To conclude this Georgian Adventure series, here’s a look at the stores and markets of the capital city, Tbilisi.
Soviet mosaics are an endangered species in Tbilisi. Here is a rare specimen from the Lagidze Café on Rustaveli Avenue. Lagidze is a popular brand of sodas and syrups created at the turn of the 20th century, here is an interesting article about them. When I got there in 2008, the café was already closed, and the mosaic must certainly be gone by now.
Bread occupies a very important place in Georgian cuisine, whether it’s a cheese-filled khachapuri or a long flat loaf cooked in the toné, a tandoor-like clay oven. Here is a small booth selling bread in the city center:
In my opinion though, the kind of flat bread displayed in the window above is much better when consumed fresh from the oven. I captured the bread making process in the kitchen of a small bakery, the traditional toné replaced with an electric bread oven:
Below is a storefront on Leselitze Street, the main artery of the old town. You can see breads and pastries of all sizes and shapes, sweet or savory, filled with cheese or meat.
Of course all this bread requires heaps of flour, and this is literally what you’ll find at the central market. There’s a whole room dedicated to flour:
I will go quickly over the produce department, since I’ve already shown you so many road-side vendors in other parts of my trip. On display: tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, beets, radishes, eggplants, zucchini, green hot peppers, potatoes, cauliflowers, green cabbage heads, and garlic.
Here is the meat section. As you can see, offals are well-represented.
We’ll leave Georgia with my own recipe for a “Lagidze” chocolate cream soda. My version is low in sugar and high in cacao powder — feel free to adjust the proportions to your liking!
Yields 5 servings
6 oz sugar
5 oz water
1 1/2 oz unsweetened cacao powder
1/4 tsp citric acid
- Place the sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and mix in the cacao powder and the citric acid. Let cool, transfer to a plastic container and reserve.
Chocolate cream soda
Yields 5 glasses
35 oz seltzer water
10 ice cubes
heavy cream, to taste
- In 12 oz soda glasses, gently stir 4 tbsp chocolate syrup with 7 oz seltzer. Add 2 ice cubes and a dash of heavy cream. Enjoy!