This Christmas Adopt a Vine with The Georgian Wine Society

Georgian VineyardThis Christmas what do you give the wine lover who has everything?  Their own vines of course!  With the launch of The Georgian Wine Society’s Adopt a Vine program, British wine enthusiasts can for the first time adopt their own vines in one of Georgia’s most celebrated vineyards.

Georgia’s rich winemaking tradition allowed the Society to partner with the Telavi Wine Cellar, one of the country’s top wine producers.  This year the Georgian Wine Society has reserved an allocation of vines in the world-famous, 300-year-old Kondoli vineyards in Kakheti.  Located in the controlled appellation of Tsinandali, between the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains and the Alazani River, the Kondoli vineyards produce some of Georgia’s best wines.

Adopt a Vine customers will be able to choose between two traditional grape varieties: the fresh white Mtsvane, and Saperavi, the national red grape of Georgia, described by Oz Clarke as a potential ‘world beater’.  Kondoli’s Mtsvane vines are found along the banks of the Alazani River, where the breeze from the mountains ensures cool growing conditions and fresh, crisp aromas.  While, the Saperavi vines are planted further back from the riverbank, where warmer conditions encourage the rich black fruit flavours for which the grape is renowned.

Customers joining Adopt a Vine now will adopt vines for the 2011 vintage, which allows you to follow the development of your wine for a full year before it is sent to you in the early summer of 2012.  The price per vine per year is just £29.99, or you can adopt 3 vines for £54.99.  The best bit?  There is no limit on the number of vines you can adopt!

What You Need to Know

  • You will receive one bottle of wine from the award-winning Kondoli vineyards from each of your adopted vines.
  • To offer Adopt a Vine as a gift, simply name the person you wish to give it to.  Orders for Christmas 2010 need to be received by 18th December.
  • To join email orders@georgianwinesociety.co.uk
  • All adopters must be over 18 years old.

For more information visit www.georgianwinesociety.co.uk

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Easy & Quick Georgian Red Pepper Sauce Recipe

Recently I made some Georgian shashlyk and as you may have spied from the final photograph I served this with my take on the traditional Georgian red pepper sauce.  It doesn’t have to be served with shashlyk as it would go well with any grilled meat dish.  It’s really easy, all you need is a food processor or blender!

Ingredients

6 red peppers (bell or pointed)

2 red chilli peppers

3 medium sized tomatoes (or a selection of smaller ones)

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp fenugreek seeds, ground

1 tsp coriander seeds, ground

Bunch of fresh coriander

Instructions

Peppers in the UK never taste quite as nice as peppers abroad so in order to get a bit of extra flavour I put mine in a foil dish in a low-heated oven (about 150 degrees centigrade) and warmed them for 15 minutes

Cut the peppers, removing the middles, into chunks and place in food processor (or into a pot if you are going to use a hand-held blender) with all the other ingredients except the fresh coriander

Georgian Red Pepper Sauce

Blend but try to keep the mixture quite thick

Stir then chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes

Chop the fresh coriander and stir into the sauce

Georgian Red Pepper Sauce

Season to taste and serve

Georgian Shashlyk

To check out my shashlyk recipe go to Georgian shashlyk

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My Easy, Cheap, Georgian Beef & Chicken Shashlyk Recipes

Whenever I discuss what I do for a living, most people say in amazement, “Surely the cuisine of the region is no more exciting than meat and carbohydrates?”  I spend hours explaining just how varied the food is across Central and Eastern Europe.  When I talk about former USSR countries, such as Georgia, people are truly shocked how fabulous the traditional dishes are.  However, there is nothing wrong with some basic meat recipes such as shashlyk skewers of meat.  These are popular, in some form, in many countries, Turkey for one, but for me, they will always remind me of a wonderful meal in Ket in St Petersburg.  Shashlyk can be served with a variety of sauces but they key is to get the meat tender and charred.  Here’s my easy, cheap, recipe, inspired by the people of Georgia…

Ingredients

500g cubed meat (this can be chicken, beef – though make sure it is not stewing steak or it’ll be tough as old boots – or pork)

2 large white onions cut in quarters

4 bay leaves

1 tsp black peppercorns

Pinch of salt

100ml white wine vinegar

50ml Georgian white wine

150ml cold water

Instructions

Put the all the ingredients into a large bowl and leave to marinate for at least 3 hours

Georgian Shashlyk

Rinse meat under tap to take away any harsh acidic taste of vinegar

Put meat on skewers (metal work best but as you can see from the photographs, wood will work too, just ensure they have been thoroughly soaked in water to prevent them burning)

Either put on a barbecue/hot coals to seal the outside of the meat for a minute on each side

OR

Heat a griddle pan until it’s steaming, add a teaspoon of rapeseed oil (or vegetable oil but NOT olive oil) and seal the meat for a minute each side

Georgian Shashlyk

Place in a hot oven (at about 180 degrees Centigrade) and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until cooked through but still tender

Georgian Shashlyk

Serve on a plate with a sauce of your choice, buckwheat kasha and salad

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Wine of the Week: Orovela Cuvee Chandrebi Mtsvane Rkatsiteli

Orovela Cuvee Chandrebi Mtsvane RkatsiteliGeorgia is said to be the original birthplace, or cradle, of wine as it is believed that the practise of wine-making has been taking place in the region for more than 7000 years.  During this time it has been renowned for its wine, counting the royal, rich and famous across Eastern Europe as its most loyal fans.  However, with interest in wine and wine production increasing, Georgian wines are beginning to gain recognition in the UK.  The Georgian Wine Society, makes the enjoyment of these Eastern luxuries more possible than ever before.  Extending its range since its incredibly successful inception, The Georgian Wine Society has now added wines from Orovela to its range.

The Orovela Cuvee Chandrebi Mtsvane Rkatsiteli is a rich, golden white wine.  Rich and buttery, not unlike Chardonnay but with a greater mineral taste, it is a superb alternative white to enjoy with poultry, seafood or salad dishes.  The blend of 85% mtsvane with 15% rkatsiteli produces a particularly smooth, but very clean and crisp wine.  In fact, it even boasts a slight hint of juicy apples, under an aroma of strong tropical fruits.  This wine is simply summer in a bottle.  Its aroma and flavour instantly transport one back to the bustling streets of Tbilisi during an intense summer heat, with the smell and tastes of natural and delicious local foods wafting from cafes and restaurants on a very slight breeze.  However, instead of waiting to enjoy this while on one’s travels, purchase a bottle to enjoy at home and introduce friends and family to the joys of Georgian wine.

The Orovela Mtsvane Rkatsiteli 2007 – £12.99 – 13% ABV

To purchase Georgian wine or find out more visit The Georgian Wine Society.

10% of all the society’s profits go to the charity EveryChild’s – childcare programs in Georgia.

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Georgian Khachupuri Recipe with Sulguni Cheese

I first tried Khachupuri at Mimino, a Georgian restaurant in Kensington.  There are many different types of Khachupuri:

  • Imeritian (Imeruli) circular khachapuri
  • Adjarian (Acharuli/Adjaruli) khachapuri, an open boat shape, topped with a raw egg and a pat of butter before serving
  • Mingrelian (Megruli) khachapuri, similar to Imeritian but with extra cheese on the top
  • Abkhazian (Achma) khachapuri, with multiple layers
  • Ossetian (Ossuri) khachapuri, with a potato and cheese filling
  • Svanuri khachapuri
  • Rachuli khachapuri
  • Phenovani khachapuri

My favourite is the most simple, simply dough, filled with the cheese, topped with another layer of dough and then baked in the oven.  I opted for a combination of smoked and unsmoked Sulguni cheese from the Russian Kalinka shop on Queensway in London.

Ingredients

250ml sour cream

150g melted butter

1 egg lightly whisked

400g plain flour

(this can vary depending on the flour, best to put in small amounts at one time and wait until it comes together)

Pinch of salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

For the filling:

100g smoked and 100g unsmoked sulguni cheeses, grated

1 egg whisked

2 tbsp sour cream

2 cloves of garlic crushed

1 egg yolk for glazing

Instructions

Mix sour cream and melted butter

Add salt and baking soda

Whisk in the egg

Add the sifted flour  slowly

Knead until the dough comes together and is maleable

Divide the dough into two and roll out

For the filling:

Grate the cheese, mix with egg, sour cream and garlic

Place one length of dough on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper

Put the cheese filling on the dough, leaving about 1 cm from the edges

Place second sheet of dough over the top of cheese filling

Use a fork to press edges down, then make a few holes in the top layer of dough to allow steam to escape

Brush with beaten egg yolk to glaze dough

Place in oven for 20 minutes at about 180 degrees Celsius until golden brown

Serve warm with salad garnish as starter or snack

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The Merchant’s Yard: New Russian Deli, Knightsbridge, London

When I received an email a few weeks ago regarding the opening of a new and luxurious Russian deli in Knightsbridge I was literally thrilled.  Russians are renowned for feasting, from the medieval banquets of Ivan the Terrible to the elaborate political dinners of the communist era.  The Merchant’s Yard deli certainly celebrates this grand Russian tradition.

Owner, Julia Flit, has created a venue for opulent feasts and celebrations, providing shoppers with key Russian ingredients, in addition to an intimate space, ideal for small parties to be introduced to traditional fayre.  The shop contains everything from caviar to beetroot, staples in every Russian kitchen.

The Merchant's Yard, Russian Deli

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The Merchant's Yard, Russian Deli Facade, Knightsbridge, London

The Merchant’s Yard beings the opportunity to try authentic Russian homemade food that the capital has long lacked.  Finally, there is a venue doing real justice to the recipes of established customs, as well as more contemporary interpretations.  While every member of staff is on hand, ready to assist shoppers with every possible question.  Their own enthusiasm for the food is quickly very clear.

What you can expect:

The Deli Counter: Food prepared daily for eat-in or take-out including organic salads, freshly baked breads, cakes, pastries, coffees and teas.

The Grocery: For produce to enhance any table setting including cheeses, organic olives, homemade vegetable dishes, spirits, beers and Russian vodka, Moldavian and Georgian wine.

To Order: Recommendations from the Merchant’s Yard chef, for your own personal needs, when there is no time to cook for guests at home.

Dinners: Every third week of the month, for ten to 12 people, a seasonal menu will be prepared based on the traditions and customs of Russia; enhancing your appreciation and understanding of a style of cooking rooted in history.

The Merchant’s Yard

Purveyors of Russian Foods

41 Beauchamp Place

London SW3 1NX

Tel: 020 3144 0072

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Enjoy Georgian Wine this Christmas

Georgian Wine SocietyThis week I came across a very exciting website, The Georgian Wine Society, which helps supply British consumers with the best Georgian wines.

It is widely believed that it was Georgia in which wine production first began, over 7000 years ago, with archaeological remains suggesting that grape juice was placed underground in clay jars to ferment during winter as early as 4000 BC.

Georgia is a land famed for its natural bounty. These days there are over 500 species of grape in Georgia, a greater diversity than anywhere else in the world, with around 40 of these grape varieties being used in commercial wine production. Conditions are well suited for viticulture: summers are rarely excessively hot, winters are mild and frost-free. In addition, the mountains around the vineyards are full of natural springs, and rivers drain mineral-rich waters into the valleys. All this means that Georgian wines have a reputation for being exceptionally pure.

Around 150 million litres of wine are produced each year in Georgia, with around 45 000 hectares of vineyards under cultivation. There are 18 Specific Viticulture Areas (a local analogy of the Controlled Appellations of Origin) where the grape variety, planting density and yield per hectare is controlled by Ministry of Agriculture, and where the grape yield per hectare is limited to 8 tons.

Read more…

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Harcho – Georgian Lamb Soup Recipe

This is a great hearty dish, perfect for a big party of people and ideal served with chunky fresh bread.  The best bit about the dish is it is easily adaptable to cooking in a slow cooker so when you come home from work, your home smells great and you can sit down to a home-cooked meal even when you’ve had a hard day at work!

Ingredients

600g lamb chunks

1.5l lamb stock

3 large white onions chopped finely

5 garlic cloves crushed

3 tomatoes cut into quarters

5 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tbsp tomato puree

5 tbsp long grain rice

5 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

3 tbsp coriander for garnish

Instructions

Heat the oil in a pan and seal the lamb chunks

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Place the lamb chunks into a slow cooker with the stock and garlic

Fry the onion in the rest of the oil for 5 minutes

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Add the puree and tomatoes for 1 minute

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Stir and add to the lamb and stock

Add the chili and parsley and cook for 4 to 5 hours

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The rice can be added initially to the slow cooker, but if you are at home add 30 minutes before you want to serve

To serve, distribute the lamb between dishes (serves 4) and add equal quantities of liquid and rice mixture to each one

Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with chunky bread

Harcho - Georgian Lamb Soup

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Eat of the Week: Mimino Georgian Restaurant in London

MiminoGeorgian food is a real favourite in Russia and across Eastern Europe in a similar way that the British are fond of a good Indian curry.  In much the same way, Georgian cuisine provides some vital flavours and spice sometimes missing from East European cuisine.  So, when I noticed a Georgian restaurant in Kensington, just minutes from where I live I knew I had to visit it.  My meal at Ket (also a Georgian restaurnt) in St Petersburg was by far one of my favourites during my stay there, and if I was to eat a meal half as good in Mimino as served in Ket, I would be a happy customer indeed.

Located on High Street Kensington, with its entrance lying on Allen Street the restaurant has a relatively basic facade.  However, a staircase leads diners down into a basement which is anything but basic.  On arrival the staff are helpful and friendly (and not simply because I somehow managed to slip off the final step and literally fall into the arms of a waiter).  The atmosphere is, as to be expected, lively, with many Russians and other East European ethnicities enjoying a good night out.  While the decor is dramatic and visitors cannot fail to be shocked by the large round table  with giant, wooden, carved chairs fit for a feast in a forest.

The menu is not vast but contains every traditional Georgian favourite and is sure to keep every diner going long into the night, if not the next day!  The starters are simply incredible and lead diners on a veritable culinary adventure.  Warm Lobio (red beans with walnuts and spices), Sulguni cheese (served with spring onions, radish and herbs) and Imeruli Khachapuri (flat bread stuffed with special cheese) provide the ideal way to begin a dining expedition.  As these dishes are so tasty, not to mention particularly generous in size and rich in flavour, diners must be careful to leave room for their main course!  It is not easy, trust me!

Read more…

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Sacivi – Chicken with Walnut Sauce

Sacivi is a Georgian dish with a thick sauce containing onion, garlic, walnuts, spices and herbs.  Although this is a pretty easy dish to make, it requires plenty of time.  The dish must be prepared in advance and chilled for 24 hours before serving.  So it’s a good one to serve at a dinner party (particularly if you are serving a tapas or mezze style dinner) as it can all be prepared in advance and all you need to do before putting it on the table is add some garnish.  Although this recipe uses chicken, a firm white fish such as monk fish or halibut are viable alternatives.

Sacivi
Sacivi

Read more…

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