Thyme to... Travel! Armenia
This post is about a recent trip to Armenia to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the battle of Sardarabad and the independence of Armenia. The celebrations were plenty, the joy was palpable everywhere we visited. Walking down the streets of Yerevan was like walking in Disneyland. People were singing and dancing on the streets, Music was playing everywhere, you could definitely feel the exuberant joy of the people everywhere. I was very moved by the reception that we received that was so different from the last trip I had taken there 10 years ago.
No trip is complete without the sampling of all the different foods and drinks that are offered by each locale. We visited so many different restaurants and wineries and local brandy makers that it is hard to mention all of them in a food blog but I wanted to include a few that I found very interesting.
There is historical evidence that the region where present day Armenia is , has been winemaking going back 6000 years. Armenians have been distilling wine into brandy /kanyak( Armenian spelling of Cognac) since the 12th century. Armenian brandy was very popular in the court of Tsar Nicholas II. The cognac name and designation is reserved for the alcohol that is produced in the French region of Cognac. Yet for a brief period that designation was granted to Shustov and Sons the makers of this brandy also known as Yerevan Brandy company in the early 1900’s. which now produces the Noy Brand.
On this trip we visited the Noy distillery which inhabits the old Yerevan Fortress. An imposing structure in the middle of the city of Yerevan. They produce Brandy that is 5, 7, 10, 15, 20 as well as 25, 30 and 50 years old categories. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the brandy was relaunched under the Noy Brand after Noah who’s Ark has landed on the mount of ARARAT scripted in the Bible.
We also visited a few wineries and the one the most impressive one was a fairly new winery started in 2007 named ARMAS. It sits on 445 acres of land that is considered one of the best terroirs in the region by notable winemakers. It took 6 years to transform the land and cultivate into what it is today. A complete state of the art winery and distillery, a boutique hotel, orchards, and vineyards. It is fenced with a 15 kilometer brick wall, electricity was brought in, irrigation system was brought in along with heavy machinery and countless agricultural equipment. It is a very impressive endeavor that leaves the visitor breathless at the beauty of the land and what the visionaries have accomplished. Their first wine was produced in 2013 and they have already claimed many awards for the quality and taste of their different wines. They offer a variety of white, red and rose. The tour encompasses a lunch at the most idyllic spot in their wineries overlooking the vineyards. Highly recommended visit if you are in the region.
What is a visit to a beautiful country without mentioning the different flavors tasted on the journey. I had tastings of different khorovatzs (barbeque) fish, chicken and meat. We had an Erzeroom Ghapama (stuffed pumpkin) that was different from the traditional rice stuffed pumpkin. We tasted a variety of different pastries but my favorite was a Napoleon/ Mille feuille from a restaurant called Lavash. Also, in many restaurants that we visited there were women sitiing on the floor in a corner of the restaurant baking the traditional Lavash bread in an oven that is in a hole in the ground.
These are just an excerpt of what Armenia has to offer to the Traveler. I didn’t want to end this Blog without a mention of all the beautiful churches and monastaries that line up the landscape of all of Armenia. After all is the first nation in the world that accepted Christianity, dating back to the 3rd century.