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Cook, eat, dance - Feast at Noosh!

Cook, eat, dance - Feast at Noosh!  image

Participate in festive dance in the Noosh Guesthouse garden. (Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program)

The story of Ashnak is one of resistance and cultural revitalization. Established in 1917, the village of Ashnak became a new home for those fleeing genocide from the Western Armenian region of Sassoun. Here, the customs and traditions of the Sassoun peoples endure through their food, dance, and song. One of their descendants, Ani Hovhannisyan, and her friend Gayane Malishenko recently founded Noosh guesthouse and restaurant in Ashnak. Together, they manage the restaurant and offer a variety of cooking classes for visitors.

You and Gayane will start by making klulik, savory spheres of wheat with pickled cabbage and spices cooked over an open bonfire. You will feel a part of the Hovhannisyan family because making and enjoying traditional klulik brings everyone together. While the klulik cooks, you’ll also learn how to make sweet nooshellos—Ani and Gayane’s innovative creation of orbs of fresh sour cream, curd, and almonds that make a great healthy snack. Thanks to more than twenty almond trees in their garden, noosh (almond in Armenian) is the inspiration for the guesthouse’s name. Almonds are an ingredient in every dish on Noosh’s menu.

Nestled along the way between Yerevan and Gyumri, Noosh makes an ideal stop to rest in the garden and enjoy a local meal in the restaurant’s outdoor seating area. In Noosh’s orchard, you can harvest fruits in the late summer/early autumn or, if you time it right, you may catch performances of qochari, yarkhushta, or other traditional dances while you delight in a delicious meal.

Ani and Gayane’s guesthouse is a refreshing revitalization of Ashnak’s cultural heritage for travelers and locals alike. The family’s dishes offer a new flair by blending Armenian culinary traditions with a modern approach. Noosh not only shares the stories and ways of Ashnak’s past, but also lets you become a part of the village’s future.

Meet your host

The village of Ashnak is the new homeland of the Hovhannisyan family and other people from Sassoun whose history began here after the genocide. After school, Ani moved away to Yerevan and then Paris to receive an education in tourism, but she eventually decided to move back to Ashnak with her friend Gayane Malishenko. The pair met in 2010 and quickly became friends after discovering their common interests in tourism, art, and music. Ani and Gayane are from the same generation, living their childhood during Armenia’s difficult years of the 1990s. As a result, they both became independent, sought higher education, and learned several foreign languages. Together with Ani’s family, they transformed their home into Noosh—a guesthouse and restaurant where they cook their family’s dishes passed down across generations from Sassoun, entertain visitors, and share their Armenian spirit.

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program

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