Georgia has a long culture of food and dance, and there probably is no better place in all of Tbilisi to savor these than at the traditional Georgian restaurant “In the Shadow of the Metekhi”. The restaurant as its name suggests, is near the hillock, perched atop which is the Metekhi church. On the other side of “In the Shadow of the Metekhi” is the Mtkvari river and its location in the old town of Tbilisi makes it one of the most famous restaurants in Tbilisi.
“In the Shadow of the Metekhi” has interiors depicting parts of the Georgian way of life. There are different seating options in the restaurant. You can sit in one of the smaller rooms, near the banks of the river Mtkvari or right in the main room of the restaurant, where you can also view some of the traditional Georgian dances being performed.
Throughout the dinner, I was helped through the food by some amazing conversation, thanks to the Georgian custom of feasting – Supra helped with a Tamada.
Tamada ought to be eloquent, intelligent, smart, sharp witted and quick thinking, with a good sense of humor because very often some of the guests might try to compete with him on the toast making. At the Georgian table a tamada bridges the gap between past, present and then the future. It seems that not only the guests, but their ancestors and descendants are invisibly present at the table. A tamada toasts them with the same love and devotion as the other members of the table. A toast can be proposed only by a tamada and the rest are to develop the idea. The whole process grows into a sort of oratory contest.
Georgian food has been a part of the Russian cuisine since a long time, but has rarely moved outside from its boundaries. The taste of Georgian food was eclectic and beyond anything I had ever tasted in my life. The best part of dinner was the wide variety of vegetarian dishes available in Georgian food. The beautiful variety of cheeses, with the very salty one being a personal favorite, the Lobio – a bean soup with the corn bread, which was a lot like our very own Daal Baati, the aubergines, tomatoes and cucumbers with walnut paste and pomegranate seeds were amazing dishes and the wine, undoubtedly topped everything we had.
Georgian wines are painstakingly made in nearly every Georgian household in a qvevri – or a clay pot. The wines are created after allowing the grapes with all the skins, stems and pips to stay in the qvevri, hence resulting in a more flavorful mixture. Georgian people, like the French love their bread, not just the famous Khachapuri, but the hard Georgian bread which needs chewing and takes ages to eat. The corn bread had a thick crust, but was crunchy to eat too and went really well with the lobio.
Being a vegetarian, I was not able to eat everything put on the table, but Georgian cuisine is so varied, that in the time that I was there I did have my fill of vegetarian food. And it did not constitute just bread, but the delicious lobio, walnut stuffed vegetables and the salads all helped.