Adjaruli Khachapuri, aka Georgia’s Bread Boat, and Tarragon Soda

Often translated as “cottage cheese bread,” khachapuri might be the most well-known home-grown meal in Georgia. Though many regional varieties of khachapuri exist — one Georgian site estimates no less than 53 types throughout the country — one version in particular has claimed my heart, and not only for its unhealthiness.

mountains batumi marina
A view of the Batumi marina with Mtirala National Park in the background

In the western Georgia city of Batumi, the mountains of Mtirala National Park provide a spectacular contrast to the calm Black Sea, newfangled and bizarre apartment complexes overshadow their older, dilapidated counterparts, and bread boats are a dime a dozen.

I’m talking about Adjaruli khachapuri.

adjaruli khachapuri cheese bread
A plate of Adjaruli khachapuri at Porto Franco restaurant in Batumi, Georgia

Hugging the Black Sea coast is the region of Adjara, of which Batumi is the capital and largest city. Due to its littoral location, Adjara’s most famous khachapuri comes to us in the shape of a boat; I always thought it resembled a kayak, with the irony being that after you eat it, you won’t be able to fit in  a kayak.

Sulguni, a briny cow’s cheese, eggs and, of all things butter combine make the “passenger seat” of the boat an exceedingly delicious one, yet also one that all too easily erupts. According to the BBC, the egg is supposed to represent the sun, and the cheese, the Black Sea.

Given that Adjaruli khachapuri was one of many, many dishes on my must-eat-in-its-native-habitat list, I further added to the craziness by having it with a bottle of tarragon soda. Although tarragon originally hails from Siberia, it has been a popular ingredient – and soda flavor – in Georgia for decades.

And now, here’s the video for part 2 in the Georgia food series:

Video: Eating at Toma’s Wine Cellar, Kutaisi, Georgia

Let the record show that, at 00:22 on February… 23, 2022, I chose to spice things up with Finding Food Fluency–

More videos!

More food in the here-and-now!

More wanderlust!

With that digital intro out of the way, today I will take you all on a brief tour of Toma’s Wine Cellar, a restaurant in Kutaisi, Georgia specializing in food from its home region of Imereti.

It’s a family production where Toma is the host, first shows you where the wine – and chacha, a Georgian firewater made of grape pomace – are made. Then, you’re treated to a supra, a feast of local specialties, all washed down with good conversation and relaxing vibes.

Since it’s at the family home, you must call or email Toma first; the info is in the video.

For your reference, the first vegetable in the video is called jonjoli, or Caucasian bladdernut (wow, so appetizing!). Thereafter, things start make a bit more sense.

გაამოთ (gaa-mot), or bon appétit!

Khachapuri Adjaruli (Georgia’s Bread Boats)

I briefly visited the country of Georgia twice, in 2008 and 2018.  For my first visit, I was a bit wet-behind-the-ears, unsure of what I was doing there, and more importantly, what to eat.

After a random meal at a wine cellar in Tbilisi, its capital, I was floored by the deliciousness not only of the food, but also the wine.  And even after piling on the kebabs, the pomegranate seeds, the walnut sauces, and the spontaneous lessons in viniculture by the waitstaff, I wanted to know more about Georgian food.  So, I sampled baklava, cherry juice, quince jam, and khinkali (dumpling)…all excellent.

Yet, it took me the return trip to New York to find out about the mother-ship of savory bread, that being khachapuri.

Khachapuri, Adjari-style

Khachapuri (in Georgian, ხაჭაპური) is the catch-all for cheese-filled leavened bread, whereas “khach” = curd, and “puri” = breadDifferent regions in Georgia have their own methods to prepare khachapuri, but today’s post will focus squarely on the version from Adjara, along its southwestern border with Turkey.

Khachapuri Adjaruli with Eggplant in Walnut Sauce and Cornelian Cherry Nectar

Khachapuri Adjaruli, quite simply, is a carbohydrate AND fat paradise.  What does that mean?  Inside of the bread canoe, you will find butter, eggs, and briny Sulguni cheese.  Nothing leafy and green – i.e. healthy – to get in the way, just pure corporeal malevolence.

Brooklyn’s Toné Café, where I first tried Khachapuri Adjaruli (notice the slices of butter in the foreground)

How do you eat it?  Mix up the butter, eggs, and cheese to create a “soup,” then start tearing off the bread bit by bit, dunking it into your the heady mix.  After you’re done, you may not want to eat for the rest of the year – make sure you’re trying it on December 31st to cheat – but oh is it ever worth it.

On my second visit to Tbilisi, I literally took a cab from the airport to Cafe Khachapuri, not because I read that it was good, but because just look at that name.

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