Our trip to Kakheti started with an abandoned mountain road that our questionable map had identified as the shortest path to Telavi, the administrative center of the region. Despite lack of road signs, the fences blocking access, and the police officers mounting guard, we had now crossed the Gombori Pass, and drove through the village of Kobadze, where stands one of the very last statues of Comrade Stalin:
We spent two days visiting the wineries and other attractions of the region. I’ll certainly tell you more about Georgian wine in a future post, but for now I’d like to share some pictures of the roadside food stands that we passed during the trip. You will see these food stands wherever you travel in the Caucasus, but in Kakheti, they essentially focus on produce and wine.
Let’s begin with the churchkhelas, those walnut rolls I’ve already talked about here:
Notice the ones on the far left, covered with powdery sugar: these are the ones that have matured for a few months, whereas the others were freshly made.
Most of the stands are attended by locals selling the small outputs of their gardens, plus a few bottles of homemade wine and grape brandy (called chacha):
Sometimes that production is limited to one product. Here we have the cucumber dude:
And here, the peach specialists:
Another classic is to load your fruits in the trunk, back seats and roof rack of your old Lada and drive to town to sell them:
And here’s a preserves recipe to use all those peaches and chacha. You can multiply the proportions by the number of pint jars you plan to make.
Raisin, chacha and peach preserves
Yields 1 pint
1 1/2 oz golden raisins
1 oz chacha (or other grape brandy)
12 oz peeled and pitted ripe peaches
1 tsp lemon juice
5 g powdered pectin
8 oz sugar
1/4 tsp butter
- Soak the golden raisins in the chacha for a couple hours.
- Crush the peaches into chunks, and add to a saucepan with the lemon juice and the raisins. Sprinkle in the pectin and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
- Add the sugar progressively, bring back to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Let cool for 5 minutes.
- Transfer to a sterilized pint jar, seal and place in a 200 F water bath for 15 minutes, with water level just below the lid.
- Let cool for 30 minutes, refrigerate upside-down for 30 minutes, then flip.