Every so often, we’ll take a peek into the culinary lives of DC’s international ambassadors. They’re a unique lot, given that they entertain extensively, see food as a key part of diplomacy, and employ resident chefs. But where do they eat on their off time? And where do they seek out flavors of home?
Who: His Excellency David Bakradze, Ambassador of Georgia.
How long he’s lived in Washington: Three and a half years.
Fun Fact: “I am from the region of Georgia known for good cooks and my wife is from the winemaking region. We make an ideal pair for hosting dinner.”
Guilty food pleasure: “A hamburger with a Coke.”
There is great pride in Georgian wine. Can you tell us a little about the history of your country’s wine?
“Georgia has long been thought to be the birthplace of wine and in 2017 this was confirmed. Led by an international team, 17 excavations dated our wine back to 6,000 BC—2,000 years older than the ones found in Iran.
What makes our wine unique is its amber color, created by fermentation that takes place in clay amphoras (called qvevri) underground. So, it gives a little bit more texture, aroma, and strength. And, if you’ve had a few glasses, it is difficult to feel bad the next morning. Personally, I’m proud that Georgian wines are now much more prevalent in DC—Georgian wine is having its moment.”
What makes Georgian cuisine so special?
“Georgia is located at the crossroads of the historic Silk Road, and our cuisine is a mix of influences from various cuisines of the Eurasian continent. For example, spices from India and the Mediterranean, and dumplings that may have originated from Mongolia.
Our cuisine centers on three key ingredients walnuts, grapes (and, therefore, wine), and cheese. And we are a small country—the size of South Carolina—with 11 microclimate zones, so there are really varied types of food and wine we can grow in a very small country.”
Do you cook?
“I do. My specialty is khinkali which are beef-and-pork dumplings and require three to four people to prepare. One deals with the dough, another with the meat, rolling, and getting them into the final shapes. It is a collaborative routine and always a family affair. We often host khinkali brunches at our Embassy where we teach our guests how to make dumplings and introduce them to Georgian wine and cuisine.”
Khachapuri has really taken off around this country. What does this dish represent in Georgia?
“When you’re in Georgia, khachapuri is ubiquitous. It is served at almost every meal and is our comfort food. The best way to describe it is a cheese boat.
There are several types of khachapuri across the country, one unique to every region. In the U.S., we use a mix of mozzarella, ricotta, and feta. In DC, you can try khachapuri at Supra and Compass Rose. I’m also excited to try the khachapuri at Tabla, DC’s second Georgian restaurant, which opened in July.”
Do you have a favorite restaurant in DC?
“I love steak. In Georgia we mainly grill pork so in the U.S., steak is my indulgence. I like having a good steak at the Palm or Capitol Grill.”