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Food & Travel Stories

From Culinary Backstreets, this story about one of my favorite dishes in the world includes a drool-worthy recipe that nails it. With food porn by Justyna Mielnikiewicz.

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I was in bed, my head ringing of bad chacha when the phone rang. "Can you meet Anthony Bourdain for lunch in an hour?"


Real winemakers cultivate their own grapes. Gia Chubinidze cultivates 54 different varieties in his garden. His wine is out of this world. Justyna and I had the great pleasure of joining him in his garden for this story for Culinary Backstreets.

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Parts Unknown was beefing up their site with Georgia content and asked me to write about my perfect day. Naturally, I went to the Dezerter's Bazaar, the center of the universe. Photos by Justyna Mielnikiewicz.


The chickens are from her yard, the veggies from her garden, the wine from her cellar, and the decor from her paints and sewing machine. Lia Zhorzhadze shines at whatever she puts her heart to. Thankfully for us that includes cooking.


For Culinary Backstreets. Photos by Justyna Mielnikiewicz.


It was the day before the parliamentary elections that would put the richest Georgian in the world in power and there I was, sitting across the table watching him eat khashlama with a knife and fork.


For Roads & Kingdoms, picked up by Time. Photo: Justyna  Mielnikiewicz.


It heals everything from hangovers to broken marriages. Justyna and I took a weird pandemic  holiday to Borjomi for this Culinary Backstreets story.


For CNN Travel, Justyna and I riffed on a "best of" story about where to find traditional Georgian fare as well as innovative deliciousness. 

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Located smack dab at the hot springs where Tbilisi was founded, local chef Tekuna Gachechiladze has established a hangover helper restaurant with the most original takes on traditional Georgian fare. 

For Culinary Backstreets, photos by Justyna Mielnikiewicz.

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Always fun to write about the wine I love. This one for CNN Travel with pics by Justyna Mielnikiewicz.

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Not only can you buy fresh Black Sea fish here, but you can take it to one of the restaurants around back and have them cook it up for you.

For Culinary Backstreets. Pics by Justyna Mielnikiewicz.


A couple years ago the family took a road trip to Svaneti, a region I hadn't been to in ages. It was a working holiday full of juicy burps. 

For Culinary Backstreets with pics by Nestan Mielnikiewicz Rimple.


War in the early 1990s forced Chef Guram Kiknadze, a native of Abkhazia, to flee his homeland as a child, along with 250,000 other Georgians. Today, he cooks outstanding Abkhazian food in Tbilisi. 

For Culinary Backstreets.

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Mukhrani Nursery: Georgia'S Graft Masters.

Gio Malatsidze took me to the largest private grape vine nursery in Kartli to order 500 vines.

With pics by Justyna Mielnikiewicz for Culinary Backstreets.

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