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Hello Moonshine: A Chacha Journey in the Georgian Countryside

$90 US/person
Book now Give as a gift
  • Fee includes instruction, everything consumed during the activity, transport and a take-home bottle of Chacham
  • Group Size: 4-8
  • Date: NEXT EXCURSION TO BE ANNOUNCED.  If interested, please email

Spread out under the majestic Caucasus mountain range like an 11,000 square meter grape basket is the Alazani Valley. Located in the Kakheti region in east Georgia, it could very well be the most beautiful wine region in the world. In September and October Kakheti comes to life as virtually every family prepares their own wine, just as their ancestors have done for centuries. 

Late October is also the season for making chacha, that notorious Georgian moonshine made from the skins, stems, seeds and pulp left over from the primary wine fermentation process. Join Culinary Backstreets on an exclusive day trip to the pastoral village of Tskhnindali, the heart of the Kakheti wine region, to experience the adventure of zavodoba – the ritual of small batch chacha making.

Our hosts, the Nikolaishvili family, will lead us step-by-step through the chacha distillation process, from vine to bottle. We will also make bread and bake it in the family’s traditional tone oven and top off the occasion with a Kakhetian supra – an authentic village feast of seasonal delights, such as freshly butchered roast pork (or lamb, if we want), accompanied, as tradition dictates, by copious amounts of local wine and hooch.

The price includes transportation, food, drink and a take-home bottle of chacha.

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With all of the anticipation of local elections in March, the scandalous graft-laden tapes leaked via social media, the communication fog brought on by the […]

The Giving Tree

In Greece, where the land is mostly rocky and steep and the climate hot and arid, the olive tree thrives, and for millennia, olive oil […]

Bulk Food

Early on in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 film Amélie, the title character plunges her hand into a big sack of lentils, relishing the sensation of them […]

First Stop

Editor’s note: In the inaugural post of our new recurring feature, First Stop, we ask Chef Ana Sortun of the much-beloved restaurant Oleana and bakery […]

Rise and Dine

We know that there’s a trend away from gluten and carbs these days, and all we have to say to that is: more for us! […]

Bulk Wine

For so long, bulk wine has been synonymous with plonk – even in a country like Spain, where buying wine straight from the barrel was […]

Grills and Thrills

If there are an estimated 17 million souls in Istanbul, then there are at least that many opinions on the best kebab house in town. […]

Barcelona’s Top 5 Xurrerias

Churros, the long, skinny, crenellated, sweet fried crullers made from just flour, water and salt, have been enjoyed for centuries in Spain, with hot chocolate […]


Editor’s note: [We’re pleased to report that Barba has reopened in a new location. See below for address.] We’re going on a Global Bar Crawl […]

Barcelona’s Gintonics

Editor’s note: Our third installment in the Global Bar Crawl takes us to Barcelona, where gin continues to be the drink of choice among locals. […]

Galaxy and Au Revoir

Editor’s note: Our second stop on CB’s Global Bar Crawl is in Athens, where two classic old watering holes have been tending to the drinking […]


Finding a kebab restaurant in Istanbul is not hard. There must be thousands of them. But finding the right kind of place, especially if you […]


Editor’s note: Chef Pericles Koskinas is no longer at Alatsi, we are sad to report.  Last summer, we took a look at the popularity of […]


In Istanbul, we’ve noted an inverse relationship between a restaurant’s atmosphere and what’s coming out of the kitchen. In most cases, as furniture design goes […]


Istanbul’s after-midnight dining options tend to be of the offal variety – tripe soup, chopped lamb’s intestines – thought to be curatives after a night […]


Editor’s note: Our last dispatch for Breakfast Week takes us to a charming spot in Beyoğlu, where followers of Istanbul’s two competing schools of breakfast can enjoy their […]

Can Ros

Editor’s note: Our penultimate installment for Breakfast Week here at CB comes from Barcelona, where the traditional Catalan breakfast is not for the faint of […]

Best Bites of 2013

Editor’s note: This is the final installment of “Best Bites of 2013,” a roundup of our top culinary experiences over the last year. Be sure […]

Best Bites 2013

Editor’s note: This post is the second installment of “Best Bites of 2013,” a roundup of our top culinary experiences over the last year. Stay […]

El Tossal

[Editor’s note: We’re sorry to report that El Tossal has closed.] May 1, 2014 Spring Fever (0) The reach of globalization and industrial agriculture is […]

Catalonia’s White Wines

When we think of white wine in Catalonia, we think of its seemingly endless possibilities. Production of whites here has a 2,000-year-old history. The wide-ranging […]

All Natural

We’ve talked before about Greek coffee, and it’s true that going out for coffee is one of Athenians’ favorite pastimes, but there are plenty of […]

Green Scene

In terms of greenness, Athens doesn’t even come close to other European capitals with their verdant parks and blossoming gardens. The truth is, modern urban […]

La Pepita

We’ve written a great deal about all the traditional Catalan, Basque and Spanish food around town, but what about the modern, globally influenced cooking that’s […]

Bodega Manolo

At first glance, Bodega Manolo seems like the usual wine shop/tapas bar that Barcelona does so well: a solid place to replenish our wine stocks […]

Yeni Lokanta

It is puzzling that Istanbul, a city of some 15 million people with an increasingly lavish lifestyle, a world-famous cuisine and a booming tourism industry, […]

La Pubilla del Taulat

The bodega side of La Pubilla del Taulat’s split-personality operation is no ordinary wine shop. While one wall is lined with hundreds of bottles from […]


The first thing we noticed about Lukumas, a well-loved Greek doughnut shop in Gràcia, was its creative graphic identity. That should come as no surprise […]

La Pubilla

Editor’s note: During the dog days of August, much of the city of Barcelona – including many dining establishments – shuts down for an extended […]

To Triantafilo tis Nostimias

To Triantafilo tis Nostimias restaurant would be impossible to find if someone didn’t tell you it was there. Although just a five-minute walk from busy […]

El Tast de Joan Noi

In Barcelona, food markets are longtime culinary institutions beloved by both neighbors and chefs. Their intense sights, smells and sounds are a wonderful, chaotic amuse-bouche […]

Cibalikapı Balıkçısı

On a night out in Istanbul, we often find ourselves forced to make sacrifices in one or more categories of the overall dining experience. Great […]


Ikastola means school in Basque. Covering the wall on the right as you walk in is a huge green chalkboard, inviting all to have a […]

Spanish Conservas: Gourmet Food? It’s in the Can

In Spain, conservas, or foods preserved in cans and jars, are not simply a matter of economic survival or a source of basic nutrition for […]

Diamonds in the Touristy Rough: Makalo

Editor’s note: This is the third piece in our series uncovering the hidden gems in some of Athens’ most touristy neighborhoods. After checking out Psyri […]

Diamonds in the Touristy Rough: Plaka Dining Secrets

Editor’s note: This is the second piece in our series featuring the hidden gems in some of Athens’ most touristy neighborhoods. We previously explored Psyri; […]

Mall Busters: Istanbul Beyond the Food Court

Editor’s note: This feature is the first piece in a series covering locally owned neighborhood eateries that offer an alternative to the food courts and […]

La Cova Fumada

Opened in 1944, La Cova Fumada (“The Smoked Cave”) is one of the most beloved gastronomic icons in Barcelona’s port area. Every day, people from […]

Drinking Culture: Tapping the Ayran (Powder) Keg

Editor’s note: While the fate of the Gezi Park occupation is being hotly discussed, we’ve been spending our time sipping deeper into Turkey’s other great […]

Athens’ Top Street Foods

Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment in our street food series this week, featuring dispatches on the best streetside eating in all the cities […]

Barcelona’s Top Street Foods

Editor’s note: This feature from Barcelona is the third installment in our series this week devoted to the top street foods in each of the […]

Vermuteria Loú

Located on busy Carrer de l’Escorial on the edge of Gràcia, Vermuteria Loú is a tiny, cozy venue that is exactly what we look for […]


Named after a fragrant plant widely known as sweet clover, Melilotos got its start three years ago as a delivery service for the hungry Athens […]

Greek Easter Week, Dish by Dish

Forget about Christmas. In Greece, Easter is the main event, one where food, naturally, plays a starring role. It is also very much a holiday […]

Quimet & Quimet

With its high walls lined top-to-bottom with a colorful array of bottles, the tiny Quimet & Quimet, a charming tapas bar in El Poble Sec, […]

Ask CB: Smoke-Free Athens?

Dear Culinary Backstreets, I heard from some friends that everyone smokes in restaurants in Athens, despite the fact that it is not officially permitted. What […]

Museum Quality: Dining in Athens’ Cultural Institutions

Considering Athens’ position as a top tourist destination, it may come as a surprise that it is only recently that local museums have decided to […]

Ask CB: Kid-Friendly Dining in Barcelona?

Dear Culinary Backstreets, We will be visiting Barcelona with our children. Do you have any good recommendations of places in the city to eat with […]


In an opinion piece published recently in the Latitude blog of The New York Times, veteran Turkey correspondent Andrew Finkel’s brutally honest appraisal of the […]

In the House of Cod: Lent and Easter in Barcelona

Editor’s note: This post wraps up “Spring (Food) Break 2013,” our weeklong look at the favorite foods of the spring season in each city Culinary Backstreets covers. […]

Spring (Food) Break 2013: Istanbul

Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment of “Spring (Food) Break 2013,” featuring our favorite foods of the spring season in each city Culinary Backstreets […]

Çukur Meyhane

It wasn’t quite as dramatic as Meg Ryan’s big moment at Katz’s Deli in When Harry Met Sally, but a low-register, guttural moan of pleasure […]

When the Going Gets Tough, the Catalonians Get Brewing

Once a mostly beer-free country, Spain – traditionally a land of wine drinkers – has recently started to develop a taste for the sudsy beverage, […]

Gazoz: Turkish Fizzardry

In a 2003 TV commercial for Cola Turka, the actor Chevy Chase was seen speaking Turkish and then sporting a moustache, after taking just one […]

Ask CB: Lesser-Known Barcelona Food Markets?

Dear Culinary Backstreets, I’m traveling to Barcelona and I love visiting food markets. I’ve heard a lot about La Boquería, but are there any other […]


De toda la vida is a Spanish expression that basically means “It’s been around forever,” and it’s a sure thing that the locals in Barcelona’s […]

Ask CB: Greek Coffee in Athens?

Dear Culinary Backstreets, I keep hearing about Greek coffee but is it any different from Turkish coffee? And do most Greeks actually drink Greek coffee […]

Istanbul’s Burger Battle Goes International

As chronicled by Istanbul Eats, the Tünel end of Istanbul’s famed İstiklal boulevard was some two years ago the site of a heated burger war. […]

Athens’ New-School Wine Bars

The economic crisis that has plagued Greece for the past five years has led to changes on the Athenian culinary scene, including the opening of […]

Mustafa Amca

The Turkish proverb “At, avrat, silah ödünç verilmez” (“neither horse, wife nor weapon should be lent”) is sometimes repeated as a way to recall the […]

Calçots: Not Your Average Onion

As the legend goes, a 19th-century Catalan farmer was out experimenting in his fields when he came up with a new kind of longer, juicier […]

Best Bites of 2012: Barcelona

Editor’s note: This is the penultimate installment of “Best Bites of 2012,” a roundup of our top culinary experiences over the last year. Stay tuned […]

Downtown Athens Souvlaki Classics, Part 1

While Athens’ more upscale neighborhoods have recently rediscovered the gastronomic joys – and, let’s face it, the economic sense – of eating souvlaki, this classic […]

Asmalı Cavit

We can’t prove it, but we suspect a network of tunnels lies underground in Beyoğlu that connects most of the meyhanes of Asmalımescit and Nevizade […]


Certain global phenomena, like sushi, the mojito and the sitcom Golden Girls, might have arrived a bit late in Turkey, but as the world scrambles […]


The arrival of fall in Istanbul usually means one thing for us: hamsi season is about to begin. Hamsi, of course, are the minuscule fish (Black […]


There are places that have been around so long that they’ve become emblematic of a city’s entire eating culture. In Athens, Stani (meaning “sheepfold” or […]

Sakarya Tatlıcısı

The arrival of fall always finds us heading instinctively, like salmon swimming towards their ancestral headwaters, to the Balık Pazarı, Beyoğlu’s historic fish market. Autumn […]

La Nena

The large banner in La Nena chocolatería proclaiming “No Hay Alcohol” (strung up between a rocking horse and a wooden toy kitchen) makes it fairly […]


Like Clark Kent hiding his Superman tights beneath a brown suit and glasses, Klemuri maintains the appearance of a predictable Beyoğlu café – wooden tables, […]

İsmet Baba

Diners in Istanbul are spoiled with options for fresh seafood. But most venues are mere caricatures of places like İsmet Baba, where traditions have been […]

Şimşek Pide Salonu

Turkey’s take on the pizza comes in two distinct varieties. There’s the Arabesque lahmacun, a round, ultra thin-crusted snack topped with a shmear of finely […]


Ah, the joys of Plaka! That most beautiful of Athens neighborhoods, full of sights for visitors to behold: Neoclassical buildings, views of the Acropolis and […]


The first thing we noticed about Lukumas, a well-loved Greek doughnut shop in Gràcia, was its creative graphic identity. That should come as no surprise […]

Indian Spices

Editor’s note: Jaipur Palace has closed. The so-called “ethnic” cuisines – from Middle Eastern and Indian to Chinese and Japanese – came to Athens relatively […]

Köfteci Hüseyin

In New York, consider the pizza. You’ve got Famous Ray’s Pizza, Ray’s Original Pizza, World-Famous Original Ray’s Pizza, and so on. Ray and his imitators […]


Editor’s note, July 2013: Sadly, this classic Athens dining establishment recently closed down, a victim of the Greek financial crisis. Our Athens correspondent bids a […]

Beyoğlu Öğretmenevi

Like Atatürk statues and crescent-and-star flags etched into the sides of mountains, the öğretmenevi (“teacher’s house”) is an integral part of the Turkish landscape. Found […]

Istanbul’s Top Street Foods, Part 1

We’re especially fond of Istanbul’s vibrant – and sometimes plain wacky – street food scene. Here we present three of our favorite street foods and […]

Food Trucks, Part 1

In a city that stays up as late as Athens, it’s no surprise that late dinners and even later-night snacking are big. People don’t go […]

Lades 2

The no-frills Lades 2 presents diners with that age-old question: what to eat first, the chicken or the eggs? A Turkish version of the American-style […]

Şahin Lokantası

For Turks, mealtime is often a complicated emotional drama, one that revolves around a lifelong effort to return to the culinary womb – in other […]

La Pubilla

When chef Alexis Peñalver was looking for a location to open La Pubilla last year, he found this gem adjacent to el Mercado de la […]


It all started about six years ago, when Cretan cuisine – food from Crete, one of Greece’s largest and most famous islands – became fashionable […]


Editor’s note, January 2016: We’re sorry to report that this venue has closed. Ikastola means school in Basque. Covering the wall on the right as […]

To Triantafilo tis Nostimias

To Triantafilo tis Nostimias restaurant would be impossible to find if someone didn’t tell you it was there. Although just a five-minute walk from busy […]


Named after a fragrant plant widely known as sweet clover, Melilotos got its start three years ago as a delivery service for the hungry Athens […]

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