Bring travel home: Georgia

Introducing Bring travel home

One of the things that makes travel special is the chance to switch off and explore new cultures. And with more time on our hands than usual, we have the opportunity to do just that. So for this series, we’ll be curating things to watch, read, listen and eat to explore different cultures from the comfort of your own home.

🇬🇪 Georgia

Bordered by Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia, and situated at a crossroads on the ancient silk roads, it has been the battleground of numerous empires throughout history. In the 20th century, it was the birthplace of Stalin and became part of the Soviet Union until its independence in 1991. Born out of generations of hardship and conflict, Georgia's rich and diverse history is nowhere more evident than through its cuisine, wine and legendary hospitality.


Watch

FILMS

And Then We Danced (2019)

A hit at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, this is the story of two male dancers in Tbilisi’s National Georgian Ensemble whose relationship must remain a secret due to the macho conservatism of the Georgian dance world. “There is no sexuality in Georgian dance,” an instructor tells the ensemble. How wrong he is.

Watch the trailer and stream on Amazon Prime or iTunes.

In Bloom (2013)

Set in Tbilisi in 1992, two teenage girls are caught in a dynastic-feudal crossfire amid the chaos of the Georgian Civil War. Don't be fooled by the feelings of déjà vu induced by the title. As arthouse coming-of-age films go, In Bloom is a brilliant, smart and sensitive film with a screw-you feminist streak.

Watch the trailer and stream on Amazon Prime or YouTube.

Tangerines (2013)

Oscar and Golden Globe nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, Tangerines is a powerful and eloquent statement on the futility of bloodshed over racial and ethnic division. It is tremendous storytelling: engaging, intelligent, and with some lovely touches. When three of the characters push a soldier’s van down a hill to hide it, they are disappointed it doesn’t burst into flames, like in the movies. “Cinema is a great big fraud,” says one to the rest.

Watch the trailer and stream on Amazon Prime or iTunes.

DOCUMENTARIES

Power Trip (2003)

Corruption, assassination and street rioting surround the story of the award-winning documentary, which follows an American multi-national trying to solve the electricity crisis in Tbilisi. The transition from communism to free-market capitalism is tricky, as a huge American energy corporation assumes control of the now privatized electric company. The company tries to help the Georgian people grow accustomed to paying for their electricity. But the Georgians, like many who were formerly under Soviet rule, are used to a different way of life.

Watch the trailer and stream on Amazon Prime.


Read

Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore (2007)

This revelatory account tells the story of how Stalin became Stalin. The secret but extraordinary journey of the Georgian cobbler's son who became the Red Tsar reads more like a thriller, and one that keeps you gripped. Montefiore shows how the murderous paranoia and gangsterism of the criminal underworld, combined with pitiless ideology, taught Stalin how to triumph in the Kremlin.

Get the book on Amazon.

For the Love of Wine by Alice Feiring (2016)

From Tbilisi to Batumi, Feiring meets winemakers, bishops, farmers, artists, and silk spinners. She feasts, toasts, and collects recipes. She encounters the thriving qvevri craftspeople of the countryside, wild grape hunters, and even Stalin’s last winemaker while plumbing the depths of this tiny country’s love for its wines.

Get the book on Amazon.

The Experiment by Eric Lee (2017)

Lee provides a fascinating account of what Georgia briefly looked like under Menshvik rule, after the country's independence from Russia in 1918. This experiment in democratic socialism stands in stark contrast to the regime established by Georgia’s most famous son, Stalin.

Get the book on Amazon.

Journey to Karabakh by Aka Morchiladze (1992)

A young Georgian man travels to Armenia to buy cheap drugs, but gets lost on the road and accidentally ends up in Karabakh, a disputed area between Azerbaijan and Armenia. He is taken as a prisoner first by the Azeris and then again by the Armenians. He spends such a long time away from home that he realizes there might not be anything waiting for him back home if he escapes. The book became a best-selling novel in Georgia and even inspired two feature films of the same name.

Get the book on Amazon.


Listen

MUSIC

Lisa Batiashvili

Batiashvili is an award-winning violinist with long standing relationships with some of the world's greatest orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker and London Symphony Orchestra.

Listen on Spotify.

Katie Melua

Melua released Call Off The Search in 2003 aged 19 and has since sold more than 11 million albums. She was the best selling female artist in the UK and Europe in 2006. Born in Georgia in 1984, her influences are Bob Dylan, Queen, Eva Cassidy, and Joni Mitchell.

Listen on Spotify.

Beka Gochiashvili

Among his noted fans, he can name former US Secretary of State and accomplished pianist Condoleezza Rice, who says that “Beka is one of the best jazz pianists I’ve heard anywhere.” As the youngest participant at the prestigious Montreux Jazz festival, Beka won first prize in the Bosendorfer Solo Jazz Piano competition. In 2009 he won a full scholarship at New York’s Juilliard School. He has since played jazz clubs and festivals throughout the US.

Listen on Spotify.

PODCASTS

Feast Like A Georgian: A Food Guide to the Caucasus | The Food Programme | BBC

Food writer Carla Capalbo, the author of Tasting Georgia, guides Dan Saladino through a supra, a traditional feast.

Listen on BBC Sounds.


Eat and drink

RECIPES

Tkhilis sakmazi

Georgian food is mostly very easy to cook and relies on lots of fresh herbs and subtle spices for its unique and delicious taste. The secret of a successful Georgian meal is to combine different kinds of dishes and arrange them together on the table. Guests help themselves to a bit of everything. Tkhilis sakmazi, or hazelnut paste to you and I, is a very versatile dish that can be watered down to add to a salad or infused with oil to baste a chicken with before roasting.

Check out the recipe from Carla Capalbo.

Tsiplenok tabaka

This garlicky poussin dish is the most popular Georgian meal outside of Georgia. The young chickens are spatchcocked and cooked with herbs and garlic on a skillet under a hefty weight. Good bread to mop up the juices is a must.

Check out the recipe from Olia Hercules.

Adjaruli Khachapuri

This delightful cheesy, eggy bread is a Georgian staple. Georgians typically make this savory pastry with a mixture of imeruli and sulguni cheese. Fortunately, this recipe uses mozzarella and strong, tart feta to get you very close to the traditional version.

Check out the recipe from Kat Craddock.

Khinkali

Khinkali are Georgian dumplings. They’re one of the country’s most popular foods and a favourite item at long dinner parties known as supras. You can stuff them with just about anything, but the meat-filled versions are the most common.

Check out the recipe from Carla Capalbo.

DRINK

With traces of winemaking in Georgia going back to as early as 6,000BC, the country is widely recognised as one of the homes of viticulture. With such a long history, Georgia offers one of the most particular wine varieties around the world. The region is famous for its skin contact wines, which you might know as orange wines, achieved through a long fermentation in clay amphorae or qvevri.

Our resident designer-wine-lover, Giulio, recommends these three bottles to give you a great experience of wine from the region. All of these wines, as well as an extensive list of other Georgian natural wines, are available to buy in the UK from Les Caves de Pyrene where you can email them directly to order.

Ramaz Nikoladze, Tsolikouri | Imereti Region

A pure white wine, directly pressed and fermented in a qvevri without skins for 18 days with indigenous yeasts.

Pheasant's Tears, Goruli Mtsvane-Chiunuri | Kakheti Region

An amber wine, fermented and macerated with the skins for 2 weeks, then aged in a sealed kvevri, expressing some of the most particular flavours of the region.

John Okruashvili, Saperavi | Kakheti Region

A dry red wine, spending 15 days on skins and just over a year in a qvevri.

DELIVERY

If you don't fancy rustling up the food yourself, why not order in? Here are some recommendations of great restaurants and eateries from our home, London, that are still delivering:

Iberia, Islington

Named after the early Georgian state of Iberia, rather than the western European peninsula of the same name, this is another quality Georgian restaurant that lets the food do the talking. You can also order Georgian wine online.

Order from Iberia on Uber Eats.

Little Georgia, Islington

“We offer food as it was prepared in my home. For us, Little Georgia really is a small piece of home here in London,” owner Tiko Tuskadze points out. This is good, homely, authentic Georgian food. Tuskadze has also published her own cookbook, Supra, to much acclaim.

Order from Little Georgia on Uber Eats.

Little Georgia, Hackney

The original Little Georgia and sister restaurant to the Islington edition. A smaller and more intimate restaurant. According to their website, the restaurants have slightly different menus.

Order from Little Georgia on Uber Eats.


A special thanks to Char Rowley and Harry Pasek for all their help and guidance on this article. We hope you enjoyed being temporarily transported to Georgia. Next up, we’re taking you to Chile. Send Ben an email along with your suggestions of how to experience Peruvian culture from home and we’ll give you a £10 Amazon voucher if it makes the cut.

We'll be bringing you more Bring travel home guides over the coming weeks. Want to get them freshly delivered into your inbox? Sign up below.


Team Pluto

Team Pluto

The awesome team at Pluto HQ