14 Oct Please The Palate Pick of the Week: A Georgian Feast at Lost Ridge Inn in the Republic of Georgia
This week I took a long journey to Georgia. No, not the state of Georgia, although I did fly through Atlanta. But, rather I flew to the Republic of Georgia which is located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and West Asia. Familiar with Georgian wines, I was excited to learn more. But when it came to the county, the people, and the food, I was completely unfamiliar. And a dinner at Lost Ridge Inn in the village of Qedeli, overlooking the Alazani Valley, in Kakheti, perfectly embodied my experience in Georgia and that is why it is the Please The Palate pick of the week.
The Lost Ridge Inn is a distinct destination in Kakheti. There is a 6-bedroom hotel, a microbrewery, beer garden, greenhouses, horseback riding, and a cafe with an outdoor fire kitchen. It is co-owned by John Wurdeman and Ia Tabagari. John Wurdeman is an American artist who first came to Georgia in 1995. In 2006 he started to make wine and today is not only a winemaker, but also owns a few restaurants and Lost Ridge Inn. His partner Ia is an expert in sustainable tourism development in rural communities and was one of the first to bring eno-tourism to Georgia with Lost Ridge Inn.
I read a few interviews and articles about John Wurdeman in which he explained that he fell in love with Georgia when he was sixteen years old after buying and listening to a CD called Georgian Folk Music Today. He came to Georgia to finish his final painting for his Master’s Degree and followed the grape harvest. Spending time with Georgian families, he described his curiosity for the Georgian feast “because it seemed to unite multiple generations around one table, all with poetry, ancient polyphonic songs, wine, incredible traditions.”
And I got a taste of that at our dinner at Lost Ridge Inn. A group of Georgian folk musicians who are friends of Ia Tabagari were visiting. Our group was invited to join their group for dinner. We sat at two long tables and the food started coming out. Dish upon dish was filled with ingredients that are grown and harvested at Lost Ridge Inn, as well as from other local family homesteads.
As the dishes came out, so did the wine. The tables were filled with glasses with amber-colored wines made from indigenous varieties such as Khikhvi and Mtsvane.
And then suddenly, four of the men started to sing. The music was mesmerizing. There was a rich texture to the music as the voices filled the room. Georgian folk music is known as the earliest polyphonic tradition of the Christian world. Polyphonic means that there are two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody. The music was captivating. It not only filled the room but filled our souls.
Enjoy listening to some of the music I captured.
I thank Lost Ridge Inn for the perfect Georgian experience of sitting at a table with a variety of people, enjoying food and wine, as well as music. It is a memory that will last forever.
Georgia is a wonderful country with so much history and culture to explore! I highly recommend traveling to Georgia and for more information, visit Georgia Travel.