Adventures in Eating: Georgian Beet Appetizer

This is P.K., Sr. writing this month. I just pulled rank on Rosemarie and asked her for the recipe portion of this column, requesting that I do the pream­ble.

The reason: She is a creative food wiz­ard, and her wizardry deserves this ac­colade.

For my birthday, she decided to treat me, our daughter, and son-in-law, to a special lunch prepared by five Georgian chefs at Neiman Marcus in San Diego. The event was part of the 1989 San Die­go Art Festival “Treasures of the So­viet Union”.

What a feast! We had the following: Caviar; Lah­vosh (Georgian “slipper” bread); Fresh herbs (Opal basil, Tarragon, Scallions, and Cilantro); Aragvi (To­mato, Cucumber, and Fresh Herb Sal­ad); Kuchmachi Salad (Chicken livers with garlic, Fresh herbs and pomegran­ates); Chicken Bazha (Classic Georgian chicken with Walnut sauce); Ajap Sandali (Eggplant and vegetable casserole with yogurt); and a beet appetizer that was not listed on the menu.

We lunched for two hours. Everybody was a clean plater.

Naturally we wanted to meet the chefs, and they obliged us with a visit to our table. Head chef Georgi Gorgod­ze led the delegation. He was the only one that spoke English. Naturally Rosemarie immediately sprung him for recipes, but alas! They were per­sonal secrets of the chefs, he saidwith a typical Far Eastern coy facial expression!

I am a beet freak. I love fresh beets prepared any way. The appetizer we were served was a new one for me. I challenged Rosemarie to reproduce it.

And by golly, she did! It is very similar to what we had.

GEORGIAN BEET APPETIZER

4 medium sized fresh beets

1/2 tsp dry dill

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp Tahini* (available at Middle Eastern markets)

Cover beets with water, add a little salt, cover and cook until tender. Cool. Peel beets and put through a hand dicer or use the shredding disc of your food processor. Place beets in a bowl. Add all the other ingredients and mix until well blended. Mound the appetizer on a small dish or in a shallow bowl. Garnish with fresh basil leaves for holiday colors! Serve with Armenian lahvosh crackers or your favorite kind.

*Tahini is a paste made from crushed sesame seeds. Almost like peanut but­ter in consistency but “sesame but­ter”. This is also used in “Homous”.

I am sending Chef Georgi Gorgodze a copy of this newsletter with a message: “Defend yourself by publishing the rec­ipe or accept our version. En Garde!”

In the meantime for any fresh beet fans out there, this is superb!

– P.K., Sr.

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