A Toast to the Toastmaster!

In this age of crossover cuisine, the food of Georgia, while having a distinctive character of its own, embodies a blend of European and Middle Eastern culinary traditions. It also offers a wide range of meat-based and vegetarian options. And to wash it all down, there are robust, complex wines whose lineage goes back to the very origins of viniculture.

In Georgia these are all consumed in enormous quantities, with the accelerating encouragement of the Tamada, a master of ceremonies and performance artist who leads the celebrants in toast after toast – to each other, their women, their friends, their ancestors and their descendents, culminating in a ritual orgy of poetry, song and dance.  It's a hard act to follow.

Because there is no sizeable Georgian community in London, there have been very few restaurants that offer the food and wine, let alone the festivities. Enter the glamorous, multi-talented and unpronounceable Tamara Lordkipanidze, who set out to realize a childhood dream. She tells the story in her own words much more eloquently than any summary I might set down in print:

 

 

 

At a recent luncheon for the Guild of Food Writers we were given a generous sampling of the food and wine on the restaurant menu:

 

Starterstamada starters

Ispanaki  - steamed spinach with onions, herbs, & walnuts [right]        

Citeli Lobio - red beans with walnuts, herbs, and Georgian spices [right]

Badrijani - stuffed aubergines with onions, herbs, and walnuts [right]

Khachapuri - cheese-filled griddle baked flat bread

Baje - traditional Georgian walnut sauce

Tkemali'- home-made plum sauce

Shoti Puri' - bread baked in the charcoal oven  

 

Mains

McvaneLobio - green beans with eggs, onions, herbs, and garlic

Ajapsandali - ratatouille with aubergines, potatoes, sweet pepper, and tomatoes

Chaqapuli -spicy lamb casserole flavored with wine and plum sauce

Khinkali - the ubiquitous Georgian dumplings with juicy meat filling

 

tamada desserts smlDeserts

Georgian Pudding - red grapes, corn or wheat  flour cooked slowly, cooled & topped with nuts

Chitisrdze' - honey cream cake glazed with chocolate

Ideali'  - traditional Georgian walnut cake

 tamada wine sml

Wines:

Tsinandali - dry wine, crisp and fresh with hints of melon and fruit salad

Satrapezo  - dry dense deep black red with intense aromas of forest fruit, dark chocolate, and hint of violet and vanilla [right]

Kindzmarauli  - semi-sweet made from only Saperavi grapes, a medium-bodied and deliciously smooth wine, crimson pink in colour, with notes of red cherry and spice

Khvanchkara -  sweet, one of Georgia 's unique gently sweet red wines made from a blend of two local specialties - Alexandreuli and Mujuretuli -  and grown in the controlled appellation zone of Khvanchkara, on the picturesque slopes of Caucasus mountains in the northern part of Georgia

With the domestic economy in free fall, Tamara set out to open a pioneering ethnic restaurant based on culinary integrity and fair prices. She was fortunate, she told me, that the banks refused to back her – instead, friends and family came forward with the generosity, imagination and faith that the moneybags so sorely lacked. Some of her supporters even help with the cooking!

With M.A.s in both Economics and Business Administration, Tamara knew what she was letting herself in for. But unlike some wishful thinkers in the restaurant trade, she's not a fugitive stockbroker; all her work experience has been in charitable financial institutions and she still holds a "day job" as Director of the Brixton Credit Union.tamada menu sml

For the full menu, click on the image on the right. Come for Sunday lunch – the breaking of Shoti Puri' and the quaffing of Satrapezo could restore, not only your bodily well being, but even your faith in the human race!


By John Whiting

28 July 2009

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Opening Times

Open Tuesday-Sunday from 18:00 to 23:00, Monday closed.
Lunch served on Saturdays and Sundays from 13:00 - 15:30.
Takeaway service available.


Georgian Restaurant "Tamada" serving authentic Caucasus cuisine in London

and offers wines from the Cradle of wine making.