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…


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


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


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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New Polish Section at Tesco: Pierogi & Smetana

Last week I happened across the new Polish section in Tesco on Queensway.  Tesco has always supplied some Polish goodies (depending on the store) but this was very much a new and improved section with all manner of sausages, hams, cheeses etc.!  Now while I am a real advocate of real food rather than ready meals and ready-prepared food but I thought I’d try out a couple of packets of pierogi (Polish dumplings) and a small tub of Polish smetana (sour cream).

Pierogi and Smetana at Tesco

The pierogi is available with meat, cheese or cabbage fillings.  My favourite has to be the cheese. The meat tastes a little too generic and I’m just not a fan of cabbage.  Add the pierogi to boiling salted water, when the first pierogi begin to rise to the surface, cook for 1 minute and then serve.  I like to put a little melted butter over the top.  For non vegetarians a little crispy bacon could be added.  Alternatively, top with a few breadcrumbs toasted in butter.  Delicious, if not particularly healthy!

Pierogi with Smetana, Tesco

I have no idea why but East European smetana (sour cream) always tastes differently to the sour cream normally available in the UK so this little tub was a real treat!

Go get yourself some Polish delights now!


Pierogi with meat £1.40

Pierogi with cheese £1.40

Smetana £0.78

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St Petersburg Restaurant Recommendations

There are three restaurants I recommend to anyone visiting St Petersburg.  The first is Yolki Palki (Nevsky Prospekt 88, metro Mayakovskaya), a typically kitsch restaurant (now a chain), where the waiting staff are dressed up in costumes and the walls are adorned with everything from fake vines to the heads of animals.  OK, this place might sound like your worse nightmare but it’s good fun and produces some reasonable quality food which is also relatively reasonably priced, a rarity in this chic and cosmopolitan city.  Yolki Palki will give you a taste of provincial Russian cooking and does not adhere to the airs and graces many restaurants attempting to emulate a European vibe will.  The Kalinky pancakes with stuffed meat, or alternatively with salmon, make for great hearty dishes, perfect after a days sightseeing.  Even more of a rarity in Russian and Eastern Europe as a whole, is that this restaurant actually offers some great vegetarian options.

Yolki Palki
Yolki Palki

Read more…

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Ljubljana, Slovenia

Market Band
Market Band

From Zagreb it takes just 2 hours and 20 minutes to get to Ljubljana.  Trains run semi-regularly from 5 A.M. to 11.35 P.M.  Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and like Zagreb, is a very pretty capital city.  The market is packed full of quaint little wooden stalls selling everything from cabbage to wine.

However, the main attraction in the city is the castle.  The castle can be reached on foot, by tourist train or by funicular, a return ticket for the latter costs 3 Euros for an adult and 2 Euros for a concession.

Vintage Car
Vintage Car

From the castle one can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the mountains which surround it.  Unfortunately, there is currently repair work taking place on the tower so views are limited.

Slovenia always has many events and festivals taking place across the country and last Saturday the Slovene Vintage Car Club were in the city, out in force.

The cars were a real delight, as were their owners who were happily sharing wine and food with the locals and tourists alike.

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