Inspiration from a Lifelong Vegetarian
– Writing and Photos

By Beryl Forman, El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association

classThe inaugural Boulevard International Cooking Class met at Pomegranate (2312 El Cajon Boulevard), San Diego’s only Russian-Georgian restaurant. Chef Jon Skorepa had a long table set for ten and was well-prepared to teach the class how to make three traditional vegetarian Georgian dishes:  khapurri cheese pie, carrot salad and red lobio. Note from Paige – I still need to try Pomegranate and can’t vouch for what is vegan there, but the menu has many vegetarian options.

Besides the cheese pies, students worked on Pomegranate’s famous carrot salad, which Jon described as “dead easy” and most people would describe as a garlicky sensation! Jon shared some personal information with the class, like where he shops for his ingredients — North Park Produce and the Herb Shop, both on El Cajon Boulevard. Jon also spoke of his unique enhancements to ordinary ingredients such as his salt mix, which he combines with New Mexico chili powder.

According to Jon, the third dish, red lobio, is the quintessential Georgian dish. In fact, if you go to the  country of Georgia, you will find roadside stands and fast food restaurants that devote their menu strictly to red lobio. During ancient times, Georgia was located along the spice trade route, which had a great influence on its cuisine. The main ingredient in red lobio is kidney beans. Georgians love their variations of tomato paste, which mixed with good mashed kidney beans is “a match made in heaven,” says Jon. Another staple Georgian ingredient is the walnut, and with that, Jon added 3 cups of chopped walnuts to the mix.

There are many other things worth noting about the secrets of fine Georgian cuisine, so if you’re interested, sign-up for the next Boulevard International Cooking Class, which will be coming in June. Call the El Cajon Boulevard BIA at 619.283.3608 and ask for Beryl.