Posted by: tomciocco | October 19, 2011


Sometimes it just works out like that, and it often begins with the smallest idea, and this time was no different. October is the height of pomegranate season, so I try to make the most of it and cook dishes from traditions with a great affinity for them, and the cuisine of Georgia is certainly one of them.

If you hadn’t already heard, vinous libations were basically invented in Georgia, so at least in theory, finding something good to drink with this dinner shouldn’t have been too difficult. But as I’m sure that I’ve lamented previously in these very cyber-pages, good (and REALLY good too) Georgian wine is available, but at least here in the U.S., “extremely spotty” characterizes its accessibility: sometimes, in a few select locations, and that’s it.

Back to the grub. I had also had, in the deep freeze, some tkemali (a piquant green plum and herb sauce) remaining from the big batch I had made back when the particular plums were in their (very short) season, so I decided to make a classic Georgian appetizer/snack: khachapuri: a pan-cooked, cheese-stuffed, yogurt and baking soda bread that is always served with this sauce. The main course were Georgian style kebabs (with barberries and ground coriander, etc.), with a green pepper, cucumber, and scallion salad with herbs, and the aforementioned pomegranate seeds, in a light yogurt/mayonnaise dressing, and some Turkish pide bread from Paterson. Another incongruity, but anything close to real Georgian bread is even rarer than Georgian wine, and for my palate, it works better than pita or Italian bread…

So what did I substistute for Saperavi? Nothing other than the peculiar Pinot Noir/Cinsault cross from South Africa, PINOTAGE. Like I said at the outset, little connection…that said, it went particularly well with the lamb…










Fairview Paarl “La Capra” Pinotage 2009

Deep purple/black color. Evolving nose of berries, subtle oak, wood spice, plum, black cherry, motor oil, hazelnut butter, and slightly burnt popcorn. The medium-full body is big and bold with a fat, chewy texture, and sharp, sturdy tannins with flavors of jammy blackberry, black cherry, and blueberry fruit, tomato leaf, espresso-roast coffee, and nori seaweed. Finishes very clean.


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