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Cook a village style feast at Sisian Ceramics

Cook a village style feast at Sisian Ceramics image

You cannot just eat qyalagyosh. You must honor this hearty soup with a special ceremony in traditional Armenian fashion. If you visit Hatsatun, a restaurant run by a husband-and-wife and artist duo, Vahagn Hambardzumyan and Zara Gasparyan, you will learn it all: not only how to savor the festive flavor, but also how to use lavash as your “spoon” to scoop up the creamy goodness. Of course, any qyalagyosh ceremony is not complete without enjoying some liquid refreshments—such as fruit juices or even homemade vodka. Whatever your preference, Vahagn will demonstrate how to give a kenats (toast) like a true Armenian.

As Zara likes to joke, qyalagyosh is like a Lego: you can assemble it any way you want. In Sisian, every authentic experience of qyalagyosh begins with a base of choratan, made from pearls of dried buttermilk, along with several other essential ingredients. You’ll face a table full of lentils, dried lavash, crushed garlic, stewed onion, and many other savory elements. When it’s time to eat, Vahagn and Zara will show you how to add each component to your bowl according to your taste preferences.

Eating qyalagyosh is a ceremony in itself. The dish is typically eaten with relatives and friends, accompanied by endless debates over how to build it the “right” way. Once your plate is brimming with goodness, Vahagn will demonstrate the toasting traditions that are part of the qyalagyosh ceremony. Two options are a fruit-derived vodka or a refreshing rose-syrup tonic made from flower petals plucked from their garden—all homemade by Zara and Vahagn.

Before or after your feast at Hatsatun, you may want to take one of Vahagn and Zara’s craft workshops offered next door at their Sisian Ceramics where you may learn how to paint on pottery, make a batik scarf, or even throw your own clay mug on the potter’s wheel.

Cook a village style feast at Sisian Ceramics

Artists in both the pottery studio and the kitchen, Vahagn Hambardzumyan and Zara Gasparyan invite you to Hatsatun, the restaurant attached to Sisian Ceramics, their intimate pottery studio. According to the culinary traditions of Syunik, there are four categories of food—grain, dairy, meat, and vegetables—all of which Hatsatun features.

Better yet, come take a cooking class and learn from the chefs themselves! One of their most popular classes will teach you how to prepare a village-style feast with emmer wheat pilaf and oven-baked potatoes. You may choose a pilaf with lentils and/or ghavurma, which is made from pieces of beef or mutton. Each ingredient for pilaf is cooked separately, then added layer by layer to a clay pot—made right next door at their pottery studio—and placed into an oven to bake.

Emmer wheat is a popular grain especially suited to high altitudes, such as the nearby Sisian highlands. Vahagn and Zara use emmer wheat in several other traditional dishes besides pilaf, such as harissa (thick porridge made from dried or roasted wheat with chicken or lamb), lenten tolma (vegetarian stuffed cabbage rolls), Zangezur salad (made with emmer wheat, carrots, lemons, greens, and pomegranate seeds), and several local soups (including sorrel, red bean, and asparagus)—all available a la carte on their menu.

The final epicurean pleasures of Hatsatun are the vegetables, particularly potatoes and pickles. The potatoes of Sisian typically grow in high, mountainous zones and may be fried, roasted in ashes, or roasted in an oven designed for firing clay.

Wash down your meal with a refreshing rose-syrup tonic made from flower petals plucked from their garden or sip on one of their fruit-derived vodkas—all homemade by Zara and Vahagn. Before or after your feast at Hatsatun, you may want to take one of Vahagn and Zara’s craft workshops offered next door at their Sisian Ceramics studio, where you may learn how to paint on pottery, make a batik scarf, or even throw your own clay mug on the potter’s wheel.

My Armenia Program

My Armenia Program

My Armenia Program

My Armenia Program

My Armenia Program

My Armenia Program

My Armenia Program

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