New portion of impression about Armenia. My story and recommendations for Women’s Magazine (Ukraine). Read and enjoy!

Armenia is a country, where you can find tasty cognac and radio, which knows all the answers. It was our opinion. Here about  new Armenia, without radio and cognac, but with tasty food, great nature and the most hospitable people in the world.

Little County

We seldom come to a foreign country, being as clean sheet and did not know about it. Usually we already have some preliminary view, – “working hypothesis” needs to be checked. Alexander had some opinion about Armenia before inviting by Anne Mazmanian Chef and Founder of Food Adventures, despite the fact that he often had to deal with the natives of this country: “All my life I talked with the Armenians, I have many friends of the Armenians, the first wife is half Armenian. But I was told about the country a little. They said that it is a beautiful small country, there are many mountains, and that she it is not rich – that, in fact, everything.”

Armenia. Infatuating landscapes of Garni-0

In fact, Armenia is little – about 30 thousand square kilometers, less than the Odessa region. But its main problem – isolation from the world. “It’s very difficult to develop. The only communication here is the airport only in Yerevan and Gumry, the railway connects the country only with Russia via Georgia.” But this is exactly the case when the isolation means uniqueness. For example, Christianity came to Armenia quite early and developed in its special way, ignoring, as it were, global trends – at the output of the Armenians have a monumental temple architecture, intricate cave monasteries and the particular structure of church ritual: they still use animal sacrifice. The same story with the local cuisine: the products from Italy and Japan to bring here is difficult and expensive, so the Armenians still use the recipes of their ancestors, and cook them using local products, environmentally friendly (a big plus the lack of large-scale industry in the country).

Armenia. Dilijan-6

Country-Museum, Country-Ecovillage, Country-Cultural reserve. Why would not be a tourist there? They are, the rub is only to make their stay here comfortable. It is a deal of local businessmen at their own risk invest in tourist facilities, and it’s the natives of the Armenian diaspora, one of the most powerful and influential in the world. There are a lot of examples, but the story of Alexander: “In the south of Armenia, near the town of Goris, is a historical monument an ancient monastery thieves. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 30 years, and it is gradually reconstructed. And to that place there is only one road, one of the most complicated roads in Armenia. Armenians themselves were afraid to go up to Tatev. Until 2010, this monastery was visited by about 2 000 people a year. And in 2010, one businessman built a ropeway, which is in Guinness Book of World Records – the length of it is about 6 km. And the depth of the gorge beneath it is more than 300 meters. These 6 km you can ride for a few minutes, an average speed of 30 km / h, with a magnificent view from the windows of the cab. All profits from the ropeway goes to the reconstruction of the monastery. I’ve talked with this person. He had just traveled with companions thought the country – they want to build a tourist road. Now the tourist environment in Armenia is hub-spoke: people arrive in Yerevan and then depart from it in one direction or the other, returning to spend the night in Yerevan. And now they’re developing a ring road in Armenia. People are ready to reconstruct the road for own money, because they want to have a comfortable stay for tourists.

Armenia. Goris that I wasn't able to see

My host side was a network of hotels Tufenkian, owner is an Armenian immigrant in the fourth generation, who lives in the United States. His ancestors left to America before the revolution. And he came back to Yerevan to build a network of good hotels, in which all is Armenian – architecture, design, food. And it’s person who heard about Armenia as a child only from the grandmother’s stories and feel in love into this country so much that he returned there and created a business.”

Armenia. Tufenkian Hotel in Alaverdi

The best time to travel to Armenia, according to Alexander, is May – June and the beginning of autumn. In May, delicious Armenian apricots (but it’s hard to find, most of them are for export), and in September – pomegranate.

The Benefit of Slow Cooking

Armenians are well aware that you need to it slow, it is helpful for digestion. But also they cool slowly, not knowing follow fashion trend slow cooking, a method for controlling junk food and badly cooked food. Here, for example, how to prepare khash, which became almost a symbol of Armenia. Alexander: “They take lamb bones and a long time cook on low heat. A thick soup richly dressed with garlic and salt, everyone sitting at the table cuts the soft monotone of the boiled bones, throws in his portion of soup and broken sleep dry lavash. Required to drink with cornel vodka.

The ritual of preparing Khash in Armenia is as follows. Early Saturday evening, when the first snow falls in the mountains and winter begins, the men gather to cook hash. Cook it all night, controlling the temperature of both – the dishes and theirself. With cornel vodka, of course. In the middle of the night, when the men had done everything, they would replaced by women. Well, the men go to sleep. At six o’clock in the morning Sunday Khash is ready. Men wake up, everyone gathers at the table, seasoned broth to taste and drink cornel vodka for breakfast. Khash is satisfying so that as soon as the body understands that he has to digest, it sends a signal: “Sleep!” And all the Armenian family together is snoring before lunch. On Sunday, you can! “

Other religious Armenian dishes at least intricate in cooking. “I tried Arisa porridge with chicken. It is preparing to about 9 hours, it is necessary to continuously stir, bringing to such a state, until the chicken does not break to fiber and becomes invisible. It’s the most delicious porridge ever I’ve eaten in my life.”

Armenia. How to cook lavash in tandoor-5

In describing the food and feasts often appears cornel vodka – but what about the famous Armenian cognac? Surprise: Armenians don’t trust to cognac, it is not the people’s drink, this drink for export. “To be honest, for the two weeks that I was in Armenia, it turned out that we are not talking about and not drinking cognac, – says Alexander. – Armenia’s traditional drink is wine. Recently, they found some crockery i a cave, with a trace of wine, which were there 6 000 ago. Armenians say that Armenia is homeland of wine. But in Soviet times there were destroyed many vineyards, and the people got used to the vodka. They have cornel vodka, barberry, and there are many other natural products. Today the winery begins to re-grow in Armenia.”

Armenia. ‘Pickle mafia’ of Molokans-8

Armenian feastis an attraction, for which in many other countries you have to pay extra. Alexander warns that before the trip to Armenia better to have a diet. “Food in Armenia is balanced. The quality, but but the quantity. Tables full of food. First you collect a traditional brtuch, it is Armenian roll. A piece of pita you fill up with greens, vegetables and a variety of cheeses. Brtuch, which is rolled by host is the highest degree of respect for the guest. Then go to snacks. Baked eggplant with tahini paste, lens with nuts and a dozen different, equally delicious dishes. Then soups, several types. And only then, when you reach the spherical condition of the number of food, they serve meat dishes. Lamb on the bone, and bulgur, lamb with baked vegetables … Armenians desserts. Try not to eat everything that is on the table. You make the hosts being upset”.

But the food it’s still just food. But you can’t bring people with you. “I can cook all of Armenian dishes at home, we have the same products. But as I was met in Armenia, I have not seen anywhere else. I miss the Armenian hospitality, “- says Alexander, traveled with his photo project in Europe and Asia, but leave the heart (and stomach, apparently) in Armenia.

Armenia for Gastronome. Aleksandr Slyadnev’s recommendations.

Yerevan

“Charles”
The restaurant is right in the heart of Yerevan, twenty meters from the monumental museum complex “Cascade”. Edgar Yeganyan, charismatic and humble chef can cook miracles. Absolutely great lamb on the bone and bulgur and Armenian roll lamb. And yet, this is where I tasted the most delicious Mille-feuille (a complicated pastry) in his life.

Edgar Yeganyan - Chef at Charles

“Harbert”
This restaurant is managed by one of the iconic chefs Ruben Poghosyan. I will not advise the individual dishes. Just call Ruben, give him my regards and ask for recommendations.

Ruben Pogosyan  Brand-Chef at Tufenkyan Restaurants

“Salon Armenia”
My favorite restaurant is the former president of Armenia. Chef Karo Guyumjyan not afraid to experiment, but true to the traditions of Armenian cuisine.

Karo Guyumjyan, Chef at Salon

The Club
The most stylish restaurant in Yerevan. Interesting interior, beautiful and delicious national dishes, serve is developed by French chef. Try the signature crayfish soup.

Anahit Sargysian, Chef at The Club

Dilizan

“Haykanush”
Meals are prepared here by the recipes of grandmother owner. He personally supervises the quality and taste. I recommend lamadzho. And if they cook raise for you, trip was a success!

Alexandr Ghazaryan, chef at Haykanush Restaurant

Areni and Goris

“Grot”
In this restaurant, where is no light, everything is cooked in such a way as did the ancestors of Armenians hundred years ago – in the tandoor. I recommend to try the Armenian wheat groats with lamb. And an array of snacks, which Vardkes offer.

“Tatevatun”
Panoramic windows of the restaurant offers a beautiful view of the Andzorskoe valley. Try traditional Khashlama lamb, Aand Goris Gata for dessert (cookies from the dough with nuts, which is eaten with a sweet yogurt) and go to ride by the biggest ropeway in the world.

Alaverdi

“Avan Dzoraget”
The proximity of the district to Georgia and expressed in the kitchen. There are both Armenian and Georgian dishes. Unusually tasty soup with caraway seeds and herbs and suboreg the analogue Georgian achma (cheese pie).

Arman Akopyan

You can read full article in Prosto & Vkusno Magazine (Moldova).

More about travel to Armenia here!