Last Thursday night was my first blogger’s meet up with Zomato and it was held at the beautiful hand decorated Georgian restaurant, Marani, based in Mayfair. On arrival I was given a tour of the restaurant and informed about the Georgian artist who came over from Georgia to paint and curate the restaurant in the space of 6 months. The restaurant was decorated with beautiful paintings, chandeliers made from wine glass bottles and intricate crafted candle sticks and was simply stunning yet extremely homely at the same time. The staff were extremely attentive and polite and guided me to our table upstairs which was beautifully presented and allowed me the opportunity to sit down and meet with other bloggers. It wasn’t long before food was brought out which consisted of, Elarji & Bazhe (polenta & cheese balls with an almond dipping sauce), Chkmeruli (corn-fed grilled baby chicken in a garlic & cream sauce) as well as Georgian breadsticks and a delicious light and zesty cucumber and tomato salad.
After meeting and greeting each other we sampled each of the dishes whilst learning stories about Georgian food and their culture. Our wine glasses were continuously topped us whilst we ate and before we were finished we were brought into the room next door to learn how to make dumplings. Two of the chefs gave a thorough and in-depth presentation of how they are made and afterwards asked if we would like to make one too. Never one to shy away from anything food related I speedily volunteered to make a dumpling and it turned out to be a lot of fun. The base of the dumplings is made using 1kg flour, 1 egg and 300ml water, such simple ingredients. This gives the pastry like base and then once you make it you roll it out, place the meat in the middle then wrap the meat in the base and fold the top bit into layers overlapping each other until one end meets the other. You then need to cut off the top and you have your dumpling!
In addition to making our pork dumplings, known as Khinkal, they also showed us how to make Imeruli Khachapuri which is cheese baked in hearty dough. To make this dough you need: 1kg flour, 4 eggs, 20g sugar, 400ml milk, 30g yeast and a bit of butter. Therefore a few more ingredients than the khinkal which you can definitely taste when having it, one of the bloggers said she was in food heaven as there was so much cheese in the dishes!
We returned to our dining room where we got to sample the dumplings we had made and added some pepper to them from the waitress’s suggestion. We learnt that you do not cut into a dumpling as you will lose the broth, therefore you need to turn the dumpling upside down and eat it from the sides, that way you can open up the dumpling, drink the broth and then eat the rest. The chefs told us how Georgian food is simple, not a lot of flavour go into it but yet it is still a delicious cuisine. I enjoyed all the dishes especially the chicken and salad but the highlight of the night for me was when the desserts came. The restaurant has three desserts on the menu, Matsoni, a Georgian yoghurt served with walnut preserve, Napoleon, a Mille-fueille puff cake with very light mascarpone cream and finally Snickers a honey cake with walnuts, meringue and condensed milk custard. As soon as I heard the word Snickers I knew I had to sample it. A pastry like texture, the snickers dessert was one of the best desserts I’ve had in a while, with its flaky texture and chocolate sauce, I was in food heaven and now need to try and find the recipe! We were given two dishes of each to share between 15 of us but I could have eaten the whole snickers dessert easily to myself.
It was a fabulous evening trying out the different dishes, learning about the Georgian culture and the interior design as well as making the dumplings themselves. The staff couldn’t have been more accommodating or friendly and I loved hearing their stories about the food they enjoy such as burritos as well as their traditional breakfast and dinner. They said that they don’t eat breakfast very often but their traditional breakfast in Georgia consists of beef stock made from the bones of the cows and lots of bread…hmm I think that might be why it’s not too popular! We also learnt how to say cheers, Gaumarjas, which we all kept saying to each other throughout the night, mostly to the staff and the lovely members of Zomato. All in all a lovely evening which I have already been telling my friends about. I would highly recommend it to others not only for the food but to explore the restaurant itself and take in the beautiful art. Plus if you like shisha they have a shisha bar downstairs so you can carry on your night for even longer.
For more information and to book a table visit Marani, London.