TASTING GEORGIA; a food and wine journey in the Caucasus (Interlink Books, 2017, 2021, 464 pages, ISBN 978-1-62371-8427-8 $28.95 USD softbound) is by Carla Capalbo, born in NYC, and now working as a freelance food journalist and photographer. This is an updated revised edition making its paperbound debut. She's written 14 books on the culture of producing food and wine, winning awards such as the Andre Simon for "Collio" as best wine book. Her photos of Georgia have won an IACP award. Here she gives us, by the numbers: 70 recipes, 60 restaurants and wine bars, 40 family wineries, 10 regional maps, and 390 original photographs, many of which detail farmers markets and family cooks. She's got top log rolling from Redzepi (noma), Ottolenghi, and Petrini (founder of Slow Food). Georgia lies between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea. It is one of the world's oldest winemaking areas, with wines made traditionally in clay qvevri buried in the ground, and searched for by lovers of natural wine. After the section on wine comes the food, beginning with the "supra" buffet-banquet-sharing feast and the elements of Georgian cuisine. Ingredients include ajika (capsicum paste), lobio beans, guda (sheep's cheese), tenili cheese, freshwater fish, gozinaki (honey and walnuts at New Year), jonjoli, khinkali dumplings, matsoni fermented milk, and lots more. There are only a few holiday recipes for sweets. Most dinners end with fresh fruit, nuts, or fruit leather. Preps have English and Georgian titles as well as scrips. Recipes have been edited for home cooks or otherwise simplified with substitutions. Metric and avoirdupois weights and measures co-exist in the preps. There is an impressive listing of sources and travel information, along with websites. The almost 40 page index includes a recipe planner for creating meals, a listing of the various foods by product, a listing of the restaurants and wine bars cited, an index to the wine, plus an index to the 12 regions of Georgia. And of course, there are are recipes by English title. A good book for armchair travellers, cooks, and culinary historians. Try the eggplant rolls; lobio beans stewed with herbs; beef and chickpea stew; beets with spiced walnut paste; chicken with nut sauce; corn meal with cheese; fermented cabbage and beets; mulberry and goat cheese salad; noodle and yogurt soup; and stewed nettles.
Quality/Price rating: 92.