September 16, 2021

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The View On Cooking

Chama Mama celebrates conventional Georgian food stuff, wine

6 min read

This summer months, the eating alternatives at the Massachusetts Museum of Modern day Artwork in North Adams, Mass., glance a minor different. On weekends, stroll earlier the upside-down trees suspended on cables and you’ll occur on a summer scene. Beneath the canopied tree that reliably turns burnt gold every fall, rugs casually overlap on the gravel courtyard, and vibrant, patterned cushions lean towards its trunk. Scattered at informal bistro tables, couples and tiny groups sip wine and chatter animatedly whilst a chef turns long kebab skewers packed tightly with meat around charcoal, sending smoke skyward from a small outside grill. Chama Mama, a Georgian restaurant with two Manhattan spots, is in residence via late September at the urging of a member of the museum’s board of administrators, and it is steadily feeding a curious group.

In name, Chama Mama excursions off the tongue, but even though “chama” implies “eat,” “mama” is Georgian for “father.” Which is something that proprietor Tamara Chubinidze finds amusing, allowing for the globally typical comprehension of “Mama” to seize recollections of grandmothers and mothers cooking at household. Chama Mama is centered on 3 key factors of Georgian delicacies: toné, the conventional clay tandoor-design and style oven khapuri, Georgian bread and kvevri wines, which are wines typically fermented in bulb-shaped clay vessels buried in the floor.

At Mass MoCA, Chubinidze provides a pared-down model of the comprehensive Chama Mama menu, executed by fellow Tbilisi-born chef Nino Chiokadze, a smiling power who overcame logistical restrictions, including the absence of a toné. She tweaked her flavorful bread dough so that it could be oven-baked, and labored with feta, mozzarella and ricotta to approximate regional Georgian cheeses. The focus is on lavash flatbreads and khachapuri — pillowy, fluffy breads stuffed with cheese — and 3 regional versions are offered. (In Ga there are 47). 

Khinkali soup dumplings, thickly pleated like purses, are stuffed with mushrooms, lamb, pork and beef, revealing the influence of the two East and West on Georgian delicacies. The only seasoned, skewered meats from an out of doors grill are a tradition of summer months homes and outside summer months kitchens throughout the Caucasus location involving the Black and Caspian seas.

Of the al-fresco scene, Chubinidze suggests with a chortle: “I needed it to feel easy, as if you could lounge there with a book, speaking, drinking wine, as we would at household.” If it nearly sounds more like a put to lose time fairly than a official cafe, it is. And given the heat welcome, whole plates and daytime hrs from noon to 8 p.m. every single weekend for the upcoming thirty day period, this is in all probability what you must do there. 

It can truly feel as if Georgia burst on to the dining scene only a short while ago, fueled by international fascination in all-natural wine and orange wine, primarily Georgia’s common approach of output. There also has been a surge in cookbooks discovering Silk Road spice routes throughout Syria, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the culinary identities of Russia, Ukraine and Ga, former states of the Soviet Republic all bordering the Black Sea. But dining in the company of Darra Goldstein, the Williamstown-based mostly creator and multidecade authority on Georgian foods intended, we had been cradled in her deep knowledge as she explained strategies driving breads and jewel-colored pickles from jonjoli (salt-pickled blossoms) to gandzili (ramps), whole garlic cloves and cabbage, and welcomed in real Georgian-design and style with open arms and heaps of foodstuff.

In opening Chama Mama, Chubinidze needed to capture one thing missing considering that she arrived in New York City in 1996. The several Georgian restaurants available a taste of home but lacked crucial details in ambiance, dishes and very good Georgian wine, and she needed to create a restaurant that could be a cultural working experience as perfectly as instructional, exhibiting how Georgian delicacies is not monolithic but regionally diverse. Admiring the Le Discomfort Quotidien manufacturer for its classy exploration of easy Belgian meals, she worked for the organization as a baker for two a long time before acquiring an investor to back the opening of Chama Mama in Manhattan’s Chelsea community in March 2019 and, in 2020, mid-pandemic, signing on an Higher West Facet area that opened in April of this 12 months, just months before the Mass MoCA pop up. 

As we sipped Kvevri dry red Ojaleshi, a velvety, ruby-coloured wine wealthy with jam and berries, pepper and spice, we shared a khachapuri trio produced with chef Chiokadze’s superior-gluten dough for an impossibly light, delicately chewy bread. Quartered to share, we marveled at Imeruli, a cheese-stuffed variation from the Imereti location for which Chiokadze blends area ricotta, feta and mozzarella to approximate salty and stretchy taste and texture lobiani, crammed with buttery, smashed beans and from the superior, mountainous Svaneti region, kubdari, a meat-stuffed twist on the theme. 

On to the patterned tablecloth arrive platters of soup dumplings. A flower in the twisted topknot identifies individuals crammed with mushrooms, clean tarragon, cilantro and parsley. We’re told to maintain the dumplings by their knots, nibble a little gap to consume the soup, demolish in a handful of bites and discard the doughy manage. (The exercise reminds me of British pasties, meat-stuffed hand pies with thick, crimped crusts that miners would try to eat by hand just before discarding the dirty edge.) The lamb dumplings are aromatic with a heady aroma from Chiokadze’s mix of spices and peppers.

On the combined-grill platter are beef, pork and chicken kebab and mtsvadi (pork skewers), loosened to dunk in home made adjika (incredibly hot chile oil) and tkemali (environmentally friendly plum sauce). Much more bread appears in tender, floppy triangles, aspect roti, element paratha and completely special. We graze leisurely, finding at meat and pickles, having extra wine and far more happy discuss. 


Our stomachs are bursting as a attractive silver platter dusted in confectionery sugar seems. There are millefeuille layers of Napoleon cake for those seeking sweetness muraba, preserved Georgian figs with fresh walnuts and regular pelamushi, a established dessert near to panna cotta created with grape juice. Below, white and purple grape juices are layered in a nontraditional, two-tone edition.

“It’s our Americanized pelamushi,” Chubinidze said, incorporating: “In Ga, we’re not major into desserts. The response to ‘What’s for dessert?’ is constantly extra wine.”

Chama Mama at Mass MoCA

Where: 1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, Mass.
Several hours: Noon to 8 p.m. Friday via Sunday, by Sept. 26
Info: For updates, comply with @chamamamanyc on Instagram. Non-public catering inquiries: 646-438-900. The company website is chamamama.com, but the Mass MoCA menu is smaller sized than at the New York City dining establishments.
Take note: The Mass MoCA pop-up is open for walk-in dining and to-go orders only. No reservations acknowledged.


In truth, wine is so integral to Georgian daily life that, I’m explained to, visitors passing by way of border command are presented a passport stamp and a bottle of wine. Whether that is a joke barely issues. Hospitality, conviviality, shared dining, chat and endless bottles of wine are at the heart of Georgian tradition and existence, captured most plainly in the tradition of the supra Georgian feast. Chubinidze’s connections have assisted her to join regional wine producers to U.S. importers, and Eater.com recently acknowledged Chama Mama for the most thorough wine listing in the town.

Do not skip the chance to try some amazing wines and classic Georgian plates. In addition, there’s a ticketed supra function prepared for the weekend of Sept. 17 to 19. And as the pop-up serves wander-ins only, you can continue to be or area a to-go order to round out your museum day. As the Chama Mama internet site suggests: “Let’s chama. Let’s take in.”

Chama Mama at Mass MoCA, a pop-up restaurant, is open from noon to 8 p.m. by way of September 26th, 2021, and is anticipated to return for summer time 2022. 

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