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Who Ate All the Pies (Including the Georgian Cheese Boat)?

Er, we did. Georgia (the one that’s always on my-my-my-my-my-my-my-mind, not the one where the midnight train goes) is famous for feasting. It is thought that wine was possibly invented in Georgia. And we all know that the thing that goes best with wine is cheese*. And the country is famous for its cheese pies including the Georgian cheese boat.

We ate cheese every day on our trip. It felt like our arteries had the consistency of Primula by the time we arrived home but it didn’t matter – all the cheese was utterly delicious. We tried many varieties including Meskh cheese which was like cheese strings, but not made of nasty chemicals, Imeruli cheese, a mild, tasty and very holey number from the Imereti region which can then be made into Sulguni which is most popular in the Samegrelo Region. We visited a family who demonstrated how to make Sulguni and then offered us lots of it with an unexpected feast for lunch. Georgian hospitality is simply unsurpassed.

Much of the cheese we consumed involved tasting the regional variations of the national dish – cheese pie or khachapuri – which was served at pretty much every meal we ate. Each pie contains about 150,000 calories but don’t worry, it’s worth it. The pie itself is bread based rather than pastry based and filled with varying amounts of cheese, from the relatively modest Imeruli pie which merely contains cheese inside the pie, to the more decadent Megruli which melts a few pounds of cheese on top, just in case the cheese inside doesn’t quite satisfy your cheesy cravings.

Imeruli is the most common type of cheese pie.

Georgian cheese boat

We ate this with most meals in central and eastern Georgia – the capital Tblisi and its surrounding regions.

The western part of Georgia lies on the Black Sea cost. Batumi is a resort and is clearly a party town.

THE LEGENDARY GEORGIAN CHEESE BOAT

It was in Batumi that we discovered the Georgian cheese boat, Acharuli Khachapuri, a monster from the Adjaran region. In keeping with Batumi’s flamboyant style, this is the daddy of cheese pies. It comprises a bread dough crust in the shape of a boat, filled with local cheese plus an egg and is topped off with an enormous knob of butter. You have to mix everything up (the egg cooks very slightly and the butter melts away so that you can pretend that it wasn’t there in the first place) so you end up with very buttery cheesy scrambled egg in a massive boat shaped piece of bread. It was suggested at the restaurant that we order a boat each. We insisted that we share one. One was more than enough but, oh, so delicious.

Georgian cheese boat


*Actually, it isn’t. Cheese tends to dull the palette, so if you’re serious about tasting wine you’re better off not eating anything at all and keeping your tastebuds in tip-top condition. But, of course, if you’re just out to have a good time, wine and cheese together is a delightful combination and entirely wonderful.

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2 Comments

  1. […] Toasting is a tradition in Georgia. You don’t tend to drink at your own pace, but at the behest of a toastmaster (tamada). A merikipe is on hand to make sure that glasses are always full and the wine never seems to stop flowing. Georgians toast their enemies with beer (we had a hilarious enemy-toasting session with our guide one night) – it is wine and chacha that are appropriate for feasting. We didn’t go to a formal grand feast (supra), but had many, many meals at guesthouses and family homes and we followed the toasting tradition each time. Meals are designed to last the evening – they comprise several scrummy dishes laid out on the table. Everyone just helps themselves and offers food to their dining companions. And, of course, every meal included a ubiquitous, delicious and calorie-loaded cheese pie (khachapuri). […]

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