Delicious trips: gastronomic tourism in the cuisines of Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey and Uzbekistan | Guide Club

Close-up of colorful tropical fish swimming in a coral reef

The history of gastronomic tourism does not have much time: in the past, the culinary aspect of travel was considered something secondary. But gradually the situation changed. Getting to know the national cuisine is not just a great pleasure for a gourmet. This is an opportunity to get to know the customs, peculiarities of daily life and even the religious traditions of the local society better. Reveal the content1

As the relevance of gastronomic tourism is constantly growing, more and more relevant tours appear in the “Guide Club”. The most interesting from a culinary point of view, and at the same time the most accessible destinations are the Caucasus, Central Asia and Turkey. We will tell you about six countries where you should go from Russia for the bright flavors and mind-blowing flavors of national dishes. And we will not forget about the fine wines either! A trip with a professional guide to meet culinary adventures gives you the opportunity:

  • to learn new tastes that will bring back pleasant memories later;
  • to get acquainted with the cultural peculiarities of the country or its part;
  • enrich your usual diet with new foods and seasonings;
  • bring home delicious souvenirs — wine, honey, jam, cheese, fruits, spices.

Features of gastronomic tourism in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Turkey

The traditions of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine are found in the Caucasus and in the surrounding regions. Therefore, the cuisine in these parts is extremely diverse. There are countless types of bread and all kinds of tortillas! Even in one country, you are unlikely to be able to try all the best dishes during a trip lasting several days. This variety makes the tour more interesting, and it also gives people with different eating habits the opportunity to choose something delicious.

Many Caucasian and Central Asian dishes have become part of Soviet cuisine, so they are familiar and do not cause rejection. Who would refuse a juicy kebab, pilaf or a well-cooked shawarma? But at home, these dishes have a different taste. The purpose of gastronomic tourism may be not only to get acquainted with new treats: even those that are well known will appear in a new light. It’s all about the mild climate and favorable geographical conditions, which make it possible to produce all the basic foodstuffs. Fresh vegetables, fruits and greens are available in the Caucasus and south almost all year round. The long sunny summer gives them a taste and benefits that are not available in the north. The same applies to grasses in meadows where herds of dairy cows, calves and lambs graze.

Another feature of gastronomic tourism in the region is the extraordinary wealth of spices and spices. With their help, unique dishes are prepared from the same products.

Специи и пряности

Wine tourism

The concept of gastronomic tourism also includes wine tours. Is it possible to talk about the culinary traditions of Georgia or Armenia without mentioning wine or cognac? By the way, researchers believe that the art of winemaking was first formed on the territory of the Armenian Highlands. And in Armenia, the oldest winery in the world was found — it is more than 6,000 years old. In Caucasian mythology, wine is a sacred gift received by people from a cultural hero, just as in Greek mythology fire was received from Prometheus.

And now feasts and toasts occupy a special place in the traditions of the Caucasus, in which guests from Russia can also take part. Event tours related to festivals and holidays are especially convenient for this. Wine production in the Caucasus has been experiencing a rapid surge in recent years. The tour may include an excursion to a large winery or a small family winery — in any case, it will not be boring.

Белое вино на столе

What and where to try in Abkhazia?

Hospitality and excellent food can be called the hallmark of Abkhazia. In each local village, cheese, wine, shish kebab or adjika are prepared in their own way, but everywhere it turns out very tasty. Gastronomic tourism in Abkhazia includes tasting of such products and dishes:

  • Cheese. Homemade cheese in Abkhazia can be made by every housewife, and even different. For example, smoked or with herbs. The best cheese factories are those located in Gudauta, where you can also sunbathe on the wide and gentle beaches.
  • Khachapuri. The famous cheese tortilla in the form of a boat with an egg in the middle is recommended to try in New Athos. In the local cafes, it is cooked in a wood—burning oven, just like in the old days. And after satisfying your hunger, you can go to local attractions. The most famous of them are the New Athos Monastery and a huge karst cave.
  • Kebabs. When thinking about gastronomic tourism in the Caucasus, many people imagine this particular dish. In Abkhazia, it is prepared almost everywhere. Mouth-watering pieces of crispy meat are served with adjika and other sauces, in addition, pickled onions and salads can be ordered. Kebabs are cooked quickly, but this does not make them any less tasty.
  • Trout. There are several trout farms in Abkhazia where you can fish on your own or just order lunch at a local cafe. The most popular among tourists are the Chernorechenskoye farm in the village of Otkhara and the Khristofor farm in the village of Khyshkha. Nearby both there are attractions worth visiting: the Otkharsky rock monastery and the picturesque Hashupse Canyon.
  • Abkhazian mountain honey is considered medicinal, and local residents associate their longevity with it. Apitonus honey is especially useful, to which royal jelly, pollen, perga and propolis are added. You can try different types of honey during an excursion to Lake Ritsa. Nearby there is a large Honey Yard apiary with tasting pavilions. The most delicious samples can be bought and taken home.

Gastronomic tours to Abkhazia


Shah pilaf, black caviar and other treasures of Azerbaijan

The excellent cuisine of Azerbaijan is a great advantage of this direction, and gastronomic tourism becomes a part of almost any author’s tour to this country. Everyone will appreciate the Azerbaijani varieties of pilaf and dolma, local spices, sweets and wines. Let’s give some recommendations on what to pay attention to first:

  • Shah-pilaf. This is the pride of Azerbaijani cuisine — pilaf for special occasions, baked in crunchy pita bread. A lot of meat and dried fruits are added to rice, and pita bread retains all the juices inside, so the dish turns out amazing. Sometimes the meat is replaced with chestnuts, and each region of Uzbekistan has its own rules for cooking this pilaf.
  • Dolma in grape leaves. If Shah pilaf is the king of Azerbaijani cuisine, then dolma can be called the queen. In the classic recipe, young and thin grape leaves are stuffed with minced lamb or beef with rice, onions and herbs. The rolled leaves are placed in several layers in a saucepan or baking dish and simmered over low heat until ready. A well-cooked dolma turns out to be tender and juicy. It is usually served with a sauce based on sour cream, yogurt or matzoni.
  • Black caviar. The caviar of the Caspian sturgeon is another pride of Azerbaijan. Once upon a time, 2/3 of the world’s reserves of this delicacy were mined here. Over time, overfishing, poaching and the construction of hydroelectric power plants in sturgeon spawning areas led to its almost complete disappearance. But now the situation has improved, and caviar has appeared on store shelves again. If you want to bring a jar home, buy it in a specialized department of the store and save the receipt. You can take out 250 g of caviar per person.
  • Sweets. Gastronomic tourism in this country will be incomplete without visiting the market. In addition to fresh vegetables and fruits, you can buy dozens of types of jam on it — both the usual apple or cherry jam, and more exotic ones. For example, with cones, nuts or figs. Usually, such jam is not intended for long-term storage, but you will want to eat it quickly yourself. It is also worth trying baklava, halva and other sweets that are prepared with the addition of honey and spices.

Sweets are perfectly combined with Azerbaijani tea. If you are interested in tea culture, it is worth visiting the local tea plantation and factory in the Astara district. Alcoholic beverages also deserve attention. Wine in Azerbaijan is inexpensive, but of good quality. In addition to traditional grape wine, such as the famous Shamakhi cahors or Alicante Boucher, quince and pomegranate wines are made here.

Gastronomic tours to Azerbaijan

Азербайджанская национальная выпечка

Armenia: great food and spectacular views

Armenian culinary traditions are considered to be among the most ancient in the world. As in Abkhazia, the local dishes are quite simple, but very tasty. They are prepared from local products with various spices and herbs. Armenians really know a lot about wild herbs: they are stored in large quantities in spring and summer, and then used in the preparation of soups and other dishes.

A trip to Armenia gives you the opportunity to taste wonderful dishes of meat and vegetables, local cheeses and fish, which have been bred here in ponds since the Middle Ages. Many wild fish are found in the high-altitude Lake Sevan, including the famous ishkhan. It is a collective name for four species of Sevan trout. It is usually baked with lemon and served with a sauce of walnuts and coriander. Local wines are perfectly combined with meat and fish dishes. Cognac contributes to the development of gastronomic tourism in Armenia, which is appreciated not only in the post-Soviet space, but also in the world.

Culinary pleasures in Armenia are well combined with visiting the sights and beautiful natural places. For example, a five-day tour may include:

  • A tour of the capital and a long dinner in a famous Yerevan restaurant;
  • A trip to Lake Sevan with a visit to the family cheese factory and fish restaurant;
  • A trip to the Khor Virap Monastery and a delicious homemade lunch cooked in a tandoor;
  • Visit to the Noravank monastery complex and wine tasting with snacks at the family winery;
  • A trip to the world’s longest cable car and lunch at home with sweet Armenian pastries for dessert;
  • Visit the Vernissage market and GUM in Yerevan, where you can buy gastronomic souvenirs.

There are other tours that offer acquaintance with the best restaurants and wineries in Armenia, picnics in picturesque places, workshops on baking pita bread and bread, and in the evening – fun parties in bars and pubs. Such a trip will energize and be remembered for a long time.

Gastronomic tours to Armenia

Мясо армянской кухни

Georgia: khinkali, sauces and wine festival

Any region in Georgia is another great destination for culinary travel. The country is famous for many dishes. First of all, I remember the amazing khachapuri and khinkali, as well as chakhokhbili, kharcho soup, tobacco chickens with a golden crust. We must not forget about the famous sauces and spices: adjika, satsebeli, tkemali, hops-suneli. The basis of most Georgian dishes are different types of meat, fresh vegetables and herbs, cheese, nuts and spices. Fish dishes are popular in Batumi, on the Black Sea coast. It is worth trying fried lamb, fish satsivi and fir, which is cooked in pots with vegetables and tomato paste.

One of the directions of development of gastronomic tourism is event tours. In Georgia, the ancient harvest festival of Rtveli is celebrated in late September and early October. Concerts and various events are organized all over the country, so you definitely won’t regret if you find yourself here at this time. First of all, this holiday is associated with the end of the grape harvest and the abundance of wine. Everyone is in a hurry to finish the leftovers of last year so that the container for the new harvest drink is free. If you want to combine gastronomic tourism in Georgia with a festival, there are interesting options in our catalog.

Gastronomic tours to Georgia

Традиционная грузинская кухня

Turkey — a dizzying variety of flavors and aromas

Modern Turkey is located in the place where Western and Eastern cultures — Ottoman, Greek, Bulgarian, Armenian, Circassian, Arab – have met and exchanged traditions since ancient times. Therefore, Turkish cuisine is considered the third most diverse in the world after Chinese and French. But it is much less widespread, so many of the wonderful dishes of this country can be a real discovery.

The best place for gastronomic tourism in Turkey is Istanbul. Even simple street food delights gourmets here. One of the symbols of the city, along with the great architectural landmarks, are soft bagels with sesame seeds simit. They are adored by both residents and visitors of the city. Here are some more masterpieces of street food and drinks:

  • Fragrant roasted chestnuts of kestane. They are sold in bags along with corn, you need to eat them hot.
  • Borek puff pastry. You can buy borek with meat, cheese, spinach or other filling.
  • Sandwich with fish balyk ekmek. If you put fried fish fillets in a fresh bun and add vegetables with herbs, you will get an excellent fast food.
  • Refreshing ice cream marash with goat’s milk. This ice cream is more dense and stretchy compared to the usual ice cream. Sellers spin it in different ways, putting on a show for customers.
  • A delicious and warming salep drink. It is made from the roots of a mountain orchid ground into flour with the addition of cinnamon, cocoa and nuts.
  • Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. However, you can choose orange or apple juice. It will be made from fresh fruits right in front of your eyes.
  • Turkish coffee. It is so famous that the international day of this drink is celebrated on December 5.

If you want haute cuisine, there are Michelin-starred restaurants in Istanbul with wonderful views of the city. And you can also choose a yacht tour and arrange an unforgettable romantic dinner on it.

Gastronomic tours to Turkey

Завтрак в Каппадокии

Uzbekistan: 150 types of pilaf and more

Gastronomic tourism, popular all over the world, is well developed in Uzbekistan, where the Great Silk Road once ran. The traditions of hospitality and luxurious treats were formed here back in the days when these lands were crossed by rich caravans from different parts of the world. Uzbek cuisine is extremely diverse, besides, the same dish is prepared in each region of the country in its own way. The famous Uzbek pilaf is worth trying separately at the Tashkent Pilaf Center, in Bukhara, Samarkand and Ferghana. In total, more than 150 types of pilaf are prepared in this country!

A good example of a gastronomic tour to Uzbekistan is a trip that involves getting to know three of the most interesting cities in the country. During the trip, the travel expert introduces you to the main sights and the most delicious dishes of each city. Pilaf, kebabs, tender manti, delicious lagman, hot tortillas and samsa from tandoor, ripe fruits, oriental sweets, freshly made ice cream, craft beer, local wine — just to name a few!

Gastronomic tours to Uzbekistan

Узбекский плов

Do not worry that a culinary trip will spoil your figure or harm your health. The essence of gastronomic tourism is that feasts alternate with excursions and walks to beautiful places. Getting to know the architectural and natural sights requires strength, so good food will only benefit. Choose an author’s tour on the Club of Guides website and delight yourself with new impressions that cannot be obtained from stories or photos!


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