Khachapuri Adjaruli (Georgia’s Bread Boats)

I briefly visited the country of Georgia twice, in 2008 and 2018.  For my first visit, I was a bit wet-behind-the-ears, unsure of what I was doing there, and more importantly, what to eat.

After a random meal at a wine cellar in Tbilisi, its capital, I was floored by the deliciousness not only of the food, but also the wine.  And even after piling on the kebabs, the pomegranate seeds, the walnut sauces, and the spontaneous lessons in viniculture by the waitstaff, I wanted to know more about Georgian food.  So, I sampled baklava, cherry juice, quince jam, and khinkali (dumpling)…all excellent.

Yet, it took me the return trip to New York to find out about the mother-ship of savory bread, that being khachapuri.

Khachapuri, Adjari-style

Khachapuri (in Georgian, ხაჭაპური) is the catch-all for cheese-filled leavened bread, whereas “khach” = curd, and “puri” = breadDifferent regions in Georgia have their own methods to prepare khachapuri, but today’s post will focus squarely on the version from Adjara, along its southwestern border with Turkey.

Khachapuri Adjaruli with Eggplant in Walnut Sauce and Cornelian Cherry Nectar

Khachapuri Adjaruli, quite simply, is a carbohydrate AND fat paradise.  What does that mean?  Inside of the bread canoe, you will find butter, eggs, and briny Sulguni cheese.  Nothing leafy and green – i.e. healthy – to get in the way, just pure corporeal malevolence.

Brooklyn’s Toné Café, where I first tried Khachapuri Adjaruli (notice the slices of butter in the foreground)

How do you eat it?  Mix up the butter, eggs, and cheese to create a “soup,” then start tearing off the bread bit by bit, dunking it into your the heady mix.  After you’re done, you may not want to eat for the rest of the year – make sure you’re trying it on December 31st to cheat – but oh is it ever worth it.

On my second visit to Tbilisi, I literally took a cab from the airport to Cafe Khachapuri, not because I read that it was good, but because just look at that name.

The Slinger (St. Louis, Missouri, USA)

Though I have only visited St. Louis a few times, I reckon it’s one of the underrated food destinations in the United States.  They’ve got delicious barbecue – and barbecue sauce, pork steaks (aka blade cuts), Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, gooey butter cake, toasted ravioli, and owing to the largest Bosnian population outside of that country, ćevapi (che-vapi, lamb sausage).

But there’s one local STL meal I only learned about this past weekend, the slinger.

The St. Louis Slinger, a Local Diner Specialty (taken at Courtesy Diner)

The slinger, likely created in a St. Louis diner in the 1970s, is a mountain of a meal.  A slinger – possibly named for a chef hastily “slinging” ingredients on the grill – normally has eggs any style, hash browns, chili, sausage or a hamburger, and raw onions.  With evolving taste buds, they now might include jalapenos (as mine did), cheese, a Mexican tamale, bacon, ham, and mustard, among other extras.

I tried a slinger at the Courtesy Diner, a small St. Louis-area chain, and felt that each aspect of the local dish balanced out every other.  After ordering one, I was remiss that I didn’t ask for cheese, but it turns out that cheese would have been that much more excessive.

YouTube: The Slinger.

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