Nestled in the Great Caucasus mountains that stretch for over 1,200kms and divide the Black and Caspian Seas with a series of snow-capped peaks, lies the bewilderingly beautiful country of Georgia.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating and complex countries in the world, Georgia, along with Armenia and Azerbaijan, form the south Caucasus that separates Europe from Asia—and, as a result, were popular ancient Eurasian trade routes.
The Caucasus’ lower slopes are home to the region’s agriculture, prompted by fertile, mineral-rich soils and temperate climate—think green valleys striped with row upon row of grapevines, hazy yellow corn fields, and dense tea plantations.
Post Soviet rule, Georgia has a thriving agricultural sector with many family-run small holdings produce quality product that is prided over vast quantity production. Arguably the second most important crop to the region is the grape.
Winemaking has long been a tradition here (findings indicate as early as 300 B.C.) and age-old qvevri techniques using egg-shaped earthenware vessels are still used today.
With such an abundance of produce readily available, Georgia’s culinary culture is quickly gaining notoriety, and with that, a new contemporary scene is beginning to emerge.
The capital Tbilisi is over 1,400 years old and sits on two hillsides that flank the Mtkvari River. The Old Town blends picturesque stone churches and forts dating back as far as the sixth century with a new architectural and social vibrancy.
The burgeoning fashion and art scene (Tbilisi is home to two fashion weeks and several contemporary art galleries) has revitalized the capital and today, Rooms Hotels is an integral part of this modern, creative shift.
As the city’s first Design Hotel, Adjara Group Hospitality transformed a former Soviet-era Brutalist publishing house into a modern eight-storey residence—a beacon of Georgian heritage and simultaneously a catalyst for modernity.
“Georgia is between two mountain ranges so all the old culture blended down the valley, and this included our food culture,” says Giorgi Mindiashvili, head of food and beverage at Rooms Hotels in Tbilisi.
“Many nations and many different cultures have influenced our own culture. That’s why it’s so colorful and we’re really proud of that,” he adds. Rich in tradition and with influences from past rulers, notably Persia, Russia, and Turkey, the local cuisine is multilayered, passed along from one generation to the next.
“In Georgia people don’t buy a lot of food in supermarkets and we still cook at home,” says Giorgi. “Everything is still mama-made in most families and that’s what makes it really delicious,” he enthuses.
While many western countries are now reassessing the merit of fast, processed food and shifting the value back to the basic principles of cooking fresh, local ingredients (thank you, Michael Pollan!), Georgian cuisine has never strayed far from these roots.
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