After visiting the majestic Chronicles of Georgia from where you have a fantastic view over the suburbs of Tbilisi, we decided to take a small path downhill to get to one of the suburbs. We wanted to take a closer look at the massive, concrete buildings. Strolling through the streets I stumbled over a small red brick building which stands alone between all the high buildings. Some white numbers were taped to the small squared windows and the white front door was closed. But this little building immediately caught my attention and we went closer to take a look through the little windows. What we found inside was a traditional bakery with a big round clay oven. As I peeped through the window a man, completely dressed in white, came to the door and opened it with a big smile on his face and an inviting movement. He was also wearing a big white apron and it was pretty clear that this was the baker. Hot air came out of this little baking room and it felt like entering a sauna. The baker invited us to stay for awhile in his bakery that we could see how the traditional, boat-shaped bread Shoti Puri is made. He was trying to explain (even if he could barely speak english) what steps are necessary to bake the bread and what kind of tools he uses. After some small talk we were introducing ourselves and we ended up staying at Avtotandils (short version of his name is Avto – pronounced Auto) bakery for a couple of hours. Avto told us about his hometown Sachkhere, a small town in Imereti (2,5 hour drive from Tbilisi), where he still lives with his wife. He tries to go back home every two weeks. When he is absent his nephew works in his bakery. Between serving some customers and talking to us Avto offered us homemade cow cheese (made by his wife), fresh Shoti Puri from the oven and of course some homemade Chacha. To better get the Chacha down he even went to a small shop next to his bakery to buy some peach juice boxes for us. So we sat in the back of his bakery, chatting, eating, drinking, laughing and one more time enjoying the great Georgian hospitality. Avto wanted to know how long we were still staying in Georgia and invited us to visit his hometown the week after. He showed us the dates in his calendar when he wanted to leave and we checked our itinerary and we said yes.
After a couple of days when we returned from Signagi we went to Avtos bakery again to head to Sachkhere. He was very happy to see us, but had some bad news, his nephew could not come to work in his bakery because of a dental operation. So he invited us to eat some cheese and bread with him and Avto told us whenever we come back to Georgia his bakery will still be at the same place and then we make a trip to his hometown. Madloba, Avto. We will be very happy to see you again!
While staying at Avtos bakery some customers came by to either buy fresh bread or the prepared dough. One of his customers who comes quite often to his bakery was Nino, a warm-hearted Georgian woman accompanied by her lovely sons Aleksandre and Andria. Avto told her that we come from Germany and than she suddenly talked German to us. She was very happy to speak some German again after spending two years in Germany for a treatment of her son Andria. Some years ago she returned to her home city Tbilisi and lives close to Avtos bakery. We had a nice chat with her and she invited us to spend the evening at their home together with her sons and her husband. So we went to her apartment and could plunge more into the Georgian culture. Nino offered us some Easter cake called Paska and dark red dyed Easter eggs (Easter was just two days ago and is one of the most important celebrations) – the eggs symbolize Christ’s birth and eternal life. If you are interested in more detailed information about the Georgian Easter tradition follow the link below:
We spent some nice hours with Nino and her family, eating delicious food, talking and playing with the kids. Madloba!