Ambassador of Georgia, H.E. Mrs. Mariam Rakviashvili is new to Prague — she was sworn into office six months ago — but has already managed to scope out the city’s best spots for authentic Georgian cuisine.
With respect to Georgia’s recent popularity as a food destination (The Danish chef René Redzepi has described Georgia as home to “one of the last great undiscovered food cultures of Europe”), the ambassador isn’t surprised.
“Georgia itself is at a crossroads of east and west. Its food has a complex eastern spiciness and a rich tradition of meat and vegetables that reflects historical developments and cultural fusion to create a cuisine unlike any other,” she recently told us.
In the Czech Republic, some 2,500 Georgians represent an active community that regularly hosts cultural events and even own or staff the local Georgian kitchens which ambassador Rakviashvili describes as having “excellent” service and authentic menus that rely on Georgian ingredients.
The ambassador hails from the capital city of Tbilisi. She says that while she hasn’t yet come across a shop that sells Georgian ingredients exclusively, recreating the cuisine of her homeland hasn’t proven that difficult: “Walnuts,” she says, “get some walnuts and Adjika and you’ve got Georgian cuisine.”
(Adjika, a garlicky paste of chili-peppers and walnuts, can be found in specialty food stores in Prague.)
When Mrs. Rakviashvili is really craving a taste of home she turns to her own kitchen where she cooks homemade Georgian dishes for her son. One of her favorite recipes, especially during the summer months, is a Georgian salad: tomato, onion, and cucumber dressed with walnuts, vinegar, and adjika.
Ambassador Rakviashvili recently shared her top picks for Georgian food and drink in Prague with Expats.cz readers. To discover more authentic cuisine in the Czech capital, visit our Food and Drink directory:
Not far from Old Town Square on Bílkova 14 is Gruzie, helmed by chef Lasha Gabeskeliani, a Tbilisi native. Serving a simple menu of Georgian classics in a rustic setting, here Ms. Rakviashvili appreciates the selection of savory shashlik, grilled, cubes of meat (ranging from veal to fish to pork) served with sweet-and-sour plum tkemali or fiery adjika. www.gruzierestaurant.cz
The ambassador recommends this restaurant near the Charles Bridge (Liliová 10) not only for its concept, the cozy space is host to a regular line up of blues musicians in its cellar, but for its khinkali, soup-filled dumplings from the mountainous regions of Pshavi, Mtiuleti, and Khevsureti. (“First you drink then you eat khinkali,” the ambassador says).
For those who remember the famed Irma Guga, a Prague late-night institution on Karoliny Světlé this is it — the venue moved to Liliova in June and is now part of the Georgia restaurant, blues skelp, and bar complex. Sip a Georgian pear lemonade on the newly opened terrace. liliovka.cz
Polévkárna paní Mančo
This casual bistro specializing in soups, including kharcho, Georgian borscht, is run by a Georgian expat. In recent years the tiny soup kitchen relocated from Karlín to Vinohrady (Bělehradská 643/77) where it continues to make some of Prague’s best khachapuri, a Georgian flatbread that can be made several ways (the salty cheese version is a universal favorite) as well as dumplings and pomegranate-topped vegetable rolls, pkhali. polvekarnamanco.cz
This organic wine bar in Karlín (Křižíkova 488/115) may be a surprising choice to include in an article devoted to Georgian food. But the ambassador considers their Georgian wines the best in town, describing them as “perfect.” She notes that the Georgian winemaking tradition dates back 8,000 years, with the country boasting some 500 grape varieties. Georgian wines have become so popular, in fact, that Veltlin owner Bogdan Trojak recently launched a side business, Kolchis, devoted to their import. www.veltlin.cz
Ambassador Rakviashvili suggests that visitors to this casual dining room nestled on Tomášská 14/21 next to the Senate in scenic Malá Strana, first dig into the vegetable rolls, eggplant filled with walnuts and spices, then satsivi, a chicken dish in walnut sauce. For dessert? Sweet churchkhela, a kind of porridge made from grape juice and — you guessed it — walnuts. Georgian Restaurant Tbilisi.
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