Ever since we first cottoned on to Airbnb, we’ve tried to find accommodation through the site whenever and wherever we can. We’ve been fortunate enough to travel a lot over the past five years and in that time, we’ve racked up almost 50 Airbnb stays (but hey, who’s counting?). From Australia to Oman to Myanmar to Spain, we’ve had some truly amazing Airbnb experiences (and a small few I’d rather forget).
Airbnb suits our slow-travel style perfectly. There’s nothing better than staying in a residential neighbourhood, ‘living’ in an apartment and enjoying the little things like doing our own laundry and making our own coffee. Being independent travellers, we don’t always socialise with our hosts; but we really hit it off with our host family in Tbilisi, Georgia (they live right next door to the private apartment we’ve been renting for the past three weeks).
Our first coffee date involved a three-course meal and lasted for about seven hours. We mustn’t have embarrassed ourselves too much because this weekend we were invited over again, this time to eat some homemade khinkali (Georgian dumplings).
We arrived just as the khinkali were being finished off and got a run-down of the whole process. First, the dough (a simple mix of flour and water) is kneaded and cut into portions using a special stamp. Next it’s rolled into a disc and a small amount of mixture is spooned in. (Our host mum’s recipe uses pork/veal mixed with onion and fresh herbs.) Then comes the hard part: pinching the khinkali into a pleated parcel. This takes some serious technique and our hosts very patiently showed us how it’s done. The top is sealed with a firm pinch, being careful to keep the dough on top dry. The finished khinkali are gently plopped into a pot of boiling water (topside down) and cooked for a few minutes.
Beautiful fresh ingredients and a 100% handmade process: Safe to say I now have a new appreciation for khinkali. Eating them is also an art! I will be posting a few more stories about Georgian food and eating out in Tbilisi this week, so look out for those soon.
In the meantime, take a look at this amazing meal we helped prepare: steaming hot khinkali with homemade pickles, fresh tomato and cucumber, and Georgian cheese on the side. For drinks, red and white wine (made by our host family from grapes grown in their ancestral village), apricot compote (a Georgian fruit drink), and of course chacha, a potent spirit distilled from the grape pulp left over from wine making.
We are so thankful to our host family in Tbilisi for sharing their home, their wine and their friendship with us! If you’re interested in renting the same private apartment we stayed in, here’s a link to the Airbnb listing.