Author Archives: helenbjurstrom

Hot times in Tbilisi

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The summer weather is finally living up to what was promised by my local friends – super uncomfortably hot. But with the help of modern technology – AC – we can hide from this inside the café. I did not fully support the idea of buying and installing the AC during the renovation of Kiwi, before we opened. Now I’m kind of happy that we have it.. but still I want to believe it would have been possible to survive without it.

We have less guests now then a week ago and before, I hope it’s the heat and not that people have given up on us. We are now working on sorting out some things that have been left a side somewhat during the first weeks when we had to much practical work to attend to all details. Some of the things are: finding a producer and distributor of organic produce. We have been talking to Jammy Green -Organic Vegetables. They grow vegetables and run a small shop – Sunflower Market, behind Mac Donald’s by Rustaveli Metro. It seems like a promising option for getting hold of some good produce.

Also we have been in contact many times with Coop.ge an organization or enterprise who do recycling of glass, plastic and paper here in Tbilisi. As this is something that is not organized by the municipality. As it is now we’re trying to recycle – but the recyclables have not reached further than to our basement where they are just waiting for us to take the next step. It is also very easy for us to sort out our food waist to use for compost but we have no garden and are very interested in giving this precious material away to anybody who want to use it. All the backsides of living a big city life. Coop.ge’s service is free of charge, they come and pick up recyclables but you have to buy big plastic bins, they cost a lot of money, 120 Lari each, and the problem is.. that I have a hard time solving is if we should pay for this or to pay some money to the people who work more than full time here at the café. The other option would be for us to try do transport our glass (it’s mainly glass) to the places where you can hand it in and get a few tetri back.

We’re also looking for a local juice producer who can provide preferably organic, but at least juice with no sugar added… As it is now we order juice… or what I thought was juice, but has turned out… when I read the labels  not to be juice but sugary drinks with fruit from Kula, in Gory. We’re quite disappointed with their service as they not only add sugar to all their drinks, but also do not ever send the drinks we order, but only like half of our orders at any time, since they don’t have almost any of the drinks they claim to have… We were fooled buy their nice looking little glass bottles I must admit:)

Many people ask for fresh juice, and the dream would be to find a distributor of fresh bottled juice. The option would be to buy a juicer and make juice our selves, but It’s quite expensive and from my experience it’s a lot of hard work cleaning juicers.. but I guess it’s worth looking in to.

We’re looking for stuff like tofu, high gluten content flour to make seitan from, and also things like affordable nuts and seeds as these things seems so expensive here… It is a mystery to me how nuts and seeds can be even more expensive here, where all these things are produced,  than in Sweden where we do not produce almost any nuts and seeds because of the climate. Strange, if anybody reads this and know why it’s like this please let me know.

These are things that occupy my mind, and also vague dreams about Svaneti, Tucheti, Kamchatka and other cool places where I have not been.

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Fun things happening at Kiwi this week!

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Okay all interested, once again sorry for not writing very frequently, it’s because I’m not a blogger or a blogg follower..

We have had a good last week, a lot of work every day, still some of us managed to squeeze in a mini-vacation to Batumi (1,5 days(Helen, Mike, Soroush and Oleg)) and some managed so squeeze in Food Not Bombs (Sergey, Mariam and Jura) with a very big pot of potato soup… some might say too big!

The calm weekend ended with an somewhat unexpected mega dinner at Sunday 20.30 that left no time to set up the equipment for the scheduled film showing at 21.00. Still we managed to get it started approximately 21.25. which I believe is okay, not only according to Georgian punctuality, but it would also pas in Sweden, but maybe not Germany or Japan? We showed the HBO documentary “Dangerous acts starring the unstable elements of Belarus” we squeezed in a full audience. The film was interesting, hopeful and depressing at the same time.

Enough about the past, I always live in the future, many people say it’s better to live in the now… but I’m not convinced. This week we look forward to:

Tuesday 28/7 20.00: Concert with Klepsidra, a band from St. Petersburg. They will treat us to ethnic Serbian, Bulgarian and Turkish music. We are promised it will be dance friendly. All are welcome free of charge, the band gratefully accept donations if you like their music.

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Wednesday 29/7 20.00: Scandinavian language club. We meet and practice talking in any of the Scandinavian languages. All levels are welcome, but we try to avoid any English or Georgian.

Sunday 2/8 21.00: Film night. We invite you, free of charge to watch a film together. We have not decided on which one yet, the two options we’re thinking about are the two documentaries “Forks over Knifes” about the advantages of eating a plant based diet or “Chechnya: War Without Trace” A film about Chechnya’s transformation and terror that exists behind it’s gleaming facade. We will post on our facebook as soon as we have decided.

Anyway you are welcome and you are also welcome to suggest films to watch, and also other event’s you want to host at our place:)

Hope to see you soon, you are welcome for some vegan food or drinks any time between noon and 23.00 all days of the week at Kiwi Café.

A constant party at Kiwi Café

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All you all, just so you know, we’re always in party mood at the Kiwi, now even the Kaiser guy has made an effort and dressed up a bit! We are trying to avoid all things commercial.. but to be honest because of the prices for fridges we have caved and invited both Pepsi and the Kaiser beer guy to our facilities, and so far they have only caused minor troubles. actually only Pepsi.. this fridge we’re keeping in our kitchen for food and stuff, but we don’t sell Pepsi drinks, the fridge was left in our place by the previous tenants. Like a week after we moved in a guy came by, he was from Pepsi, he asked if we were going to open soon and if we wanted to order Pepsi. To be able to keep the free fridge we kind of gave a very vague maybe. Then we didn’t see him again until the day before we were about to open, 31st June, by then we had hidden the fridge in the new kitchen. We pretended we didn’t know what he was talking about when he started to ask about the fridge. He quickly saw through our lie, and then when we admitted that we didn’t actually plan on ordering any Pepsi he threatened with taking away the fridge the day after. So we went to buy a new used fridge out in a used stuff shopping mall in the suburbs.

We never saw the Pepsi guy or any of his allies again.. the fridge is still in our kitchen, it’s working fine.

Anyway the pepsi is just for practical reasons. But the Kaiser is just for FUN

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See you at the constant party!

Pictures from our grand opening event!

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Pictures from our grand opening event!

Our free-food-and-fun-for-all Grand Opening Event took place on the 4th of July. Now not only Americans have cause for celebration on this fine summer date, but this will go to history as the day when Kiwi Café in Tbilisi officially opened to a great start. We’re now posting, upon request, some photos of this our first of many events.     11402991_378597315672388_1998920818950982665_n 11403035_378597379005715_3211355535025736735_n 11403203_378597319005721_2043886017211435969_n 11666235_378597469005706_5228933060566963587_n 11692548_378597352339051_7952246433084457264_n 11692663_378597669005686_6135191024435633293_n 11693814_378597399005713_4098298849867758075_n 11695797_378597599005693_1611801301501484380_n 11707600_378597595672360_7976281770747775824_n11059320_378597322339054_1656362496627564387_n10433951_378597645672355_8534655397225182857_n 10997017_378597375672382_6950142933133454002_n 11009887_378597485672371_5691238820204788196_n

The neighbours were surprised see, and hopefully not too much disturbed by such an unusually big crowd of people on their otherwise fairly quiet street in Old Tbilisi. The report I got the morning after from our land lady was that some people were hanging out to very late after we closed and can you believe, they left one wine glass and one other glass on the side walk:)

Hope to see you soon at the Kiwi (bird and fruit!)

Film night on Sunday!

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This Sunday at 21.00 we attempt our first film night at our newborn Kiwi Café. The vegan life style includes not only strict dietary restrictions and strict moral guidelines sprung out of bad conscience from how we people treat other animals and our environment, but also fun! Therefore we will show the Danish black comedy “The Green Butchers” from 2003. It touches on many interesting subjects, and one of them is the absurdity of producing and eating meat. For more info on this, in my opinion, brilliant film check out IMDB.

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We will show this movie free of charge, we also do not require of you to buy anything at the café, if you don’t want to, though I do think this film is best enjoyed with a beer or a tea or maybe some vegan food:)

The film will be shown in its original language as I don’t believe in the art of dubbing movies. I have not been able to find neither Georgian or Russian subs so there will be English subtitles only this time. In the future we will do our best to show films in languages that are understood by as many of our potential visitors as possible.

If you have a good suggestion for an interesting and enjoyable film for us to show please feel free to contact us about arranging a film night

All are welcome!

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Today’s menu!

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Welcome to Kiwi tonight. We’re open every day from noon – 11 pm (or last customer)

-Moroccan tangine with chick peas served with bulgur
-Falafel -wrap or on plate with tabbouleh
-Pasta with tomato and lentil sauce
-Sandwich on rye bread with eggplant and veggies
-Raw salad with lentil sprouts

To drink: home made mint lemonade, smoothies, beer, wine, coffee, tea, juice and mineral water.

We’re still figuring out how to run the Kiwi smoothly and efficiently and have not really had time to plan any events yet. But this will come soon. If you are interested in arranging any kind of meetings, information about community projects, short classes in something you’re good at, language clubs or so please feel welcome to contact us for doing this at our place, free of charge, no need for participants to buy anything if they don’t want to:) our place is a open community café.

Thank you / Hope to see you all soon

Kiwi Cafe crew

And so, all of a sudden, we’re open!

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After many hard days of work, sorry for not blogging, I must admit that I’m not a natural born blogger, we opened Kiwi Café Wednesday July 1. We have been open for 3 successful days. We have had guests from all over the world, even New Zeeland! The falafel is the most popular item on the menu so far. Tonight we have the grand opening event, and then we continue the kind fight to get people to chose vegan food on a daily basis.

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Thank you so much to all the people who have been so kind to support us in this project, both with physical help, information and financial support.

I will try to blogg more frequently in the future:) or most of all I’ll try to make someone in out group responsible communications and social media, as I’m now working mostly in the kitchen.
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Go Vegan Go!

The floor and the base boards

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Base board is a word that I learned (as English is not my native language if anybody thought that:) a few years ago when I lived in Whistler BC. I was working as a hotel cleaner and part of the reason for why that job sucked was the endless cleaning of base boards. For those of you who meet this word for the first time here, it means the long thin planks/ plastic that are placed where the wall meet the floor, so that it looks nice… Anyway, now we have them! and we also have a semi shining new linoleum floor. We put it in ourselves of course, we had no experience but there is always detailed instructionsonline.. that we kind of didn’t follow. Anyway now it’s there just waiting to start coming of, like most other linoleum floors that we have seen in this place:)

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Other progress:

Stove was found and bought – new but with a dent from transportation which resulted in a huge discount for us.

AC was bought and will be installed in like 15 min from now (I didn’t want this machine but have been convinced that it’s necessary in this climate).

Deep fryer for falafel and such has been bought. Coffee maker will be bought later today.

The previous tenant came and reclaimed her fan, outdoor sign, small useless water heater.. and all other gems that have been hanging around. Of main importance here is that Pepsi has not been here to reclaim their big drink fridge that they left here. We will not buy Pepsi drinks but we really want to keep this fridge. The potential solution to this problem is to hide the fridge in the kitchen so that the Pepsi people can’t see it. If you are here you would agree that this makes sense;)

Hope to see you in the Kiwi soon!

Conclusions about renovations!

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Great news! We’re almost finished with renovations. It took longer than expected since we had to wait for ever (almost a week) for professional electricians and plumber to show up.

We have been working hard and sometimes efficiently:) for a week, and now we have re-painted all walls and discovered that we knew how to put up wallpaper even though we had never done it before, cleaned all ceilings and the bathroom, installed water heater and gas, and many more little things.

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An enormous thanks to all people who are working hard here, and to those who are donating money! Because of all of you we’re well on the way to opening. Next step is to get kitchen equipment and furniture. And how to get cheap transportation of all these stuff? If you read this and are here in Tbilisi and know anybody with a van who could help us by lending their van/large car please let us know!

Other great news is that many sources have told us that there’s no such thing as a liquor licence or sanitation code for restaurants here in Georgia. Clearly (in my mind) it would in general be preferred to have this, but in our situation it makes things easier. With this said I want to point out that we’re not going to sell hard liquor, just some organic beer and ginger beer, and organic Georgian wine. And we will for sure follow a strict sanitation code on our own, even if nobody will come here to check us.

Hope you all who read this will be able to come to our place after we open!

Thank you all!

Dreams and Ideas..

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So many dreams and ideas of what to use a vegan community café for… only first we have to settle on a name… and hire a bunch of professional construction workers to do stuff we believe we can’t do ourself, then we can get started on shaping this place up.10003048_10206705138085556_2061953853_n

The name part proved pretty easy, we had two great suggestions, the first was “Samovar” but our people from Russia thought this sounded to mossy and passive (even though westerners think it sounds exotic and Georgians have this great story, retold with enthusiasm by Mika, about the famous painter Piroshmani’s vision of getting together, building a house, getting a big samovar, sit abound this and discuss art! ). Oleg suggested “Kiwi” and we were all delighted since we immediate  realized that Kiwi is both a fruit and a bird!

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The construction workers hiring proved much more challenging. Many days went by… some days members of our teem were waiting for workers who we had been told would show up super early in the morning. Eventually, on the 7th day after start up, a solid teem of three nice guys showed up and got some of the work we needed done, while simultaneously chain smoking and hanging out. Anyway, now we have water, slightly safer power outlets, a new door, a ceiling that is not threatening to fall down at any second and wallpaper that we acquired for free!

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