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Friday, December 13, 2013

A Taste of Georgia in London

by Sophie Ibbotson and Max Lovell-Hoare

13.12.2013. Taste Georgia, the first Georgian Christmas Fair, took place in London last week [correction: from November 28 to December 1 - HN]  introducing thousands of Londoners to the country’s finest foods, wines and culture. Set in the historic Cathedral Square in Southwark, visitors were treated to live performances as well as tasty treats.

HE Alexandra Hall, Britain’s ambassador to Tbilisi, said, “I am thrilled the Taste Georgia is taking place in London. This is a fantastic opportunity for people living or visiting London to get to know the rich Georgian culture and taste the wonderful food and wine this country has to offer.”

Her enthusiasm for the project was echoed by Master of Wine, Sarah Abbott, who concurred: “It was wonderful to see so many people discovering and enjoying the great treasures of Georgian wine and food.”

The smiles of the hundreds of happy customers packed into the square each lunchtime was certainly a tribute both to the quality of the food and its appeal to London’s palate.

Though the food and wine was divine (these reporters had to go back for a second portion of khachapuri), it was the live cultural performances that really captured people’s attention. Following their rousing performance at the fair, the Rustavi singers were invited to sing again inside the sacred nave of Southwark Cathedral. Rose Harding, the cathedral’s Development Director praised their performance as “truly memorable”.

Likewise, Elene Rakviashvii’s artistic performance organized by the cARTveli Fund inspired by the qvevri also attracted the attentions of London’s cultural elite. Perfectly timed to coincide with qvevris addition to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, Elene’s show was of such quality that she has been asked to give a repeat performance at London’s prestigious White Cube, one of the world’s leading galleries of contemporary art.

The success of the project, which was the brainchild of the British-Georgian Chamber of Commerce’s (BGCC) director Mako Abashidze, was key to perception of Georgia in London, the BGCC with the great support of the Georgian Embassy in Britain is the principle promotion vehicle for Georgian products and culture in the UK.

Like the general public, the National Wine Agency of Georgia recognised the value of Taste Georgia, stating that it “greatly contributes to raising international awareness of the country” and that the initiative will have their full support when it is repeated on a larger scale in 2014.

Project was supported by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, Georgian national Wine Agency, Georgian Tourism Administration and Sakpatenti, the National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia.

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