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Digital Subscriptions > delicious. Magazine > September 2018 > Why you need to add Georgia to your minibreak bucket list

Why you need to add Georgia to your minibreak bucket list

Sandwiched between the ridges of the Caucasus mountains where Europe meets Asia, the resurgent Silk Road republic, once closed off by the Soviets, now warmly welcomes food-curious travellers. Tristan Rutherford enjoys flavour-packed cooking in the capital, Tbilisi, and travels to the nearby Kakheti region to sip its highly prized wines

Hungry traveller.

View over the old town of Tbilisi at dusk

Bunches of wild asparagus sprout next to a fish tank teeming with trout. Wheels of cheese weigh down a Lada to its bumpers, and strings of dried apricots dangle from the vehicle’s wing mirrors. As the crow flies, Dezerter Bazaar, Tbilisi’s main food market, sits within 200 miles of the borders of Russia, Turkey and Iran. It shows. Tehrani-style street stalls sell spices such as blue fenugreek and bee propolis (also known as bee glue – a sticky mixture bees produce to mend their hives). The indoor section of Georgia’s largest market – a Soviet-era maelstrom of giant pumpkins, pickles in oil drums and braying beasts – vends wild tea foraged near the Black Sea.

The bazaar juxtaposes treats you couldn’t pair in Georgia’s neighbouring countries. The spices of Arabia are displayed next to an entire row of fresh suckling pigs. Alcohol is sold with such abandon that during my hour-long stroll I was strong-armed into sipping four homemade wines and two shots of chacha, a grape pomace brandy known as vine vodka, which clears the tubes like liquid nitrogen. Pistachios are bagged and sold by Asian nation of origin – Uzbek, Azeri, take your pick. The most memorable section?

That would be the cheese. There is guda, a sheep’s cheese ageing under a sheepskin to guarantee a farmtastic tang. And dambal’khacho, a mould-covered quark wrapped in paper, aged underground, then served seared in hot butter. Plus nadugi. That’s a cheese inside a cheese: a ricotta-like curd wrapped inside a thin, silken slice of another kind of cheese called sulguni.

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About delicious. Magazine

As summer wanes and turns to autumn, the September issue of delicious. gets cosy with favourite curries and a classic blackberry and apple crumble. Mellow fruitfulness indeed! Michel Roux Jr shows what he rustles up at home, Angela Hartnett puts on a feast for sharing and Gill Meller cooks a lobster spaghetti. Plus we’ve got Zoe Adjonyoh’s Ghanaian menu, a simple guide to pickling and fermenting (everyone’s doing it), a spectacular salted peanut mousse and chocolate meringue stack and much more. Gorgeous.