I love discovering new cuisines. After recently realizing that I no longer fear Indian food, I decided to take my exploration to a new frontier and check out the much talked-about Georgian kitchen.
Now, who would be the Clark to my Lewis on this culinary expedition? This was an easy choice. Ayelet, my roommate was more than happy to try out Georgian cuisine and even suggested a place in Givaataim, offering wonderful and reasonably-priced food (the 2 requirements for any student when it comes to food). The name of the place was “Deda.” I asked her what the word meant and she told me to just shut up and drive (which in roommate-speak means “I don’t know.”).
We arrived and parking was plentiful - a small miracle for a city-dweller. The restaurant looked just as I would expect a homey eatery to look - simple, clean, spacious, and comfortable. The place was designed with the knowledge that the food was the star of the show (and consequently, the customers’ satisfaction). We sat down and Elisa, our waitress for the evening, handed us menus. A mystery was then solved – under the menu’s title, was an explanation of the word “Deda.” It means “mother” in Georgian, and the restaurant is named this way because what could be better than mom’s cooking?
Acknowledging our ignorance, we decided to let Elisa make our selections, as she saw fit. It all looked so good and reasonably-priced that we saw no reason not to pace the burden of decision on someone else. Elisa was up to the challenge. She is used to customers like us who come to partake in the Georgian experience, and knows how to select for each customer the dish he always wanted to eat but just didn’t realize it.
For starters, we were recommended the khachapuri (dough filled with 7 kinds of cheese and a sunny-side-up egg) and the badrijani (dough filled with eggplants, mozzarella, egg, and cream). For the entr?es, the selections were the khaslama (beef stew with 11 kinds of vegetables and pomegranate juice) and beef khinkali (pockets of dough stuffed with meat and spices).
Our hunger was growing in anticipation of the meal. Elisa arrived at our table to serve us lavash, a traditional Georgian bread, and special mezze containing carrots, cabbage, and more – and excellent start and this bread is one that I won’t soon forget. With our food, we were also served 2 glasses of Georgian wine – a 3 year old Khvanchkara. I am no wine expert, but I do know what most wines don’t go over well with me, and yet, this one won me over.
After the munching was over, it was time for the actual feasting. The chronological order of the activation of the senses was as follows: At first, the sense of sight recognizes the dishes getting close. Then the sense of smell takes over, and sweeps you into a vortex of imagination and lost fantasy. This is followed by the sense of hearing, when you can slightly discern your dining companion uttering “bon app?tit” – and then it happens. The sense of taste renders all else meaningless, as you instantly become addicted to these very special flavors. Al dishes were nothing less than wonderful. They were accompanied by Georgian lemonades, one pear flavored and the other with tarragon – it would appear that Georgia lemonade is simply a lightly-carbonated drink, with little to no connection to actual lemons. It was a good thing that we agreed to share everything beforehand; otherwise the fighting over food would have been merciless. The generous portions of the dishes deserve a mention, as well – the dishes here could easily satiate a man of any size.
The food disappeared quickly, and the lemonade was drained. It was time for desserts. Elisa invited us to sit at one of the outside tables, in Deda’s caf?, which recently opened. We ordered a traditional Georgian dessert of walnut wrapped in frozen grape juice – feels like jelly with nuts, only 8 times tastier, healthier, and more special. At this point, we were joined by Stas, one of