Armenian Adventures, Part 2

Posted by Florian in Armenia, Travel, tagged with , ,

After Part 1‘s visit to the Central Market, here are some more food-related pictures from the Armenian capital.

Armenia has its fair share of Soviet relics, and the aptly named Victory Park is a good starting point for a visit. On a hill with not-so-breathtaking views of Yerevan, surrounded with war monuments, you’ll find the imposing statue of Mother Armenia (which replaces a former Stalin statue).

Still in the park, there’s an abandoned Soviet café with only a handful of tables, which apparently didn’t survive the laws of supply and demand. By contrast, the numerous restaurants of Barbecue Street in the city center can seat hundreds of people.

Yerevan also offers some examples of food-themed Soviet friezes, a subject dear to my heart. Reliefs can be found in the most unexpected places, such as the post office on Republic Square. Grapes and pomegranates are recurring motives, together with various animals. The bird is probably the mythical Simurgh.

Here’s the ornamental band on the facade of the opera house, this time with grapes and a wild ram or goat.

Yerevan - Opera House - Facade Detail

And the Ministry of Finance displays a mini-manual of winemaking, from the harvest to the barrel, which makes the whole process look like a no-brainer: pick, crush, store, done. With such an obsession with vines, it’s really a shame that Armenian wine isn’t all that good!

Yerevan - Ministry of Finance - Facade Detail

Well, while I’d be perfectly happy never drinking Armenian wine ever again, Armenia does make cognac-like brandy that can actually be quite good. I find that the bottlings around 10 years of age are the most interesting.

The Yerevan Brandy Company, which produces the famous Ararat brandy (and is now owned by the French Pernod-Ricard group), stands on a plateau high above Victory Bridge. It offers tours of the premises followed by generous tastings that will  make you forget most of the explanations your guide gave you.

Sadly, this is the only distillery I’ve ever visited where the actual production isn’t shown! The only parts you can see are the storage facility (pictured below), which has a rather hypocritical barrel dedicated to peace in Nagorno-Karabakh, and a museum of uninteresting brandy memorabilia. Disappointing.