Armenia Adventures: Lunch at Lavash Hovo
Lavash Hovo was a perfect introduction to Armenian food. When we arrived in Armenia after a long day of travel, it was about 8 p.m. but felt much later as it was a Sunday night and not very places were still open. We had a quiet meal at the hotel and then rested for our first day of touring Armenia which included visiting the Yerevan Brandy Company and tasting Ararat Brandy. We also went to harvest grapes and saw the process from wine to eau di vie to aged brandy. After tasting three fantastic brandies, we were ready for lunch.
Our lunch at Lavash Hovo was set up family style. You’re offered water (still or sparkling), wine (white or red) and a fruit drink is always on the table. There’s lavash, the national Armenian bread which you can eat with a variety of appetizers on the table including stuffed tomatoes, yogurt, fresh greens and lots of cooked savory dishes. This is just the first course.
There’s always cured meats and cheeses at meals (at least the ones I had in Armenia). Everything was great with wine though I mused I should try Ararat brandy during the day with lunch.
Besides the fresh greens, we had cooked greens which were some of the favorite things I ate all week.
I’m going to sound crazy for a minute but Armenia has the best tomatoes I’ve ever had. They look like regular tomatoes we have here in LA. They’re not “heirloom” looking. They are normal, red tomatoes but they taste so fresh, so much like what you think a tomato should taste like. I really want to make people who hate tomatoes eat Armenian tomatoes. Later I found out how rich of an agricultural society Armenia was. There are abundant fruit and vegetables and the meat is never frozen. I even ate carrots (I hate carrots) in the mushroom salad just to make sure all the veggies I had were good. The carrots were good.
These dishes include more greens and eggplant/onions/tomato. Both were wonderful.
Servers came around with stuffed lavash. It had 19 different herbs and I still dream of this dish. Next to it is a closeup of the eggplant mixture. After I had this, I demanded local LA Armenian friends take me to a restaurant that offers such food. Sadly, it’s agreed there’s not true Armenian food. Most masquerade as kabob shops.
Which brings us to the grilled meats. I was told Armenians love BBQ. Not kabobs. The grilled lamb and pork (pictured above) we had were some of the best meats I had all week. It really kind of set me up for a long week of comparison.
We also had stuffed grape leaves which I had also ordered at the hotel the night before. I love stuffed grape leaves. The Armenians have one with pale cabbage leaves as well.
And your meal ends with tea or coffee. By the way, Armenian coffee is NOT Turkish coffee but you might think the style is similar.
No, but really, where can I find Armenian food like this in LA? And don’t say Glendale.