Food & Wine - - THE ODE - —CARLA CA­PALBO, au­thor of Tast­ing Ge­or­gia

In Ge­or­gia, you never sit down to an empty ta­ble. Es­pe­cially when en­ter­tain­ing guests, the tra­di­tion is to host a supra, a long din­ner party where the din­ing ta­ble is cov­ered with an as­sort­ment of col­or­ful dishes to share be­fore the meal starts. Veg­eta­bles dressed with wal­nut paste, fer­mented flower buds and chiles, sliced cheeses, and the coun­try’s iconic cu­cum­ber-and-tomato salad are there to get the party go­ing. They’re joined by bowls of steam­ing chaka­puli stew with tar­ragon, stewed beans, roasted wild mush­rooms, and khacha­puri—an ir­re­sistible cheese-filled bread. The idea is to wow your guests with abun­dance. To throw a supra your­self, start pre­par­ing a day or so ahead, mak­ing the sauces and condi­ments first. Then move on to stews and beans, do­ing the slow cooking ahead of time but adding the fresh herbs or wal­nuts just be­fore serv­ing. That leaves party day for the fresh vegetable dishes and dec­o­rat­ing a stun­ning supra ta­ble. See p. 86 for the recipes to get you started.

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