Chama Mama celebrates conventional Georgian foodstuff, wine

This summer time, the dining choices at the Massachusetts Museum of Up to date Artwork in North Adams, Mass., look a little unique. On weekends, wander previous the upside-down trees suspended on cables and you will come on a summertime scene. Beneath the canopied tree that reliably turns burnt gold each drop, rugs casually overlap on the gravel courtyard, and brilliant, patterned cushions lean against its trunk. Scattered at informal bistro tables, partners and smaller teams sip wine and chatter animatedly whilst a chef turns prolonged kebab skewers packed tightly with meat about charcoal, sending smoke skyward from a small outdoor grill. Chama Mama, a Georgian restaurant with two Manhattan destinations, is in home through late September at the urging of a member of the museum’s board of directors, and it is steadily feeding a curious crowd.

In title, Chama Mama visits off the tongue, but whilst “chama” signifies “eat,” “mama” is Georgian for “father.” Which is one thing that proprietor Tamara Chubinidze finds amusing, allowing the globally frequent comprehending of “Mama” to seize recollections of grandmothers and moms cooking at property. Chama Mama is centered on 3 key components of Georgian cuisine: toné, the standard clay tandoor-design oven khapuri, Georgian bread and kvevri wines, which are wines typically fermented in bulb-shaped clay vessels buried in the ground.

At Mass MoCA, Chubinidze delivers a pared-down model of the complete Chama Mama menu, executed by fellow Tbilisi-born chef Nino Chiokadze, a smiling drive who overcame logistical limits, which includes 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 emphasis is on lavash flatbreads and khachapuri — pillowy, fluffy breads stuffed with cheese — and a few regional versions are offered. (In Georgia there are 47). 

Khinkali soup dumplings, thickly pleated like purses, are crammed with mushrooms, lamb, pork and beef, revealing the influence of both East and West on Georgian cuisine. The simply seasoned, skewered meats from an out of doors grill are a custom of summer houses and outdoor summer season kitchens across the Caucasus area among the Black and Caspian seas.

Of the al-fresco scene, Chubinidze suggests with a chuckle: “I wished it to truly feel easy, as if you could lounge there with a guide, conversing, consuming wine, as we would at household.” If it nearly seems far more like a spot to shed time relatively than a formal restaurant, it is. And given the warm welcome, total plates and daytime several hours from noon to 8 p.m. every weekend for the future thirty day period, this is most likely what you should really do there. 

It can feel as if Georgia burst onto the dining scene only recently, fueled by world-wide fascination in purely natural wine and orange wine, particularly Georgia’s regular system of generation. There also has been a surge in cookbooks discovering Silk Highway spice routes across Syria, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the culinary identities of Russia, Ukraine and Georgia, former states of the Soviet Republic all bordering the Black Sea. But eating in the enterprise of Darra Goldstein, the Williamstown-dependent creator and multidecade authority on Georgian food items meant, we were cradled in her deep knowledge as she described approaches behind breads and jewel-coloured pickles from jonjoli (salt-pickled blossoms) to gandzili (ramps), whole garlic cloves and cabbage, and welcomed in genuine Georgian-model with open up arms and heaps of food stuff.

In opening Chama Mama, Chubinidze preferred to seize something lacking because she arrived in New York Metropolis in 1996. The handful of Georgian restaurants presented a flavor of house but lacked critical particulars in ambiance, dishes and great Georgian wine, and she desired to make a cafe that could be a cultural practical experience as properly as instructional, demonstrating how Georgian cuisine is not monolithic but regionally numerous. Admiring the Le Pain Quotidien manufacturer for its sophisticated exploration of simple Belgian food items, she worked for the corporation as a baker for two a long time in advance of finding an investor to again the opening of Chama Mama in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood in March 2019 and, in 2020, mid-pandemic, signing on an Higher West Facet location that opened in April of this 12 months, just months right before the Mass MoCA pop up. 

As we sipped Kvevri dry pink Ojaleshi, a velvety, ruby-coloured wine rich with jam and berries, pepper and spice, we shared a khachapuri trio made with chef Chiokadze’s significant-gluten dough for an impossibly mild, delicately chewy bread. Quartered to share, we marveled at Imeruli, a cheese-stuffed edition from the Imereti region for which Chiokadze blends nearby ricotta, feta and mozzarella to approximate salty and stretchy flavor and texture lobiani, filled with buttery, smashed beans and from the significant, mountainous Svaneti location, kubdari, a meat-loaded twist on the concept. 

Onto the patterned tablecloth arrive platters of soup dumplings. A flower in the twisted topknot identifies these stuffed with mushrooms, contemporary tarragon, cilantro and parsley. We’re told to keep the dumplings by their knots, nibble a tiny gap to consume the soup, demolish in a couple bites and discard the doughy take care of. (The apply reminds me of British pasties, meat-crammed hand pies with thick, crimped crusts that miners would eat by hand prior to discarding the dirty edge.) The lamb dumplings are aromatic with a heady aroma from Chiokadze’s blend of spices and peppers.

On the mixed-grill platter are beef, pork and rooster kebab and mtsvadi (pork skewers), loosened to dunk in do-it-yourself adjika (hot chile oil) and tkemali (inexperienced plum sauce). Additional bread appears in delicate, floppy triangles, aspect roti, aspect paratha and totally exclusive. We graze leisurely, buying at meat and pickles, getting far more wine and additional content communicate. 

Our stomachs are bursting as a attractive silver platter dusted in confectionery sugar appears. There are millefeuille layers of Napoleon cake for people wanting sweetness muraba, preserved Georgian figs with clean walnuts and conventional pelamushi, a established dessert shut to panna cotta manufactured with grape juice. Listed here, white and purple grape juices are layered in a nontraditional, two-tone version.

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

Chama Mama at Mass MoCA

Exactly where: 1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, Mass.
Hrs: Midday to 8 p.m. Friday via Sunday, as a result of Sept. 26
Info: For updates, comply with @chamamamanyc on Instagram. Non-public catering inquiries: 646-438-900. The company website is, but the Mass MoCA menu is scaled-down than at the New York City restaurants.
Notice: The Mass MoCA pop-up is open for walk-in dining and to-go orders only. No reservations approved.

In fact, wine is so integral to Georgian daily life that, I’m informed, vacationers passing by means of border control are given a passport stamp and a bottle of wine. No matter if which is a joke scarcely issues. Hospitality, conviviality, shared eating, discuss and infinite bottles of wine are at the heart of Georgian tradition and everyday living, captured most plainly in the tradition of the supra Georgian feast. Chubinidze’s connections have helped her to link regional wine producers to U.S. importers, and just lately identified Chama Mama for the most detailed wine record in the city.

Never pass up the likelihood to try some incredible wines and standard Georgian plates. Plus, there is a ticketed supra party prepared for the weekend of Sept. 17 to 19. And as the pop-up serves walk-ins only, you can remain or put a to-go buy to round out your museum working day. As the Chama Mama web site claims: “Let’s chama. Let’s try to eat.”

Chama Mama at Mass MoCA, a pop-up cafe, is open up from midday to 8 p.m. by September 26th, 2021, and is envisioned to return for summer time 2022.