at Citadel Narikala.
a dinner with eyes on a magnificent view of Tbilisi and back to a 4th century wall. That’s what i call a Back-up.
the best, as usual, hosts at MGK hotel, where i return with a feeling of a warm home.
a delayed flight – i’ll put it on the account of you not wanting me to go- which turned into unexpected time spent in Warsaw, my student time city. So, thank you! Also for a supply of Ptasie Mleczko by E.Wedel, which adds to the bag of Georgian goodies, that i bring home.
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