Dzhon Dzholi in Moscow
Locations across Moscow – Hours vary
Dinners from $15-40
Our summer program with SRAS is unfortunately coming to an end. To celebrate the end of a great experience, our group was invited to a Georgian feast where we ate some of the tastiest food in the city. We went to Джон Джоли near the city center and let the night begin! We talked about what we were eating as we ate it so that we learned even more about Georgian culture – which has had great influence on Russian culture and whose food is widely available in Russia.
Dinner started off with mors–juice made by boiling berries and adding sugar. As the night went on, we also tried tarkhun – a lemonade made from tarragon that was invented in Georgia and various other great drinks. We tried various types of salads, roasted eggplant rolls and three different types of pkhali (spinach, green beans, and beets.) Pkhali is a traditional Georgian appetizer made of spices and vegetables that have been crushed and molded into small mounds.
Even though we had already stuffed our faces with appetizers, everyone at the table immediately perked up when the main courses arrived. Khachapuri, for instance, is a delicious Georgian dish which consists of cheese and butter (and often other things) baked into bread. Each region of Georgia has its own language and culture and its own version of this simple but wonderful dish. We tried four of them.
Next out of the kitchen came khinkali, a large Georgian dumpling filled with meat. Although khinkali can be made with many types of meat, the most traditional is lamb. That’s the one we had. The proper way to eat khinkali looks pretty funny. The eater is supposed to hold the dumpling at face level, bite the bottom, and suck out all of the juices. That way none of the juices will spill! I learned that the eater is also not supposed to eat the top of a khinkali, which is a tightly wrapped nub of dough. Apparently, if one eats this part of the dumpling, it means that the eater is poor and want to stay poor. If this philosophy is true, I want to stay poor forever because the dough on top is my favorite part! After the last of the khinkali had been eating, we dug into several types of shashlik–marinated meat cooked on skewers over high heat. It was perfect!
Dessert time! We had four types of desserts. We had two that are popular throughout the former USSR and not particularly Georgian: Napoleon, a puff pastry with soft cream; and Smetannik, soft dough cake with strawberries and sour cream frosting. We also had two that were very traditionally Georgian and made from concentrated grape juice: Pelamushi, a traditional Georgian dish that is basically a grape juice pudding; and Churchkhela, nuts dipped in thickened grape juice that is then allowed to harden. Georgia is major grape producing region and grapes play a large roll in their wine culture as well as desserts!
We ended our dinner how the Georgians end theirs–with a few piping hot pots of tea.
This feast was incredible! It was great to learn about food from Georgia, and enjoy a big family-style dinner to wind down the summer.