Harold: Argo Georgian Bakery

ok, here's the deal:  the victuals to be had at argo georgian bakery (located at 2812 w. devon ave.) are so damn good that i won't even bother wasting your time telling you about the place itself.  ok, i'm lying.  the neighborhood is one in which it is always a joy to walk around, but on the particular day we went the streets were packed with people just enjoying the weather.  the place itself is probably the third most unassuming place of business in which i have ever been.  sure they have a coffee urn; sure they will sell you strange (but tasty! but tasty!) georgian mineral waters; yes they stock caviar; but they basically exist to sell you bread.  ahh, the bread....

we began with a spinach pie which was fairly good, but a touch low on salt.  still, the way it was seasoned gave it an odd (almost iranian tasting?) flavor that helped to balance out the lack of salt.  overall it was unusual and worth trying, especially if you like spinach.

we quickly (as in withing seconds) moved on to something called a tapluna, which was a honey and walnut pastry.  this was quite nice and the sweetness was surprisingly moderate for something that featured honey so prominently.  that said, i don't really go for sweet stuff.

microseconds later, we were inhaling a hachapuri that was still warm.  this was a puffy, flaky, crumbly, steamy pastry filled with a judicious blend and quantity of cheeses (namely mozzarella, farmer's cheese, and feta), a fair description of which defies words--polite ones anyway.  better still, near as i can tell they make these constantly, so one is quite likely to enjoy a hachapuri that is still warm.  gemma and i went back up to the counter for another.  we were rewarded moments later when another tray came out of the oven and i held in my hands a paper plate containing a hachapuri that had been baking not ninety seconds before.  gemma and i both burned our mouthes on our respective first bites of this second hotter hachapuri, but undeterred continued to burn our mouthes until all that remained was a pile of crumbs and two smiles.  seriously people, these are good.

eventually we made it back to gemma's place, where we investigated some more normal (read: less stuffed) breads.  first came the puri, or georgian round bread.  this was quite good, quite round, and fairly flat.  it looked a bit like mutant over-grown indian naan, actually.  looks can be deceiving, however: the taste reminded me more of a crusty italian bread, but with more salt.  this bread is great alone or with butter, but would probably also tolerate a fairly mild cheese.  while it would not lessen your enjoyment of a stronger cheese, a stronger cheese would probably lessen your enjoyment of this bread (a bit), as it is rather mild in flavor.

we moved on to something called a shoti--or long bread--which was shaped much like baguette.  this was creamier and denser in texture, as well as slightly moister inside.  this was about what was going through my head when gemma asked, "do you think this tastes like honeydew?"  i looked at her like she had three ears and antennae.  "seriously," she said, "i think this tastes a little like honeydew..."  i looked at her as though she was snacking on kleenex.  "just try it."  i did.  nothing.  "well?"  i took another bite.  and then something truly strange happened: i tasted honeydew.  now we both know that it is impossible for bread to taste like honeydew, so what did i learn from this?  don't trust gemma: she'll mess with your mind and make you taste things that aren't there.  her powers of mind control are terrifying.

despite all my rambling on, there is a one-word verdict about this bakery: GO.

(n.b.: for those who have speculated that i cannot be pleased, above is evidence to the contrary.  see also my review of the red hen bakery.)

May I Introduce. .

Gemma: Argo Georgian Bakery