[特约 Contributor Jason Lim 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer Jason Lim]
An unforgettable trip to a faraway land
From its sweeping green valleys spread with vineyards to its ancient churches and watchtowers perched in fantastic Caucasus mountain scenery, Georgia is one of the most beautiful places on earth and one of the countries of the Silk Road at this age-old Eurasian crossroads.
When God created the world, he asked all the peoples of the earth where they wanted to live and distributed their homelands accordingly, except for the Georgians who were too busy feasting. However, the Georgians invited God to join the party and spent the whole time praising his handiwork, much to his pleasure that he gave the Georgians the little plot of land he had been saving for himself.
Thank god, we now have the Eden of the Caucasus.
Georgia may be a small nation, but its greatness lies in history, culture and nature. For many centuries, the territory has experienced continuous wars and revolutions by civilisations of foreign lands from other parts of the world. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Georgia declared its independence in 1991, and this profoundly complicated history has given the country a great heritage of architecture and arts, with a real variety of beautiful sights and sounds to suit any explorer like us.
Still haunted by the 2008 invasion when the Russian military intervened in a long-standing territorial crisis in the breakaway region of South Ossetia, the world was distracted from the Beijing Olympics for five spectacularly confusing days. Over a decade on, Georgia is now moving forward in the 21st century, from Tbilisi to Mtskheta, with contemporary buildings and ever-improving facilities for us visitors who are a growing part of its future.
When it comes to wine, the French may claim to have the final word, but the Georgians surely have the first, as it’s proud, high-spirited and cultured people have been making (and drinking) wine for 8,000 years. Recognised by UNESCO for their wine-making on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List, here we’ll find more than 500 varieties of grapes out of 2,000, and a culture which is inextricably entwined with viticulture, where we as guests are considered blessings and hospitality is the very stuff of life.
And hence real wine lovers should really be looking to the Caucasus
As the guardians of wine’s oldest traditions, many of Georgia’s winemakers still produce wine using traditional practice, and the resulting flavour is quite different from that of wines made using European techniques. In a visit to one of the many wineries in Eniseli, we observed the wine is fermented in a qvevri, a pointed earthware vessel similar to an egg-shaped amphora which is buried in the floor of the wine cellar. Though larger and modern wineries are growing in number, there are still thousands of small farmer using fairly traditional techniques, and it seems that every Georgian we met has the knowledge to impart about winemaking.
Featuring flavours from the Mediterranean, as well as influences from Turkey and Persia, Georgian food is almost like the original “fusion” cuisine…
We’ve also developed a deep appreciation for Georgian cuisine and dishes during our 15-day trip, mainly due to helpful locals who enjoyed providing us with a quick and tasty education. With the presence of all kinds of meats being the main feature of Georgian cuisine, one of our favourites is actually the Khachapuri, a traditional Georgian cheese and egg bread which is best eaten hot. Using a spoon to stir the yolk and butter into the molten cheese, we then tear off a piece of fluffy crust to dunk into the cheesy well. Simply heavenly!
The Khinkali is another essential element of a Georgian feast. In fact, we were told that no supra (long dinner party) is complete without a platter of steaming Georgian dumplings being served toward the end of the meal. Stuffed with vegetable fillings such as cheese, potato or mushroom, or more commonly with a brothy spiced-meat filling, we observed how the locals would grab each dumpling by the handle and turn upside down, take small bites from the side and sucking out the hot broth before chewing their way into the filling. The doughy stem can then be discarded so that we’ll have room for even more of these addictive dumplings! 🤣
Although still relatively unknown or even, undiscovered, the Eden of the Caucasus has offered us many reasons to visit – its wine and delicacies, unique culture, flora and fauna and glorious mountains, thanks to Jason!
With beauty and drama at every turn, there’s no denying that this beautiful country enjoys the kind of “Old Testament” abundance that bespeaks God’s favour.
And by the way, Kafuka Cafe & Music Studio is the product of two talented music professionals, venturing out on their own, where both mums were invited to helm the kitchen. Jason and Eric insist on serving only food and drinks made with great love and patience, as food served from the heart is most delicious.
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