Pheasant’s Tears Winery: An Unforgettable Georgian Meal
During MIR’s delectable tour offering, A Taste of Georgia: Wine, Cuisine & Culture, travelers prepare a memorable meal with the chef at the organic Pheasant’s Tears Winery and restaurant in eastern Kakheti.
The flavors of the Silk Road permeate Georgia’s cuisine. You might notice a hint of Persia, or Greece, or perhaps Turkey, but they are regularly eclipsed by Georgian spice mixes, Georgian cooking methods, locally grown Georgian ingredients, and Georgian ingenuity. Each region of the country has its own specialties and its own special way of preparing a common dish that makes it stand out from the others.
Great food and memorable feasts are matters of pride to both chefs and home cooks in Georgia. Here’s what you can expect from the chef at Pheasant’s Tears:
Red, Red Wine (White, Too)
Georgia’s Kakheti region is wine country. Orderly rows of luxuriant grapevines parade across the sunny valley with the hazy Caucasus mountains as a backdrop. Georgians have always claimed to be Europe’s original winemakers, and in 2003, archaeologists discovered wine residues in 8,000-year-old Georgian pottery.
(click on photo to view larger version)
So a visit to Kakheti must include wine-tasting, and, in Georgia, where there is wine, there is feasting. A great example of this maxim is found at Pheasant’s Tears Winery, producing organic wines using ancient Georgian methods. The name of the winery comes from a Georgian legend in which the hero claims that it takes a “wine beyond measure” to make a pheasant cry tears of joy.
Cuisine Beyond Measure
Pheasant’s Tears not only offers wonderful organic varietal wines, but its restaurant serves superb local and organic cuisine as well. As you step into the stone courtyard, you may find a baker slapping bread dough onto the inner surface of a tone, a tandoori-type earthen oven with coals smoldering at the bottom.
The daily specials chalked on the board in the restaurant change according to what’s available today at the market and in the garden. The chef, a Signagi man named Gia Rokashvili, welcomes you into his kitchen and shows you the menu you will be preparing.
It could be his signature herbal cheese pie (khachapuri), whole wheat bread leavened with wine lees left after fermentation and baked over grapevine branches, or a smoky eggplant stew called adjapsandal. More grapevine branches might provide the heat for a roast chicken sauced in a reduction of pomegranate and red onions.
It could be khashlama, a regional lamb stew with sour plums simmered in tarragon, cilantro and mint. Fresh vegetables and herbs are used abundantly, and vegetarian and even vegan dishes are easily included.
Maybe you’ll learn to stuff and twist the little bundles of flavor called kinkhali, savory dumplings that are a mainstay of Georgian cuisine.
Whatever dishes result, they will be savory and surprising, and chopped, sliced, simmered, grilled and plated with love. And, of course, accompanied by the perfect organic Georgian wines, and an old sweet song.
For more about Georgian cuisine and Pheasant’s Tears winery, you can and in this post, How to Eat a Georgian Table Feast.
Travel to Georgia with MIR
You can also taste first-hand a Georgian feast on these small group tours to Georgia:
You can also opt to travel on your dates and at your pace on one of MIR’s private independent trips or on a private journey of Georgia, customized to your desired dates and style.
(Top photo credit: John Wurdeman – A toast with a bottomless drinking horn in the courtyard at Pheasant’s Tears restaurant)
PUBLISHED: March 9, 2014