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Make a special tolma with bean leaves at Loby

Make a special tolma with bean leaves at Loby image

Located in the tiny village of Verishen near Goris is a homestyle restaurant and one of southern Armenia’s gourmet gems. Run by Anzhelika Dashunts and her family, Loby Goris will treat you to traditional and innovative dishes, made with produce freshly picked from their gardens.

You won’t want to miss their delicacies made with the Goris bean, known as the best in Armenia due to the region’s black soil, water, and sun. Because loby means bean in Armenian, the name of the restaurant reflects the quintessence of Goris’s gastronomic culture.

The tantalizing Goris tolma, traditionally made by the grandmother of the house, is another famous dish on the Loby menu. Taking part in the tolma-making process from A-to-Z is a memorable hands-on experience packed with Armenian history and culture. First, you’ll mix tenderized meat with milk for a delicate taste. Then add chopped onion, rice, local greens, and spices that will fill the air with a diverse blend of irresistible fragrances, all while listening to Anzhelika’s stories about some of the local food customs and their fascinating history.

The secret of making perfect tolma is learning how to wrap the filling in cabbage or grape leaves. Not to worry, your host Anzhelika will be there to help you master the technique! If you visit in summer, you’ll wrap the tolma in bean leaves, an older tradition common only in this region. After they are wrapped, you’ll let the tolma stew for about an hour with flavorful herbs to create a dish that is both tender and nutritious.

While waiting for your tolma to simmer, you’ll have the opportunity to pick fresh homegrown vegetables and fruits that not only complement your dinner but also illustrate how your hosts are maintaining traditions of self-sufficient, zero-waste agriculture. If you visit in the fall, you may peel kidney beans with your hosts (also available for purchase to take home).

Those succulent beans can be stewed or fried with caramelized onions and butter, or with spicy or savory tomato sauce. They also make for mouth-watering salads with chopped onions, dill, cilantro, olive oil, finely minced tomatoes mixed with beef or chicken, as well as with other seasonal flavor combinations. Locals like to say that beans here are never wasted.

Time to wind up a fulfilling day at the dining table. Thanks to a warm family atmosphere, steaming plates of tolma, and tempting salads, a visit to Loby Goris is everything a getaway is meant to be.

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