If you ever get a chance to visit the Republic of Georgia, you HAVE to get yourself invited to the traditional feast called supra. Georgians are the most welcoming people I have ever met and their food-fests are beyond imagination.
A good supra lasts for hours, and unbelievable amounts of food are placed on the table. When more and more delicious dishes arrive, the plates are piled on top of the other, and such towers often reach several levels.
Georgia is sandwiched between the Black Sea, Turkey, Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and all those countries have had their influences on the region’s cuisine. Georgian food is probably the most flavoursome of all former Soviet Republics with walnuts, garlic, pomegranate, lots of unique spices and herbs adding their distinctive flavour to meat and vegetarian dishes.
I fell in love with Georgian cuisine when travelling in the country and had an opportunity to experience their famous hospitality first-hand.
So I was more than overjoyed when I heard that a Georgian food and wine restaurant, Colchis, had opened in my neighbourhood in London and we were invited to sample their new weekend brunch menu.
The restaurant is named after the ancient Kingdom of Colchis by the Black Sea coast that is now Georgia. Jason and the Argonauts stole the Golden Fleece from the distant lands of Colchis, and Prometheus was chained to a mountain there for giving humans fire.
We were welcomed by the cheerful manager Maurizio Bianchi (not a Georgian name for sure) and ordered some “Wake up drinks” for an aperitif. My friend Viktoria definitely perked up after an extra spicy Bloody Mary mixed with Chipotle vodka. I was refreshed by the Georgian Martini (pear, brandy, Georgian spices, lime and Triple sec), both for £8.
We decided to sample as many dishes as possible at Colchis and started our own Georgian supra with Adjaruli Khachapuri – a huge portion of boat-shaped bread with cheese, egg and butter (£8.50). It does sound like an extremely heavy dish, but Khachapuri was soft, warm and delicious.
We liked the Georgian meat dumplings, Khinkali, so much that after the fist bite ordered another portion and wanted one more after that… The only downside is that a portion of four average size dumplings costs £8.50. Blini with cheese and mint served with honey (£8.50) were equally great, but less exotic.
No Georgian feast is complete without wine, and during supra people drink buckets of locally produced gvino. Georgians believe the English word wine and French vin originated from their Georgian gvino.
Archaeological findings such as 8,000-year-old ceramic storage jugs have been discovered in the country, suggesting that people in the region had begun to make wine earlier than nations in Western Europe.
We tasted some much younger wine at Colchis… 2007 Orovela White from the Kakheti region was perfect for my taste, but not acidic enough for my friend (£15.50/500ml).
We ate and drank without the famous Georgian toasts, which is an unimaginable thing for Georgians. But if you do get a chance to experience supra properly, a word of warning – you have to wait until the toastmaster finishes the speech, and each toast lasts longer and longer when more and more wine is involved!
Gaumarjos Sakartvelos (Long Live Georgia)!
Address: Colchis Restaurant, 39 Chepstow Place, London, London, W2 4TS
Phone: 020 7221 7620
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